You probably remember the letter from Sr. Sybilla and with it the words of the founder, Father Johannes Schneider. Unity is a relationship. It is not simply there from the start. It has to be built up and maintained. And it is also subject to the laws to which every relationship is subject, namely, it can change. It can get stronger, but it can also flatten and disappear completely. This applies to every community (state, church, parish), it also applies to personal communities such as families and friends, and of course also to religious orders. The promise of a vow or the wearing of a religious uniform dress does not constitute unity. Unity is therefore an inner relationship that connects people with one another.

Concrete growth of unity

Today I would like to give you a few spiritual impulses that you can look at and try out for yourself personally.

As a preliminary remark: start carefully if you decide to do so. Such specific exercises can be very demanding, but also very effective.

 

My right seat is empty …

You are probably familiar with the children’s game where a child is allowed to wish someone in the free space next to them. Of course we wanted our best friends here back then.

Unity begins with perception. Take the seat next to you (whether right or left) on the subject of your observation. Who is next to me today (in the bank in the chapel or at the table at lunch)? Did I talk to my neighbor, look at her, smile at her? Do I know how she is, whether something is oppressive for her, whether she is in pain? Or do I have to say for myself that the place next to me is really empty, at least in the sense that I don’t really care who is sitting there.

 

Collect treasures in heaven

In his parables, Jesus uses the image of collecting treasures several times. He compares the kingdom of God with a treasure in the field or a precious pearl (Mt 13: 44-46). And in the Sermon on the Mount he asks us to gather treasures that are not perishable (Mt 6: 19-21). The image of collecting treasures is a popular theme for retreats.

I would like to encourage you to look for treasures in a very specific way in your own community. A treasure makes a person rich. Who enriches your community? What if this sister no longer existed? We’d be missing something.

Another justice

The following thought is a bit difficult, if only because we humans are usually very sensitive to it: it’s about justice. Unity means that everyone is treated equally and the same rules apply to everyone. As young people in the family and at school, we paid close attention to this. When we felt that someone was being preferred, we felt it was unjust and demanded justice. In principle, I do not want to deviate from this attitude. To preserve a community and its unity, it is part of the fact that there are binding rules that apply to everyone and that unite everyone.

But at the latest the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Mt 20: 1-16) makes you think. Some workers mutiny: this is unjust. But with what reward do I do justice to everyone? – a question that parents, teachers, supervisors, etc. have to deal with again and again.

 

I found a nice answer to this in the story of Jan and grandfather. Stefanie has lost a precious chain and Jan thinks she should be punished. For him it is not fair that his grandfather forgive Stefanie. But the grandfather with his rich life experience knows more. He doesn’t want to live in a world like this because he would freeze (a fantastic visual language). Do you feel like you’re freezing in your community? And could you learn something from your grandfather on the subject of unity?

 

Prelate Dr. Stefan Dybowski

July 15, 2021 Monthly lecture St. Augustinus Monastery, Berlin-Lankwitz