I have decided to stop the possibility of commenting on my blog post about the Orange Mass and Fr. Paul Vlaar. Not because I want to prevent discussion, but because the discussion there is going round in circles. Discussions have a beginning and an end, and this has reached the latter. Everything that can be said about the case has been said, repeatedly, in the comments. I thank everyone for commenting and thinking about the situation (and doing so in a civil way), and I hope that some may have taken away some new knowledge and awareness.
With my post about Fr. Vlaar I initially wanted to suggest some way for people to do something with their concerns. I also wanted to explain why there was so much opposition, both nationally and internationally. Whether I succeeded is another matter.
I certainly never wanted to attack Fr. Vlaar personally. I don’t know the man outside of media reports, and so I have to go on what I see and hear about him. And he has also made a good impression when it comes to the pastoral care for his parish. That is an important part of a priest’s life, and not every priest succeeds in that.
But, as a Catholic who believes it is every christian’s task to defend God and the faith He has given use, my main concern lies with Him. His sacrifice on the Cross, which becomes reality at every single Mass we attend, is the source and summit of our faith. Our faith springs from it and reaches its perfect expression in it. Nothing can take the place of that sacrifice, and in the actual presence of Christ there are certain ways in which we can and cannot behave. That is not a limitation for us, but a freedom for Him to work in us. Our hearts must be open, and for that we must be aware of Christ among us; in the people around us, certainly, but foremost in the bread and wine on the altar and in the tabernacle. When there is a conscious effort to draw our attention away from Him during the Mass (which is all about Him), that must be opposed.
But that opposition must happen according to the golden rule that someone in the comments on my first post on this mentioned: “Do unto others what you have others do unto you.” That means we should first address our concerns to the persons involved, in this case, Father Vlaar, and an open, civil, pastoral way. The bishop is a second step. And I admit, I made a mistake by initially suggesting people run to the bishop immediately.
For now, the discussion about Obdam, Father Vlaar, football and so on, is closed here. Let us keep the faithful of Obdam, Fr. Paul Vlaar and everyone touched by this in our prayers. The Holy Spirit has ways to make something good out of what seems to be a very bad situation. Let’s trust in Him.
PS: A second reason for wrapping the discussion up now, is that I’ll be away for all of next week. Since I’ve already seen civil discussions in blogs spiral out of control and get very ugly indeed when I was away for a while, I’d rather see this finished now.