A Small Detour During My Trip in Germany


I am currently in Germany.  Why?  I am here to give a talk for a conference on the Catholic identity of Catholic Charities in Berlin.

But there’s more.  This year is also the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation being marked in Wittenberg, a small town about an hour south of Berlin. This still medieval-like town, now called Lutherstadt Wittenberg is where Martin Luther posted his famous 95 theses on the door of Castle Church n 1517 that started the movement.

So I decided to “eavesdrop” on the pilgrimages being made to Wittenberg for an overnight a couple of days prior to the Conference.  I love when a “non-plan” comes together.  This and other postings are not “theological treatises” of ecumenical dialogue. These are a few thoughts of one sojourner to a conference on Catholic identity distracted for a day or two meandering to the founding city of Protestantism.

Last evening as I entered the town, I saw a notice for an organ recital in an hour in the City Church of St. Mary’s where Luther did much of his preaching.  I quickly dropped off my bag in the hotel and walked over.  It was a great way to begin my dropping in on the 500th anniversary.

So here I stand, how could I do other?  Yes, the allusion is intentional.   What is coincidence, but the grace of God.  He’s a much better planner than I am. Thank God – pun intended.  I am off to walk this still medieval-feeling town today.   

Addendum:  Another factor that is more than a little relevant.  My decision to drop-in on Wittenberg is based on a very personal interest and intrigue with the Catholic /Protestant divide.  My dad was Catholic and my mom was Lutheran.  I’m old enough to have been raised in a time when those divisions were much more apparent and unfortunately hostile than they are today.  Obviously, I was baptized and raised Catholic, but that did not prevent some solid doses of maternal Lutheran spirituality from complimenting that Catholic upbringing.    One clear result was that prior to any formal declaration by the Church fathers of the Vatican Council II, I experienced the truth and love of Jesus Christ outside of the formal Catholic Church.  Does anyone want to argue against a mother’s love and wisdom as the grace and presence of Jesus and his Father? Coincidentally, I left for Germany on April 20th, my mother’s birthday.

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