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Yesterday, at the vigil Mass, I was confronted with this week’s second celebration of the Ascension. Although the Dutch bishops decided to celebrate Ascension on its proper Thursday, 40 days after Easter, in many other countries, the solemnity has been moved to the first Sunday following that Thursday. Among those countries is Ireland, and since our parish uses Mass booklets produced by the Archdiocese of Dublin… You see the problem.

Although the priest rightly explained, before Mass, that celebrating Ascension twice is no bad thing, there are, in my opinion, some issues raised by this seemingly selective transferring of feast days.

We live in a time where people, especially younger people, look beyond their own familiar turf. Although the parish is still a familiar home base (and rightly so), people are not limited to what it offers them. Other parishes, dioceses, even countries, have their influence on the faith life of an increasing number of faithful. We see this primarily in social media, where blogs attract readers from all over the world. But parishes and dioceses themselves start to make more frequent use of what other Catholic communities have to offer. The use of Irish Mass formularies in a Dutch parish is one example.

This slow but steady internationalisation (hopefully without the loss of the individual character of faithful and specific faith communities) means that the seemingly arbitrary transferral of feast days becomes a problem.

Whatever the reasons for transferring the feast days in the first place may have been – to allow more Mass attendance, or the availability of a priest in as many churches as possible – they have now become obstacles for the visible expression of the unity of the Church.Just like the Church has one foundation, it finds expression in similar celebration, rites and observances throughout the world. Doing things in the same way means something. It shows the world, and ourselves, that we share things, that we are united in our faith. Celebrating the major feast days of the year at the same time, even if that is sometimes a bit inconvenient, tells us what guides us; we celebrate the feasts of Christ’s life: it is He who shepherds us.

Celebrate feast days when they occur, even if that means having to plan our Mass attendance around work and other obligations, or that we have to travel a bit further. It’s not always convenient, but it is our life in Christ we are talking about here, and following Him is not a convenience, but a challenge to us. We need to rediscover that fact.

About this blog

I am a Dutch Catholic from the north of the Netherlands. In this blog I wish to provide accurate information on current affairs in the Church and the relation with society. It is important for Catholics to have knowledge about their own faith and Church, especially since these are frequently misrepresented in many places. My blog has two directions, although I use only English in my writings: on the one hand, I want to inform Dutch faithful - hence the presence of a page with Dutch translations of texts which I consider interesting or important -, and on the other hand, I want to inform the wider world of what is going on in the Church in the Netherlands.

It is sometimes tempting to be too negative about such topics. I don't want to do that: my approach is an inherently positive one, and loyal to the Magisterium of the Church. In many quarters this is an unfamiliar idea: criticism is often the standard approach to the Church, her bishops and priests and other representatives. I will be critical when that is warranted, but it is not my standard approach.

For a personal account about my reasons for becoming and remaining Catholic, go read my story: Why am I Catholic?


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Netherlands License.

The above means that I have the right to be recognised as the author of both the original blog posts, as well as any translations I make. Everyone is free to share my content, but with credit in the form of my name or a link to my blog.

Blog and media

Over the years, my blog posts have been picked up by various other blogs, websites and media outlets.

A complete list would be prohibitively long, so I'll limit myself to mentioning The Anchoress, Anton de Wit, Bisdom Haarlem-Amsterdam, The Break/SQPN, Caritas in Veritate, Catholic Culture, The Catholic Herald, EWTN, Fr. Ray Blake's Blog, Fr. Z's Blog, The Hermeneutic of Continuity, Katholiek Gezin,, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, New Liturgical Movement, NOS, Protect the Pope, Reformatorisch Dagblad, The Remnant, RKS Ariëns, Rorate Caeli, The Spectator, Vatican Insider, Voorhof and Whispers in the Loggia.

All links to, quotations of and use as source material of my blog posts is greatly appreciated. It's what I blog for: to further awareness and knowledge in a positive critical spirit. Credits are equally liked, of course.

Blog posts have also been used as sources for various Wikipedia articles, among them those on Archbishop Pierre-Marie Carré, Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Archbishop Sergio Utleg and Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki.

Latest translations added:

1 December: [English] Archbishop Stephan Burger - Advent letter 2014

29 November: [English] Bishop Frans Wiertz - Homily for the opening of the Year of Consecrated Life

29 November: [English] Bishop Gregor Maria Hanke - Advent letter 2014

27 November: [English] Bishop Johan Bonny - Advent letter 2014

27 November: [Dutch] Paus Franciscus - Toespraak voor het Europees Parlement.

25 November: [English] Bishop Gerard de Korte - Advent letter 2014.

17 November: [Dutch] Paus Franciscus - Toespraak voor de conferentie over de complementariteit tussen man en vrouw.

10 November: [English] Pope Francis - Letter to the Church of the Frisians.

22 October: [English] Bishop Gerard de Korte - The doctrine of the Church must always be actualised.

9 October: [English] Godfried Cardinal Danneels - Intervention at the Synod.

Sancta Maria, hortus conclusus, ora pro nobis!

Sancte Ramon de Peñafort, ora pro nobis!

Pope Francis

Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province of Rome, Sovereign of the Vatican City State, Servant of the Servants of God

Bishop Gerard de Korte

Bishop of Groningen-Leeuwarden

Willem Cardinal Eijk

Cardinal-Priest of San Callisto, Metropolitan Archbishop of Utrecht

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