The installation of the new Bishop of Brugge at the Sint Salvator Cathedral took place on December 4, and it was a GRAND celebration! We had waited a long time, maybe a year, for the naming of the new Bishop and the ‘powers that be’ seemed to have picked the right man. Bishop Lode is very ‘sympa’ as they say, shaking hands and kissing everyone three times, old and young, high born and low, including a foreign born nun! I felt quite special to have been included in the celebration.
Advent is a perfect time for installation, the beginning of the new church year. Now only so many people could be seated in the Cathedral and much of the Cathedral was reserved, so only one of our sisters was there, having arrived very early. However, being in the large banquet hall nearby the cathedral was a bit like the World Series or Super Bowl in America for sports events. The television screen was immense and frankly we saw more in closer detail than having been at the Cathedral. We were treated to our own set of robed priests 14 or so (there were a lot of us there) in all the first rows and we received Eucharist as those in the Cathedral.
The Gregorian chants of this day, and Sinkt Nikolas (a Bishop of the church) Day on December 5, focused on the shepherds of the church, perfect for the new Bishop. The gospel was of the lost sheep and Jesus leaving the 99 sheep unattended to search and find (I might add!) the straying sheep. Now, I have always wanted to be the sheep Jesus carried on his shoulders. Many times in my life, I have been the straying sheep whom Jesus sought out and mercifully returned to the fold where I was tended gently back to health. This is the job of the Bishops and the 40 priesters who formed the back drop of the installation. It was quite impressive to muse over their commitment and the seriousness before God of their job. Now that I am older, I am content to be one of the 99 sheep left unattended to contentedly graze while Jesus seeks out the one lost sheep, knowing the Savior will return with another lost sheep over which we can then rejoice. These Bishops have been busy over the centuries and now of course Bishop Lode will follow in their train.
An amusing footnote is that Sinkt Nikolas Day was December 5, the day after the installation, which in many countries in Europe is the day when gifts are given. The Begijnhof was no exception! Sinkt Nikolas had left chocolates galore at every Sister’s place at breakfast. Every design of Sinkt Nikolas had a Bishop’s hat, miter and staff, Holy Book and ring. I was particularly attuned to the symbols of Bishopdom having just attended the installation. Those Bishop hats came on and off the presiding Bishops and the attending Belgian bishops many times during the ceremony and Mass; the significance of which I have yet to grasp. I was almost as enthralled over the accuracy of the Chocolate Sinkt Nikolases at my place as the chocolate I was about to
consume. ALMOST I say.