If you’re active in the Church, in whatever capacity, the coming days are the busiest of the year. I don’t expect to catch much sleep, especially around Good Friday. There have been cases where I had a full workday, an all-night vigil and another full workday, totalling over 36 hours without sleep. A minor sacrifice.
Here is my schedule:
Maundy Thursday 19:00: Mass. The last Mass before Easter, commemorating the Last Supper. It also includes the Washing of the Feet. The Blessed Sacrament is relocated to the Altar of Repose, as Jesus goes to Gethsemane and ultimately His death and resurrection. 20:30: Start of the vigil. With a friend I’ve organised this all-night vigil for the third time. We watch and pray with Christ in Gethsemane. The cathedral will be open until midnight, although anyone is welcome at any time.
Good Friday 07:00: End of the vigil with Lauds. 15:00: Stations of the Cross. In fourteen stages we relive the journey of Christ to the Cross, from His conviction by Pontius Pilate to His burial. It’s always an emotional experience. 19:00: Serving at the Service of the Passion of the Lord at St. Francis. Not a Mass, since the Lord is not there anymore. We venerate the Cross, tool of our salvation, during this service.
Holy Saturday 20:30: Serving at Easter Vigil at St. Francis. The early vigil where several catechumens will be baptised and/or confirmed. Always special to be a part of that. 23:00: Easter Vigil at the cathedral. A long Mass, the high point of not just our liturgical year, but our entire existence: Christ is risen! The rituals and music are always fantastic.
Easter Sunday 11:00: High Mass, offered by Bishop de Korte. Easter continues unabated and we still celebrate. 18:00: Mass for students. Which will be interesting because of a distinct lack of volunteers… But we’ll manage.
For the 25th year in a row the Archbishop of Utrecht blessed the flowers and floral arrangements, as well as the arrangers, truck driver and truck, destined for the Easter celebrations in the Vatican. Holy water and a blessing sped them on their way to Rome, where the truck carrying 22,000 flowers is expected to arrive tomorrow.
The Dutch contribution to the Easter Mass on St. Peter’s Square has given risen to a popular image of the previous pope, John Paul II, and his characteristic pronunciation of the Dutch “Bedank vor die bloemen” (“Thank you for the flowers”).
Possibly following the example of the open letter to the NCRV, two Dutch Catholics, Eric van den Berg (information scientist) and Frank Bosman (theologian) have published a press release in which they express their concern about the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. Their initiative is called ‘Wij blijven katholiek’ (‘We remain Catholic’) and stresses the importance of trying to resolve the crisis by not leaving the Church, as a fair number of people have done in recent weeks.
I signed it because I think it’s a good way of balancing the very skewed media reporting, and the vocal minority that uses their leaving the Church* as a way to protest. I also really appreciate the express desire to remain loyal to the Church, and await the conclusions of the independent investigation proposed by the bishops.
*Leaving the Church is not as easy as it sounds. Sure, the administrative side is quite normal – just a matter of removing one’s information from the books. But the sacraments can’t be removed. Once baptised or confirmed, always baptised or confirmed. And that is something many people forget.