Celebrating Christian Unity

This morning, during our celebration of the Eucharist at the General House, our confrere Fritz told us with evident passion about the celebration of the week of Christian unity. Here are a few extracts of his homily.

“This year marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the reformation, an event which changed the history of Western Europe and much of the rest of the world. At its heart is Martin Luther’s claim that the individual could seek and find God in the depth of his soul, not through obedience to a corrupt external Church structure. Luther’s aim was to encourage the direct experience of God, and to relativize the religious structures of his age.”

He also read to us, as examples of Luther’s aim, some of his theses:

45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a needy man and passes him by, yet gives his money for indulgences, does not buy papal indulgences but God’s wrath.
46. Christians are to be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they must reserve enough for their family needs and by no means squander it on indulgences.
48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting indulgences, needs and thus desires their devout prayer more than their money.
49. Christians are to be taught that papal indulgences are useful only if they do not put their trust in them, but very harmful if they lose their fear of God because of them.
62. The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.
91. If, therefore, indulgences were preached according to the spirit and intention of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved. Indeed, they would not exist.

And, before the last blessing, he shared with us this experience of his:

When I was the Chaplain of the German Community in Addis Ababa, I used to travel from Zambia once a month to celebrate mass for the German Community. The Protestant and the Catholic communities shared the same Church. As a matter of fact, they shared much more as they were celebrating together and catechising their children together, with the blessing of the local Bishop and of the Nuncio. Three Sundays a month, both communities were celebrating together under the presidency of the resident Protestant Pastor and, one Sunday a month, they were celebrating together under my presidency. When the children were ready to be confirmed, I had been mandated by the Bishop to confirm the Catholic kids and the Pastor would confirm the Protestant kids. One year, there was that special case of a young girl whose mother was protestant and father was a Catholic. Until a week before the confirmation, the girl had not yet been baptised because the parents had not come to an agreement yet about which Church would their daughter be baptised into. Then the girl spoke up and said : “Why can I not be baptised a Christian?” … Let us pray that one day we may baptise people as ‘Christians’.

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