In Bruges

It was the same as the movie: sad and shocking. Unfortunately, nothing of the movie´s strange beauty, though.

Saturday afternoon mass. I run to a church with the usual unpronounceable name, in the city centre. Mass is about to start; not on the main altar, but in a space at the back.

It turns out they celebrate mass in the old choir. A wonderful altar is just ignored. There is a long table, the priest with two altar boys celebrates on the short side. A very small crucifix on the table/altar, and that´s all.

Due to the beauty of Vatican II, I don´t understand a goddamn word. The priest is young, very trendy. At a certain point he starts with the homily, and explaining a point takes a coin. There is a young boy among the 41 people present (including myself, the priest, two altar boys, the chap at the portable organ and an old lady who fancies herself the director of a non-existent orchestra, but is so satisfied with herself it seems in bad taste to tell her she makes an ass of herself). The boy is around 15, blond locks, tall and slender, looks like a cherubim from a Hans Memling painting.

The priest goes to him, and poses him a question. He answers, correctly as it seems. Creepy, thinks yours truly. After a couple of minutes, the “scene” happens again, the priests walks the entire space to pose a question to him. Goddamn creepy, thinks yours truly; but we are in Belgium, and no one notices.

The homily ends, and after a while the organists plays an Elvis Presley song, “Can´t stop loving you”, whilst the priest pronounces the consecration prayers. I am not joking, and this is not a movie.

The vessels are of a ceramic wanting to look like clay, which in my eyes is a liturgical abuse (but hey, this is Belgium, right?). At this point all the present gather around the table, and it becomes clear why the priest was on the short side: they all keep hands like many schoolchildren, but the meaning is that they participate in the consecration. I stay at my place, alone, and everyone of the present notices that the foreigner doesn´t do trendy masses.

In an heroic effort of inclusiveness, some of the consecration words are pronounced in English. The host is a huge flat thing, which he then proceeds to break (with great attention, I must say) in many pieces, each one of them fitting to damage the roof of the mouth but hey, it´s so trendy.

I have some short moments of reflection, at the end of which I reflect that the consecration is probably valid nothwithstanding the vessels (I might be wrong), and decide to receive. I am the only one who receives on the tongue.

Everyone comes back to his place, and the mass is soon at an end.

I doubt that I have fittingly described the atmosphere of sugary music, sugary attitude, sugary everything. It was a diabetes-inducing circus dominated by the desire of letting everyone feel “included”.

Particularly the blond boy.

It seems to me that this was an entirely self-serving exercise, that always the same people attend (who seemed to be in family groups; I doubt more than ten families were represented) and that these people are very satisfied with the look of things and don´t care that everyone else is just so disgusted that they prefer to attend elsewhere, if they still attend.

That was a portrait of the Church in Belgium, and no mistake. Including the boy attracting the attention of the priest.


Posted on October 18, 2011, in Bad Shepherds, Catholicism and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Mundador, why do you say G–d—? That’s profaning God’s name.

    • I am Catholic, Stephen, and don’t do this protestantised stuff you are writing about. I’ll have to write a post on this one day. Suffice it to say that if it was good enough for children in a Catholic country, it is good enough for me.

      This is one of those areas where it appears clearly how protestantised Catholics in traditionally Protestant countries are.


  2. Perhaps I am in a bad mood, but I am beginning to think Europe and the West deserves its impending fate. A sure way the Church will right herself is if she shrinks to a faithful remnant and grows again from a solid foundation. It is either that or the slim chance we get a pope who will vigourously assert Catholic identity. I think the former will happen before the latter.

    • Irenaeus,
      during that tragic 45 minutes I did think that the Church in Blegium deserves her fate. When the Church (or parts of her) behaves like a bad woman, Christ punishes her as a good husband should.

      The punishment was there for everyone but the very blind to see: ridiculous attendance – a family matter, I would say -, stupid desecration of the Mass including the undoubted – I think – liturgical abuse with the vessel, the Mass reduced to a parody of herself.

      I thought it was representative of the situation of the Church in Belgium and if you ask me, nice words from the Holy Father will do absolutely nothing.

      Brutal repression is what is needed, and forced reintroduction of sober Catholicism in the country.


  3. The host… the vessels… the mixed up languages at the consecration…
    I don’t think I would have received Communion there – I can’t imagine this “consecration” being valid.
    This is – beyond any complex theological arguments – why the experiment of the last 40 to 50 years was a huge mistake.
    I hope you can soon attend a “real” Mass again

    • Catocon, I did not have much time to think but my idea was that once multi-language masses are allowed, a consecration formula in two languages should not, in itself, impede a valid consecration.

      More in general, if I had been persuaded that that was not a valid mass I would not have limited myself not to receive, but would have gone away in the middle of the wannabe Mass. Once again, I thought that I would offer my pain to the One who has undergone a much bigger pain for me.

      The question is legitimate, though, and goes – theologically speaking – beyond my pay grade.


  4. Ya wouldn’t catch me going to such a disgusting charade. Why did you inflict this on yourself? No doubt these people meet the ‘in full communion’ requirement. God bless you but if I was present I would cause a scene. I have long ceased to have patience with these creeps, but then I wouldn’t go there even if there was no old rite mass in travelling distance. I genuinely don’t understand why you would sit through it. I

    • Catocon,

      I wanted to try to fulfill sunday mass obligation (I would travel the following day) and thought my duty to risk a bad experience to show my allegiance to Christ, it is not that mass obligation is only valid if the priest isn#t an idiot (provided the mass is valid, of course).

      I would never make a scene in church anyway, I think one crosses a line there.


  5. Mndador, I’m afraid I don’t comprehend your logic. I fail to see what saying GD has to do with Protestantism. Saying GD is profaning his name in any cltre.

  6. Mundabor, I do hope you are merely on a break and have not stopped blogging permanently.

    • Shane,

      thanks for your concerns. There will always be times when there must be a decrease in activity, or a temporary stop. The next months will probably not be as rich in activity as they used to be. For a one-man band, I think I am dedicating a lot of time to this blog, but there are times when it can’t be helped…


  7. Mundabor, great to see you back! I was a wee bit worried because you normally post about twice daily. No worries about the time constraints, I too suffer the same problem.


    • Shane,

      part of the problem is that due to my desire for anonymity, I cannot blog when others would be able to. Not when I am with my family, nor when I am visiting friends, nor in the office after working hours. At times, this creates complications. Then there are the phases of acute work load, which also do not help.

      With all that, I am very gratified to see that I have an attentive and affectionate readership… 😉


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