God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

21.12.2009 Preparation time…

Time to prepare for the Christmas day service today – it is always not easy to reflect on what Christmas may mean to the people attending the service on Christmas Day.  Every year is different – how it felt and how consequently Christmas is experienced. Like every year for the last 23 years I try to find a tone, that will bring the message of Christmas closer to the attending people. I hope that they are encouraged to let the love and the peace and the intimacy of this special birthday be part of their life; not only on the Christmas Day itself, but being carried over to the next days and month to come.
Then this is indeed the message of Christmas: that we are called to be in the likeness of God – everybody a little Jesus, when born – with all the possibilities and the vocation, to tell the story of God’s unconditional love within the respective life. As God has shared life with us, so we are called to share our life with him/her. That is obviously not that easy – daily life tells us most times another story – where love, sharing, peace, tolerance seems not to be a top priority because abused so many times.
And interesting enough is Christmas in many families also the time for bitter fights at the end of the day – because the pressure, to suddenly turn around the normal way of dealing with each other, is getting to big.  Christmas is for us Christian the culmination of our yearning for harmony in life – and we should train it during the year that it works also on those days.. :-).

Being the likeness of God – that is also a headline when it comes to dealing with our brothers and sisters who are carrying the HI virus with them.  They remain this picture of God – nothing is taken away from them through this virus. Therefore there should be no stigmatization or criminalization or discrimination within any Christian community. I guess, there is still much to do…  In this matter, Christmas acts as a reminder how much is still to do to free our society from the devil of stigmatization and all what comes with it.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, Reflection, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , ,

24.09.2009 Bishops worried

German Bishops are worried about the increasing numbers of people leaving formally the church, so I read in the news today. And I wonder how the bishops discuss that matter. Do they, as people usually do, search for the blame by the people leaving or do they start soul searching with themselves to find out, what is going wrong in our days. The right-wing Pius brotherhood has a simple solution: Only the way back to the good old times will prevent more people leaving the church – not sure how they really can think like that.  One must be very ignorant to the reality of today and totally living in the past with closed eyes to come to that conclusion. I am sure our bishops are different – and if they really would go out and ask the people why they are leaving the church, one answer will come up more frequently in my opinion:

That church is losing its relevance for the people of our days, that the sermons in church do not match the living circumstances in our days, the announcements of episcopal nature are not matched with how people experiencing church and the representatives of the church in their daily lives. Sunday sermons are followed by Monday blues – power games instead of servants of the faithful – people feel hurt and alienated from us clergy. Obviously we never can generalize it – but in this context the personal experience, the personal encounter is the decisive test for a single faithful. Mess it up and you have lost a soul, so to speak. And there is still the scandal of sexual abuse, the loss of moral stance through the encyclical “humanae vitae”, the dealing with the  Pius brotherhood – so many topics were my church in our days cannot gain points on the score card.

As we accompany people through the times, I guess we always have to reflect on our attitude as professional staff of the church, we always have to ask what is coming first, God’s message of love or church discipline. We might make general rules in the church, but we always have to see the individual standing before God. Not more and not less…

If we do so, maybe people still will leave the church, be it because they found other ways of finding God, may it that the path of the church community is not fast enough for the individual, may it that they even don’t need a church institution anymore because of their direct contact possibilities with God. Whatever it might be – our goal as the Catholic Church should be to serve all good people to be able to connect to God. And when we look into the field of HIV and AIDS, there is even more the need just to bring home the love of God, the unconditional love of God.  Forget about judgement, forget about exclusion – just embrace the person as he or she is – he or she deserves it because he or she is a brother or sister of me and a son or a daughter of God. Embrace the person, make him or her feel home and loved and wanted…

Filed under: Reflection, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , ,

10.09.2009 a first farewell and the living and the death…

In one hour the dinner for “my” pastoral community council starts and I must admit that it was a thrilling experience to work with all the members together. Great people and willing to go the extra mile to accomodate the needs of the Catholic community. But having them for dinner means also to remember all the members already called to higher services. We are, as Christians, the community of the living and the death; we believe that those gone before us only are a couple of steps in front of us, still approachable, still present, still connected, still very much alive. A great thought – and together with the “unconditional love of God to all and everybody” one of the highlights of Christian teaching. Comforting without taking away the sadness and grief when loosing a loved one, but keeping up some hope and a trust in the future of us all.
So I do solute already those who have to party apart from this world with us this eve – they are present – in our hearts and I am sure also more than that.

Filed under: Reflection, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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