An Anniversary and a Discovery

Tomorrow, Good Friday, is the tenth anniversary of my priestly ordination, at least in terms of the civil calendar, ie 14 April. In liturgical terms I was ordained on Sabbato in albis, ie the Saturday within the Octave of Easter, which will be 22 April this year. Keeping this liturgical dating will allow for a more festive recollection and thanksgiving.

Yet, the Day of the Cross is not such a bad one to have even such a modest anniversary. The priest is ordained precisely to renew and re-present the sacrifice of the Cross. On the more micro, or personal, level there is no doubt that priesthood brings a special set of trials and sufferings, even for those not in pastoral ministry (and maybe even especially, as we have fewer consolations of the flock). No doubt also, I have been a cross to others. So a fitting day.

As soon as I emerge from the Triduum, and get a certain manuscript completed, I plan to read this book which came today. Dom Hans van der Laan was a Dutch Benedictine monk, an architect and a designer of furniture and vestments, and a teacher of architectural and design theory, especially his concept of the plastic number, a 3D elaboration of the Golden Number.


He designed the abbey church and its fittings, as well as monastic furnishings, for the monastery of Vaals in Holland. It is modern and austere, but it is not modernist despite what might be your initial reactions. The Vaals church is based on the basilica form. There is more much to his work than meets the eye at first sight. It reflects, I am keen to confirm, his profound understanding of monastic liturgy and the architecture that allows it to speak. You may hear from me about him in the future.

Upper Church | Abdij Sint Benedictusberg
The abbey church at St Benedictsburg, Vaals

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    1. How marvellous! It is my strong desire to visit St Benedictsberg and see Dom van der Laan’s work first-hand. I might seek your advice/help to do that, if I may.


      1. Please Dom Hugh, you are welcome. The liturgy is full in Latin and according to the Novo Ordo. As it is in Latin it is without strange additions or translations. Due to the low number of monks the liturgy is plain, but sacredness is all around. The architecture of Dom van der Laan can be seen as an addition to this sacredness: not the building in itself is important, but it attributes to the central focuspoint, Jesus Christ in the liturgy.

        I am still wondering how it would look when the celebration would be oriented “ad Dominum” or even in the Extraordinary Form, but this will remain a silent hope for the coming years.

        The Abbey was the stronghold for many Catholics during the roaring years after Vatican II.

        When visiting, you also could visit the Dom of Charlemagne in nearby Aachen and the Abbey of Mariawald of the Trappitsmonks, who are full into the Extraordinary Form, both in all liturgies and in life.

    1. Awesome, in its proper and original sense, is indeed an apt word, and priests suffer when they put aside, or have taken from them, the awe that is the proper way to regard their ministry.

      Paschal blessings!

  1. Ad multos annos from Lisieux where I am presently on a private pilgrimage. Remembering you here to the ‘Greatest Saint of modern times.’

    1. Easter in Lourdes? Lovely! I still have not been, sadly. Thank you for any remembrance at the shrine. A blessed Triduum to you. Pax.


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