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Great Danes

This last weekend the parish played host to Bishop Kozon of Copenhagen. The first thing you need to know about this gentleman, other than that his English is excellent, is that he’s one of the most charming chaps you could hope to meet. He took the time to talk with anyone who came to him, showed interest in everyone, and was very unassuming in his manner and bearing. I approve.

Bp. Kozon came to baptise a young gent and confirm a whole bunch of people (six? eight?). All in the Tridentine Rite (which shouldn’t have to be said, but you never know). Being a diocesan Ordinary, he of course offers Mass and confers other Sacraments in the Novus Ordo much of the time: it’s rather special to have an Ordinary come and visit who’s eager to offer Mass in the usus antiquor too – especially for Confirmation! We’re very grateful (well, I say “we” mainly because saying “I” would have been too bolshy. I don’t claim to speak for anyone else) to him for his flying visit.

One of our priests is Danish, and as if by magic a bunch of Danish men just…materialised over the weekend. I spent more time speaking English than Dutch (many thanks to my Dutch friends who didn’t mind too much when my “Dutch” was even more Englishified than normal). Our other priest is Polish, and some of his family very kindly did a whole lot of cooking – ’twas enormously yummy. It was so much fun to meet all these new people! I hope they also enjoyed their stay.

All right. Time for some photos.

On Saturday we lined up outside the church to get ready for M’s baptism. There was a lady with an enormous camera – you know, one of those ones that cost €200 with a lens on that cost €4000 – so I decided not to take any myself. Then one of the Parish Gentlemen With Authority sidled up to me, and very politely ordered me to take some photos and then send them to him afterwards. Not wanting to entertain the consequences, I obeyed. Yup, as a Catholic woman I’m just ordered around the place like chattel*.

So anyway – here we are. It was gloriously sunny (we’ve been blessed with lovely weather this weekend). I still wonder if he was nervous!

We started late. It’s strange – you’d think a country like the Netherlands would be the kind of place where everyone busts a gut about getting to places on time, but it’s not. Completely not.

The bishop & gang came out and it all began. I confess I wasn’t following the booklet very closely; I know, I’m a language geek, but when there’s stuff going on I want to just watch it.

At one point salt was placed on his tongue. My mind is FILLED with all kinds of comments I could make about this, but I could better hold my ton-, er, fingers.

All this hustle and bustle drew some curious passers-by, so I went onto the street to say hello and they promptly started interrogating me (as only Amsterdammers can ;)) as to what on Earth was going on, so I tried to explain as best I could. They were full of questions! About the “guy with the hat” and whether our church is “really just Catholic” (as opposed to the Utrecht Old Catholic gang, or the sedevacantists or something). Yes, I said, he’s a normal (hehe!) Catholic bishop, our parish is just part of the diocese here like all the others, Rome says we’re ok, and yes, we use liturgical rites from before the Second Vatican Council. And no, we’re not weird (much).

Why do I keep talking about “we” and “us”? I’m just a girl in the pew.

And then there were the remarks about my mantilla; I figured a study of St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians wasn’t quite suitable so I talked about being a woman and being appropriately dressed as such when in church; that it’s not about covering something unworthy of being seen, but covering something because it’s particularly precious and beautiful. And they all beamed (as only Amsterdammers can). One lady petted her little dog who was riding in the basket attached to the front of her bike. Others remarked on how young M was and how it’s so Very Impressive to make such a decision to be baptised at that age. Och, valt mee hoor ;)

Then the party disappeared inside, so I excused myself and followed them in.

I didn’t get any good shots of the baptism itself, but at a certain point M emerged from the alcove where the baptismal font stands, clothed in his alb and carrying his candle! Fr. Kn decided that his cincture (is it called a cincture when it’s not part of the (sacramental) priestly garments?) wasn’t tied properly, and consequently re-tied it for M, who at one point looked as though he wasn’t going to be able to draw breath anymore! But I doubt he would have really noticed, and anyway, we were all too busy giggling and smiling from ear to ear and generally being super super happy for him (and us!).

At this point I had Rite Envy. I was baptised as an infant and I’m pretty sure I didn’t get all this awesome Latin prayed over me. I’m equally sure I didn’t get salt on my tongue. Who knews what my verbal skills would have been like if I had! I might have been eloquent and stuff!

All right. The next morning dawned bright and clear and SUNNY (again)! I was at church early so as to get ready. And take photos. I’m always taking photos. Well all right, not always. In the same way as I’m not always talking. Sometimes I sleep…. :-P

Anyway. Photos from Sunday! There are lots and I’m not going to put them all up, not least because I’ll get a sound telling-off from some people. Tsssssk, Dutchies. I love them and all, but sometimes they’re so stuck-up. Bless ’em.

Here are a few pictures before everyone started arriving and the arrgh-is-everything-ready quotient inside my head skyrocketed. First of all – high altar set up for the bishop’s vesting. With two mitres! Just like it says in Fortescue!

Passiontide has begun, and as such, everything’s veiled:

We also have a new tabernacle. I think a benefactor bought it and gave it to the parish, whereupon Fr. Kn spent some time doing it up.

The bishop & gang arrives:

After having prayed before the Blessed Sacrament in another chapel (at least I think that’s what he was doing – evidently I haven’t studied my Fortescue well enough) he was brought onto the sanctuary, where the REST of the gang had appeared as if from nowhere! Pfff! But they probably just came from the sacristy when the rest of us were looking the other way gawping at His Lordship.

He was vested for Confirmation and then they all set off for the altar.

And then it was time for him to be vested again, this time for Mass. This was wonderful to watch! I’d read about it, the rubrics, the prayers, who had to be standing where holding what waiting for whom, and now it was happening right there. My favourite bit when reading, the part I was looking forward to the most, was the bit with the episcopal gloves. As so often is the case, however, there’s a (sub)deacon in the way to block my view :D So here’s a photo of just a moment before the engloving. By this point the poor Apostle had, on top of the cassock and surplice (or did he take that off and put on an alb in its place?) he came in with, an amice, tunicle and a dalmatic on. I didn’t want to think about what happened with all the stoles and stuff. And perhaps we’re all grateful he didn’t have to have his shoes and socks put on too.

All right, time to skip on. An epistle! This is one of my favourite photos of the whole weekend, and I have no idea why.

I’d met the subdeacon the evening before, after M’s baptism. He’s a riot. I mean that in a good way.

I didn’t take any photos at the Gospel. Clean forgot. Too busy trying to listen and translate Latin on the fly.

Check out the vestments we had! All right, they’re not all part of the same set. But look at what the deacon’s got on – it’s like God Is Watching You, Even When His Clergy Are Otherwise Engaged.

We had sunbeams.

Almost done. We just about survived. No major breakdowns. No major hiccoughs in the singing (mea culpa…). And just about everyone who came in with a hat has got it back….

Bishop & Gang trooped out into the sunshine…about two hours after coming in. Time is suspended during Mass, I’m sure. There is time, but it’s not the same time that we normally have. I’m sure that made an enormous amount of sense!

We were all singing Attende, Domine, and then I hot-footed it outside (I was in, ah, ‘choir dress’ – all black, with a black mantilla on, with black sunglasses and a black camera. I don’t know what kind of impression I might have made on any delicates present :-P). Very obligingly, the whole pack were standing there for my fellow papparazzi and I to arrive. It’s almost like they WANT us to take their photo ;) I asked what the Danish word for “cheese” was, but the Dutchies scowled at me and told me not to be so frivolous in the presence of a vested bishop (still with five dozen layers on). Seeing that they were going to insist on looking Appropriately Solemn…

And then we camera-pushers declared that we’d had our fill, the at ease was declared, and (most of) the gents could relax a little:

And that was…just about that! It seemed a bit surreal to me that it was all over. But there’s only so much high ceremonial even a Brit can take on a Sunday morning.

People trickled out of church after having made their thanksgivings. It became a bit of a reunion: a chap looked at me and exclaimed, “I know you!!” Indeed he did; approximately an age ago, he and I were on retreat together in a different part of the country. Happily he’s moved and I can expect to see him at St. Agnes’ more often.

A non-Catholic friend of mine who had asked to come along to Mass emerged into the sunlight and we sat on the steps and yacked and I introduced her to some pals. Fatigue began to set in, and so after a cup of coffee (why did I have one and not three?), I went up and had lunch with some other folks. I have all of one photo of this event – at which I made new acquaintances, laughed a lot, was complimented (!), and thwarted an attempt by a random Pole to kidnap my camera – but because a friend of mine’s in it who is a bit uneasy about being online, you’ll all have to guess at the face the bishop was pulling at the moment I snapped it :)

So that was our Passion Sunday. God is good! Please pray for our newly Confirmed, for our priests, for our parish at St. Agnes’, and in thanksgiving for the mercies and blessings Onze Lieve Heer gives us every day. Deo gratias!

*If you believed that, you haven’t met me :-P

One thought on “Great Danes

  1. Pingback: An AWARD! Eeeeee! | vox in Rama audita est

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