Monatsarchiv: April 2009

Day of Decision

Tomorrow, Sunday 25th of April 2009 is an important day, at least for Christians in Germany and, more specifically, in Berlin. It is the day of the referendum about wether pupils and their parents have the free choice between ethics lessons (in theory neutral, in practice often biased or even openly hostile towards Christianity…I still remember very well what some teachers told us in other subject taught at public schools, and I also know what kind of pupils was enthusiastic about „neutral“ ethics lessons and was thinking about studying to become a teacher for that subject…) and religious instruction (let me repeat it: free choice between those possibilities. No one wants to force all children to religious instructions, school prayer or anything like that! ) on the one side and mandatory biased neutral ethics lessons with the possibility to attend extra lessons for religious instruction.

There might be some people who think that this isn’t really a big issue as long as it is possible to attend those 2 extra hours per week. Well. It still is possible. For how long?

Why is there no free choice between ethics and religion? If I was still in school or already had a child attending school in Berlin, why should I, go or sent my child to lessons that are hostile to my Church despite the states asserted neutrality when it comes to religion and philosophies of life in general?

My own experience with schools in Berlin ended in 2002 when I got my university-entrance diploma, the Abitur, after 13 years of going to school in Berlin, capital of Germany, both in the western part of the city and the eastern, post-communist part (we moved there about 4 years after the reunification). In the western part, during my first years at primary school, there never was a problem. Protestant children went to Protestant religious instruction (so did I, as a Protestant child at that time), the Catholics went to Catholic religious instruction, non-christian children, like the Muslims we had in our class or the (very few) children who where raised agnostic or atheist had the possibility to spend those two hours doing something fun like painting or playing or could attend remedial teaching lessons, one boy insisted on taking part in our Protestant lessons despite his mothers will to keep him away from anything religious (what we did was also mostly play and paint, but by doing this, we learned a lot). Free choice for every child. Then, in the two schools in the eastern part that I attended, one primary, one grammar school, the three that my brother attended (same primary school, but another grammar school before he attended the same school as I did) and from what friends told me, things were different.

It started in primary school where the school administration, responsible for the class schedule, did its best to choose a time for the (optional) religious instruction that was the least attractive one. 3 hours after the last regular lesson. Then, in grammar school, things got worse. The timetable was a bit better, but a lot of colleagues wouldn’t allow the religious instructions teacher to present himself for 5 minutes in the first week of the year (but other teachers who wanted to present their after-school clubs got much more than the 5 minutes the religious instruction teacher asked for…). During lessons (in my case especially during history lessons) there were teachers making constant remarks about all the „horrible crimes“ of the Church, about how outdated a belief was, that there was no scientific proof for Gods existence and therefore the faithful would be ignorant and so on.

At that time, there was the regular schedule and the free choice to stay 2 more hours per week for religious instructions.

Now, we have the regular schedule plus ethics lessons which weren’t compulsory before 2006 and the possibility to have extra religious instruction lessons (in the afternoon.) Pupils already spent very much time in school, have extracurricular activites like sports, instrument lessons, need time for homework and learning and probably would like to see their families and friends not only for 10 minutes a day. Time is a scarce ressource even for pupils at grammar schools in Berlin.

I was discussing this shortly with my mum. It seems like there’s currently a rather anti-Christianity attitude in Berlin, which she notices not only when talking to people she knows, but also from official sides, especially the current senate (socialdemocrats and socialists/the former communist party of the GDR. One of their members, Petra Pau, apparently had a press release that accusing the Catholic Church as well as the Protestants of  starting a crusade…well, in my books dedicating tax payers money to get free choice between ethics and religion away deserves that term, too…) My mother has no idea how this referendum will end; leftists are usually very good in mobilizing people to vote, and as my mum sadly noticed, there’s a high chance that religion will lose that fight.

I hope she’s wrong.

(links in that post in german)


St Catherine Akathist

The Akathist Hymn (Ἀκάθιστος Ὕμνος, unseated hymn) is an Eastern Orthodox Christian hymn dedicated to a saint, holy event, or one of the persons of the Holy Trinity. The name derives from the fact that during the chanting of the hymn, or sometimes the whole service, the congregation is expected to remain standing in reverence, not being allowed to sit down (Ancient Greek ἀ- (a), [without, not] + κάθισις (káthisis), [sitting]).[…] The akathist par excellence is that written in the 6th century to the Theotokos. In its use as part of the Salutations to the Theotokos service (used in the Byzantine tradition during Great Lent), it is often known by its Greek or Arabic names, Χαιρετισμοί/Chairetismoi and Madayeh, respectively. (source:

Here, it is not the Akathist to the Theotokos (the blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God), but to St. Catherine of Alexandria which is very dear and important to me. More on St Catherine will follow on this blog.

This Akathist is sung in Romanian and I am speechless (ok, nearly) when I listen to this beauty. Will try to discover more of the treasures of our orthodox brothers and sisters.

Saint Catherine, pray for us.

Dominica in albis or: Quasimodogeniti

That’s today. This Sunday is the Octave Day of Easter, also sometimes referred to as Low Sunday (often explained as of lesser importance than Easter, but probably the „Low“ is just a corruption of „Laudes“ (which means praises and is the first word of this Sundays, and since 1970 officially Second Sunday of Easter. Also called St. Thomas Sunday:

19 In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‚Peace be with you,‘

20 and, after saying this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy at seeing the Lord,

21 and he said to them again, ‚Peace be with you. ‚As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.‘

22 After saying this he breathed on them and said: Receive the Holy Spirit.

23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.

24 Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.

25 So the other disciples said to him, ‚We have seen the Lord,‘ but he answered, ‚Unless I can see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.‘

26 Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‚Peace be with you,‘ he said.

27 Then he spoke to Thomas, ‚Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Do not be unbelieving any more but believe.‘

28 Thomas replied, ‚My Lord and my God!‘

29 Jesus said to him: You believe because you can see me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.

(John 20:19-29, source: New Jerusalem Bible:; „that same day“ is the day when the disciples discovered that the tomb was empty, Mary of Magdala, weeping, talked to the angels and finally met Christ , whom she didn’t recognize at first.)

This often comes to my mind when I hear people saying that there’s no proof that God exists. Or, worse, when catholics say that about some aspect of our faith. Instead of admitting that all of us need to grow in faith anything  is seen as „in reality it wasn’t so“.

And, since 2000, this Sunday is also the Divine Mercy Sunday. When I was in Lithuania lately, I learned that there are several versions of the Divine Mercy image, the (as far as I know original) version in Vilnius, and two named by the artists that painted them, Hyla and Skemp (I believe the Hyla/ Kraków version is the most common and most known). Honestly, this isn’t really my kind of spirituality, but I came to like the Vilnius image of the Divine Mercy. I hope to be able to upload a picture at least of this version soon.

When friends become strangers…

It is night, outside are some drunken guys trying to sing something that seems to be a russian song, I am tired, and discovered two things. First, three of my friends have become strangers to me, in different degrees, but they were here, and I couldn’t help but notice that there’s not much to say. We live in different worlds now, I left theirs and there is no way back. It doesn’t even bother me. And that is what shocks me.

What should shock me isn’t the fact that I have lost some friends (I didn’t really lose them. I just don’t feel connected to them anymore). It is that they are and in the past I was, too, stuck in a very tiny world that consists of drinking wine, listening to the same songs over and over again, and cracking jokes that contain something related to genitals, fecal matter or both (well I didn’t tell jokes, not even in the past, but…I wasted so much time listening to this kind of stuff…). And then…reciting of the same stories that are told every time people meet.

I am glad that there are some people around me with whom I can relate. Not many, not enough, not deeply enough, but at least it is a start.

Drawing Pure Waters from a Hidden Spring?

Christopher West wrote a great commentary on John Paul IIs Theology of the Body. One chapter has this title, which I found fitting for me and this blog. For those who don’t know yet what the Theology of the Body is about, here’s a short video on youtube, and more about this topic will follow on this blog.

A new beginning

To be honest: this is not my first blog. I abandoned my first one before it received any readers. Several things just didn’t fit anymore, starting with the blogs name. Maybe I’ll post a link to it somewhen later.

So, who am I and why am I blogging?

I was born in 1983 in Germany, was converted to the roman-catholic Church in 2006 (was converted, because it is not something you do like choosing a new pair of pants. It is a grace, a gift by God that you can accept or not), hold a Bachelor of Arts degree (which is totally worthless in Germany) and will go back to uni this fall. Other than that: currently discovered John Paul II „Theology of the Body“, very recently started to try living according to catholic standards when it comes to relationships and so on and noticing some remarkable changes since then. My depression hasn’t gone, but it got better.

If you think by now that this will be another catholic single girl blog: yes. Another blog by someone with emotional issues: also yes. But I am working on this one.

Still here?