Canisius Kolleg, Theresienschule and All Saints Choir conducted by Johannes Wrembeck singing Mozart's Missa Brevis in D on June 19, 2011
Brothers and Sisters,
It has been some weeks since I have been appointed and inaugurated as your new Archbishop. In some encounters we already have had the opportunity to get to know each other a little. I should like to thank you so much for having received me so well. This was a great encouragement for me and made my start with you much easier. Now we belong together and are called to make our way together as Christians in our Archdiocese of Berlin.
In a few days time we will have the great honour to welcome our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI here in Berlin. Already now we should like to welcome him very warmly and with great joy! Personally I consider it an act of divine providence, that - right at the beginning of my service as archbishop – I am able to express and convey on behalf of all of us to our Holy Father our affectionate solidarity with him as the successor of St. Peter and as head of our worldwide church.
Pope Benedict comes to Berlin as a guest of the archdiocese as well as a guest of the Federal Republic of Germany. President Wulff, together with representatives of the political life and citizens from all over Germany, will hold a welcoming speech on the grounds of Bellevue Castle. We Catholics, together with the Holy Father, shall celebrate Holy Eucharist in the Olympic Stadium, so that he may strengthen our faith and our communion with the Catholic Church.
We have decided to celebrate a big feast of our Faith. In order that 70,000 people in the stadium and millions of people all over the world can join us in this celebration, a large amount of money has to be spent. The estimate amounts to 3.5 million euros. This may appear to be a lot of money and indeed it is. But I am sure you agree with me that we cannot charge admission for a religious service, as it is not us who are inviting but the Lord Himself. Be assured that the money being spent on this papal visit will not be detrimental to our social and charitable projects. Nor will we lose sight of the hunger in East Africa, on the contrary: on the occasion of the papal visit the "Benedict East-Africa Fund" is being started. Its aim is to provide the Holy Father with financial means for quick and sustainable help on the spot. It is us, the German dioceses, who will start this fund and provide the finances. You are cordially invited to contribute towards this fund.
Berlin is the political centre of this country. Pope Benedict will meet here with persons who represent our state according to its constitution. In the Bundestag he will address the members of parliament and thus the entire people. Berlin is also the centre of our Archdiocese, which, however, reaches far beyond the boundaries of the city. The special relationship of the Archdiocese with the public life here is both challenge and motivation for the pastoral work and the personal witness of all baptised. Even more, the cultural situation and the political character of the city of Berlin, do really give us an occasion to prove our worth as witnesses of the faith.
The visit of the Holy Father to Germany is placed under the motto: "Where there is God, there is future." This motto focuses on God as well on the future of mankind. More so, the two are identical. God is our future. Without God, man's future is obstructed. This holds true for the individual person: if one does not, confident in God, accept the imponderabilities of human life, especially its frailty and threat of death, one lives in a Today that lacks humanly desirable vision and inner freedom."Where there is God, there is future" – this holds also true for public life and the political community. When politics overestimates itself, and refuses to give space, so that social capabilities cannot develop, then future will be obstructed. If politics does not acknowledge the finiteness of this world, it is bound to forfeit the future rather than to advance it.
The Holy Father is going to talk about such interrelations when he meets with those holding public office especially here in Berlin and in the Archdiocese of Freiburg. These will also be the topic when he speaks to the Faithful at all the steps of his apostolic visit. Being witnesses of God who prepares a good future for all mankind, is our task."Nos sumus testes" - "We are witnesses" (Acts 5,32), this word of St. Peter from the Acts of the Apostles, which I chose as my motto, is very clear about this.
When meeting with you in the coming months, I should like to come together with you, to reach a better understanding of how our faith in God can be lived and ought to be lived in our diocese. The point in question is the presence of the Christian faith in a society, where there are signs of searching God as well neglect of God, in which Christians are a minority, and yet unfold a remarkable, admittedly positive power. Our concern is a proclamation of the faith, care of souls, a community of faith which enables closeness to God and the Church both for the believing and the still searching. Our witness is especially needed, and in a very concrete manner, where there are problems in our society, where lack of participation, lack of perspective, having no home or personal misfortune obstruct faith in a future for one's own person or for one’s family, where the longing for such a future is especially tangible. As my predecessor in the Episcopal office, and in the best Berlin tradition, I should like, to-gether with you, keep up this social alertness in what way ever.
Our archdiocese welcomes Pope Benedict most cordially! Not everyone in this capital acknowledges his rank and his merits. We respect this. At the same time we for our part ask for the same respect. I invite all the faithful of the archdiocese of Berlin to meet with the Holy Father in person or via the media. Let us decorate with flags all our churches and church-institutions during the hours of his visit. Let us also ring all the church bells on the 22nd of September at 10.30 a.m., the moment of his landing, as an expression of our joy and prayer for him and his visit to our country. During these days let us especially pray for his well-being, and that God may sustain him in his superhuman task. I am asking you for these prayers with all my heart.
With great joy I am looking forward to meeting many of you on the occasion of this papal visit.
In the joy of these feast-days of the faith, I remain with all good wishes for you, your families, congregations and parishes,
Rainer Maria Woelki, Archbishop of Berlin
All Saints Community after the 2011 Easter Sunday Mass
All Saints Community after the 2011 Easter Sunday Mass
a partnership between priest and people
From the first Sunday of Advent 2011, all English-speaking Mass-goers will be using the text of the revised translation of the Missal. One revision in particular, to one of the most familiar people’s responses, has caused some confusion. Many of you will find the new translation of the response, Et cum spiritu tuo in the revised English version of the Missal difficult to understand, certainly compared with the translation, ‘And also with you’ to which English speakers have become accustomed since nearly 40 years. The new translation appears, conversely, rather traditional.
The reasons and meaning behind the introduction of the words ‘your spirit’ are unclear to many members of English-speaking congregations. Some people try to explain the introduction of ‘And with your spirit’ by claiming that it refers to the effect of the Holy Spirit in the priest, so it becomes a prayer that the Lord will increase the grace of his priestly ordination.
I see a different explanation: When I greet you “The Lord be with you”, your answer is from today on “and with your spirit”. This phrase is to be understood fully as “And the Lord be with your spirit”.
The really important point here is not the word ‘spirit’, but the word “with”. When we say “God is with someone”, we mean that God gives a task to someone who protests that he or she are inadequate to fulfill it. It is a promise of God to be with someone – God thus guarantees that with his help he or she can fulfill the commission God has given them. If God is with them, they manage.
The Lord be with you – and the Lord be also with you.
So here we have a partnership between priest and people, a partnership with a purpose: each praying that the Lord will be “with” the other in their shared act of worship. This Eucharistic act is something they would not dare to consider themselves adequate to undertake, had they not received the Lord’s commission that his disciples “do this in memory of me” (Lk 22:19); and it can be undertaken now only because the risen Christ himself promised to be “with” his Church until the end of the age (Mt 28:20). That is the main point underlying the phrase “…and with your spirit”
Dear Father Klaus Mertes,
In deep gratitude we wish you a fond farewell and
all the best on your new assignment.
We sincerely appreciate your support in securing the
permanent existence of All Saints at Hüttenweg 46.
God Bless You!