God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensée of a Catholic priest

1.7 million

Death

Death (Photo credit: tanakawho)

The UN report on the situation of HIV and AIDS counts 1.7 million people who have died in 2012 as the result of the pandemic. We hear this figures especially on World AIDS Day and as the number is so big, emotions are normally quiet under control. Being in the situation of having just lost my dad I suddenly realize – not for the first time, but very powerful – what it means, this statistical figure: 1.7 million times a personal tragedy – most times the suffering of having lost somebody very close, very much-loved, surely in those cases very often young people or breadwinner of the family.
When death hits home – statistics suddenly transform into real life stories and every count becomes an emotional story of love and desperation, of the feeling of loss leaving behind those mourning and having to say farewell often to early in life.

Knowing, that early intervention of the Reagan administration would have saved millions of such tragedies show how devastating politics can be towards the individual lives, even thousands of miles away and for decades. And knowing, that Ronald Reagan refused to act because of his religious believe that gay people are not worth the effort shows that even in modern history faith and religion play a vital role in decisions made about life and death of people.

And this story continuous when countries scale down their contribution to the Global AIDS fund, when money for research is scrapped as the economic situation is driven by only financial gain maximization – when wars, weapon trade and the art of killing people is for most countries more important than saving lives. The story continues when religion still contributes to the hate and discrimination and persecution of those living a different lifestyle as the mainstream society.

Advent is time of preparation and reflection for those calling themselves Christians – and maybe it is time to have a hard look at how our action contributes to the well-being of all people not excluding anybody from the unconditional love of God, whom we expect to be born again on Christmas eve. And the higher somebody is in the hierarchy of the church or the political system of a country responsibility grows to act accordingly.

Filed under: Catholic Church, General, HIV and AIDS, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

AIDS as disturbance of creation?

English: Freddie Mercury in New Haven, CT at a...

 Mercury in New Haven, CT at a WPLR Show. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Relaxing a bit after the Berlin Gala, I watch with interest a TV production about 40 years of the rock band “Queen”. Central to the story is obviously the life and death of Freddie Mercury – singer and song writer of the band.  The life of a genius musician cut short through the HI virus. And there is the sudden realization, how much HIV and AIDS has robbed human mankind of the development of art and culture. As St. Paul writes about creation still ongoing, there is surely to consider that HIV might have disturbed creation in cutting down the potential in human beings to become in a lifetime what they were supposed to be. Or is the HIV pandemic part of creation, part of it laying still in labor?
As God and creation are connected, it makes more sense to talk about the body of Christ having AIDS, being in pain and suffering. And even if in Europe HIV is not that much connected to suffering, death and dying any more – worldwide millions of lives are cut short by this virus. The suffering, the stigma, the discrimination continues despite all successes in treatment. And theological, there is still so much more to learn and develop and put into our teaching than we have done before. The climate within my church has changed – at least it is allowed again to think without fear – it would be great to use this time of spring to see, what else HIV and AIDS can tell our theology.

 

 

Filed under: Catholic Church, General, HIV and AIDS, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Zest for life..

There are moments where you can feel it: the zest for life, the yearning for reaching out to the stars and grabbing the moon and the sun – touching the universe.

There are moments where you can feel it: that life has too many boundaries, too many rules, too many people telling you what to do and how to act and their reasoning seems so far away.

There are moments where you know that life has so much more to offer if you only would let it in, so much more love, so much more hope, so much more faith.

There are moments where you simply feel connected, carried, unconditional loved not even knowing where it comes from – it just comes over you in a split of a second.

Exactly then you are one with your birth and your death, your are one with your meaning, your calling in life – it is a most precious moment – keep it in your heart as it warms you when the cold slips in again in your daily life.

May 2013 be a year where many such moments keep you warm and carried and unconditional loved.

SH

Filed under: General, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Moments in between…

“How was the holiday?” – a lot of people ask when I am returning home after weeks of being overseas. And even if I nicely tell them that traveling for me means work, it seems that I cannot get through.  They have read also about the HOPE Gala Dresden, the jet-set and glamor, they know that I meet stars, starlets and politicians.. and somehow that translates into “fun under the sun”.

It is difficult to explain, that HOPE Cape Town only runs it’s business when people are donating money and that there must be that link between those who have and those who have not. It seems impossible to relate that waking up every second night in a different hotel room, meeting different people all day and most evening along can drain the last drop of energy out of your body.

That said, of course, there is the fun part, the parties, the laughter, the ease of life which hopeful at a point translates into support for HOPE Cape Town as well. But there is more to this travel once in a while.

There is the very brief visit to a person whom I meet in her home. Lying in bed, she is waiting to die. Cancer – last stage – within months the future crumbled to weeks without the possibility to move around. It’s intense, the talk about, what might lie behind the door of death, the curiosity and the fright. It is intense, recalling memories of her husband, who died 21 years ago and taught me lessons in life I will never forget. And I will also not forget his habit to take out a book or a newspaper starting reading when the sermon on a Sunday morning was not up to standard. Laughter and tears, farewell bitter-sweet. There is family, there are the parents who clearly getting older and where I can sense that the light of life is slowly burning down for one of them. Every short brief visit when in Europe might be the last farewell. There are friends, popping in when possible and I am traveling in their neighborhood who want to talk, to re-connect, sometimes just tell their stories, hear advice because somebody coming from far away might have another view on their life situations.

Sometimes, when I close finally my door behind me in a hotel and recall the days events and encounters, I feel so humbled and small in a way, so inadequate to fulfill all the expectations of those who are now going their way again. But on the other hand it is also a blessing to be part of a network of people which now stretches to almost all continents. And it feels good when it peeps and my cellphone presents me with a sms telling me, that my friends in New Jersey are safe after “Sandy”, the devastating storm.

Now sitting at the airport (again) waiting for my next flight to Vienna I am wondering what I will encounter there in the parish where I am invited to preach, to say Mass and to give a talk about HOPE Cape Town and the work we are doing. How I got to that assignment?

Well, it happened in Durban last year when I was asked to say mass and one parishioner had guests from Austria…

Filed under: Catholic Church, HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, Networking, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Death is always an unwelcome guest

In the early years of the HIV pandemic death was a constant companion of those infected and affected. And the real scandal was that young people were dying, those life still in front of them. In our days death has been put on the backseat and an average person being on anti-retroviral treatment has a good chance to live a life  as long as anybody else. But I guess this does not exempt us from thinking about our relationship with brother death and how we once want to be found by him. Life the life to the fullest every day, I was once again reminded to this old saying and advice receiving note of a friend’s wife being killed in a car accident. Still the smiling, gracious and loving person in the afternoon and all gone within hours after a horrible accident. Shocking and one tries to find words to comfort the man having lost his love of his life – almost impossible. Death has shortcut a relationship which was due to last decades longer and no words, nothing can really prepare for such a moment.
Several hours after receiving the shocking news I had to phone a previous chair-lady of my Parish council when I was still working in Germany. She was death sick, refused further treatment and here I spoke with someone who indicated that she knows every bit of being a dying person, not knowing how much suffering more will come before the kiss of death will relieve her from pain and all the worries coming with it. A family stretched to the limits to accommodate the last days of the mom, mother in law, grandmother and whatever role she took else on in her life. Once again, death seemed to come inconvenient, even when he knocked on the door in advance to make his presence felt.

So how do we want to die – announced or as a surprise to all? Silent in bed or a dramatic farewell in life? How do we prepare for this moment? Maybe in helping each other to live life to the fullest much more than we do in the moment. Living in the presence, not already thinking of the future and what we might be able to do, to say… Maybe in having less regrets and more happiness, fewer fights and more joy? Maybe in reconciling in the eve to make sure there will be no bitter feeling if one is on the way out that very night?

And maybe in understanding that we live on borrowed time, that we don’t own our life or that of our family, our children, our friends, but are invited to take part for a while before they or we move on to higher service. Whatever comes when we close our eyes may come as a surprise to many of us – I am curious to know, but I hope I still have lots of time before knowing it for sure. Life is so precious, let’s take time to live life and not to be lived by a life we think others expect from us.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

12th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenOctober 28th, 2017
9 days to go.

Ball of HOPE 2018

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 12th, 2018
6 months to go.

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© Rev Fr Stefan Hippler and HIV, AIDS and HOPE.
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