The Holy Spirit as a teacher of unity

The Holy Spirit as a teacher of unity

The many gifts of grace and the one spirit

In his first letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul describes the life of the church there with the many different gifts of grace that can be found there and that are united in unity through the one spirit.

In a few days we have celebrate Pentecost. Can the Holy Spirit become our teacher to maintain and deepen our unity?

 

learn languages

Again and again I am enthusiastic about the story of Pentecost in Jerusalem. The apostles spoke bravely and enthusiastically about Jesus, the risen one. And the Acts of the Apostles reports that all could understand them in their own language. How could a Roman, an Arab, or an Egyptian understand a Jew? One can quickly dismiss this as a miracle of the Holy Spirit. A miracle – I would agree with that, but I wouldn’t dismiss it, on the contrary. I would want to learn from this miracle. Can I do that too: speak in a language that the other understands?

 

Babylon

The same language – and yet not understand (want to)

We’ve seen it in our own history: people use the same word (e.g. peace, freedom, human dignity) and mean something completely different. This gives rise to differences of opinion, conflicts, war.

 

Pentecost

A foreign language – and yet I can understand the other

But there is also the other. People want to approach one another, want to understand one another, because they are inspired by the same idea – perhaps also by the same spirit – and a community emerges. Pentecost is also possible today. Even today, God’s Spirit causes people to want and be able to understand one another, and thus leads them to unity.

 

You are my beloved son (beloved daughter)

The Holy Spirit is often referred to as the love that connects God the Father with the Son. This is shown very impressively at the baptism of Jesus. The baptism of Jesus in the Jordan is reported in all 4 gospels. And in all accounts the Spirit of God is mentioned, who came down from above in the form of a dove. And a voice said, This is my beloved son, in whom I am very pleased.

 

I have found my satisfaction in you. – This sentence expresses the deep, loving relationship between Jesus and his Father.

Take the story of Jesus’ baptism into your spiritual contemplation! Here are a few questions: Has God said this to you before? When? Directly or through someone else? In what words or in what way? – Did you speak this sentence to others? What is your experience with it?

 

 

All should be one

In addition to love, the topic of “unity” is an important topic in Jesus’ farewell speeches (Jn 15-17), from which we often hear in the Gospel in the weeks before Pentecost.

In his farewell speeches, in which Jesus also promised his disciples the Holy Spirit, Jesus prayed for the disciples: “All should be one, like you, Father, in me and I in you” (Jn 17:21). Jesus asks for the unity of his disciples, i.e. also for the unity of the church and of all her members. For him this is more than a pious wish. His request for unity has two goals:

 

so that the world may believe (Jn 17:21)

The Jesuit Alfred Delp once said it very clearly shortly before his execution: “If the Church once again expects the image of a quarreling Christianity, it is written off.” In other words: it is no longer credible. Conversely, Christians living in unity can make others thoughtful and believe in Jesus Christ.

 

So that they may see your glory (Jn 17:22, 24)

In the previous monthly lectures we saw how an effort and deepening of unity can change people’s lives for the better and thus make them happy. This can be seen most clearly in the area of ​​reconciliation.

 

Nobody should be lost

There is another request for unity in Jesus’ farewell speeches. Jesus asks that all should be one (Jn 17:11). And he adds that no one has been lost (Jn 17:12). Jesus is referring to an earlier statement: “It is the will of him who sent me that I should not let any of those he gave me perish” (Jn 6:39).

This request of Jesus can basically be related to eternal life; in other words, Jesus wants all people to be saved and go to heaven.

But you can also relate this request to everyday experiences: I don’t want anyone to be dropped or written off. Jesus met people with this attitude. There were quite a few who were written off and avoided by the society of that time and also by the representatives of religion: tax collectors, the sick, strangers, lepers, adulterers. Nobody wanted to have fellowship with them, their unity was broken. Jesus turned to these people, often causing offense. But people felt that he did not write them off. In his eyes (i.e. in the eyes of God) these people were valuable. And this care has often changed her life.

 

Prelate Dr. Stefan Dybowski

May 10th, 2021 Monthly lecture St. Augustinus Monastery, Berlin-Lankwitz

They had everything in common

They had everything in common

Liturgy as a teacher of unity

We have already remembered several times that unity is not a common external characteristic, but a living relationship. Hence the reminder of the founder to preserve and deepen the unity. How can one maintain and deepen this unity?

Lent gave us a good answer. The theme in March: Reconciliation (2nd reading from Ash Wednesday: “Be reconciled to God!” 2 Cor 5:20).

Easter also provides an important impetus for our question of how to preserve and deepen unity. So today I would like to speak with a sentence from the Acts of the Apostles: They had everything in common (1st reading, 2nd Easter Sunday reading year B): “They had everything in common” Acts 4,32-37)

 

A heart and a soul

The text (Acts 4,32-37) begins with this wonderful sentence: “They were one heart and one soul.” This is sometimes said when two people are united by a deep and intimate friendship. The apostle Luke uses this description to describe the life of the young early Christian community in the book of Acts. A nice expression to describe unity.

Question for reflection: Were or are there people with whom you are or have been, so to speak, “one heart and one soul”? How did you experience these times? How would you describe this (the same interests, the same views, sympathy, times spent together …)? Or have you had other experiences with this sentence?

 

Share

Luke goes on. And says this phrase: “They were one heart and one soul” means more than a match of views and interests or a feeling of sympathy. Luke becomes very specific: someone sells his property and makes the proceeds available to others. Sharing is the key. I share what I have with others, and that is how a communion, a unity, arises.

 

What I have, I give you

In the previous chapter (Acts 3.1-10), Peter and John heal a paralysed man who was begging in front of the temple. Peter builds up a relationship with him. “Look at us!” Then he rejects the beggar: “I do not own silver and gold.” And then comes his promise: “What I have, I will give you.”

 

Share life

In the book of Acts it is first reported that material things are shared here. But soon you can guess that not only material things were shared. The sentence “None of them suffered hardship” suggests that emotional hardships could also be meant here. There is someone, lonely, sick, sad … and the others don’t leave him alone with his need, but share with him what they have: time, attention, patience.

 

Criticize or try

This section of the life of the young Christian community is often viewed with scepticism: Was it really like that or was something too idealized by the writer? And besides, it was a small community. In today’s congregations that would be unthinkable given this size …

Maybe, but that doesn’t prevent us from trying it out. I suspect it won’t turn your whole life upside down, but some things will change.

 

My contribution to the unit

Unity is not just an external reality that I find or that I am placed in. Unity arises and lives from the fact that I can do my part to maintain and deepen it.

Spiritual exercise: what contribution I make so that the unity in the community can be maintained and deepened. What am I ready to give?

 

… so that the wedding can take place

There is a story in which two young people want to get married. But because they are so poor, they cannot afford a big wedding party. So, they ask each of the guests to bring a bottle of wine. The contents of the bottles were poured into a large barrel, and when the guests drank from it, everyone was disappointed. Everyone just added water.

Maintaining and deepening unity … so that the wedding (celebration) can take place.

 

Prelate Dr. Stefan Dybowski

April 19, 2021 monthly talk St. Augustine Monastery, Berlin-Lankwitz

Be reconciled with God

Be reconciled with God

Maintain and deepen unity

In the last month’s talk we spoke about the fact that unity is not an external matter, but an inner relationship that connects people with one another. We have seen that such a relationship has to be renewed and deepened again and again. Therefore, we were reminded by Sr. Sybilla to be vigilant in order to maintain and deepen this oneness. Today we want to think about how this can be done concretely: maintain and deepen the unity.

 

Convert us … (GL 266)

During the Easter period of penance – commonly referred to as Lent by us – the focus for many is on fasting and renunciation. That is certainly not bad either. But the liturgy suggests another focus: a time of conversion and reconciliation. When we are marked with the ash cross, the priest says: Convert and believe in the gospel! And in the 2nd reading on Ash Wednesday we heard the apostle Paul’s admonition: Be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:20 ).

That should be our topic today: Reconciliation as a building block of unity.

 

Vulnerable relationships

We know from our own experience how quickly relationships are attacked or even destroyed in everyday life. Righteousness, selfishness, jealousy, arguments … change relationships and often destroy unity. This applies to relationships with one another as well as to relationships with God.

 

Experienced sin

What is sin, we learned that as children in confession class. And based on the 10 commandments, concrete examples were given: not following the parents, hitting the other, taking something away from him, lying …

What is Unfortunate sin , we didn’t learn that in confessional lessons. But we have felt it in everyday life. When we lied to someone, we avoided them. The word sin and the word set apart have the same root. In sin, unity with God and, as a result, unity with one another is destroyed. The story of the first humans (Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel) in Gen 3 and 4 is a striking example of the destruction of unity. And since the first fall, we have had to deal with the power of evil. All the more important then is the apostle’s admonition to be reconciled to God and thus also to one another.

 

Forgive but don’t forget,

You probably know the phrase: forgive and forget. I cannot agree with this phrase. Certainly there are things that I can forget after the reconciliation. But I can certainly not forget many things. But I don’t have to forget them either. Reconciliation offers me a new quality of life that includes and surpasses previous arguments and injuries. Yes I know you hurt me but my love for you is greater than any guilt. That is reconciliation.

God wants reconciliation

How often does the Holy Scriptures tell us that we humans have turned away from God and broken our covenant with him. In the Old Testament the people of Israel turned away from God again and again and ran after strange idols. The most impressive example of God’s readiness for reconciliation is found in the New Testament in the parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15). The father answers the lost unity between father and son with his arms outstretched. This is how reconciliation works. God’s love is stronger than our guilt. Hence the apostle Paul’s invitation: be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:20).

 

Cut up and knotted together

Finally, I would like to share with you one more wonderful experience that people can have when they are ready for reconciliation. This experience can best be portrayed in pictures. Two children sit 3 meters apart. Both hold a string in their hand as a sign of their relationship (friendship). Suddenly there is an argument. One of them cuts the cord with a pair of scissors. But the two make up again and the cord is knotted together again. This happens several times. I have often shown this to the children in confessional classes and asked the question: Has anything changed? The first time the children didn’t notice anything. But they soon discovered that the numerous knots had brought both children closer together.

This is how reconciliation works: people move closer together – with one another and with God.

 

Such is reconciliation

Like a feast after long grief

like a fire in the night.

An open gate in a wall

opened for the sun.

Like a letter after a long silence

like an unexpected greeting.

Like a leaf on a dead branch

an-I-like-you-anyway-kiss.

 

Ref .: Such is reconciliation

such must be true peace.

Such is reconciliation

so is forgiven and forgiven. (2x)

 

Like a rain in the desert

fresh dew on arid land.

Sounds of home for the missing,

old enemies hand in hand.

Like a key in jail

as in distress – land in sight.

Like a way out of distress

like a radiant face.

 

Like a word of dead words lips,

like a look of hope

Like a light on steep cliffs

like a continent rediscovered.

Like the spring, the morning

Like a song like a poem.

Like life like love

Like God Himself the true light

 

 

Prelate Dr. Stefan Dybowski

March 10th, 2021 Monthly talk, St. Augustinus Monastery, Berlin-Lankwitz

King on a donkey

King on a donkey

Behold, your King is coming to you, just and victorious. Humble  – riding a donkey. (Zak 9, 9)

Today we contemplate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Jesus, like a great victor in glory, enters the city. And this is understandable to us, because we know that he is the King of the universe who came to save us. It can be strange, however, that he rides on a donkey. Yes, it was a popular means of transport in those days, but if Jesus wanted to show people that he was a great King, he should use a horse that, for example, was ridden by important Romans who occupied Jerusalem at that time. So what did he want to show us by riding a donkey? Once again he wanted to say that yes, he is a King, but not as we imagine him to be. His kingdom is a reality alongside this world, or against human mentality. The donkey of the Lord Jesus is a clear message for us that we will find the Kingdom of God where there is simplicity and humility, where, humanly thinking, there is nothing attractive, spectacular, where there is ordinary everyday life and ordinary people. This is the taste of God and His kingdom, and so He saved us. The donkey is one of the many signs of “God’s style”. We are beginning the Holy Week, let us also look for such signs in the following days.

Sr.M. Sybilla Kołtan

Spiritual Testament

Spiritual Testament

When I speak at funerals, I like to ask if there is anything the deceased left us. By this I mean not so much money or material things, but a matter that was important to him and which should be continued in his spirit. So it is a spiritual testament.

Superior General Sr. Sybilla In a letter written on the anniversary of the founder’s death, on December 7, recalled this testament of Fr. John Schneider: “Stay united!” So it is about building and deepening unity.

Today I would like to share with you three thoughts on this.

 

Building unity

Sr. Sybilla’s letter, and with it the words of its founder, Father Johannes Schneider, remind us of something that is often quickly forgotten: unity is simply not present from the very beginning. It has to be created and built. By the way, this also applies to a lot of other things.

An example of this comes from the area of ​​kinship. When I am born into a large family, I have a brother or sister. For this relationship to develop into a brotherly or sisterly bond that enriches my life and is lasting and resilient for me even in difficult situations, siblings must also do something for it. They have to build relationships with each other.

These thoughts can be well applied to a religious community. The promise of vows and the wearing of a uniform religious habit are not unity.

This already shows that unity is not an external matter, but an internal relationship that binds people together.

Watching over unity

In the letter of Sister Sybilla, we are also asked to watch over unity. Thus, unity can be lost. From this point of view, our attention is required.

Guarding or watching – I mean the people or objects being guarded. They are always the ones that are precious and important, and where there would be tragic consequences if they were stolen or lost. I would not and would not be watching over unimportant things. It only follows from this that unity is something very precious. It is valuable for our life together, and its loss would have negative consequences.

Spiritual Exercise: What spiritual things are so precious to you that you should not lose them under any circumstances? What would you like to watch over? (And if you want to think more deeply, you can also ask yourself: What exactly is your attention?)

 

Deepening unity

We have just described unity as a relationship. Thus it is also subject to the laws governing every relationship, namely, it can change. It can get stronger, but it can also flatten and disappear completely.

I can tell you about a beautiful example from the North Sea coast. The coastal people are in a never-ending fight against the sea. In their painstaking work, they try to pull a piece of land out of the sea. When asked why they do this, a Frisian once said, “You know, if we don’t take the land from the sea, the sea will take it from us.” Leaving it as it is not a solution.

This picture quite nicely describes the concern of the founder, Fr. John Schneider. If I lean on oneness as I experience it, it will be lost. It will be my job to deepen it over and over again and keep it alive in this way. What this might look like in concrete terms would also be a good and valuable spiritual exercise. We will return to this topic (deepening unity) in later discussions.

Prelate Dr. Stefan Dybowski

02/15/2021 Monatsvortrag Kloster St. Augustinus, Berlin-Lankwitz

 

 

“Father Founder’s eyes”

“Father Founder’s eyes”

It happens quite often to me that someone’s very ordinary, unknowingly thrown sentence becomes the reason for deeper reflection. It was no different in the case that I will describe. And it was a simple, simple dialogue with an older Sister in my Community, whose memory is sometimes flawed. Looking at the picture with the image of our Founder, she asked me this: “Sister, did our Founder have glasses? Because I can’t see. I replied that he hadn’t. After a moment’s thought, the sister says: “Aha… well, he had good eyes. This is why he is our Founder. Because he had good eyes. I had to reflect on this for several weeks. I made three conclusions for myself.

First of all: Father Founder had good eyesight (I mean not physically good eyesight, of course), ie he saw a lot. Certainly more than me. He saw the enormity of the needs and poverty (not necessarily material) of his contemporaries. I ask myself the question: do I strain my eyes to see something more than my little, safe world (my proverbial “tip of the nose”)? Do I see the changing needs, problems and “poverty” of my contemporaries? Do I not wonder about the empty eyes of people on the tram and their ears stuffed with headphones? Is it not worrying that many young people are lulled of reason? Are you not worried about the very distinct divisions in society, in families and communities? Do I see anything more in such everyday pictures? Am I looking for reasons? Father John saw more, wider, deeper. That is why he responded adequately to the needs of the situation… and innovative for the 19th century. And I? I regret to say that most of the time it is easier for me to follow my well-established, proven patterns and not ask Jesus: “What would you do?”

Second: Father Schneider literally had “good eyes”. Do I also have a good eye, “God’s eye”? Do I try to see other people with God’s eyes? Do I see in it the beauty and goodness of God’s child? After all, everything that God created was good. Am I helping people to dig out the light they were born with? After all, this light fights so hard in each of us not to go out completely… Am I shielding this smoldering wick? Not only in the other person, but also in myself?

Third: he had “enlightened eyes of the heart” and knew “what is the hope to which God calls, what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance among the saints, and what is his overwhelming power for us believers – based on the action of his power and strength.” (Eph 1: 18-19). He gave others what he had, that is, strong faith, hope and love – the inner certainty of God’s Mercy … free, for everyone without exception. This reminds me of a simple rule: you give what you have in you. What am I giving to others? If I have no light in me, how can I light the way to God for others?

Each child adopts some of his parents’ qualities and learns from them by example. Am I a real spiritual daughter of Fr. Schneider? Have I taken over his legacy? I am still far from that. I think my eyesight is poor, so I need treatment at the DIVINE OPHTHALIST …

 

Sr. Franciska Jarnot