An invitation for life

Upon the request of Dutch Catholic blogger IngridAiram, I share her invitation to all Catholics in the Netherlands (as well as, conceivably, Christians of other churches and church communities) to come to The Hague on 8 December and make a stand for life.

Ingrid notes the value that the Catholic Church attaches to life in all its forms, but especially that of the poor, the weak, the elderly and especially the unborn. Yet the Catholic presence at previous Marches for Life was rather small. She writes:

“That is why I would like to urge, beg you, to walk the March for Life in The Hague with me.To witness to life and the respect for all life, as Christ had. A silent march through The Hague, silence as a symbol for the child that has no voice. We must be that voice. For every life has value.”

Check the multilingual website here for more information.

The Night of Mary

Last weekend I took part in the first event by the Guild of Our Lady of the Garden Enclosed aimed at young adults: the Night of Mary. We gathered in the small hamlet of Warfhuizen, home of the shrine of Our Lady of the Garden Enclosed, for shared lunch and dinner, companionship, an introduction by hermit Brother Hugo on the topic of night, an afternoon walk through the Groninger countryside (below) to stretch the limbs and an evening candlelit procession to Our Lady at the shrine.

About a dozen young people came to spend the afternoon and take part in the procession, which was also open to adult pilgrims. We processed under a starlit sky, around the village cemetery and a field behind it (the only option in the village to walk a circle, unless we took a 15-kilometer detour in order to cross the canal), followed by a couple of very curious horses which managed to disrupt the prayer of Deacon Patrick, Brother Hugo and seminarian Sander leading the procession (the three fell into helpless laughter after a horse nuzzled the back of the deacon’s neck… a bit of a shocker in the dark!). At the shrine, we had exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and a lot of personal prayer intentions. These intentions are not new at Holy Hour at the shrine, but the sheer number of them was.

For something of an impression, Ingrid created this short film:

There are some photos available at the website of the shrine, here.

Photo credit: Mercèdès Terlaak

Gearing up for Bootcamp 2011

The flyer for Bootcamp 2010, designed by Brother Hugo

When good Catholic catechesis and education beyond the basic topics is hard to find, you sometimes need to provide for it yourself. That is the basic reason why the Credimus Bootcamp was held for the first time in 2008. This year it will be organised for the fourth time and already the PR machine is gearing up. To the left you’ll notice the design of the flyer by Brother Hugo, the diocesan hermit who has been involved with Bootcamp from the start. He was also the host of the first edition.

The topic of Bootcamp 2011 is ‘shepherds’. I don’t know anything beyond that either, but I am sure that, over the course of the coming months, we will find out a bit more.

Bootcamp 2011 will be held from 16 to 22 July in Geffen, Diocese of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, where Father David van Dijk will be host for the third time running.

An impression of my experiences of Bootcamp 2010 can be found in my blog post Back from Bootcamp.

Credimus Bootcamp is a week of liturgy and lectures, but also social activities and relaxation, aimed at people roughly between 16 and 35. There will be daily Mass in both forms of the Latin rite, offered by various guest priests, the Liturgy of the Hours, Adoration, and every day guests will come and speak about all kinds of topics (past topics included the sacrifice of the Mass, Gregorian chant (also in workshop form), ecclesiology, a first-hand account of an approved miracle and people’s innate urge to find God.

Next to that, there is ample time for relaxation, meals together, a day trip on the free day in the middle of the week and random Catholic encounters with people, traditions and artifacts from the dark attic of the faith, to paraphrase Brother Hugo. For most people attending it is also a week that does not leave them unaffected: in the end, Bootcamp is all about the encounter with the living God.

Follow the Bootcamp organisation, which includes the authors of Ingrid Airam and David’s Weblog, on Twitter via CmusBootcamp and on Facebook.

Guest blogger Ingrid on the March for Life

A first in my blog today: a proper guest blogger. Ingrid Airam, who usually blogs in Dutch about all kinds of Catholic topics, describes her experience of participating in a March For Life in The Hague and shares why she could do no less but participate. Her contribution starts underneath the photo.

The March for Life, something I had heard of once in a while, and by chance  read about on the website of the church of Saint Agnes in Amsterdam, about a week before the march would be held this year. Well, by chance… in some ways it obviously wasn’t. But considering the marginal attention (one can safely say none at all) offered by other parishes in the Netherlands it was. A march against a so-called medical procedure which is legal in the Netherlands. Theoretically only in emergencies, but that word proves to be very flexible in practice.

So why in Heaven’s protest against which is so commonly accepted in this country? Not even simply accepted, but something that is considered by many a right and a sign of civilisation. Essentially it’s very simple: I am pro-life in heart and soul, but also with a  considerably amount of sense. And although I really understand the difficulties of a woman faced with such a choice, I consider it barbaric, to quote one of our listeners. And when I am full of words about sanctity and worth of protection of life, wouldn’t it be weak not to participate in such a march? And so I considered it nothing more than my Christian, no, even my human duty to walk – even though it probably wouldn’t make much of a difference, least of all in politics – even though, as a student, I have little money to spend and traveling costs money, after all. I simply couldn’t do anything less.

And so,this Saturday, 11 December 2010, I stood on the Plein in The Hague. A fair number of Catholics had attended a traditional Mass beforehand and had come to the Plein from there. It wasn’t an enormous number, but still a fair number of people. And so many different people: from children to elderly, many young people, Protestants, Evangelicals, Catholics… Beforehand some words from Minister Dorenbos, as far as I know one of the initiators, although I am not sure, encouragement from a Belgian pro-life movement (Catholics, as I found out later when we were walking right behind them, and all of them young), and some testimonials. One of them from an elderly lady who had undergone an abortion, and a younger woman of, I would say, about my age. Impressive and certainly encouraging. By then many people had their placards in hand, with texts as ‘Stop abortion now’  and ‘Jesus forgiver’. hen we left. I don’t know the exact route anymore, since I’m not at all familiar in The Hague, but I think we generously avoided the Binnenhof [seat of the Dutch parliament – MV]. I was somewhat surprised at how quiet it was along the route. Apart from a shouting woman, a few signs and two troublemaker it was quiet. My tension abated somewhat, and armed with a rosary and police around us (honestly, compliments for them on this day) we walked the route in relative quiet. Passers-by stopped, often with surprised looks, taking pictures.

Back at the Plein there were speeches. They started well, powerfully. Among them a man from America who hadn’t been supposed to be born according to his mother and the doctors: but the abortion failed. Another proclaimed that we, in the Netherlands, of whatever denomination, should make this a priority in our prayers, to stand up for life.

I don’t recall the later speakers as much, it was too much. But the fact that these people were so clear… I wish our bishops and priests would join this, and make this an important point on the agenda. Because, although there was a decent number of Catholics, there was all of one bishop (Msgr. de Jong, who deserves all accolades, and who also said a few words), two priests from the FSSP and one from the SSPX, it was a very meager showing. Granted, it is an originally Protestant march, but that does not diminish the importance of the march and the common goal. The Catholic Church offers clear teachings about this, a message of love. And so we should join our forces for this. Christians in the Netherlands, in Flanders… let’s unite, pray… and be on the Plein next year with a much larger number!

Photo credit: Bryan Kemper for Jeunes pour la Vie

We can decide it for you wholesale

Katholiek Nieuwsblad reports that the Council of Europe is preparing to establish regulations for medical doctors who refuse a treatment based on moral objections. The proposed bill says that there must be a balance between the right of personal moral objections and the patient’s right of treatment. It continues to say that, under certain circumstances, doctors must set aside their objections.

The question here is not so much whether or not a doctor should be allowed to have moral objections to perform, say, and abortion or euthanasia. Well, it is, but it goes further than that.

Ingrid Airam wonders who should make the medical decisions: the doctors who studied and trained for years, or the bureaucrats who decide what medication they can proscribe? She raised the question in regards to the forms of medication covered by insurance companies, but I also think it is a valid concern here.

A moral objection is not a simple decision not to do something. The doctor who has one will have a good reason for it. When you remove the right to make expert decisions, the doctor becomes a tool wielded by people and institutions who have considerably less expertise, let alone hands-on experience.

In a life-or-death situations (or even a less serious case) I would sooner trust the knowledge of the person directly treating me than the bureaucrats and politicians who say what he or she can and can not do.

I’m not proposing doctors should be loose canons who can do whatever they please. But I do think it is important that, when it comes to medical and ethical decisions, the experience of the people in the field is the first deciding factor.