The change the Church needs

The spires of the two parish churches "point out the the invisible higher reality in our lives"

An excellent blog post on the website of the parish of Saints John and Clement in Waalwijk*, Diocese of ‘s Hertogenbosch, titled, “It is not the Church that needs to change, but you and I”. Taking the recent bush fires in the diocese (Reusel, Liempde, San Salvator, and also Waalwijk, where the previous pastor was less than popular) as a starting point, the unnamed author takes a firm stand against liberal, often elderly faithful who consider themselves progressive and want to change the Church, or at least their parish, in a product of our times.

Some excerpts:

The ‘protestants’ are often supported by former priests who either resigned their office, or are married and no longer active in a parish belonging to the diocese, or religious priests. They loudly demand democratisation and ‘adaptation to the times’ from the leaders of the Catholic Church who, supported by her bishops and a new  class of priests and faithful, all over the world keep to Catholic teaching, which they draw from the unchangeable Gospel of Christ. Those who demand structural change from the Church call their opponents conservative, old-fashioned and stupid. They feel supported by the media and millions of baptised Christians who never, or only at very special occasions, see the inside of a church. All these critics only see a future for the Catholic Church if she adapts to the wishes and ideas of the majority. According to them, the people are the Church, and so they want the people to call the shots in a ‘reformed’ democratic church. Literally and figuratively.

The text mentions some of the examples of incidents I mentioned above, and then continues:

These are all examples which indicate that the Church keeps holding on to the sanctity of the Eucharist and the other sacraments, against the wishes of the majority of the Dutch people, that not only demands that the Church lets people choose for themselves between life and death, fidelity and infidelity, self-sacrifice or self-gratification, charity or selfishness, but at the same time demands that the Church sanctifies, by administering the sacraments, practices that are unchristian according to the Gospels, like the ones mentioned above.

The conclusion of the piece is a serious one:

The only thing that all the protesters and  troublemakers achieved since the 1960s, with their anticatholic and unchristian actions, is that the younger generations threw out the baby with the bathwater, i this case the Christ child sent by God. With the result that many young people never or rarely go to a church anymore: Today – 1,400 years after the Christianisation by St. Boniface – the Church of Christ is faced for the first time with a young generation which has hardly learned anything (positive) about our faith and our Church at home and in school, and for the most part no longer knows what the good news of Jesus Christ is.

The piece further refers to the aged ‘revolutionaries’ of the Mariënburg club and the 8 May movement which sprung up in the wake of Blessed John Paul II’s visit to the Netherlands in 1985, noting the disastrous results of decades of individualism and ill-informed protest. The final words of the article are attrubited to Blessed Teresa of Kolkata:

Blessed Mother Theresa was once asked what she thought should change first in the Church. He answer was, “You and I!”

*The parish of the intelligent, humble and over-so-sensibly Catholic Father Marcel Dorssers, a regular guest at the annual Credimus Bootcamp.

Photo credit: R.K. parochie St. Jan en St. Clemens

An impression of a unique occasion

The first photos of yesterday’s EF Mass, offered by Raymond Cardinal Burke in the presence of Bishop Jos Punt and Auxiliary Bishop elect Jan Hendriks (respectively to the left and right of the cardinal), are online at the website of the St. Agnes church. The above photo shows the cardinal, bishop, priests, deacons, acolytes and other assistants at the Mass, including the parish priest, a seminarian, and a transitional deacon. The EF Mass is no longer something that involves only a few older Catholics who recall pre-conciliar times.

The presence of a high-ranking prelate like Cardinal Burke, who is the chief of the Holy See’s canonical court system, is of course unique enough to merit some attention, but the fact that the cardinal was the guest of the bishop of Haarlem-Amsterdam, who accompanied him to St. Agnes and who attended the Mass in choir with the newly appointed auxiliary bishop of his diocese, makes it all the more so. No other Dutch bishop has yet attended an EF Mass, despite what Bishop Punt spoke about in his homily: that the old and new form of the Mass must mutually enrich one another.

I am still on the lookout for the text of Bishop Punt’s homily, which I will provide in an English translation if possible.

The Mass itself, as may expected, took well over two hours. The church, despite a miscommunication of the Mass’ starting time, ended up being quite well-filled. Cardinal Burke entered wearing the cappa magna, the long mantle that cardinals and bishops can wear outside liturgical celebrations. Cardinal Burke, then, removed his when he had knelt in prayer for the Blessed Sacrament and th Mass proper began.

The doubly-festive occasion, marking not only the fifth anniversary of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass being offered at St. Agnes, but also the feast day of Saint Willibrord, the patron of the Netherlands, was enlivened by both a mixed and a female choir, singing the Missa Surge Propera by Francisco Guerrero, of which I share the lovely Kyrie below:

Being deprived of good enough eyesight to see much of the goings-on in the sanctuary, I relied on my ears and the texts to follow along, and although sometimes I was a bit at a loss (not least since my booklet missed a few pages!), I generally knew where we were and what we were doing. And that’s always a plus. All in all, the Mass was a very dignified celebration, and one I am happy to have attended.

The post-Mass socialising brought along some familiar faces, including some I hadn’t seen in a while. All this almost made up fully for having missed the Catholic Youth Day, which also took place yesterday. There, Bishop Rob Mutsaerts was the main celebrant of the closing Mass, and after his impressive homily last year, I am also on the lookout for the one he gave now. It is said to have been lengthy.

(Photo credit: Wim Koopman – iMoose)