Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pentecost message from the Pfarrer-Initiative

When I visited the website of the Austrian Pfarrer-Initiative ( ) a little while ago, I was deeply touched by a powerful message by one of the courageous priests involved in this movement.  I decided to translate it, and post it in this dormant blog. There are aspects of the original that cannot be fully conveyed in English. It is, for example, addressed to a "Jubilarin" -- a female celebrating an event, such as a birthday (in both German and Latin the word "church" (ecclesia) is feminine).  The anonymous author captured what I consider the essence of the true church as reflecting into the world God's radical, unconditional, all-embracing love.


Dear birthday honoree,

Every year at Pentecost, we celebrated your birthday.  At this time, all over the world,  your friends get together in large and small groups. They look back at the varied periods of your life. They tell each other of the violent storms at the time of your birth. They recall  your baptism of fire and the enthusiasm of your early years.

I will now join the large crowd of your well-wishers. Far into your old age you have never lost sight of the life task that had been placed into your cradle:  to proclaim the Gospel to all, to offer them support and comfort, to keep them from losing hope. Thank you for this! However, with due  respect to your accomplishments, I cannot remain silent about the sorrow you are causing me at the present.

Frankly, I am worried about you. You have become pale and colorless. Your heart no longer wants to do its part. Often I notice that you are suffering from certain visual impairments and are increasingly becoming hard of hearing. You barely notice how many of your friends are turning back in disappointment, and you no longer listen to the voices of those who offer advice and assistance.

Therefore, my esteemed honoree, I ask you to determine to undergo intensive treatment. Consider your motto of which I am so fond: "Ecclesia semper reformanda" - the Church should always renew herself!

Remember the rejuvenation therapy of  the Second Vatican Council from which you  emerged with refreshed vitality! Let the texts of the Bible guide you on the path to recovery! Then - I am convinced - you will again have an open ear for the concerns of your friends and the cries for help of the people. Your eyesight will again improve. You will realize, how important it is not only to look back and bask in the glory of the past, but to look ahead and discover new tasks.

Your heart failure can be cured as well. You will receive a great heart, with room for the most diverse people. You will learn to tolerate opposing opinions lovingly,  and the freedom of which you speak can be experienced in yourself.

And so color will return to your face. It will radiate joy and hope; it will reflect something of God’s loving kindness toward people.

Dear honored friend,

As my birthday gift I bring to you my willingness to help in your recovery, and my promise to inspire others to do so as well. For we need you and still expect a lot from you.

Your pastor and spiritual director,


(Sent by a priest)

Translated from the German by Ingrid Shafer


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