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

eijk

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

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)