In the Jewish ‘Old Testament’, the book of divine justice, there are men, things, and sayings on such an immense scale, that Greek and Indian literature has nothing to compare with it. One stands with fear and reverence before those stupendous remains of what man was formerly.
All honor to the Old Testament! In that I find great men, a heroic landscape and something of the rarest of all elements on earth, the incomparable naiveté of the strong heart. Even more—I find a people.
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900)
The Lesson of Advent
A street has to be built. From all the corners of the earth to Jerusalem.
According to Baruch, God is the contractor: He speaks and all obstacles give way. In the texts of other prophets God assigns this construction project to the people: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths”. That is not a contradiction – God builds and those who let themselves be gathered together build for Him. That is the great lesson of Advent. We have to make each move God makes, and He makes each move we make when we trust in Him. tac
Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on forever the splendor of glory from God: Wrapped in the mantle of justice from God, place on your head the diadem of the glory of the Eternal One. For God will show your splendor to all under the heavens; you will be named by God forever: the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship. Rise up, Jerusalem! Stand upon the heights; look to the east and see your children gathered from east to west at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that they are remembered by God. Led away on foot by their enemies they left you: but God will bring them back to you carried high in glory as on royal thrones. For God has commanded that every lofty mountain and the age-old hills be made low, that the valleys be filled to make level ground, that Israel may advance securely in the glory of God. The forests and every kind of fragrant tree have overshadowed Israel at God’s command; for God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with the mercy and justice that are his.
The science of God
Child: “But he does exist.”
What does the mother say? She only believes what she can see.
And what does the child say? But he does exist.
What do we say?
We agree with both, the mother and the child. Also with the mother?
The child is probably right with its faith, but so is the mother with her faithlessness. If we do not manage to make her see God, then we have no right to agree with the child’s “but”.
We cannot take atheism seriously enough. Deifying nature and spirits only leads us off the track. God is not something else, also not the sense of something else, God is God or – nothing. Only on the brink of atheism do have to learn to fly. But why does God’s existence have to be so uncertain? Because it has to be the origin of all other existence. We feel that at any rate God’s existence has to be on a different level than our existence, the existence of the world. We only want to believe in what we can see. But neither the outer eye, with which we see the world, nor the inner eye, with which we see men, lead us closer to the distance of God.
Through which eye can we see him?
Through the inner eye, says the pantheist …
Through the outer eye, says the spiritualist …
Only with both eyes, the inner and the outer, closed, – says the mystic.
But what does the pantheist see? Nothing but nature.
And what does the spiritualist see? Nothing but spirit.
And what does the mystic see? Nothing but - nothingness.
So which organ is left? None, if we were really just composed of senses and spirit?
But – senses and spirit unite the soul. Is there an organ of this complete, united human?
Translated from: Franz Rosenzweig (1886–1929), Zweistromland, Gesammelte Schriften Bd. III (1984)
Wherefrom – whereto?
There was a time when Christianity was lived.
It was so strong that we still live off of it today.
We have come far. Come far away from what?
Before the time of Christ again?
The New Year of 2019 will be greeted with many expectations and fireworks, while the start of the new church year will be comparatively quiet. Are we expecting someone?
Should we roll out the red carpet for the “righteous shoot” Jeremiah talks about, or for the Son of Man arriving on a cloud? Are we maybe taken back to the waiting room, to the time before Christ’s arrival? Advent does not mean future arrival, but presence. Benedict XVI reminded us: What, or who, we are expecting is already present, for example in the great saints. Paul says it like this: “You received from us how you should conduct yourselves to please God.” Then we have adventus medius, not in the future, not in the past, but in the present. ars
May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Finally, brothers, we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that, as you received from us how you should conduct yourselves to please God—and as you are conducting yourselves—you do so even more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
“The churches stand up for…”
– others to act.
“Waiting for God”, the noblest form of failure to do good.
Abandoning oneself to God often means abandoning God.
The bible could become a bestseller
because a method was found
to read and interpret it without doing it.
True: The official should take a back seat
to the cause. He represents it as a witness,
he does not produce it. – But today they step so far
into the background that the cause stands alone. luw
After two thousand years: crosses on the summits of every mountain,
but in the valleys no paschal communities?
* * *
Is it that two thousand years after the incarnation of the word:
the flesh was made word again?
I believe in the harmony within the universe and
That the Jew Jesus was an example of the new
Gentle man and
That the spirit blows everywhere (except in Rome)
And that therefore we don’t need a Church. Amen.
In celebration of her confirmation on May 1, 1981, through Cardinal Johannes Joachim Degenhardt in Paderborn, Hedvig Fornander, musician and lyricist, described her path up to that point. From 1962 on, she had been a founding member of the group from which the Catholic Integrated Community grew in 1968.
Born in Sweden I got to know Christianity in the local protestant-Lutheran Church. As my parents increasingly lost their faith and growing up I did not find a place anywhere where I could live the faith, the question of faith turned into a nagging problem for me. For a long time I experienced the world as completely ‘autonomous’, but I could not ‘rest’ on that. Everywhere I saw traces of something that should be real and I should commit myself to as well, but an impenetrable wall made it impossible to experience this reality and respond to it.
At twenty-two, after I had begun studying linguistics and later music, I came to Germany. Why? To me Germany was the land of music and the country where Martin Luther was born. Here I began searching, driven by rootlessness in every way, and – it was 1962 – I got to know the former “Goergen Circle”, from which later on the Catholic Integrated Community evolved. Here, for the first time, I found a place where even I could learn faith. In 1966 I converted to the Catholic faith; in the following year I completed my music studies.
I had now found my ‘new family’ and my home here in Munich; meaning, I found the Church, the place that was an unknown island to me, a locked gate, as it may generally be for most people in my home country.
I clearly realized again how real this estrangement within my home country has already become during my trip there in fall one and a half years ago when I visited Stockholm. I was walking through the streets not far from central station. A woman had taken up her post in the pedestrian area. Dolled up, already older, with bright red hair, she blaringly sang songs of the sweet Jesus and the jeweled gates of heaven into the loudspeaker in a Swedish-American way, accompanied by an electronic organ she played herself. The people strolled by – and maybe they were not even offended by the degrading ugliness of the performance, by the selling off of the name of Christ. Because – that is what it seems like to me – where the faith is no longer experienced as a reality, where the ‘world’ governs itself; also where the sense that it is something worth protecting, that something like a highest beauty exists, disappears more and more.
Today I know about the reality of the Church and how faith is actively passed on from person to person. I have been allowed to learn what tradition is. That there is a ‘community of faithful’ for me today, an entire people, whom I can actually embrace with my pride and my love, and where the meaning of the word ‘faith’ transforms itself into something very palpable, that is completely unfathomable to me.
A poem by Hedvig Fornander
with worry the world greets you,
But we were called away from fear,
we, who live in the time of wonders.
It is not important
that you searched
or that you didn’t search at all.
Cause for trembling is what you found.
Thus, the globe is not globe
but place of discovery.
Not the oil billionaires are to be envied
but solely the shepherds.
* * *
The letter with the unheard-of new message
came in an envelope without address
this is not meant for us
we then opened the letter
* * *
at the meeting of blow drier
rush hour traffic
there is not much one can do
at the meeting of petroleum
there will be no cake
at the meeting of you, you and me
– not much in it
we however were called together
* * *
What was left
everything that was there
not even the best
now it was called
* * *
At first we came along with full sails
with waving flags, with heavy luggage –
You let us shrink.
Maybe at the end of each of us
only a grain will be left –
a grain of wheat
that falls to the ground.
Meaning does not grow out of systems of thought, but out of stories, and the Jewish story is the most unusual of all.
It tells us that God wanted to make us partners in His work of creation, but we disappointed him again and again. But he never gives up. He forgives us over and over again. For Judaism the true religious mystery is not our faith in God, but God’s faith in us. This is not a consolatory fiction, as atheists and skeptics sometimes say, but the exact opposite. Judaism is God’s appeal to human responsibility to create a world that is a worthy home for His presence.
Translated from: Jonathan Sacks, Vom Schicksal zum Glauben, Jüdische Allgemeine, 9. September 2018