There came a moment when, overcome with blessedness, I dared to say to myself: I have understood the highest.
In truth, that is not given to many in any generation. But almost at the same time something new rushed upon me: the highest of all is not to understand the highest but to act upon it.
From: Sören Kierkegaard, Journals X 4A (1852)
There never was an age in which the Church contained so many untrue members; that is, so many persons who profess themselves her members, when they know little or nothing about the real meaning of membership, and remain within her pale for some reasons short of religious and right ones.
For instance, to put one question on the subject,—How many supporters of Christ's holy Catholic Church do you think would be left among us, if her cause were found to be, not the cause of order, as it happens to be now, but the cause of disorder, as it was when Christ came and his Apostles preached?
From: Cardinal John Henry Newman, Sermon at St. Mary’s in Oxford (31 May, 1840)
New – Theologica No. 7: Ebrei e Cristiani
That is the sentence written on the advertising banner of the book “Ebrei e Cristiani” because Pope em. Benedict’s contribution in the periodical Communio last year spurred the Judeo-Christian dialogue unexpectedly.
The book was presented at an event on May 16, 2019, hosted by the Chair for the Theology of the People of God at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. The speakers were Rabbi Arje Folger, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, the Prefect of the Papal Household and Benedict XVI’s secretary, and Elio Guerriero, the editor of the book. Theologica No. 7 gives an account of the speeches at the event in German.
You can find further information on content and ordering details here.
Living in community – Letters to the Oratory
Consider what is implied in the word “community”. To live in community is not to be simply in one house; else the guests of a hotel form a community.
Nor is it to live and board together; else a boarding-house is a community. Priests living in a chapel-house or presbytery, with each his own room, and a common table, and common duties in one church and parish, do not therefore live in community. To live in community is to form one body, in such sense as to admit of acting and being acted upon as one. An Oratory is an individuality. It has one will and one action, and in that sense it is one community. But it is obvious that such a union of wills and minds and opinions and conduct cannot be attained without considerable concessions of private judgment on the part of every individual so united. It is a conformity, then, not of accident or of nature, but of supernatural purpose. It is not everyone who has the gift of living with others. Not every holy soul, not every good secular priest, can live in community. Perhaps very few men can do so.
From: John Henry Cardinal Newman, Letters to the Oratory about the call to the Oratory of St. Philipp Neri (1856)
Paths out of hardship
The classic Jewish reaction to catastrophe is renewal of life. It is part of the mentality of the people of Israel to preserve the memory of its story of success and suffering, so hope for the future arises from it.
Pointedly one could say: Israel’s looking back brings it forward. Memory is the key for the future of the people of Israel. As the test took place, so also will salvation happen. The past catastrophes have undoubtedly devastated the Jewish community, but in a paradox way also strengthened her. A Russian folk tale expresses this inner-Jewish movement and dynamic well:
When Napoleon came through a small Jewish shtetl during his expedition against Russia, he wished to see the synagogue from the inside. Coincidentally this day was the 9th Av and the Jews sat on the floor in the dark, lamenting and praying. When it had been explained to Napoleon that the reason for their lamentation was the destruction of the temple, he asked: “When did this happen?” “2000 years ago”, they told him. When he heard this, the emperor commented: “A people that is able to preserve the memory of its land for 2000 years will surely find the way to return home there.”
But let us not forget one thing at this point: This is not an automatism. The fasting and remembering of the past alone is not enough. Because hate and strife have lead to the loss of the temple. The fasting must be accompanied by daily interaction of the children of Israel with one another in truth and peace, if it is really supposed to come to a change from sad to renewed happy days.
Translated from: Jüdische Allgemeine, 18.07.2019, arcticle by Rabbi Salomon Almekias-Siegl
„Ebrei e cristiani“
On 16 May, 2019, at the Papal Lateran University in Rome, the Chair for the Theology of the People of God presented the Italian translation of the correspondence between Pope em. Benedict XVI and the Viennese Chief Rabbi Arie Folger to an interested audience.
Prof. Achim Buckenmaier, the director of the Chair, moderated the event. The Viennese Chief Rabbi Arie Folger, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Prefect of the Pontifical House and Private Secretary of Pope em. Benedict XVI, Dr. Elio Guerriero, author of the book, and the director of the Osservatore Romano, Dr. Andrea Monda, presented the book.
You can find additional information and pictures on the homepage of the Chair www.popolodidio.org.
Coagulated from experience
Part of the act of faith, from its fundamental structure, is the inclusion into the Church, into that which commonly unites and binds us.
To enter into the community of faith means to enter into the community of life and vice versa. The Church’s degree of reality goes beyond what is definable through literature. To be sure, what the Church believes and lives can be attested to in the book, and so it is. But it does not merge into the book; instead the book itself only retains its function if it points to the community, where the word lives. You cannot replace or overhaul this community though historical exegesis; in its inner hierarchy it precedes the book. The word of faith inherently presupposes the community that lives it, binds itself to it and holds fast to its bindingness for man. In so far as revelation goes beyond literature, it also goes beyond the borders of the mere scientificity of historical reason.
Translated from: Joseph Ratzinger, Theologische Prinzipienlehre (1982)
On the earthly womb of Christ
So I began to visit the Jews. And above all, I saw that the reason they were regarded as a special people was because it was in their womb that the thought was first born that the peoples of the earth, of all the earth, were equal children of God.
Precisely because they were the first to say that all humans of all peoples were equal children of God, now people would say that they, the Jews, saw themselves as special children of God. For thus it is in this world, where the antichrist rules for now: that those people who say they want good are accused of evil. The old Jews said they were God’s chosen people. But for which purpose did they say this? For the purpose of bringing forth the savior, the Jesus Christ. So, in all actuality, the pride of the Jews was humility. They were not just veritably chosen because – as we know – the savior of the world came from the womb of the Jews, but also because they brought forth the only son of man, of whom it is not pride to be proud of. They did not only bear the savior, they also denied him. They were truly God’s chosen people. They are chosen in two ways: not just because they hardened their hearts. So they, the Jews, are chosen in two ways: firstly, because they brought forth Jesus Christ; secondly, because they denied him. Through their virtue as through their sin they have prepared the salvation of the world. That is why anyone who believes in Jesus Christ and hates, despises or even just thinks little of the Jews, his earthly womb, is the brother of the antichrist. Even the pagans still honor all those places, at which their saints and prophets showed them their human weaknesses. Whoever thinks little of the Jews, also thinks little of Jesus Christ. Whoever is a Christian, honors the Jews. For if the Jews were chosen to bring about Jesus’ earthly death, then through that they have confirmed God’s covenant with Abraham, the covenant with which the salvation of this world began. And if God has chosen the Jews to not only bring forth Jesus Christ, but also to deny him, then this happened because he himself smote the children of Israel with blindness. And it is also He who is allowed to smite them again, He alone. Whoever hates the Jews is a pagan and not a Christian. Whoever hates anyone at all, no matter who, is a pagan and not a Christian. And whoever believes he is only a Christian because he is not a Jew, he is a pagan twofold and threefold. May he be cast out of the community of Christians! And if the Church does not cast him out, God himself casts him out.
Translated from: Joseph Roth, Der Antichrist (1934)
Who will sing the New Song
Israel sang it with Miriam
by the shore of the Red Sea at the edge of the desert
Moses sang it on Mount Nebo
seeing the land but not entering it
David sang it in front of the Arc of the Covenant
Daniel sang it with his friends
in the overheated furnace
Isaiah sang it
when the escaped ones returned
The wisdom teachers sang it
during the encounter with the rationality of the Greeks
The Maccabees sang it
in the face of the inexhaustible oil of the temple lamp
Zachariah the silent one sang it
Mary the pure one visited by God sang it
Old Simeon sang it
Jesus sang it over the small and poor that saw
Paul sang it when he found the future of Israel
The desert fathers sang it
when they turned their backs on the corrupt cities
Benedict’s monasteries sang it
when they cultivated the jungles and swamps
Francis sang it
when he left everything behind to move pope and sultan
It roved around and lent its notes
to the enlighteners and Church critics
Did Nietzsche not sing its melody
Did Marx not hold its sheet music
in his hands upside down
Why were its verses split after Luther
Why did its beauty leave the churches in modern times
Why did it have to ring out as a song of death in Auschwitz
And why almost die
under mountains of concepts and papers
Who sings the New Song today
that is not just melodious not just true
That continues to tell the story
Clerical project management
The Church should “reinvent” herself, is a piece of high-profile advice, a demand in view of the turbulences.
To that I can only say: No, the Church does not need to reinvent herself, the Church is not even capable of reinventing herself because she did not invent herself in the first place. The Church is not an invention of man, but God’s project, which he started – also because of our sinfulness – and which he carries through the times in spite of it!
Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer, January 27, 2019, in the Regensburg Cathedral