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“To have faith means: to make GOD great, to let HIM be great. I see this as the first and most important task for us Christians in our country’s present and its future. That is the most important service which we, as Church, have to offer the people.
Dear fathers, dear mothers, let God be great amid your family, so that your children can grow up in the security of His love.
Dear priests and religious, who have come in such great numbers, who give a witness of the Gospel by your way of life: strengthen the people in the faith and be bridge builders with me for God’s presence in our entire world.
Dear sisters and brothers, who do your work as craftsmen, industrial labourers, farmers, civil servants, politicians, entrepeneurs or whatever: let God be great in your daily work, to the glory of God and the good of the people.
Through your Baptism and Confirmation you all share in the life of Christ and in His mission as teacher, shepherd and priest. He has called and enabled us all to witness of Him; and especially where the Lord has placed us: in our jobs, our families, in business, in public life and indeed also in the office of bishop: various services, one mission, to make sure that God is made great. In this shared concern we are all Church!
As your new bishop, I am willing to lead in prayer and as first evangeliser. But I need you, I need you all. It is not possible with you.”
A passage from the closing remarks of Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer at the end of the Mass in which he was consecrated and installed as the 78th bishop of Regensburg, yesterday. Doing the honours as consecrating bishop was Munich’s Cardinal Reinhard Marx, with Archbishop Gerhard Müller (emeritus of Regensburg) and Bishop František Radkovsky (ordinary of the neighbouring Czech Diocese of Plzeň) serving as co-consecrators.
More than 4,000 faithful, among them 400 priests, were present in the cathedral of St. Peter, as well as the basilica of the Nativity of Our Lady to the Ancient Chapel and the church of St. Johann, where a live broadcast of the three-hour Mass was shown. It was also shown live on Bavarian television.
More than seven years after the publication of Summorum Pontificum, which ‘freed up’ the use of the traditional form of the Mass, the so-called Extraordinary Form, as it was used for centuries before the liturgy changes of the Second Vatican Council, a milestone is reached for the Catholics in the Netherlands: for the first time a Dutch bishop will offer Mass in this form.
The date is next Sunday, 20 January, and the bishop in question is the retired auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam, Msgr. Jan van Burgsteden.
The FSSP-run church of St. Agnes in Amsterdam will be the location and shares the news on her website. This church is no stranger to EF Masses offered by bishops or higher clergy, as she has hosted Bishop Kozon of Copenhagen and Cardinal Burke in the past. Like the former, Bishop van Burgsteden will administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to ten faithful before the Mass.
According to the website linked above, the bishop is delighted to offer Mass in the form which was standard when he was ordained to the priesthood in 1964.
The Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam is perhaps the most welcoming Dutch diocese for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. The diocesan seminary offers training or seminarians and priests, and both the ordinary, Bishop Jos Punt, and the current auxiliary, Bishop Jan Hendriks, attended the Mass offered by Cardinal Burke in choir. Most recently, Bishop Punt announced that the church of St. Agnes will be the home of a personal parish run by the FSSP, which regularises church and priests in the diocese and gives the Extraordinary Form a solid place within the liturgical landscape of the Church in the Netherlands.
Over the past week, there has been something of a changing of the guard in southern Germany, or at least the start of one. As the country’s youngest bishop was consecrated on 27 July, two senior prelates retired on the 30th and the 31st.
Bishop Florian Wörner was consecrated in Augsburg by Bishop Konrad Zdarsa (Wörner pictured at left at the closing of the consecration Mass). He is now one of Augsburg’s two auxiliary bishops. In his homily, Bishop Zdarsa addressed the new bishop:
As a direct representative of the bishop you will have the special responsibility to ensure the promotion of the new evangelization in our diocese. The Lord also calls you, like the prophet: Fear not!
God’s word is not only placed in your mouth and heart, but you are similar to the Incarnate Word in Baptism and Confirmation, and in conformity to your ordination as a bishop, you will act and speak in persona Christi.
You are chosen from the people for the people, not to rule for your personal honor, but to serve. Yes, perhaps not even to have appeal and success, but rather to lose them.
However it may be - if this you may be certain: you are chosen by God to help people to get to know God and be saved by the foolishness of preaching the word of the cross.”
Elsewhere in Germany’s south, two veteran auxiliary bishops retired. In Freiburg im Breisgau Bishop Paul Friedrich Wehrle did so after 31 years, and in München und Freising Bishop Engelbert Siebler finished 26 years as auxiliary bishop.
72-year-old Bishop Wehrle retires for health reasons. The archdiocese will be requesting a successor, as it tries to maintain three active auxiliaries in lieu of the dioceses size. Auxiliary Bishop Rainer Klug and Bernd Uhl remain to assist Archbishop Robert Zollitsch. Both Zollitsch and Klug are 73, so this retirement heralds an almost complete change in diocesan leadership over the coming years.
Bishop Engelbert Siebler retires for reasons of age, having turned 75 in May. He has been active as a teacher, leading the Commission on Schooling and Formation in the bishops’ conference from 2001 to 2006. Upon his retirement, Bishop Siebler receives both the Federal and Bavarian Order of Merit.
It may not be a big international journey (although, from Vatican City, almost any journey is an international one), the weekend trip that Pope Benedict XVI is taking to Milan is certainly one with an international flavour. Billed as a twofold pastoral visit, to the Archdiocese of Milan and the Seventh World Meeting of Families, it includes no less than thirteen events which the pope will speak at or attend.
First up today are the official welcome at the airport, a meeting with the people of Milan in front of the iconic Duomo and a concert at the La Scala theatre.
Tomorrow will be mainly pastoral, as the Holy Father will mark several moments of prayer, as well as meeting with Confirmation candidates and attending an ‘evening of witness’.
Sunday, then, will be relatively low-key, fitting for both the Lord’s day and the papal stamina. Pope Benedict will celebrate a big public Mass in Bresso Park, and he will speak to the organisers of the World Day of Families.
Family will no doubt be a major topic in the papal addresses, from which I will share choice passages here as they appear.
A return to the Vatican is expected for early Sunday evening.
The Archdiocese of Milan, dating back to the first century, is one of Europe’s largest dioceses. Home to almost 5 million Catholics, boasting 30 basilicas, it has nevertheless been visited by a pope only twice before. Blessed John Paul II visited in 1983 and 1984. The archbishop if Angelo Cardinal Scola, and he has four auxiliary bishops to assist him. It has given the Church three popes (Paul VI, Pius XI and Urban III) and one antipope (Alexander V).
Photo credit: AP Photo/Luca Bruno
I received a letter yesterday, an invitation for the celebrations around the 125th anniversary, on 25 May, of the consecration of my parish church, the cathedral of Saints Joseph and Martin in Groningen . All ‘new Catholics’, people baptised or confirmed in the past ten years, received a similar invitation.
The parish website has the full schedule of events:
- Wednesday 23 May, 8pm: Father Antoine Bodar speaks about the question of the relevancy of the Church: Should we just abolish the Church or take pride in our being Catholic. This talk is specifically aimed at students and young Catholics.
- Friday 25 May, 2:30pm: Anniversary of the consecration of the church. For the elderly parishioners there will be a festive afternoon, and also the opening of a photo exhibit of the cathedral’s history. At 6:30pm the cathedral chapter will offer a Sung Vespers, and at 7pm there will be a High Mass during which Bishop Gerard de Korte will consecrate the new people’s altar.
- Saturday 26 May, 2pm: An afternoon for young families, during which Ms. Carolijn van Voorst tot Voorst will speak about religious education in our time. Children will be able to go on a treasure hunt in the church.
- Sunday 27 May, 11am: High Mass offered by Bishop de Korte and apostolic nuncio Archbishop André Dupuy. Mass will be followed by the official presentation of a memorial book of the church’s history. At 5pm there will be an ecumenical Vespers with the bishop and ministers of the various church communities in the city.
- Friday 1 June, 5 pm: Official reception for all the volunteers of the parish.
I’m especially looking forward to Fr. Bodar’s talk, the photo exhibit, the new altar, the High Mass on Sunday and the book.
A church, especially the church where one was baptised and confirmed and received the other sacraments, is not just a building. It is a home of sorts. The home of Christ, certainly, but therefore also a home for us. With the other parishioners and the clergy attached to the church we form a family. The cathedral in Groningen has been a home for me for more than five years now, which is nothing compared to the 125 years that it has been a home for others, but its celebration is also that of me and the parish I am a part of.
Tomorrow is Ascension Day, and since it doesn’t look like I’ll have much of a chance to be online (rather like today, then), here is a text I wrote for the website of the St. Augustine parish for students in Groningen:
This Thursday we celebrate the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Catholic Church that day counts as a Sunday. Because just like every Sunday this is a feast day which we specifically celebrate. And of course such a Sunday is more than just a day off. The Church asks us to keep the Sunday holy because of the importance of what we celebrate. That is taken directly from the Ten Commandments. How do we keep that day holy? By showing that we know what we celebrate and that we thank God for it. And we best recognise, celebrate and thank when we attend the sacrifice of Christ in the Mass. That is why there is a Sunday obligation for Ascension Day. We are expected to attend Mass that day. Not because the church has to be full, but because it is important for us, as members of the Body of Christ. Becoming aware of God’s acts is a first step towards the sanctification of our own lives.
There will not be a student Mass on Thursday. Instead you can go to the High Mass at the cathedral at 11:00. If you want to go before that, the doors of the St. Francis church, at the Zaagmuldersweg 67, are open for Mass at 9:30.
The Ascension of Christ is the conclusion of His work here on earth. Not that everything was now done and eternity was ready to begin; far from it. Things were really only starting for the Apostles. Just before ascending into heaven, Christ told them: “You will receive the power of the Holy Spirit which will come on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to earth’s remotest end” (Acts 1: 8). And that is exactly what happened at Pentecost, which we celebrate in almost two weeks. The Holy Spirit came over the Apostles and they become that strong witnesses of the faith who we find in the Acts of the Apostles.
The Ascension is therefore a new beginning. After the new Covenant had been established at the Ressurrection, it can now be put into practice. Jesus promises is that He will send us a helper: The Holy Spirit. We received Him ourselves at our personal Pentecost: the sacrament of Confirmation, and we can always ask the Holy Spirit to come over us anew, to guide and inspire us.
That is what the Ascension already indicates. But until Pentecost we stare up at the empty sky, with hope and faith in the promise made by two angels to the Apostles. And what a promise!
“Why are you Galileans standing here looking into the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way as you have seen him go to heaven” (Acts 1: 11).
Today (well, very late tonight, if you want to be specific) it is exactly three years ago that I was baptised and confirmed, and so became a part of the Christ’s mystical body. It’s sometimes hard to imagine it’s already been three years, but when I consider what happened in that period, it’s not that difficult. In some ways, that Easter Vigil of 2007 was the start of the path I’m still on. It was clear from the get-go that, whatever my future would hold, my faith and the Church would play a significant part in it. That led me to consider my future in a new light, which brought the question of my vocation into view. So, in many ways, those three sacraments I received in one night (the aforementioned Baptism and Confirmation, as well as first Communion) are still very firmly present in my life. And that’s how it should be.
So, I’m three years old now. Hurrah!
EDIT: To stay in the spirit of Easter and baptism, here is the Dutch translation of Pope Benedict XVI’s homily at the Easter Vigil.