Trouble avoided as Cardinal Eijk takes the time for liturgy

Tejo van der Meulen

It’s a bit late, but I wanted to share it anyway, since I’ve written about the whole affair before. In the Archdiocese of Utrecht, the question of pastoral worker Tejo van der Meulen, who was initially to be let go from the parish of St. John the Baptist for several liturgical transgressions, can now stay on in his functions.

Cardinal Eijk, the archbishop, has agreed to this after Mr. van der Meulen and Father Gerard Griffioen, the parish priest, agreed to publically apologise and state their intentions to strictly adhere to the liturgical prescriptions of the celebration of the Mass. Both men did so via the parish website.

Although the two statements closely follow the wording of the conditions under which the archdiocese would refrain from insisting on the firing of Mr. van der Meulen, and are therefore somewhat overly clinical and stern, they get the message across. Mr. van der Meulen and, because his responsibility as parish priest, Fr Griffioen, “caused scandal and seriously disrupted the liturgical order of the Church”. Both men have now expressed their regrets and intention to avoid doing so in the future.

With these developments, which followed renewed discussion between the archdiocese and the parish, a lawsuit is avoided.

A pleasant surprise was the fact that, in the media, Cardinal Eijk was not consistently depicted as a tyrant in this case. That has been different in the past. A bishop has the duty to oversee the proceedings, including the liturgical ones, in his diocese. Anyway with a pastoral or liturgical mission in that diocese has the duty to make sure that the performance of these duties is in line with the teachings of the Church. When that, for whatever reason, does not happen, the bishop must act. It seems that now, after four years in Utrecht, Cardinal Eijk is about able to focus his attention on the liturgy as it is celebrated in the archdiocese.

Afternoon reflection: Responsibility

We find the following reading in the Liturgy of the Hours at today’s None or afternoon prayer. It is not a very difficult or long text, but it does articulate what, in my opinion is a very important aspect of the relationship between God and people, especially in its day-to-day reality:

“God is not to be fooled; whatever someone sows, that is what he will reap. If his sowing is in the field of self-indulgence, then his harvest from it will be corruption; if his sowing is in the Spirit, then his harvest from the Spirit will be eternal life.”

Galatians 6:7b-8

The image that some people have of religious people – that they are somehow mindless followers of some ancient commandments – is disproven by this passage. I’ve said it before: God takes us seriously. He lets us take our own decisions since we are intelligent and independent beings. He also lets us take our responsibility; it’s not as if He steps in whenever we make some dumb or even dangerous decision. Why not? Because as intelligent and independent beings we can take our responsibility and be expected to think before we act. That means we can take credit for what we do, but also the blame for things that go wrong.

In the context of our relationship with God, this means that we are free in how we relate to Him. We are able to find our way in the world, but there are consequences to the choices we make. While we can choose to follow God or ignore Him, we must be aware of the consequences of each of these actions.

The passage above is not objective, of course. The author, St. Paul, does not pretend that he does not care what choice his audience makes. There are right and wrong choices, but we are free and able to make them, and God will never impose His will upon us.