“The night is not dark for me” – Bishop van Luyn’s last homily

Related to the previous post (and originally part of it), about the retirement of Bishop Ad van Luyn as chief shepherd of the see of Rotterdam as well as the presidency of the Dutch Bishops’ Conference and the COMECE, I now have available a translation of the homily he delivered during his farewell Mass on 18 June. The emeritus bishop discusses the central position of Christ in our faith and His way as the way of love. There are many references to papal encyclicals and Council documents, as well as some personal reflections on the reasoning behind his choice of motto and coat of arms. It’s an interesting read.

For completeness’ sake, here follow the two Scripture readings read in the Mass and referred to by the bishop in his homily:

From the Second Letter of Saint Paul to Timothy (1:6-14):

That is why I am reminding you now to fan into a flame the gift of God that you possess through the laying on of my hands. God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power and love and self-control. So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to our Lord, or ashamed of me for being his prisoner; but share in my hardships for the sake of the gospel, relying on the power of God who has saved us and called us to be holy — not because of anything we ourselves had done but for his own purpose and by his own grace. This grace had already been granted to us, in Christ Jesus, before the beginning of time, but it has been revealed only by the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus. He has abolished death, and he has brought to light immortality and life through the gospel, in whose service I have been made herald, apostle and teacher. That is why I am experiencing my present sufferings; but I am not ashamed, because I know in whom I have put my trust, and I have no doubt at all that he is able to safeguard until that Day what I have entrusted to him. Keep as your pattern the sound teaching you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. With the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, look after that precious thing given in trust.

From the Gospel according to John (15:9-17)

I have loved you just as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete. This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you. No one can have greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command you. I shall no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know the master’s business; I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father. You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; so that the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name. My command to you is to love one another.

Bishop van Luyn's coat of arms with the symbols of the four Evangelists

In with the new – Abp. Eijk for president

Following the retirement of the current president of the Dutch Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Ad van Luyn, effective on 2 July, the Dutch bishops elected the archbishop of Utrecht and metropolitan of the Netherlands, Msgr. Wim Eijk, to succeed him. Bishop Frans Wiertz of Roermond stays on as vice-president. The new appointment becomes effective upon the installation of Bishop Hans van den Hende as the new bishop of Rotterdam, on the aforementioned date of 2 July.

When Archbishop Eijk was appointed to Utrecht in 2007, he said that he would be focussing on his new diocese and would not immediately seek the position of president of the conference. Now, four years later, he has, and it was really just a matter of time. Generally, the metropolitan of a Church province, is also the president of that provinces bishops’ conference. And if not, the function does tend to go to an archbishop. In northwestern Europe, there are four bishops’ conferences (Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia) and now only one of these is headed by a president who is not an archbishop. That is the Scandinavian conference with Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm. And that province has no archbishops or metropolitan. So Archbishop Eijk’s new appointment fits in with the general trend.

Photo credit: RTV Utrecht

Advice to bishops and religious: compensate victims graciously

In a succinct yet thorough advice, the Lindenbergh Commission, established by the bishops’ conference and the Conference of Dutch Religious, has published their recommendations regarding financial compensation to victims of sexual abuse by priests, religious and others employed by Catholic institutions.

In essence, the advice foresees the creation of a collective financial responsibility for all Catholic institutions. In five categories, the Lindenbergh Commission recommends financial compensation ranging from 5,000 to 100,000 euros. An independent commission of non-Catholics is to judge the compensation in individual cases. No accused party may refer to the statute of limitations to avoid payment, and neither is appeal an option.

It’s a strict and clear advice, which has been welcomed by victims’  associations and spokesmen. Speaking for the bishops and religious, Bishop Gerard de Korte and Brother Cees van Dam have repeated that the interest of the victim comes first. They will be studying the advice given, and will await another report about the reorganisation of aid organisation Hulp & Recht, before deciding on the actual implementation.

Read the full report (in Dutch) here.

A hermit in the movies

“A reflective documentary about the human movement between wanting something really bad and stubborn reality”. That is how the short (25 minutes) documentary about Brother Hugo, that was filmed in September, January and March, is described on the official website.

The film, shot in 16mm to enforce a higher level of concentration for the makers, will be shown on three days (28, 29 and 30 June) at the Keep an Eye Filmacademy Festival in Amsterdam. An invitation-only première will take place two days earlier.

Brother Hugo is the only diocesan hermit in our diocese living in a small country church that was converted into a hermitage and shrine of Our Lady of the Garden Enclosed. He has been there for over a decade and has since become a fixture of village life in the small hamlet of Warfhuizen. Despite his secluded life, Brother Hugo has been the focus of much media attention over the years, and also contributes himself via blogs and articles he writes on various topics.

I am curious to see the picture this documentary paints of such an unfamiliar life, unfamiliar especially here in the north. I have little doubt that a DVD will be available later via the Guild of Our Lady of the Garden Enclosed, or directly at the hermitage.