In its infancy
“I am deeply convinced that the revelations of the Old and the New Testaments, and therewith the Church itself, are the supreme event of the whole human history up to the present day.
I must, however, admit to myself that this story, after all, is still in its infancy.”
From: Franz Werfel (1940). Embezzled Heaven
Desire and reality
The Church shouldn't primarily declare a teaching system to the world, but the way, truth and life of our Lord, that is:
Faith, translated into life and way of life, is the invitation and the claim, the sometimes annoying but always challenging claim to tell people the truth about their lives, to interpret their lives as they really are, and to set out with them for how the truth can be lived today.
The parish should therefore be more like a family of brothers and sisters than a “station platform community”, where you are only together for a short time, without closer relationship, and then move on with different trains.
It is desirable that our communities seek a unity of “cult-, culture-, and life-community”.
From: Archbishop Johannes Joachim Cardinal Degenhardt (1986). Our parishes – today and tomorrow
The primary scandal and the secondary scandals
There is one thing however which we can say, and that is that an orientation of the Church towards the world which would mean a turning away from the Cross would lead not to a renewal of the Church but to its decline and eventual decay.
The purpose of such an orientation on the part of the Church can never be the removal of the scandal of the Cross but the revealing of it in all its naked truth, shorn of all secondary scandals which obscure it and which often conceal the folly of God's love behind the folly of man's own self-love. The Christian faith is a scandal for men of all ages: to believe that the eternal God knows us and has a loving care for us; that He Whom it is beyond our comprehension to understand has presented Himself to our minds in the person of the man Jesus; that the immortal God has suffered on the Cross and that we mortals have been promised resurrection and everlasting life – all this is something which makes tremendous demands on our human faith. The Council could not remove this Christian scandal and had no intention of trying to do so.
At the same time, we must recognise that this primary scandal, has often during the course of history been overshadowed by the secondary scandal of the teachers of the faith. It is a secondary scandal, all the more culpable for being self-perpetrated, when under the pretence of defending God's interests, we perpetuate a certain social set-up and retain with a vice-like grip the positions of power which we have acquired within this set-up; likewise when, under the pretence of safeguarding the immutability of the Faith, we strive might and main to defend our own outmoded ideas. It is not the Faith itself which is being defended but the form which it acquired as a result of commendable efforts to adapt it to the requirements of its time; when that time is past, the form has outlived its use and become outmoded and there is no reason why it should be allowed to linger on for ever. It is also a secondary scandal, all the more culpable for being self-perpetrated, when, under the pretence of securing the integrity of the truth, we perpetuate and set up as Gospel-learned opinions which were adequate in their day, where it is clear that there is need for revision, for the questions to be posed afresh and answered in a way which will meet the demands of the age in which we live.
From: Joseph Ratzinger, Catholicism after the Council, The Furrow 18 (1967)
Notes from someone, who discovered them
“To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.”
John Henry Cardinal Newman (1845). An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine
“Living movements do not come out of committees.”
John Henry Kardinal Newman (1864). Apologia pro Vita Sua
“Primitive doctrine has been explored for us in every direction, and the original principles of the Gospel and the Church patiently brought to light. But one thing is still wanting: (…) To put them into action: a living Church, made of flesh and blood, with voice, complexion, and motion and action, and a will of its own.”
John Henry Kardinal Newman (1864). Apologia pro Vita Sua
Where we think to know the church well, we are finished with it
It is remarkable that the persons we love most are those we can least describe. We simply love them. And that is exactly what love is, and what is so wonderful about it: that it keeps us in a state of suspense, prepared to follow a person in all his possible manifestations.
We know that every person who is loved feels transformed, unfolded, and he unfolds everything, the most intimate as well as the most familiar, to the one who loves him as well as to himself. That is the exciting, the unpredictable, the truly gripping thing about love: that we never come to the end of the person we love: because we love them; and as long as we love them.
Once we feel we know the other, love is at an end every time, but the cause of that, and the consequence of it, are perhaps not quite as we have always imagined. It is not because we know the other that we cease to love, but vice versa: because our love has come to an end, because its power is expended, that person is finished for us. He must be. We can do no more. We withdraw from him our willingness to participate in further manifestations. We refuse him the right that belongs to all living things to remain ungraspable, and then we are both surprised and disappointed that the relationship has ceased to exist.
„You are not,“ says he or she who has been disappointed, „what I took you for.“ And what was that? For a mystery – which after all is what a human being is – for an exciting puzzle of which one has become tired. And so one creates for oneself an image. That is the loveless act, the betrayal.
From: Max Frisch, Sketchbook 1946-1949
Rediscovering the lost wholeness
The ‘social disease’ of antisemitism is also a Christian disease in its core. In the deepest sense, this antisemitic disease appears as the Christians suffering of the metaphysical and moral aspirations of the Christian religion itself. Christian antisemitism is the cancer in the body of Christianity, destroying the foundation that has created it.
Christianity must overcome this disastrous separation. This can only be achieved if it does not further subdue the separated Jewish part, but reintegrates it. Initiating this process is at the same time a theological, pastoral and spiritual task. Its aim must be to rediscover the Jew Jesus – the ‘wisdom of Israel’ – for Christianity and to integrate him into the Christian credo. This is the perspective of Christianity after Auschwitz. And therein lies also the chance to resolve the shadows that obscure Christianity.
This won't help the Christian religion thrive in the secular and post-secular world, but it would help to regain its lost wholeness, credibility and dignity ...
Translated from: Maximilian Gottschlich, Unerlöste Schatten. Die Christen und der neue Antisemitismus (2015)
Nobody turns around to look at her anymore
A new catholic bible translation has been published with a new register: 62 pages full of beautiful new words. In vain I look through the pages for words like “unanimity”... “gathering”... “succession”... “discipleship”.
Precisely these are the things I would have been interested in. It's just like “Miss Universe” has lost all her jewelry, her peculiarity. Does what's lost reveal what we should look for? pez
The man of the majority reluctantly looks at the one disturbing his comfortable rest, and his natural inclination may only lead to stoning him.
But woe to the body of Christ, if his ordinary limbs succeeded in this. It is the blessing of the church that independent, high-spirited minds constantly stir up and shake up the stagnating life of their everyday children.
From: Erich Przywara, Early Religious Writings (1917)
Similar to soccer?
A Hebrew-speaking magazine writes about the first president of FC Bayern, Kurt Landauer: “Landauer shaped the special traits of the club; he made it international, he employed foreign Ma'aminim and organised buying the property in the Säbener Street (Säbenerstraße).”
“Ma'aminim?”, the translating reader might ask himself, “What's that? Derived from ‘Emuna’ – faith? ‘Emun’ – trust? ‘Leha'amin’ – belief? Who did Kurt Landauer hire then? Foreign trusting ones? Maybe faithful devotees of the club?” The dictionary might help: “leha'amin” – to believe – “le'emon” – to raise somebody – “le'amen” – to teach, to train, to educate – “lehit'amen” – to practise, to train. We got it: he hired foreign trainers, just like the other ones would do it later. ... – “Omanut” – art – “Umanut” – crafts. The very same root. The unforeseen variety of meanings allures to think of some etymological scenarios: does that mean: soccer players are secular believers? Or: faith as a team sport? And: faith means to just keep it rolling? Or, in a plain way: believing always means learning? mas
Sunday, gander, wings
Imagine geese had their own service. Each Sunday they would gather around one preaching gander.
The substantial content of the preaching would be: what a high purpose the goose has, what a divine function the Creator – with all geese curtsying and all ganders bowing when this word was spoken – has chosen for the goose; with the help of their wings, they could fly off to distant regions and blessed realms. The same each Sunday. Afterwards, the convention would split up, everyone toddling home, to their own stove. Next Sunday to the service again, followed by going home - that would be all, they would thrive and become fat, rounded and delicious - and then, they would be eaten on St. Martin's Day – and that's all. That's because while the preaching on sunday sounded that ceremonious, the geese would tell each other on Monday what happened to a goose that tried to make use of the wings the Creator gave her along with the divine purpose he had in mind for her, how she had been, what terrible horrors she had to endure. There were some geese among them that looked like they were suffering, and became thin. Those geese were referred to as bad examples of how you would end up when you take that wish of using your wings to fly seriously. They silently tinker with the wish of flying, therefore they become thin, stop thriving, lacking the grace of God that we have as we become fat, rounded and delicious because the grace of God makes you fat, rounded, delicious. On the next Sunday, they went to service again, and the old gander preached of the divine function which the Creator (here the geese curtsied, and the ganders bowed) had in mind for the goose and of the purpose of the wings.
Translated from: S. Kierkegaard, Diary, 3.-12.12.1854 (1854)