Archbishop Léonard to offer EF Mass in Brussels

A Belgian Thomist reports that, on 30 January, Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard will mark the establishment of an official FSSP presence in the Belgian capital by offering a Mass in the Extraordinary Form. This is only the second time since the publication of Summorum Pontificum in 2007, that an EF Mass in the Low Countries involves such a high-level prelate. The first was, of course, the Mass presided over by Archbishop Bacqué, the nuncio to the Netherlands, on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (15 August of last year).

The celebration of this Mass should of course first be valued for itself and its intention: the celebration of the establishment of the FSSP in Brussels. But on a separate level it is also a firm endorsement of and support for the wish of Pope Benedict XVI that this older form of the Latin Mass be promoted on an equal level to the more familiar ordinary form, so as to firmly embed our daily Catholic experience in the long history of the Church and her Tradition.

The Mass will start at 17:30 and will be offered at the church of Sts. John and Stephen of the Minims. located at the Miniemenstraat 62 in Brussels.

Photo credit: the website of Mysterium Fidei, a Flemish movement that encourages the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

Stats for August 2010

Time to take a look at the stats of my blog in the last summer vacation month, which was fairly average when it comes to visits. There have been 4,083 in total, and that brings the total number of visitors to just over 50,000 since early January. Moderately surprising since the activity has been slower than normal, and that will be continuing for the foreseeable future. Changes in my private life prevent me from maintaining the number of posts per week which have been standard.

The ten most popular posts are as follows:

1: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary: 274
2: A gentle pope, but rock solid in the execution: 93
3: Pornography or art?: 75
4: A mosque in New York: 73
5: The double standard of death: 61
6: Priest removes 6,000 people from church: 59
7: Brick by brick in Groningen-Leeuwarden: 56
8: St Joseph cathedral turns 123 today: 55
9: The possibilities of a Dutch CNMC: 48
10: Some facts about the Turin shroud: 46

Text of the nuncio’s homily is online

The homily that Archbishop Bacqué gave at the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin in the church of St. Agnes has been published online. The text, unsurprisingly, is in Dutch, but I have taken the liberty of making an English translation. The nuncio focuses on the motherhood of Mary in its various forms, and I found it noteworthy that he also referred to her as the mother of the new evangelisation. This in light, of course, of the recent creation by the pope of a dicastery devoted to exactly that new evangelisation in the heavily secularised west.

Via the first link is the text above you’ll also find more photos of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form which Msgr. Bacqué presided over. There is also a video of the procession around the roundabout in front of the church. Browse through the links underneath the header ‘Special Maria Tenhemelopneming 2010’.

You’ll also find the my translation on the ‘translations’ page, as usual.

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

A view of the sanctuary before the nuncio arrived and Mass began

Today I had the pleasure of attending the celebration of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin at one of the few FSSP churches in the Netherlands. The St. Agnes in Amsterdam is a monumental building where priests  of the Fraternity of Saint Peter offer Mass according to the Missal of 1962, the Extraordinary Form of the Latin rite. Today, they hosted a special guest: the Apostolic Nuncio to the Netherlands, Archbishop François Bacqué. This was the first time in many years that a bishop presided over a Mass in the Extraordinary Form, and I can’t help but wonder if some gentle nudging from Rome didn’t play a part in that. After all, Pope Benedict XVI is keen to promote the celebration of the Eucharist in this form, and the visible support of local bishops is important to achieve that. To have the Vatican ambassador presiding at this occasion could be considered a further step along that way. I can help but wonder (although sources at the St. Agnes reveal that it is just idle thought. It seems the nuncio himself expressed the desire to preside).

The celebration itself was striking in its solemnity and beauty. The organic progress from the official welcome of the Nuncio, via Mass, a procession around the roundabout in front of the church, to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, struck me specifically. The basic structure of Mass is the same in all its forms, but today it visibly amounted to a whole.

The procession I mentioned was something special. All processions are of course, but this small tour around a rather busy roundabout in Amsterdam (of all cities) stands out for me. First were two men bearing a statue of our lady accompanied by acolytes, then followed some 200 faithful and the clergy with the nuncio closed the procession. The pealing of the bells of the church did drown out our prayer and song, but I’d like to think we gave a powerful little witness of the faith in Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin who leads our way to Him.

A few photos of the preparation for today’s celebration are available here. More photos may appear in the coming days.

EDIT: A few more photos are available here.

Fr. Martin Knudsen, the administrator of the St. Agnes, with Msgr. Bacqué.