“Christianity is possible in every moment yet.” F. Nietzsche




Remaining mobile

April 29th, 2018, Fifth Sunday of Easter, Cycle B

Mobile phone, mobile society, mobile in old age. Like hardly anything else mobility defines our world and our life. Then, like it’s coming out of the woodwork, the word “remain” appears.

Immediately it is mentioned eight times in the short paragraph from the gospel of John. We almost knew it: Church and Christianity are the opposite of mobile. Rigidity and immobility are their hallmarks. But John’s remaining is not a “remaining as it was”, but being loyal, staying with it. It is not a state that remains, but a connection. Every day can be different. To remain means: sharing life and fate with the man from Nazareth and his disciples. acb

Jn 15:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples: I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

Josef Stimpfle

* March 25th, 1916, † September 12th, 1996

Archbischop Dr. Josef Stimpfle (1916–1996) in St. Ulrich Walchensee, 1989


For the homily he usually had a seat placed in front of the altar for him, as also during the festive mass he celebrated on Easter Monday 1995 in St. Ulrich in Walchensee with the parish and the Catholic Integrated Community. Unforgettable his words:

“On the Third Day the Lord rose from the dead. We now celebrate this Easter immediately before the dawn of the Third Day. The first millennium was the millennium of the proclamation of the Crucified and Risen One. Then came the second millennium; that is where the dispersion and division began. Now we are standing at the end of this second millennium. It is a kairos, a breathtaking hour, where, in spite of all the darkness and all the suffering of humanity and also a lot of strife within the Church herself, the Third Day is coming. It is the day of victory of the risen Lord. It is the day that wants to transform humanity again and bring about a change, as it happened during the Easter night two thousand years ago.”

Once, two members of the CIC drove to Fulda. The bishop’s conference was in session there and we wanted to put forth a request to him. In the cloister we looked for a niche. The throng of bishops and auxiliary bishops passed by. Short silence. Then a step rang out like of a farmer who walks across the cobbled yard, heavy, deliberate, not hurried, certain. It was he. That is what he was like. A man expecting, turned towards the expected and actively awakening pleasure to arrive, not just in his diocese.

In 1963, having been ordained a bishop at the beginning of the Second Vatican Council through Paul VI., he already proved his understanding of the approaching renewed view of the Church, also of his office, with his motto “for the journeying People of God” (Plebi Dei peregrinanti). His care for the entire Church became known worldwide. He traveled to the third world, even to countries under communist rule. With the organization “Church in Need” he did not only bring financial help to the bishops, priests and faithful, but especially encouragement and strong signs of solidarity.

In 1968 he traveled to Israel with the chairman of the Jewish community of Augsburg, Julius Spokojny. On the occasion of the consecration of the small synagogue in Augsburg in 1963 he had assured him: “Within the Catholic scope I will advocate the acceptance of the model about the Catholic Church’s relationships with the Jewish people and about the freedom of conscience prepared at the Second Vatican Council.” He welcomed new initiatives and charisms.

For a long time nobody realized what a bishop the Catholic Integrated Community had in him. Already since 1953 the CIC, their members mostly part of the Munich diocese, had been residing in the diocese of Augsburg with their house in Urfeld; that was a privilege and granted protection and safeguard. When he first came there on a visit in 1987, he surprised with a modified quote from the First Book of Samuel during a toast: “We didn’t go out to look for donkeys, and yet found a kingdom!” He entrusted the CIC’s community of priests with two parishes. He showed what is possible for a bishop when he ordained a construction engineer, a member of the CIC, as a priest with regard to his involvement in Tanzania.

How did the people in his hometown Maihingen talk about their great son? “He is one of us — and yet completely different”, that is how his nephew passed it on. “He had a lot of faith and went beyond boundaries”, a Ugandan priest said, in whose diocese the bishop had a cathedral built. ars

One single name

April 22nd, 2018, Fourth Sunday of Easter, Cycle B

In the ancient world the name stands for the person. It indicates the person’s nature and will. This also applies to the name of God. His “proper name” JHWH has a dynamic meaning: “I am there for you”.

After Easter, the Jew Peter and his companions declare: Jesus is the only name through which salvation and help can come. The disciples had realized that God is there and that he helps through this craftsman from Nazareth, who did good and gathered Israel anew. This is also the meaning of Jesus’ name, Je-shua, “JHWH saves”. The dynamic of the name of God is personified in him and works on where the disciples do what he did in his name. hak

Of the freedom of being

by J. Ratzinger

A fine quotation from Mahatma Ghandi: Fish live in the sea, and they are silent. Animals on earth below, bark and bray. But the birds who inhabit the heavens sing.

Silence is proper to the sea, braying is proper to the earth, and singing belongs to heaven. But man has a share in all three, for within himself he bears the depths of the sea, the burden of the earth and the heights of heaven. Hence he possesses all three properties: silence, bellowing and singing.

Today, I would like to add, we see that for man deprived of transcendence there remains only braying, because he desires to be earth arid nothing more, indeed tries to make the heavens and the ocean deep to be his earth. True liturgy, the liturgy of the communion of saints, gives man once again his completeness. It instructs him once again in silence and in singing by opening for him the depths of the sea and by teaching him to fly—the existence of the angels. True liturgy sings with the angels, and true liturgy is silent with the expectant depths of the universe. And thus true liturgy redeems the earth.

From: Joseph Ratzinger (1985). Liturgy and church music


Nothing new under the sun?

April 15th, 2018, Third Sunday of Easter, Cycle B

Twice the word “commandments” comes up in the paragraph from the Letter of John. But don’t we know them by now? Since Israel solemnly received them at Sinai?

In the Gospel of John Jesus formulates the novelty of his commandment. One could describe it as the inner destination route of all commandments of the bible known to this point: “I give you a new commandment: Love one another.” As strange as it may sound, the word “love” is a technical term here that represents the translation of the Greek word “agapein”. It describes the togetherness of the baptized — with the goal to build up the community — as material visible body of the resurrected Jesus of Nazareth. That is as forgotten as it is excitingly new. bek

1 Jn 2:1-5A

My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world. The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. Those who say, “I know him,” but do not keep his commandments are liars, and the truth is not in them. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him.


by S. Kierkegaard

When you receive a package you undo the wrapper to get to the contents. Christendom was a gift from God.

But, instead of accepting the gift, Christianity has decided to wrap it; each generation has put a new wrapper around the others — and this way they thought they were getting closer and closer to Christendom.

We drift through life, made blissfully happy by the notion that God is a space of eighteen hundred years away and that the nearness of God remains a historical question.

Translated from: Sören Kierkegaard, Tagebuch XI 2A, Christentum und Christenheit (1854)

The fourth paradise

April 8th, 2018, Second Sunday of Easter, Cycle B

In the young creation, according to Genesis, there was a garden laid out by God where man had everything he needed. The garden was lost — since then God’s history with His people is continually on the trail of paradise.

It was within their reach when Israel, having escaped the Egyptians, came closer to the Promised Land in the desert. An exceedingly rich land that could only be won, however, through the keeping of the Tora. It receded into the distance for Israel during exile. It was promised again as return and reentry into the land — out of mercy. But it remained a promise, the land occupied, the people in great need. Luke did not shy away from saying about the post-Easter communities: No one there was in need, for they had everything in common. With this he describes their sober reality as the fulfilled promise of paradise. tac

Acts 4:32-35

The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.


by R. Kunze

The bells rang,

As if they were clanging for joy

Over the empty grave


Over that which once

so consoled,


and that has sustained astonishment for 2000 years


However even though the bells

hammered so forcefully against the midnight –

nothing in the darkness changed.


Translated from: Reiner Kunze, eines jeden einziges leben. gedichte (1986)

What hurts

“Mein Kampf” in Munich’s Volkstheater. Young Hitler is taken under caring Schlomo Herzl’s wing in a men’s boarding house in Vienna at the beginning of the 20th century.

Alarming is not that you laugh during George Taboris’ play. Alarming are not the allusions like the glowing oven on the initially dark set design. Alarming is seeing how powerless reasonable, civilized humanness and even faithful search for truth can be in the face of stupidity and distortion of reality. At least when they are alone.

Tabori ends with a joke: Two thieves are hanging on the cross. One asks the other: “Does it hurt?” – “Only when I laugh.” jup

“He is not here”

April 1st, 2018, Easter Sunday, Cycle B

“He is not here”, the young man tells the three women, who come to Jesus’ tomb early in the morning. Where was the crucified and dead Jesus from Good Friday until Easter? Theologians have racked their brains about this.

In the creed it says: “He descended to the dead.” In many depictions it is described how the righteous dead from earlier times are freed from the jaws of death. Mark offers a different answer: The women are supposed to tell the disciples, and especially Peter: “He is going before you to Galilee.” They do not meet this request in any way, they flee bewildered and scared, do not say anything to anyone. If one follows the referral to Galilee: In Galilee Jesus appeared; there the disciples, also Peter, heard and saw him, but hadn’t understood anything, until the last. The women were looking for “Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified”, but the gospel starts like this: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of God”. “The Christ of the gospels is the only true historical Jesus”, Joseph Ratzinger said at a symposium in Israel. Easter: The disciples realize who Jesus is. ars

Mk 16:1-8

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint him. Very early when the sun had risen, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb. They were saying to one another, “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back; it was very large. On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed. He said to them, “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. But go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you. ’” Then they went out and fled from the tomb, seized with trembling and bewilderment. They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Assertions of the same intention?

2018, workshop for spirituality: “What to bring: comfortable clothes and the willingness to change your life.”

A few years earlier: “Interested in the monastery life? Our monastery is located in a beautiful area …”

Or also some time ago: “If you want to cast a light on people, become an electrician or a priest.”

About 1900 years ago, a dialogue in the gospel of Luke. Jesus: “Follow me.” The invitee: “Let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus: “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” pez

The Church is searching ...

for a new language. For example in a current conference program:

“Varieties of Discursive Representation of the Absolute”

“Dissolution of Meaning – for an Auto-deconstructive Dynamic in Christianity and (Un-)Representability of the Absolute”

“Speaking through Depiction. Perspectives of Art History’s Reflective Dealing with the Absolute”

“Concreativity and ‘Analogical Imagination’ ­­– the Production of Reality in Art and Theology”

“Negativity and Transgression. About the Productivity of the Inaccessible”

“Wittgenstein and the Mystical: Can Nonsense Make Sense?”

Dear miss universe, behind such academic fogs you disappear. And if the fogs should lift someday – will you still be detectable? pez

Programmed Humanness

Digital assistants in small loudspeakers currently decorate the living rooms of technically adept households and fulfill the voiced wishes of their owners.

Emotion robots, that are supposed to show human affection, are deemed a promising future project in the nursing care sector, especially for dealing with patients suffering from dementia. In the American play Marjorie Prime, which was made into a film last year, holograms take the place of deceased family members. This is supposed to help the elderly mother suffering from Alzheimer’s, for example, cope better with the grief for her late husband, by now always being in the company of her 4o-year old husband. Through friendly questions like “Tell me more about me” the holograms collect information about their past characteristics, which they then try to adopt. Recounted mutual memories are later skillfully weaved into conversations. To appear human the messages of the holographic companions seem to be programmed to two basic statements: “I am here to help you, if you let me” and “how wonderful that I was able to love someone”. In the ludicrous end scene three holograms of the now deceased and originally dysfunctional family sit together peacefully and delight in once having loved someone. How inhuman harmony can be. heg

Herbert Wallbrecher

* June 21, 1922, † January 5, 1997

Dr. Herbert Wallbrecher (on the right) with Cardinal Johannes Joachim Degenhardt


What is a layperson? According to common parlance and understanding it is someone who depends on experts. If he wants to invest his wealth, he looks for an investment adviser; if he wants to build a house, he engages an architect. The predominant majority of Church members are lay people. Can the above also apply to them as lay people in the Church?

As an expert in theology, the then 36-year-old Professor Joseph Ratzinger took part in the Second Vatican Council and gave an account of what was negotiated there on the subject of “laity”: “What was noticeable was that in spite of every effort no one was able to give a positive definition of the laity. One has grown used to seeing the layman in antithesis to the priest and religious, as the person who is neither of the two.” Within the demand for office and ordination this understanding has remained prevalent until today.

Karl Barth, one of the most renowned protestant theologians, was invited to the Council to Rome as a guest, but was only able to come, as he called it, ad limina apostolorum to the doorstep of the apostles, to Peter and Paul, in 1967. He brought critical questions along with him, among others about the decree on the mission of the laity: “Why is the lay apostolate not based on the Church’s definition as polulos (laos) Dei [people of God], but instead on the reference to its contemporary necessity?”

Herbert Wallbrecher (*1922 †1997), like both his older brothers and Johannes Joachim Degenhardt, whom he was closely connected with in the catholic youth movement, considered joining the Jesuits. When his brothers did not return from the war and his parents’ insurance and tax office fell to him. After the end of the Nazi dictatorship and the catastrophe of the Shoah, it was impossible for him to go back to the way life used to be before 1933 as if nothing had happened, which many tried to do. But how to be a Christian now? In this time of questions, that worried him as well as many of his contemporaries, he, now a lawyer and working as an entrepreneur, met Gertraud Weiß from Munich, a psychology student and national head of the Heliand, who had the same question. They met, in Munich they attended a production of Paul Claudel’s “The Satin Slipper” at the newly reopened Kammerspiele; in the afterword, which Hans Urs von Balthasar added to his translation of the play, they found a clearer phrasing of what their question was: “How is it possible to live completely in the world and completely in God?”

Twenty years later the Integrated Community presented itself to the public as the fruit of this initial constellation; another ten years later she was recognized as an “Apostolic Community in the spirit of the decree Apostolicam actuositatem No. 18 and 19 of the Second Vatican Council” by the archbishops of Paderborn and Munich and Freising, the cardinals Johannes Joachim Degenhardt and Joseph Ratzinger. In the decree it says, i. a.: “Maintaining the proper relationship to Church authorities, the laity have the right to found and control such associations and to join those already existing. The group apostolate of Christian believers happily corresponds to a human and Christian need. Among these associations, those which promote and encourage closer unity between the concrete life of the members and their faith must be given primary consideration.“

Dr. Herbert Wallbrecher with his wife Gertraud – are they perhaps representatives of the modern laity of the Church, whom the fathers of Vatican II hoped for?

Manifest about the great deed

by L. Hohl

Human work, the world-changing work, takes place in three steps. These are:

1. The great idea

2. The application of the great idea, its dissolution into small ideas

3. The single acts.

In short: The great idea, the small ideas, the small deeds. These three steps are supposed to form the whole? They do form the whole, they are everything. – What about the great deed then? Is that supposed to mean that the great deed follows on its own? No. It has already been done.

Translated from: Ludwig Hohl (1981). Die Notizen oder Von der voreiligen Versöhnung