On August 27, 2018, an interview with Dr. Peter Zitta, a member of the Catholic Integrated Community and its Association of Priests, was broadcasted on Radio Horeb.
You can listen to two segments here.
The only thing that suffices
Panem & circenses – bread and games – was the name of a method in ancient times to pacify the people or secure their votes for elections.
Jesus is also threatened with this atmosphere during a multiplication of loaves, where the people want to make him king after they have had enough to eat. The event in Cana is not a bribe, but a “sign”. Jesus does not want to satisfy the primary needs of man, but deliver him with his entire human existence. And for that – right at the beginning – the abundance of a feast is necessary – of a wedding. Because, as Joseph Ratzinger knows, “only the lover can understand the foolishness of a love for which extravagance is law and abundance the only thing that suffices.” tac
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.
With greetings from a snow-covered cabin after construction days in Urfeld by the Walchensee
Snow falls softly,
still and frozen lies – “hold on!”
the lake is seething and billowing,
Christmas? Lights, decorations – yes.
Other than that, old, gray walls – inhospitable.
In the hearts ... – what exactly?
Unremarkable, unspectacular, mundane
as with the shepherds out in the fields – transformation.
Wall, by closet, by lamp, by stitch,
life enters into house and heart.
Faith is not an irrational agreement to a claim; it is the perception of a special order of reality.
There are certain congruencies between skepticism and faith: both undermine the human presumptiveness.
A society is secularized when it has lost the awareness for its dependence.
Translated from: Nicolás Gómez Dávila (1913–1994), Aufzeichnungen des Besiegten (1994)
Expectation and reality
The Jews have learned to see the world completely differently. The book of Genesis, the first book of Moses, starts with God, who creates man “in his image and likeness.”
This sentence has become so familiar to us that we forget how paradox it really is – in the Hebrew Bible God has no image or likeness. But in the following tale it quickly becomes clear what humans have in common with God: freedom and responsibility. This creates a difficult theological dilemma. How can we reconcile the great hopes that God puts in humanity with the shabby and thin file of our moral history? The answer is: forgiveness. God wrote forgiveness into the script. He always gives us a second chance, and then another and another. All we have to do is recognize our wrongdoing, ask for forgiveness, make up for it and decide to do better – and God forgives. We can uphold the highest expectations, if at the same time we honestly admit our most hidden weaknesses.
Translated from: Jonathan Sacks, Vom Schicksal zum Glauben, Jüdische Allgemeine, 9. September 2018
All four evangelists are confronted with the fact that Jesus, like many of his Jewish contemporaries, underwent the baptism of repentance through the prophet John.
In Luke’s account of Jesus’ baptism he pushes John to the back of the stage and pulls out all the stops to say who this baptized man truly is: The heavens open, the spirit descends upon him and the voice from offstage declares him to be the son, the loved one, the chosen one. In the Acts of the Apostles Peter says it more mildly, but no less clearly: He is the word to Israel, the Kyrios, God is with him. To sum it up: Jesus is proclaimed as God’s representative. Just before Christmas a protestant theologian wrote in the FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung): “That is the crisis it’s all about: God cannot be reliably represented in the world anymore.” The Baptist had supposedly said to the people: “There is one among you whom you do not recognize.” ars
Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Not mission, but dialogue
The task Christ left to his disciples is the mission among all peoples and cultures. The goal is to introduce people to the “unknown God” (Acts 17,23). Man has the right to know God because only he who knows God is able to live the human existence properly. That is why the missionary mandate is universal – with one exception:
Missionizing the Jews was simply not intended and not necessary because they alone among the peoples knew the “unknown God”. Therefore, it is not mission that applied and applies to Israel, but dialogue about whether Jesus of Nazareth is “the Son of God, the Logos” for whom, according to the promises made to his people, Israel and, without knowing it, humanity waits. Taking up this dialogue anew is the task set for us in this hour.
Translated from: Joseph Ratzinger/Benedikt XVI., Nicht Mission, sondern Dialog, Herder Korrespondenz 12/2018
What a star!
The question about what the star of Bethlehem was fills entire libraries. Hallucination? Halley’s Comet? Or maybe a rare conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn?
The answer cannot be found in the star dust of the skies, but in the dust of the earth. It was a small group of slaves fled from Egypt who recognized the true God; he became their guiding star. And so, through the existence of the Jewish people, the other peoples could also see the star of the Torah, a “star arising from Jacob”. Finding this new light is all the orientation the wise men, the searchers from among the people, need. “They were overjoyed at seeing the star.” acb
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.” After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.
A Word on Statistics
Out of every hundred people,
those who always know better:
Unsure of every step:
almost all the rest.
Ready to help,
if it doesn't take long:
because they cannot be otherwise:
four -- well, maybe five.
Able to admire without envy:
Led to error
by youth (which passes):
sixty, plus or minus.
Those not to be messed with:
Living in constant fear
of someone or something:
Capable of happiness:
twenty-some-odd at most.
turning savage in crowds:
more than half, for sure.
when forced by circumstances:
it's better not to know,
not even approximately.
Wise in hindsight:
not many more
than wise in foresight.
Getting nothing out of life except things:
(though I would like to be wrong).
Balled up in pain
and without a flashlight in the dark:
eighty-three, sooner or later.
Those who are just:
quite a few, thirty-five.
But if it takes effort to understand:
Worthy of empathy:
one hundred out of one hundred --
a figure that has never varied yet.
Wisława Szymborska (1923–2012), translated from the Polish by Joanna Trzeciak
From: The Atlantic Monthly; May 1997; A Word on Statistics; Volume 279, No. 5; page 68.
New Year’s Wish
If people were animals, everything would be better and easier.
It would be better because animals do not wage wars. Because animals do no wrong. Because animals especially do not harm the environment – except maybe the bark beetle, but I guess he’s just a bad apple. Everything would be easier because the life of an animal is so ideal, so simple and clear. An animal does not have to plan in advance. It does not have to be ashamed of its desires. Neither does it ask about the sense and nonsense of the world and about what actually holds the world together at its core. Essentially, everything indicates that humans should stop being humans and, if possible, start being animals. It need not bother us Europeans that some people might have opposing views to this. Judaism, for example, hardly exists in Europe anymore. So it is easy to ignore its views. Anyway, an engagement with such a worldview would present an indissoluble contradiction to the targeted harmonious, clear, simple, perfectly instinctive way of life. Therefore, engaging with it is out of the question. Instead, we should all choose an animal for New Year’s (preferably a plant-eating one), adopt its way of life and spend the rest of our days strolling along this way. Completely harmonious, simple and clear. The world would be a better place and I have already decided: The hippopotamus is what it’s going to be. saw
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 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?
“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.
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.