Michael Voris was in the Netherlands

Lector caveat – I’ve been procrastinating on this post for several days now, so verbs and that may not match up.

A while back I was sitting with Fr. Kn looking at old liturgy books when he mentioned that the inimitable Michael Voris was going to visit the Netherlands and give a lecture. A bit of well-placed parishoner entreating ensued, and early thislast week Fr. reminded me that on Ascension day I was expected down in Tilburg. Right.

We’ve all (fsvo ‘all’) heard about Mr. Voris. He’s the one who makes (or at least presents) those Vortex videos which have a knack of dividing opinion – especially Catholic opinion. It ranges from ‘ZOMG he’s such a nasty anti-choice woman-hater’ to ‘Oh my this chap is St. Michael come once again PLZ HALP US KTHX’. A few of my friends are in the ‘He says good stuff but could be nicer about it’-camp, and there are (or at least have been) those who seem to want to bring down his work using canon law.

Howsoever that may be, when an event like this comes up, I’m happy to try to be there, and I’m grateful to Fr. Kn for getting me in.

One of my guilty pleasures is reading blogs about Protestant families in the USA. Comments from me are rare – what they’d want to hear from someone ensconced in the bosom of what they see as the Whore of Babylon I can’t imagine – but those I read about seem to have a flourishing family life, often facilitated in no small part by homeschooling, an astounding commitment to learning Scripture verses, and an element of self-sacrifice in daily life that often bowls me over. The way in which their theology contorts Christ’s teaching, right down to the very nature of Christ and His Church Themselves, is of course to be rued – but then I don’t read these blogs for catechesis.

One of the things that Protestants in the US seem to do rather well is the organisation of conferences: events, lasting anywhere from part of a day up to a whole weekend or even longer, where speakers from all over give talks, discussions take place, and there’s a whole lot of chinwagging.

Another thing Protestants do is talk about ‘being convicted’.

Catholics seem to not do the former very much at all. There are some – perhaps if you include pilgrimages such as the famous Pentecost pilgrimage from Paris to Chartres each year, but we don’t seem to talk about them much.

As for being convicted, well….

But both of these things came together rather spectacularly last Thursday. Mr. Voris starts off by talking about the restoration of Catholic culture and says, quite simply, that trying to restore Catholic culture is not only hopeless right now, it’s also putting the cart before the horse. The massive, massive problem we deal with the a lack of zeal on the level of each individual Catholic, the oh-so-present fear of losing respect, or jobs, or friends, or whatever it is.

Huh. Well that’s me squirming uncomfortably in my seat. Bravo Mr. Voris….

I have all these notes which I have yet to completely decipher, but there are some quality quotes which should not die a dusty death in a notebook:

‘…culture is going to Hell on a rocket ship.’

‘There is no bastion of the Faith anywhere, anymore.’

‘Satan doesn’t take a Club Med.’

‘The Church as a global entity has lost its zeal for love.’

‘Who here is a mother? …. A Catholic crowd this big and there are only three mothers?!’

Oh my jolly noggins did I feel uneasy about this. Aren’t I already on that rocket ship? Where is my zeal for Christ (and I call myself an OSB – sicut est zelus amaritudinis malus qui separat a Deo et ducit ad infernum, ita est zelus bonus qui separat a vitia, et ducit ad Deum et at vitam aeternam HAW HAW HAW)? And let’s not even begin on the whole being-a-mother thing.

Yet despite this rather nastytruthful mirror being held up in front of me, in contrast to the bitter aftertaste left behind by so many other encounters, I came away having received a shot in the arm. The encouragement quotient was off my scale.

Meanwhile a couple of videos have appeared from Mr. Voris’ apostolate, recorded in Utrecht:

If Mr. Voris and his team are travelling and giving talks near you, make sure you get there. Not even kidding.

Homosexual teachers

Today I read a news article in the Dutch press which, for reasons unknown to myself, seeing as I normally don’t do this kind of thing, prompted me to do some translating and some thinking.

My lazy translation can be found here: Ban on discrimination of homosexuals in schools

I have three things to say about this article and the issues surrounding it.

It’s not clear to me, reading the piece, how the proposed law will do what it says it will. There are, evidently, two factors under consideration: first, the simple fact that a teacher is homosexual (which according to the article, includes living openly as such, or being in a homosexual relationship), and secondly, ‘secondary circumstances’, or issues (such as being at a Gay Pride event) related to his being homosexual. Termination or refusal of employment on the basis of the former is illegal; when it comes to the second, however, it does not seem to be. Miss Bergkamp seems to say that it is the first condition which will be removed from the statute books…but how is that going to help them? In this sense I would have appreciated some more precise reporting from nu.nl.

Moroever, the ‘simple fact’ that a person is homosexual does not necessarily entail that he is either open about it, nor that he is in a homosexual relationship. Just as it is possible to be heterosexual and not in a relationship, is it also possible for homosexuals. From the point of view of Catholic doctrine – not that there are any real Catholic schools to speak of in this country anymore which would foresee problems – this in itself curtails the (Catholic) school’s ability to do its job. A school which enshrines religious tenets which state that marriage is the state in life in which sexual activity takes place, and that that selfsame marriage is by definition a heterosexual union, must – if it is to be faithful to those religious convictions – be able to demand a standard of living and behaviour from its teachers (and other employees) if it is to be authentic. By incorrectly placing the dividing line between the basic state of Same Sex Attraction and any actions upon SSA, Dutch law cripples its schools.

As such, these changes in law bring the Dutch principle of ‘Freedom of education’ – that parents should be able to educate their children as they wish, and have schools at their disposal to do so, seeing as they also contribute to state-funded education through their taxes – further into grave danger. Being a truly faithful Catholic parent – and I’m not convinced many exist in the Netherlands – means recognising this growing dilemma. As mentioned above, there are, I’d wager, no Catholic schools in the country which would have enough courage to stand up to such an unjust law, and at a certain point a conscientious parent must say that such a ‘Catholic’ school is not conducive to the faith of his child. Education at an orthodox Protestant school may provide a solution, but if a Catholic pupil is admitted (and that is not always certain), the risk is also present that a Protestant school will also endanger the pupil’s faith. Education at a non-Christian (e.g. Muslim or Hindu) school is even less desirable. ‘Public’ (i.e. unaffiliated) schools only guarantee the exposure of pupils to non-Catholic teachings all the more.

There are precious few schools in the country which are partly or completely free of government funding (and as such – possibly – exempt from such legal provision for homosexuals). The scarcity of the same is the first obstacle for such an education route, even if a private, truly Catholic school were even to exist. The second obstacle to parents would be the enormous cost of such an education: running a school is not cheap, and taxes here are high enough. In the same way, sending children to a good school abroad is often financially prohibitive.

Given that schooling outside the home is becoming all the more untenable for Catholic parents, what about education within the home?

Homeschooling is a tricky beast in the Netherlands. It would take an enormous amount of strength to undertake it, with all the stigma and threat of prosecution attached. I know very little about homeschooling, nowhere near as much as I would like to, so I don’t feel qualified to comment much beyond this. I know of perhaps two families who have, tenaciously, held on, but it was not without much hardship.

Catholic parents who take their duties seriously – the vast majority don’t, from what I’ve seen – are in for a truly hard time. It’s not a new phenomenon here, in a country famed for its diabolical secularism, but seems to yet only get worse. It could perhaps be considered a kind of martyrdom. We can certainly speak of in odium fidei.


A couple of days ago I took myself off on a jolly. It involved getting on a boat.


But not this boat, which is a police-type-boat thing out to catch pirates and other assorted baddies who may be trawlingtrolling Dutch waters.

Now I am an islander, but I’m not a sea dog. I’d rather be somewhere up a mountain, to be quite honest with you. There’s no contradiction in all of this, of course – you just need an island that’s big/volcanic enough to have mountains. There are plenty of those around.


I dislike seagulls. They make an awful racket and even worse mess. They’re also notorious for snatching your tasty pasties away from you, which in my book puts them somewhere in with the fallen angels’ nappy changers.

But it was a glorious day and beyond a bit of snark, I left the gulls behind and we sailed off into the (sort of) sunset.


Boat was filled with Germans! They didn’t speak Dutch, but then you can’t have everything.

Once at my destination I wandered around for a bit to stretch my legs before heading back.


And on the return journey I made sure to sit on the other (that is, the same) side of the boat, so as to catch a different view. In doing so, I was reminded of two hymns from my (somewhat misspent, but not in all things) youth.


And a Compline hymn from my (halcyon!) Liturgy of the Hours days.


The Sun that bids us rest is waking
Our brethren ‘neath the Western sky
And hour by hour fresh lips are making
Thy wondrous doings heard on high.



En vacances!

First of all, a Plantje update:


He’s not doing too badly at all!

This coming week is a blissful, golden space of no school as we have our May holiday. After having hibernated for a few hours (ahem!) I emerged with more enthusiasm and oomph for work than ever. I’ve been scouring my bookmarks folder for all those odd webpages you find in the course of a term but never have the time or inclination to read about curriculum content, raising standards and just plain keeping going. It sounds all a bit governmenty, but whilst I’m more naïve than most in my profession when it comes to ministy viewpoints on How To Teach Kids, I’m seasoned enough to regard it all with a healthy dose of caution.

Tied into all this is the proliferation of teachers’ blogs out there. Most of my blogging has been under the banner of ‘We’re more Catholic than you are, nur nur’ and as such I never really took much note of non-Catholic bloggers. Now, however, I’m gingerly exploring some blogs written by schoolteachers out there, and some of them really are gems from which I can learn much.

I recall, way way back, mentioning something an interest in Catholic education – can any Catholic educator not? But there is a mind-boggling amount of issues to consider even when thinking about ‘secular’ education, let alone the complete mind-shift that comes into play when contemplating the role of schooling, learning and education in the Divine plan for each individual. Were I living in a country (if it even existed!) where the Church so vibrant that there were a properly Catholic sector to speak of, it might be possible for me to pay much more attention to a true Catholic ethos of the crazy world that is teaching and learning – but beyond Aves and prayers to St. Albert the Great, that doesn’t seem to be possible.

In the meantime we all press on and do our best not to lose heart.

Oh, there’s plenty more to be said, but time’s hurrying by! Just time for an earworm before hitting the hay.