change language
you are in: home - ecumenis...dialogue - internat...or peace - sarajevo 2012 contacting usnewsletterlink

Support the Community

  

The book "The Christmas Lunch" available online for free. DOWNLOAD! And prepare Christmas with the poor

On November 30th join the World Day of the Cities for Life against the death penalty

How, when and where to join all over the world. The map of the cities, latest news, video. Visit this page for updates and share it! The hashtag is #nodeathpenalty

Daily comments to pray with the Word of God on the website and facebook


 
printable version
September 10 2012 09:30 | Catholic School Centre (Theatre Hall)

Contribution to the International Meeting for Peace



Jürgen Johannesdotter


Lutheran Bishop, Germany

A German proverb says: Shared sorrow is half sorrow, shared joy is double joy. To share sorrow and joy however is more than just to feel sympathy with another, in reality it means to share life. Not only part of life, but life as a whole – with all its ups and downs, its questions and answers, its problems and fulfillments. And now you may presume: He is talking about family.

 Yes, I am talking about family, but I am not only speaking  about large families of yesterday and small families of today, but about families as the place where people share sorrow and joy. I love the large family I come from and I love the large family I have at home with five boys and all their different charismas. But “family” is even more than “my family” – the one I come from and the one I have. At home I got a lot of literature about “family” – and most of it I have even read – about family in old Egypt and Greece, family in the Middle Ages, family during Industrial Revolution and family in modern times with all its changes and modifications. But most of all I learned about a wider understanding of family when I came to   the Community of Sant’ Egidio.

A couple of years ago the members of   the Community of  Sant’  Egidio published a book on their Christmas Meal in the wonderful basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere. This book is entitled  “A worldwide Family without Borders” with an introduction by Andrea Riccardi. The book  tells about the thirty years of the Christmas Feast in the basilica. A. R. writes in his preface to the book:  “This feast has ripened at a place dedicated to the daily prayer and the liturgy of the Community of Sant’  Egidio. Its beauty,   abundance  of humanity and  deep meaning of this feast are rooted in the Gospel.”  The book tells stories of friendship lasting over many years. Basis is the friendship of the community to the poor: Homeless people, lonely people, Sinti and Roma, immigrants, handicapped people, and many others whose life is determined by wounds. This friendship is lived day by day all year long in a personal connection between the members of the community and the poor. So on Christmas day many poor people from all parts of the city of Rome come together in Santa Maria, and this has become a tradition: A family feast for people who have no family. For Sant’ Egidio these friends are no “hardship cases”, no clients as modern social workers would call them.  They are regarded as friends and relatives. The Community of Sant’  Egidio lives the service to the poor in the spirit of friendship, in the spirit of family.  Christmas is   the time when people suffer more from loneliness than at other times.  It is also the time  when poverty hurts more than at other times The feast together with the poor  is something like a family celebration – and the poor are part of this family. This tradition has been exported by the community to many other cities in Italy and other countries of the world. Its purpose is to show that the poor’ s place is in the heart of church. This tradition has not been created by Sant’ Egidio; it dates back to the first millennium of Christianity. It reminds us of the inhospitable “welcome” Jesus found when he came into this world, as St. John writes (Ch.1, verse 11): “He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.”  Therefore the Christmas feast in Santa Maria in Trastevere is like a contemporary manger. To welcome the poor in this way is like learning from what Jesus has experienced when he came into this world. As he said himself in St. Matthew, ch.25, v. 40: “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” The poor are part of the family of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is the lesson,   we   can learn from the gospel,   and   that is, where  the community learned it, and where  we will be able to  learn it.

Our panel is headed   “Cities, loneliness, relationship, a shared destiny”.  Loneliness has become a stigma of our time, and loneliness is not only a question of material needs but a spiritual challenge as well. The World Health Organization (WHO) just published the fact that each year 1 Million people commit suicide. The rate has grown 60 % during the last 45 years. The rate of suicide attempts is   20 times more than the rate of succeeded suicides. About 80 % of them are men. In Germany   the rate of people dying from suicide is twice the rate dying from traffic accidents. Fear, loneliness, lack of relationships, and therefore depression is a major reason for this situation. The majority of people dying from suicide are   older than 50 years.

What is specific about our cities? Living between freedom and fear – somebody described the situation in the cities. A fascinating variety of life styles is one mark of the city, in a very confined space.  And at the same time you will find visible and invisible divisions: rich and poor, natives and immigrants, religious and secular or atheistic. Welfare state, churches’ caritas and diakonia do their very best to humanize the secular city, the city without God as somebody translated the book by the American theologian Harvey Cox written in 1966. In the meantime the situation has changed again quite a bit. I feel reminded of St. Paul speaking to the people in Athens on the Areopagus,   as   described  in Acts 17,22: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. … I found also an altar with this inscription: To an unknown God. What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.”    It seems to me exactly the situation we will find today not only in   our cities:  A flourishing religiosity, a longing for something that makes sense, but nobody knows where to find it. And like in the times of early    Christians people will wonder: Why do they live so different from all others?  That seems to me the mystery of Christian “life style” – to live in a way that people will put questions to you: How come? Very often in our western civilization we trust too much in the  capacity of welfare state and social structures. We want to get rid of the “good Samaritan” and hope one day the way from Jerusalem to Jericho will be safe enough, so we will not need any Good Samaritan. To me it seems as illusionary as the poster I once saw beside the highway where I live now: “In this state traffic accidents are forbidden. ”

City    without   God?   The message    of the gospel is another one:  What you have done to one of the least of my brethren you have done to me. We find the Lord   in   the poor.  And if   we share our life with them, we will not lose, but gain. That is the wonderful experience many young people all  over the world made with and through the Community of Sant’  Egidio. It is a spiritual experience based on the message of the gospel and its option for the poor. If we discover this option for us we will discover part  of the truth of the German proverb I mentioned at the beginning:  “Shared sorrow is half sorrow, shared joy is double joy.”  This experience is worth to pray for it. Maybe we could do it in the way the French Abbé Pierre did it who went to the poor  clochards in Paris. He once prayed: “O Lord, give bread to those who are hungry, and make hungry those who have bread.” I wish you both: Hunger and bread.

 

Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI

Programme in English
PDF

BROADCAST LIVE PROGRAMME

RELATED NEWS
October 8 2016

Letter of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to Marco Impagliazzo, president of the Community of Sant'Egidio


Back to Constantinople from Assisi 2016, the patriarch wrote a letter of gratitude and appreciation to the Community.
IT | EN | ES | DE
September 20 2016
ASSISI, ITALY

Christians are called to be trees of life that absorb indifference: Pope Francis at the prayer for peace in Assisi


FULL TEXT
IT | EN | ES | DE | PT | HU
September 20 2016
ASSISI, ITALY

The words of Pope Francis at the Closing Ceremony of Thirst for Peace in Assisi


#peaceispossible #prayforpeace
IT | EN | ES | DE | FR | PT | CA | ID
September 20 2016
ASSISI, ITALY

There is a richness to proclaim, safeguard, and live together. The address of Bartholomew I at the Closing Ceremony


#Assisi #peaceispossible
IT | EN | ES | DE | FR | CA
September 17 2016

Assisi 2016, providential gift and gesture. Andrea Riccardi's reflection on "Avvenire"


The "spirit of Assisi" has been the proposal of the art of living together, religiously founded.
IT | EN | ES | DE | ID
August 18 2016

Pope Francis on 20 September in Assisi for the Meeting "Thirst for peace. Faiths and Cultures in Dialogue ",


The news was given today by the Vatican Press Office. The joy of the Community of Sant'Egidio in the statement of the president, Marco Impagliazzo
IT | EN | ES | DE | FR | PT | NL | RU
all related news

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS
December 2 2016

The book "The Christmas Lunch" available online for free. DOWNLOAD! And prepare Christmas with the poor

IT | EN | ES | PT

ASSOCIATED PRESS
November 28 2016
FarodiRoma
La preghiera per la pace da Wojtyla a Bergoglio in un libro di Paolo Fucili
November 18 2016
L'Osservatore Romano
Insieme per la pace
November 18 2016
SIR
Ecumenismo: mons. Spreafico, “una spinta per le nostre Chiese ad uscire”
November 18 2016
Avvenire
Il convegno. Cattolici ed evangelici il dialogo «del fare»
November 3 2016
Zenit
Sant’Egidio: accordo di amicizia con la Rissho Kosei-kai
all press-related

BOOKS
Making Peace



New City
Religions and Violence



Claretian Communications Foundation, Inc.
more books

12/03/2016
Sunday Vigil

The Everyday Prayer


FOLLOW LIVE THE EVENT
Sarajevo 2012