Cardinal Eijk sanctions a priest for excessive liturgical creativity, so why is the cardinal the bad guy?


Cardinal Eijk is the media’s bad guy again. He sanctioned a priest for ‘forgetting’ a few words at Mass. Well, as it often is when secular media try to report on Church business, reality is a bit different.

It is true that the priest, a Dominican who assists at a parish northwest of Utrecht, has been forbidden to publicly offer Mass for a year. It is also true that he forgot some words. And then some more.

A Mass in which the Kyrie, Gloria, all three prescribed readings, the preface and the entire Eucharistic Prayer were either skipped or replaced is, quite frankly, not a Mass. The bread and wine do not become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the faithful do not partake of Communion with God and Church, and the priest flouted his oath and duty. A previous “misstep”, as the Archdiocese calls it, in the same parish, prompted the cardinal to re-emphasise the liturgical rules in force in the Church.

Is this reason for the sanctions as described above? That can be debated, of course, but the fact is that this is exactly why Cardinal Eijk wanted to focus more and how the liturgy is celebrated in his archdiocese. It is also fact that the liturgy of the Church is not just a collection of rules for their own sake.

In the words of the archdiocese’s own explanation of events (which is altogether more reliable than the reports of secular media):

“[Replacing or skipping the Eucharistic Prayer’] is most serious, since this invalidates the celebration of the Eucharist. It means that faithful came to the celebration, to receive the Body of Christ, in vain. The Eucharist (which refers to the Last Supper of Jesus Christ) is the most important sacrament, in which the faithful celebrate their unity with God and each other. All the more painful in this context is the fact that, on Maundy Thursday, the Catholic Church celebrates the institution of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and the institution of the priesthood. Cardinal Eijk thinks that faithful should be able to rely on valid Masses being offered in the churches of the archdiocese. Not without reason the Vatican instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum states that the complete omission of the Eucharistic prayer is “objectively to be  considered among grave matters […] that puts at risk the validity and  dignity of the Most Holy Eucharist”.

Priests have considerable freedom in the pastoral care they perform for the faithful under their care, in the way they teach and proclaim the faith. They do not, however, have the freedom to change or ignore what God, through His Church, instituted. The sacrament of the Eucharist is the single most precious treasure we have been given: it is Christ Himself. By changing what He wants to give us every single day, we place ourselves above Him. True, we are very important, also to the Lord. But we are not Him.

The priesthood is the channel through which Gods grace, in the sacraments, comes to His people. The channel can not change what it is given to safeguard and pass on.

So, yes, Cardinal Eijk is very correct in taking steps to correct this abuse. No one with a basic understanding of Catholic theology and understanding of the sacraments has any excuse not to realise that. Sadly, none of these people work at newspapers and television stations.

Photo credit: afp

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I'm a 36-year-old lay Catholic from the diocese of Groningen-Leeuwarden. I write about the Catholic Church in the Netherlands. I not only enjoy bringing selected developments to the attention of readers, but I also think that it is sometimes important to allow a wider audience to read about the state of the Church in the Netherlands. That's why a fair number of posts about that topic will be translations of Dutch articles, episcopal writings and whatever else.

22 thoughts on “Cardinal Eijk sanctions a priest for excessive liturgical creativity, so why is the cardinal the bad guy?”

  1. It is a pretty sad state of affairs when the faithful have to wonder about the validity of the mass they attend… The SSPX is right, there truly is a state of necessity in the Church due to not only common error (the heresy of modernism in all the reforms after V2) but also in the lack of general discipline in the Church, as shown by priests so bold as to ignore the basics of their job.

  2. Let me get this straight. Unless the words are said exactly the same, the Spirit of Christ wont come into the wafers and wine? That is too far fetched for me.

    1. The mass does not belong to the Priest – it belongs to Christ. The Priest is acting in the person of Christ at the mass. Our Lord Jesus commanded the Apostles to “Do this” which means to consecrate the bread and wine into His Body and Blood. He alone set the formula, which the Church defends and enforces. If you refuse to follow Christ’s commands, are you following Christ?

    2. You’re not Catholic, are you? Because if you were, you would know that its not the “spirit” of Christ that “comes” into the wafers and wine. At that moment when the words are said, the wafers and wine become the body and blood of Christ. Sorry if this sounds too far-fetched for you, this is the “truth”.

    3. Dan,
      Either the Priest is fully standing with and in Christ, in his words and actions, or he is not.
      Where there is no unity with Christ, there is no Eucharist.

      (I cringe in making the following analogy because Hollywood is almost always a total mockery of the Sacred, but it is what you might understand.)
      For those caught up in Hollywood modernistic “realities” …. Harry potter dies if he doesn’t get the words right.

      1. I get your hesitation for the analogy because we all would hate to make light of the situation (or compare Christ to Harry Potter!) BUT it is a good one that is exactly right. Precision is absolutely necessary. These words were not laid out for us willy-nilly whatsoever!

    4. It is exactly true–we cannot change the words of Christ Himself when He instituted the Eucharist. Matter (and words) matter! The priest is “in persona Christi”–it is Christ Himself who gives the Eucharist. If the words are not His, the bread and wine remain only bread and wine. It is Christ, the Word, who changes the bread and wine into His body and blood.

  3. The priest is ordained to represent the bishop, not to replace nor overrule him. It is the bishop’s duty to see that the faith as defined by a Council of bishops, successors to the Apostles, is respected. If a priest wants to “play mass” supposedly he cannot be stopped. But t it is a fraud to try and sell it as a valid sacrament and he should not be allowed to present it as such.
    In fact it is a sacrilege, and as a Dominican he should know better!

  4. Thank you Bishop for such a wonderful clear explanation. I am An Irish cradle Catholic and have never heard such clarity. God bless you

  5. Dominicans run our parish and are very careful to say the prayers correctly and completely. That particular Dominican is probably being disciplined by his Prior General as well as the local bishop.

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