Rorate Caeli

Liberal liturgical tours: a strange Sunday Novus Ordo in the Netherlands

After some comforting but unsure self-denial about how the Council and post-Council led to the collapse of the proud, strong, and missionary Catholicism of the Netherlands in the past 50 years, ultra-progressive Liturgist Anthony Ruff, OSB, of Collegeville, describes this Sunday's Novus Ordo Mass (um... "service") in a major Amsterdam Church today:

I set out this morning for Dominicuskerk, Give Us This Day in hand since I don’t quite always catch everything in Dutch.

Dominicuskerk is a big neo-Gothic building. Now, there is a platform against the left wall in the middle of a long narrow nave, congregation gathered around all sides, piano and choir opposite platform. Pretty full church, virtually all over 60 or 70. Only a few who looked to be in their 30s or 40s, all female. About three children.

Large pipe organ (rather Romantic sounding) was used for about 1/3 of the music, piano for the rest. Choir sang in harmony, sometimes with people and sometimes alternating with them. Quite advanced and interesting piano parts, at times a sort of Dutch version of Calvin Hampton. Music of Oosterhuis and Löwenthal and Oomen and others. Quite nice music, really.

My first indication that Give Us This Day wouldn’t be of much use was when I looked at the Order of Worship handout. No Penitential Act, Gloria, or Collect. No first reading, responsorial psalm, second reading, Alleluia, or Gospel. Rather: song, prayer by female prayer leader, song repeated; welcome talk by another woman; song; a man read from Dorothee Sölle; homily by another woman; song; and on to the collection with piano intermezzo. Uh, no Nicene Creed. Then a table prayer with sung elements (no Sanctus) led by seven people (5 women, 2 men, none vested), and sharing of the bread and wine. Then general intercessions, blessing, and song. Coffee served at the platform.

I was flabbergasted by all this, to say the least. ... is it OK this one time for me to use the term liberal??

He was flabbergasted - we are not. Sure, the Dominicuskerk is now rented out to groups of nominal Catholics who wish to practice the faith... ecumenically and apart from the Diocese (no excommunications, though). But parts of the experience described are not that uncommon in the Low Countries. It has always startled us how many have kept the dream of the "Reform of the Reform" going based on a handful of churches in the world, particularly in the Anglosphere, in which the celebration of the Novus Ordo is filled with elements of the Traditional Mass to make it look "reverent" and pretend this is the future of the Novus Ordo. No, as the Dutch experiments of the 1960s announced the Novus Ordo, these Dutch experiments could just as well hail the future of the Novus Ordo, in particular in a Continent with fewer and fewer priests.


Ruff promises he will visit the FSSP Latin Mass community of our friends at Sint-Agneskerk during the week - and we will not be surprised if, having skipped the beautiful and full Sunday Mass, he finds a nearly empty church with Low Mass in an August workday and proclaims the "failure" of the Traditional Mass in the Netherlands. 

Not at all, the Dutch Church that brought the world the glorious examples extolled by us in our series "1942 in the Netherlands" was not the church of the Council (even if many conciliar ideas were being cooked up there and then), but the Church that lived and breathed the Traditional Mass and exported scores of missionaries all over the world. Alas, that Church is gone with the conciliar wind. The true heroes are those keeping the flame of the past alive in places like Sint-Agneskerk.


David Werling said...

Forgive me for saying this, but it's nice to see you posting NC! God bless you!

Athelstane said...

"Pretty full church, virtually all over 60 or 70. Only a few who looked to be in their 30s or 40s, all female. About three children."

Reminds me of that great 80s song: "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Silver Dollars On My Eyes."

The demographics in churches like this are so grim...

You know, I don't kid myself about the the extent of the appeal, in the short term, of the TLM; steady growth is more the order of the day.

But tales like this can be repeated from liberal hotbeds, especially on the Continent. Young people may not be showing up yet at TLMs in hordes, but they are not showing up for therapeutic free-for-alls like this AT ALL. There is going to be a mighty wave of parish closings over the next 10-15 years to dwarf anything seen heretofore.

Mike said...

"'Give Us This Day' in hand.."

Modernism is occupation by a hostile enemy. I'm almost seventy. To think of the Church (and magnificent churches!) in Holland before the Council. All missionary vigor, an uncommonly vigorous Catholic people, a minority's privilege well met indeed, and substantive attention to sacred liturgy. Think of that vigorous pre-Council Church and you think the future. These failed cultic spasms will die of starvation. It's a matter of time. People have left the Church for millennia, but more have stayed, and suffered. Nothing but the restoration of Catholic glory will ever alter the course of souls involved in business like this. God be merciful to us!

Mitchell said...

Say "Extreme Unction" on Father Ruff's blog and it will get an immediate response from Father that this is not the name used any longer. Go on to support the Latin Mass and counter some of their positions and it might just get you banned. He has little patience for anything Traditional. It is not an open atmosphere for debate if you start off from a Traditional standpoint.

sjgmore said...

I can vouch for what Mitchell says. I tried to post a comment at PrayTell on one of their very, very first blog posts, and I wrote something that was only *mildly* critical of something they had said. And my comment was never posted.

I was totally bemused that something as innocuous as what I had said - and I don't remember the context or content of what I said at all, except that it really was blatantly uncontroversial in terms of even mainstream Catholic thought - would be censored on their blog.

From that time I've never once trusted their "we're so tolerant and open-minded" schtick at that blog. That Fr. Ruff can write a post about this schismatic Catholic group while subtly hinting that it's really the fault of the arch-conservative villainy of JPII's episcopal appointments says a lot about the nuttiness of the PrayTell folks.

I'm probably a little more "progressive" than the average Rorate reader, but as much flak as this blog catches sometimes, I can't fathom that it's considered more controversial than the execrable PrayTell blog.

Barbara said...

Holland is a mess as far as Catholicism is concerned. This article brings back memories of a surrealistic scholastic trip I made there some years ago....I remember the "Catholic" school we were visiting - I don't think there was one real Catholic among the students or teachers - vandalised crucifix left hanging on a wall (never forgotten that) outright, outspoken defiance of the Pope and anything from Rome. Almost dead and gone Catholicism in that institution....most of the teachers were atheists....but strangely - quite nice from a human point of long as one didn't mentioned anything about true Cathokicism , some of them, then, showed their fangs. I was very depressed after that trip...I remember talking to a priest about it afterwards - and he told me that a nation who turns its back on God - will be abandoned by God - and He will withdraw His grace from it...
and may even wipe it away....

By the way Rotterdam is the Islamic capital of Europe - according to an article by Sando Magister a couple of years back ..go figure...

itascriptaest said...

Well it is Holland after all. Holland gives Britain a run for being ground zero of every modern perversion.

New Catholic said...


Not only is that incomprehensible (though it is the truth), remember that Collegeville's ultra-radical blog is, to all extents, an institutional blog. This is the state of the Church online today: "conservative" attempts blossom naturally from the faithful, liberals and radicals need to use the wealth stacked by generations of faithful Catholics (cf ads in NCR, the very existence of the blog you mention, which is merely an extension of the Collegeville institution in the blogosphere, etc). So, they have the institutions. And then they complain to no end about "the institutional Church"...

yoink! said...

The headline is misleading; actually inaccurate. The "service" described is not the NO and should not be classified as such.

New Catholic said...

Say that at "Praytell": they called it a "Sunday Mass".

Once again, when reading Rorate: DO NO SHOOT THE MESSENGER! And never come back.

JTS said...

Frightening really. Strange how the congregation were mostly old people, you'd think they'd have a bit more sense. I wonder if anyone thought it was actually a Mass. Holland has been in seriously bad shape for a long time with it's " smoking" cafes, red light areas and prolific porn industry. What can we do except pray for them? You could get overwhelmed with the state of the world, everything seems to be going downhill.

UnamSanctam said...

It's pentcostalism, isn't it? Or even straight-forward humanism. It's not Catholicism.

Truth3459 said...

New Catholic said: "liberals and radicals need to use the wealth stacked by generations of faithful Catholics"

I think this is spot on. I appreciate the post, but I am a little bit sorry to see Rorate Caeli giving Fr. Ruff the attention he craves more than anything else. He originally started his blog because he was jealous of the success of Fr. Z. Can anyone explain how such a person is still allowed to teach at a Catholic Seminary when he has not apologized for statements like this?

Fr. Ruff: "Unless you can predict the future, you don’t know what the Catholic Church will believe to be God’s will, and what the Catholic Church will teach 100 years from now about women’s ordination or same-sex unions or all the other issues. Neither do I. But we both know that Church teaching has changed on other issues. To name one example, Pope Pius IX taught that the right to hold, sell, and buy slaves is based on natural law. If you had been there in the 19th century, would you have claimed that obedience required everyone to accept the pope’s teaching, which we now know was faulty? Or would it have been true obedience to God to disagree with the Pope? The Catholic Church, particularly the papacy, has a wretched history on thinking that secular culture should be resisted -- think of the papacy’s rejection of freedom of conscience, right to worship, right of free speech, freedom of the press, democratic governments, separation of church and state. All these have been rejected by popes are part of an evil secular culture. Some popes rejected electric street lights and railroads as too modern, for Pete’s sake."

New Catholic said...

Yes, we regret mentioning Ruff as well.

Matthew Roth said...

New Catholic, in all honesty, I don't think the future of the Novus Ordo is ad orientem, chant, and gestures that are taken from the pre-conciliar books. It is unsustainable with the way the Holy See issues the modern liturgical rubrics, as 'options' or where laws can easily be changed to something even more stupid. I am someone who is excited about the positive direction my parish is moving in, too. Ultimately, the TLM has to be restored. I think certain prelates in old age came to that conclusion-as much as they appreciate the ease of the Novus Ordo- but they know it can't be restored with the same force that it was taken away.
Yes, he should stay for another Sunday to go to the FSSP in Holland.

Peccator said...

Depressing but unsurprising about the Dominicuskerk. One weekday in Amsterdam last summer I attended what was posted as a Mass at the Vredeskerk. I understand very little Dutch, but it was obvious the elderly presider (who was not vested) was making up his words and actions as he went along. There were lots of laughs. I'm fairly certain everyone communicated himself from the table altar.

Long-Skirts said...

“What is this place where we are meeting?”


Vocations lost
Schools are closed
Liturgical dancers
Staged and posed.

Churches demolished
None catechized
But that Society of Priests
Must all be despised.

Their vocations are growing
They've schools for the souls
They're ruining our plans
Our new church, our goals

And on top of it all
They love Church and the Pope
After all of our years
To tear down, destroy hope.

But like Nagasaki that
Fateful day --
We've dropped the A-bomb
Of our sins to obey,

Yet still from Church ashes
They rise like that bell
From Urakami Cathedral
The whole Faith they still tell

And that bell rings daily
And that bell of the "old" Mass
For all Catholic children
Every day in school class.

Their Churches are growing
There's much catechizing
That there's absolute Truth is

Their new Seminary
In the States, it does rise
And bells, more bells
Each one did baptize!

But St. Pius X Priests
Don't follow, we advise…
These new "hidden Christians"
We’ll psychologically martyrize!

Athelstane said...

New Catholic, in all honesty, I don't think the future of the Novus Ordo is ad orientem, chant, and gestures that are taken from the pre-conciliar books...

The Novus Ordo is, we should be clear, a symptom, not the source, of the problem. For that matter, the same can be said to a considerable degree of the texts of Vatican II itself (notwithstanding some problematic passages). Neither came out of thin air - the groundwork had been laid for decades (and longer). Just as the "Quiet Revolution" didn't just "happen" suddenly in Quebec - the ill-conceived program of Catholic Action had (mis)shaped an entire generation of Quebecois to be receptive for a radical rupture beginning back in the 30's.

You can certainly say a reverent, very traditional Novus Ordo (if your bishop doesn't sack you first, and certain old warhorses in your parish don't make your life impossible for trying); and yes, it can validly confect the Eucharist, and can impart graces to its participants, most of whom have no ready alternative for worship. It won't be as theologically rich in conveying the full thrust of Church teaching, given the way the new collects, new calendar, new offertory, and new lectionary tend to diminish emphasis on the Four Last Things and our dependence on divine grace and mercy for salvation. It's just that because of these changes, and the multiplicity of options, it has considerably fewer organic safeguards against...well, the kind of liturgical travesty that Fr. Ruff witnessed in Holland.

The Traditional Mass is not immune to abuse either, nor a guarantee of orthodoxy by its celebrants (if it were, we would not be in this mess). But it is a better bulwark. Its full restoration is not in prospect for the foreseeable future, as I think we all recognize. All we can work to make it as widely available as possible, as well celebrated as possible, and presented with charity to Catholics who have yet to experience its richness, against better days to come.

Jordanes551 said...

Well said, Athelstane.

Gratias said...

Athelsane said "we can work to make it as widely available as possible, as well celebrated as possible, and presented with charity to Catholics who have yet to experience its richness, against better days to come." Agreed, the essential point is that the vast majority of mass attending Catholics have never experienced a TLM. For this reason, I think it is most important that we have every-Sunday sung masses. This requires lots of work (and money) from the faithful, but I am afraid the low mass will not attract new people to the old Mass. We need more pew sitters and they are now used to a louder form of the mass. If someone walks into a high mass there is a good chance they will return. If they stay in the Novus Ordo the entire Church will wither on the vine as will be the case with these Dutch V2 types.

poeta said...

All this reminds me how unreal it is whenever somebody describes the Novus Ordo as the "normative" Mass.

The traditional Mass is normative in ways that the Novus Ordo never can be, not only because of the infinite variability of the latter but because it is ahistorical and perpetually being tweaked.

It's as if the traditional Mass "is" inasmuch as it is unchanging, while the Novus Ordo "is" only inasmuch as it is changing.

Tancred said...

The worst enemies of the Church are from Collegeville. I've seen abuses every bit as bad as this at Collegeville. Ruff's astonishment is hard to believe.

Simon said...

Farmer visits neighboring farm, is horrified to see the full flowering of the crop he is planting on his own land, yet reconsiders nothing of his own conduct.

LeonG said...

Liturgies like this are not Roman Catholic, are not valid and are totally schismatic. They are based well and truly on the shifting ideological sands of liberal modernist time. Very soon, the UK will be reduced entirely to this type of NO trite in view of the almost complete collapse of attendees on Sunday and the "progressive" decline in vocations to the presbyterate.
Everything about it follows the logic of creativity, lay participation and "razing bastions". The only contrary factor is the absolute reversal of ecclesiastical fortunes & indicators totally unanticipated by the liberal ideologues of the 1960s, now the tired old men of the post-conciliar disaster.

Long-Skirts said...

Simon said...

"Farmer visits neighboring farm, is horrified to see the full flowering of the crop he is planting on his own land,..."

Yes, on the "land" of our Catholic inheritence! Beautiful!! Pray for us O, Holy Mother of God.