Thoughts on the Beatification of Cardinal Newman

I didn’t have much chance to be online over the last few days, and little time to write, but I was a bit overwhelmed by all the live blogging and tons of people able to comment and post about the Holy Father’s visit to England and Scotland.  At our house, it was very hectic, though we did have a chance to watch (during meals, of course, breaking a “food rule” as we discussed last month) some of the events.

Here are some of my thoughts on the visit:

*We set our DVR to tape all the events airing live on EWTN.  I am so grateful for the network and all its programming, especially here, because we could watch them when we were able, instead of when they were aired live on the Internet.  Much as I love EWTN, I wasn’t thrilled with a lot of the political nature of the commentary, and was so glad when the focus was on the actual events.  We were watching with kids, and purposely avoiding a lot of the secular media coverage because it was so negative.  I much preferred when the commentary did focus on the “back story” of what we were seeing.  Fr. Roderick Strange shared with me that he was a commentator on the BBC for the events, and I would have enjoyed seeing his commentary.

*Did anyone else think that the welcome Benedict XVI received after the Mass at Westminster Cathedral was really cool?  You could just feel the emotion from the young people gathered outside.  I’ve been trying to find a clip online of the engaging young man from the East London parish who greeted him so enthusiastically on behalf of the youth, and his short speech.  What I did find is a  nice, if short, video clip of the Holy Father being given a “rockstar” welcome outside Westminster Cathedral.

*I guess this might be politically incorrect or culturally insensitive (wink), but who does music as well as the English?  I really don’t have a singing voice, but I found myself wanting to sing along to all the songs (wishing for a songbook, and having my family grateful I didn’t have one), and just being swept away by the beauty of it.  Much of the music was based on prayers or poems written by Newman.  The prayer vigil in Hyde Park was especially beautiful. One highlight was a 14-year-old boy who sang parts of “The Dream of Gerontius,” a poem by Newman famously set to music by Edward Elgar.  Benedict XVI came out again after the prayer service, almost for a curtain call, to thank the conductor of the music for the prayer vigil, and my husband remarked he was glad he could do so.

*I managed, just in the course of a busy weekend, to avoid virtually all mass media coverage of the Pope’s visit.  It wasn’t really by design, even though one of my sisters had emailed me last week to warn of how annoying and mean the coverage was.  I just didn’t get a chance to watch the news or listen to the radio.

Any thoughts on the beatification of Cardinal Newman?  Highlights or lowlights in your view?