Many of those who know I was assigned to the Society of St. Pius X's missions in Holland have asked about my experiences there. Traditional Catholics find Holland interesting because it is on the cutting edge of liberal decadency. What is in Holland now will be everywhere else before long. It is the example of what's coming. The Dutch pride themselves on being at the head of liberal "progress."
My report is timely because we are in the time of Advent, expecting the Messias, and Christmastide, grateful for His coming. Liturgically, we are living with the patriarchs in the hope that He will come to release us from our problems. We are feeling with them what life was or would be on earth without Him. I experienced some of this desperation in Holland because here, as throughout the Western nations, our Lord is being more and more expelled from society and families.
I was ordained in Ecône on June 29, 1995. My first assignment was to assist Fr. Matthias Grün, prior of Gerwen and superior in charge of our missions in Holland. The first year of my priesthood was the most beautiful in my life for reasons that are somewhat unexplainable and secret between the priest, God, and the souls to whom he is given charge. The most difficult problems did not fall on my shoulders but upon those of Fr. Grün, an extremely good confrere and "fatherly" superior. He kindly and carefully watched over my workload and made sure I got plenty of sleep. And the Dutch people themselves were, at least in the beginning, kind and engaging, especially to a new priest.
Our work was hard because of its breadth, too much for just two priests, Fr. Grün said.
We maintained four Mass centers, each with a catechism program, First Friday and Saturday devotions, etc. Twenty invalids throughout the country were brought Holy Communion every three weeks. We preached an Ignatian retreat four times a year, provided days of recollection for Third Order members, and led regular pilgrimages.
Holland is known to be the most liberal in Europe. This means that its morals are the most corrupt in the whole world. Liberalism, the freedom to do whatever you want without regard to morality, is considered as a god, unrestrained by Catholicism or even natural law. If one tries to teach morality, he is labelled a fascist, because he is "imposing his own will upon all other free wills in the country." When you respond that objective morality comes from God, they answer that this God is only "between your ears," that "your god" is your choice and you "cannot impose Him on anyone else."
The idol of "free will" is only limited by another's free will, because there is equality between persons. It is like a traffic light. The road with more traffic has a longer green light than the crossing road that has less traffic. They call it democracy. Fifty-one idols are more than 49 idols. Therefore, 51% (or more) decides for the country if abortion is a crime or not. This democracy, combined with manipulation of public opinion by the liberal mass media, leads to "democracy." "Demo" comes from the Greek demos which means people, and "-cracy" comes from the Greek kratei which means to reign; thus, democracy means the "people reign." But in this situation, the people are under the influence and pressure of evil forces; therefore, "demoNcracy" means that demons finally reign. The liberals are so strong in Holland that the most efficient way to get in prison is to be politically incorrect about Jews or homosexuals (and I am not joking).
Holland's Minister of Public Health, Mrs. Borst, recently spoke about a handicapped child who was killed after being born. (By the way, borst is a Dutch word for "breast," but in the minister's case, she seems to have no heart beating in hers.) She said that, according to penal law, it is murder, but the Officer of Justice will not prosecute in this case because the mortal injection was given by the doctor after consultation with the parents. In any case, she declared this child had little chance of "achieving an acceptable level of value of human life."
An ill woman in Rotterdam told me of a TV interview of a Dutch surgeon telling how proud he was of the success of a new operation. He had received 35,000 euros [approximately $45,000–Ed.] from the State Services for Public Health to perform a sex change operation on two married people (with children)–the father became "mother" and the mother became "father." This is a triumph for liberalism–to choose what sex one is!
You see, Hollanders are Germanic. Characteristic of the German peoples, they have a very strong practical intelligence. What they are convinced of in their minds, they do with their wills. In these modern times, they have received and become convinced of the principles of liberalism. More efficiently than any, they execute the practical consequences of liberalism as far as possible. When convinced of Catholic principles, they are amazing saints, but when full of the false principles as today, the consequences are absurd and diabolical. This is one of the reasons why I prefer my apostolate in Eastern Europe. In the West I saw and lived in a kind of hell on earth. Now, these poor Eastern peoples are being deceived by the mass media and are wishing to join liberal Western Europe. O my God, have mercy on us, poor sinners! My American readers will find very interesting the comment written me by one of their own:
This is exactly why America (morally speaking) is not as degenerated as Europe. As a people, we are not logical: we are sentimental. We cling to Christian morality not out of conviction, but out of very vague notions, some of which are good and some just feel-good sentimental. This is good in that it slows our fall into immorality, but it also makes it difficult for us to think correctly when given correct principles; we cling to our errors just as illogically as we cling to truth.
In the opinion of a Dutch liberal, God doesn't exist really. The concepts of God and religion are only human, cultural phenomena. Everybody has the constitutional freedom to choose religion–any religion–or not. Religion is considered an element of human culture. It's on the same level as theater, the movies, science, sports, etc. You're a fan of your religion like you're a fan of your favorite sports team. You can say, "My God is the best" like you're able to say, "My team is the best," or "I like geometry and Chinese culture." But don't be too fanatical. You have to know there are other religions, other sports, and other cultural manifestations that you have to respect, too, even if you don't like them yourself. Real humility is redefined to mean respect for other's opinions (despite God's laws). True love is redefined as the requirement to cooperate with all other religions to make the world better–a new age!–instead of warring against each other in the name of religion and God. If you are contrary, you are branded as proud, fundamentalist, integrist, fascist, extremist, and dangerous. You are a "terrorist" because you want to impose God on others and even die for Him. You are absolute; you are not "relativating," but "absolutating" your choice.
The Society's "boat chapel" in The Hague, Our Lady of the Rosary.
It is 170 feet long and permanently docked in the quay not far from the center of the city.
The priest has his own room, kitchen, and shower.
The sanctuary lamp constantly dances because of the gentle lapping of the waves.
It comfortably seats 88 people, but 100 or more come each Sunday.
The Christmas stable was made by supporters of the boat chapel, the De Beer family, from which has come the first Dutch priest of the Society,
Fr. Carlo de Beer, stationed in its priory in Antwerp, Belgium.
This is the reason why the Society of Saint Pius X is considered dangerous in Holland and is monitored by the state secret service. You can choose what you want, but you cannot announce your choice to everybody. In Holland, proselytism is a form of terrorism against the freedom of conscience. I can choose Catholicism, but I cannot impose it on anybody. I can choose a soccer team, but I cannot impose it on anybody. The god you choose doesn't choose you just as the soccer team doesn't choose you. If you believe that God has chosen you, that is a "game" you're playing. But, please notice, it is only your "game." If you forget that it is a "game," and think that God really exists, you are dangerous. That's the opinion of a modernist and liberal.
This is far removed from the supernatural faith in a real God who chooses for us indeed. That we choose is true for those elements of human culture such as science, art, entertainment, sports, etc. These change because nothing that is human is perfect. And there is a certain consideration and respect to be had for other cultures, but the respect of error itself is the big exception. There is only one true religion because this religion is not human but comes from God; therefore, it is divine and perfect for all persons of all places and times.
Liberalism has penetrated so deeply into Holland that, without inciting total chaos, its people have free access to all things–drugs, sex, and Satanism, etc. Few police patrol the streets because the Dutch believe too many police constitutes a fascist or "rightist" state. The result is that people are attacked, wounded, and killed in the streets without motive. Most crimes are committed by immigrants. The police arrive two hours later. "What's the use?" they say, "If we arrest these criminals, the judge will set them free the next day because it is considered 'racist' to punish poor strangers."
In one celebrated case, a man was keeping a house thief at bay with a samurai sword until police arrived. The police set the thief free because he was "a poor boy." But the homeowner was incarcerated because he was "traumatizing the poor boy with a sword."
Holland now officially recognizes marriages between homosexuals. Neighboring Belgium, entirely Catholic for 16 centuries, is falling into apostasy because of the modernism of its clergy, and is following Holland closely in decadency. It is the second country in the world where this abomination of "homosexual marriages" is possible. [Since this report, the U.S. has made itself another country to do so, at least partially, by the vote of the Massachusetts state legislature to recognize such unions. It is the undeniable precedent for the rest of the nation that "marriage" be redefined as any consensual group arrangement.–Ed.]
Of course, this independence of the Dutch from God results in big problems accepting authority. This affects our faithful, not only in Holland. In many Mass centers, people claim the right to criticize, control, and even condemn each other, including the priests and superiors of Catholic Tradition. When the priest in charge, having the right and duty to correct his sheep, makes one little friendly remark to these same critical people about a serious disorder, they do not accept it, become very angry, and even prefer to quit Catholic Tradition forever. This is one of the most difficult things with which I deal. On one hand, this continual criticism systematically destroys our reputation and, on the other hand, the prideful people undermine our authority. How can we function seriously without reputation or authority? The fight against the modernists is ferocious, we are in the most serious crisis in the history of the Church, and we want to count 110% on our faithful–brothers in the fight–and not be attacked in some way by them also. I think that only the devil can be happy about such a situation, because he wants to divide and conquer us.
Holland has also some remarkable qualities, but the work and its problems have been extremely heavy for any priest assigned here. Bishop Fellay reassigned the exhausted, good Fr. Grün to Germany and appointed me superior of Holland to be assisted by Fr. Robert Schmitt, a little, but strong, young German.
It appears impossible to increase the number of faithful in this country rotted by immorality. Fr. Grün told me that, in Holland, the Society of St. Pius X can only expect to undertake Sterbensbegleitung, that is, its priests should plan to accompany the faithful to their tomb and then close its missions. As a newly ordained priest, these words of Father made me sad enough that I refused to accept them and decided to work as hard as I could to save what could be saved. I tried to bring into Catholic Tradition a number of "soft" sedevacantists and members of other conservative groups. For a time, we served nine Mass centers. But, after five years, I exhausted myself and Bishop Fellay sent me for a year to the chaplaincy at the monastery of Carmel in South Belgium (Quievrain). At that point, I considered that Fr. Grün might have been right.
But no, God has the last word. Our main mission in Holland is miraculously going forward. Two hundred faithful continue to keep the traditional Faith despite this rotten situation. Humanly speaking, it isn't possible. It is a great miracle of grace! This is another proof that God only allows an evil in view of a higher good! The higher good is, amongst others, the virtue of these heroic people.
The merit of these people must be great because the preservation of Tradition in Holland is proportionately more difficult than elsewhere. As their spiritual director, I can certify that many of them are in a higher stage of mystical union with God than anywhere I've been. If the evil in Holland is the greatest, the good must also be the greatest! It is pure theological logic and hard reality. Let me give you a smattering of examples to support my point.
It is no longer morally possible for Catholics to perform in certain professions or to hold certain jobs. One of our faithful is a pharmacist who left her field because she was obliged by law to give clients contraceptives. She quit her position and began to work full time for the Society. By the way, one of the requirements for graduating from nursing school is to assist at an abortion.
Families with members with sicknesses justifying hospitalization are heroic in their charity. But hospitals in Holland are no longer places of healing. They are fearsome places where euthanasia is practiced nearly automatically. Doctors have invented a new kind of euthanasia called "mortification" where food and water are denied patients making them die of hunger and thirst, that is, they are starved to death. A 1997 report revealed that 55% of nursing home patients are dying from this lack of care called "mortification."
I've had experience with this. One Saturday evening, I was called by a faithful parishioner from North Holland:
"Please, Father, come and give Extreme Unction to my aunt in the nursing home."
"Is she close to death or dangerously old?"
"But why do I have to come when there is no such danger?"
"The nurse said that she might be dead in a few days."
"But what kind of death is the nurse telling you to expect?"
"The nurse said that she is in rather stable health, but that she might be dead in a few days."
This is the church of St. Clement's in Gerwen in the province of Brabant of southern Holland, purchased by the Society of Saint Pius X for 220,000 guilders [$122,000 U.S.].The rectory [seen to the right of the church] was remodeled in 1994 so it could become a priory for two priests. The church was used as a city shelter and survived the attacks of Napoleon, who tried to burn it down, and Hitler, who bombed it. Partial restoration of the exterior was necessary when the Society became its owner.
The most famous apostle of Holland is St. Willibrord (+739), an Irish monk who had a veneration for the fourth pope, St. Clement, whose name he was given at his episcopal consecration in Rome. Where he could, Bishop Willibrord-Clement bestowed the name of his patron upon new foundations. The church of St. Clement was one of his first in Holland.Over time, the church fell into the hands of the Protestants, came back into Catholic hands, was sold to the city, and finally bought by the Society.
The main altar was restored with Carrara marble. The images of 18 saints on both sides of the altar–nine men and nine women–represent saints known for their devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Included in the new statuary are SS. Xavier, Benedict, Paul, Eligius, Anthony, Gerard Magella, and Joseph and Mary.
OK, I understood. This was euthanasia and the nurse was "good" enough to relay this information so that the person could receive the last sacraments. I came to give the last sacraments. The woman was lying in the bed unable to move her hands because she was paralyzed. On the table was a cup of water. I gave her a drink and she drank voraciously. It was clear–she was dying from hunger and thirst. Nobody was there to feed her; this was the so-called mortification. And indeed, some days later, she died. I could do absolutely nothing to stop it because the entire social and political system has been organized this way. The only thing I could have done was put the woman in the trunk of a car and drive off to a normal country, but this was a crazy thought. There was nothing I could do but pray.
When I was in Holland, I was aware of three cases amongst our faithful caring for an ill family member because they did not want to give them over to these criminal medical facilities. Two men were each taking care of their mothers, and an elderly woman was taking care of her sister in the most difficult situation you can imagine. The woman ruined her back permanently; she will have terrible pains for the rest of her life because she damaged her back carrying her sister. Though he tended to his mother for years, one man was called a sadist by the nurses because he refused "mortification" for her. The other man was questioned for hours by ten doctors because he refused "mortification" for his mother.
The general situations in the Church and State are so corrupted that normal persons suffer dire mental stress, anxiety, a constant tension from them and have been "maddened" in various ways. I would give them regularly the "Blessing of the Sick" because God knows better than we what these "chaotical" souls suffer and need. Poor people! They are in some way real victims (martyrs?) of liberalism.
Normally, a priest's baptisms are mostly of children. Not in Holland because there are few children. My first baptism after my ordination was of a man 35 years of age in the slums of Amsterdam, suffering from AIDS, and converted by the imposition of the Miraculous Medal. He died six days later. What a country!
What problems there are for Tradition to survive! Let me give an example:
Una Voce of Holland is a conservative association of laymen who try to collaborate with the conciliar Church to secure the celebration of the Tridentine Mass. They asked the most conservative bishop in the country, Bishop Bomers, to allow them the use of a church once a year to celebrate the Mass of Pope St. Pius V. Bishop Bomers replied that he wants to allow it, but that it's not possible because he would have too many problems with the progressives who do not want any concessions given to the conservatives. Bishop Bomers advised Una Voce to approach the schismatic Syrian Orthodox in Amsterdam because the Catholic Church entered into agreements with the Orthodox stipulating, among other things, that the Uniates [i.e., those officially in union with Rome–Ed.] in Holland must receive the sacrament of Confirmation from the Orthodox (schismatic) bishops.
Una Voce authorities went to the Syrian deacon of Amsterdam in charge of the Orthodox properties and asked to get a church for one Mass during one afternoon. This schismatic deacon agreed to open a church if Una Voce was willing to pay for it. But in the same Orthodox church every Sunday Opus Dei was celebrating the New Mass. Opus Dei was also refused a Catholic church in Holland from Bishop Bomers because they were too conservative also. These Opus Dei members were paying the Orthodox deacon for the weekly use of the church. Hearing about the new agreement, they told the deacon they did not want Una Voce to celebrate the Latin Mass in the same church and they gave him an ultimatum: "Opus Dei or Una Voce but not both together." Because the deacon received rent every Sunday from the Opus Dei priests, he refused Una Voce. Una Voce is again in the street without any chance of getting a church anywhere in the whole country. They are persecuted by their own "conservative" brethren–Opus Dei–who were themselves in the church of schismatics to whom they had to pay rent, in this "most conservative" Catholic diocese in Holland. One of the members of Una Voce, a lawyer with many children, now assists at Mass in one of our missions because he now sees us as the only reasonable solution.
The so-called "conservative" primate of the Netherlands, Cardinal Simonis of Utrecht, celebrated a pontifical High Mass in a carnival tent. The carnival lights hung over the altar and the participating nuns were sitting in bumper cars. We did not know if we should laugh or cry.
A newspaper recently published an interview with Bishop Muskens of Breda reporting that after visiting the Kennedy Space Center, he is convinced there is no heaven and no hell. He said his mother was euthanized by a morphine injection; that he read pornographic books with interest; that women should become cardinals, even pope; that he respects the homosexual lifestyle; and that people should be given free contraceptives. I have the original newspaper in my office.
The bishop of Limburg honored the choice of the Moslems for the largest Catholic church in Maastricht, St. Mary's, to be converted into a mosque. They preferred a church with a dome in order that the transformation would be more convenient. Primate Cardinal Bishop Simonis told journalists that Holland must financially support Moslems to build mosques in the country. (This is a logical statement for prelates convinced of religious liberty.) But the authorities of Maastricht refused to give us permission to buy a house in which to celebrate the Traditional Mass. In this same (once upon a time) very Catholic city, an investor was allowed to buy a Catholic church to turn it into a cultural center used for rock concerts.
In 1971, the bishop of North Holland dynamited to the ground the largest, most beautiful neo-Gothic church in the country–St. Willibrord's in Amsterdam, a splendid example of the architect-genius Cuypers. Why? because, before Vatican II, the Catholic Church was advancing rapidly and this church became the symbol of Catholic "triumphalism" in Holland. The spirit of ecumenism has practical consequences, said the modernists, so down it came. Last year alone in Holland, 650 Catholic churches were closed.
The neighborhood parish priest near our priory argues that he never wants to lead a procession of the Most Holy Sacrament "like those Lefebvrists do...because it makes no sense to walk behind a piece of bread." Ninety percent of Holland's clerical and lay workers don't believe in transubstantiation.
A Cistercian brother complained to me that Buddhist monks were invited to his monastery to share spiritual experiences. They received Holy Communion without any conversion to Catholicism.
May the good God have mercy upon His Dutch people who, before the Second Vatican Council, converted tens of thousands of Protestants every year to Catholicism as a result of the beautiful Catholic liturgy. This fervent country had then the highest percentage of Catholic missionaries in the world! Now, there are virtually no Catholic bishops in this country and, in a very short time, Catholicism will be totally exterminated. Thank the good Lord for the 200 at our priory!
Let us pray that our Lord Jesus Christ may come soon. We need Him. Veni Jesu per Mariam!
Fr. Eric Jacqmin, a Belgian, was ordained for the Society of Saint Pius X in 1995 in Econe, Switzerland. He has worked in Holland and Lithuania, and is currently assigned to the Society's priory in Warsaw, Poland.