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The diocese of ‘s-Hertogenbosch has made a decision about next Sunday’s Mass:
“The church council of the cathedral of St. John in ‘s-Hertogenbosch has, in cooperation with the diocese of Den Bosch, decided not to distribute Communion at next Sunday’s 10 o’clock Mass, because various groups have announced to use the Mass as a protest action. The diocese mourns the fact that the celebration of the Eucharist is used for this purpose and asks for respect for holding Catholic services. Media will be placed in a separate press area, in the northern transept. Seen from the entrance in the tower that is front left near the altar. They are requested to not walk through the church or in front of the altar during the Mass. No one will be excluded from participating in the celebration, but they are being asked to participate respectfully.”
It’s a necessity because of the sad fact that even some Catholics are willing to put their own grievances above the service of God.
Bishop Hurkmans emphasised that denying Communion to practicing homosexuals does not exclude from the Church’s life. But since the Communion is also a confirmation of faith, the receiver expresses his agreement with that. That means that the person who receives Communion lives in accordance with the faith and the Church’s teachings.
The bishop also said he shares the pain of those who can’t receive Communion. He emphasised the importance of a person’s own responsibility to receive and so confirm their faith in the Church’s teachings. That is counter to the prevalent attitude that Communion is a right and even a custom – that receiving should be part of every Mass one attends.
Fr. van Rossem acknowledges that things have grown somewhat lax in respect to handing out Communion, and he expects that the faithful will receive more education on the meaning of the Eucharist in the future. Let’s hope that will indeed happen.
There have been no statements yet about how the diocese plans to respond to protests on Sunday at the cathedral. The diocese is still considering that, but Fr. van Rossem did say that there is concern about a possible disruption of the Mass.
I am seriously considering travelling down to ‘s-Hertogenbosch on Sunday, to attend Mass there and offer a counter-balance to the protesters. Mass is not the place or time for protest, and in this case we should perhaps try to maintain the sacrality of the Mass, a sacrality that transcends any protest greatly.
On 12 February, Pope Benedict XVI visited the major seminary in Rome. Among others, he led the seminarians and staff in the lectio divina, the spiritual readings of a Bible passage. The pope chose chapter 15 of the Gospel of John, and went on to focus on various aspects of the text.
It’s an interesting read, certainly in this season of Lent.