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.