By its name, the Napa Institute could be anything. But according to its website it is a society for Catholics who "take their faith seriously;" a society that "emboldens Catholics to live and defend their faith" in the face of a growing secularization of society. Among its goals is to "better form Catholics in a life shaped by liturgy, prayer, fasting, sacred art and music, and habits of holiness."
The institute's "cornerstone" is the annual conference which will occur from August 1 until August 4 (I write right before their rites.) Among the serious Catholics prominently displayed as being in attendance is our own self-proclaimed Chief Catechist, Archbishop J. C. Nienstedt (along with Archbishops Gomez, Chaput, Aquila, Cordileone, and Brunett; Bishops Vasa, Vann, and Morlino, the usual suspects.)
And the setting for these serious Catholics for their four days of intense liturgy, prayer, fasting and habits of holiness is the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, California.
For the unknowing allow me to cite the company's website:
Just like the wine that inspired its name, the Meritage Resort and Spa is the perfect blend of wine tasting, dining, spa, beautiful event spaces, romance and indulgence — all in one California Wine Country hotel. Unwind among the sun-drenched vineyards of our award-winning resort, offering world-class luxury in the heart of Napa Valley, California.
Sounds like secularization to me. And what better place for serious Catholics to boldly confront it right in the belly of the beast.
But I digress, the conference invitation asks the difficult questions:
Why should you attend? Part of being a Catholic leader is knowing your faith, and who better to teach you than the best of the best? The conference also inspires attendees to shape their lives by habits of holiness, including liturgy, prayer, fasting. . . . This is a conference that explores the best in Catholic thought, never forgetting that the source and summit of Catholicism is the Eucharist. There are multiple Masses offered each day in the Meritage's Estate Cave or in the resort's Our Lady of Grapes Chapel. [I am not making this up.]
I can picture the worthies offering their intense propitiations in the Chapel of Our Lady's Grapes. It is comforting to know that our own Local Ordinary is among the best of the best and what better place for him to join with the rest of the best to properly celebrate the Eucharist in memory of the lowly carpenter who had not a place to lay his head and who shared his table with the outcast. And although Jesus seemingly ignored appellations, his own vintage had good ratings ergo enjoy.
Placing a call to the most hospitable staff I was informed that they especially welcome wedding "events" at these same chapels and yes they do accommodate same sex celebrations. Hopefully enhanced scheduling will prevent any unpleasant communicatio in sacris. The crosses serious Catholics must bear.
He Is Serious
In a Huffington Post article, Pope Francis is quoted telling a group of Argentine pilgrims to World Youth Day:
I want to tell you something. What is it that I expect as a consequence of World Youth Day? I want a mess. We knew that in Rio there would be great disorder, but I want trouble in the dioceses!" he said, speaking off the cuff in his native Spanish. "I want to see the church get closer to the people. I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves, in our parishes, schools or structures. Because these need to get out!
"This closing ourselves off within ourselves." Francis could start at the Napa Institute conference with its better than the rest.
And for the rest of us, let us continue to agitate the mystery, messy as it might be in our dioceses.
Rev. Michael V. Tegeder is the pastor of St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church in Minneapolis and of the Church of Gichitwaa Kateri in Minneapolis. This commentary was originally published as part of Fr. Tegeder's "Pastor's Comments" in the August 4, 2013 parish bulletin of St. Frances Cabrini Church.