Our help is in the name of the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 124:8
Sister M. Margarete Ulager, General Superior, in her circular letter wrote, “A few weeks ago, we could not have imagined that short time later bombs - from this "one heaven" - would fall on people again and the airspace would be closed to civil aviation. In the heart of Europe, we are again at war and I write you this letter with a heavy heart.
On top of all this, we are still struggling with the CORONA pandemic and its effects. Even our Church, which is given the mission of preserving, living and transmitting the Gospel, is being obscured and darkened by its own actions.
In July of last year 2021, we have convened an international leadership conference under CORONA conditions with the theme: "Embracing the future with hope".
In the face of a time in which the world is holding its breath, the question may now arise how we can embrace the future with hope.
If we look into history, I would like to tell about an episode that happened in 1945 and that the Church historian Professor Dr. Jörg Ernesti has re-analyzed in his book "Peace Power: Vatican Foreign Policy since 1870". According to the testimony of Winston Churchill, Stalin once asked, "How many divisions does the Pope have?" Stalin's point was that a pope has neither military power nor economic weight. Michael Gorbachev later knew better, mentioning, "Pope John Paul II made a significant contribution to the fall of the Iron Curtain - without divisions."
Thus, Pope John XXIII's encyclical "Pacem in terris" has also lost none of its significance to this day. The Pope appealed to the powerful of the world and read out on Oct. 24, 1962, on the radio:
“We beg all governments not to remain deaf to this cry of humanity. That they do all that is in their power to save peace. They will thus spare the world from the horrors of a war whose terrifying consequences no one can predict.”
Pacem in terris was the first encyclical in which a pope addressed not only the Roman Catholic Church, but "all men of good will." Pope John XXIII. called on Christians and all people "of good will" to pray with all their might for peace.
So, too, Pope Francis has called the world to make March 2, 2022, Ash Wednesday, a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Ukraine and not to stop praying for peace in the world.
It is precisely the faith in the power and goodness of God that transcends our bare human possibilities, transforms our supposed powerlessness and makes God's action and power visible. That is why we may and must hope - because it is God who is the reason and foundation of our hope!
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the paschal penitential season. During this time, especially through our prayer, let us build a bridge of hope, across all continents. Peace, renewal and the renewal in the Church are only possible in the light of the Gospel. Today, in the year 2022, we may once again ask ourselves the significant question posed by a journalist to St. Mother Teresa. He asked her:
"What should be the first thing to change in the Church?"
Her answer was very true: "You and I!"
Together with Mother Mary, the queen of peace, let us enter into this holy time of lent and preparation for Easter. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, always looks at us human beings and at all peoples. He embraces us and it is the Lord, who heals our body and soul in all wounds and hardships.
In this hope, we greet you all warmly. We are united in prayer for the peace in the world.
We are all under one heaven!"