Published in  October 3, 2007.

An Octoberfest in the Holy Spirit - Day II
October 3, 2007.  "More than just bread, a magnet or something...

By Michail Rassool 

Foto: (c) Klemens Hrovath 

Father James Manjackal M.S.F.S. is conducting a retreat in Munich from  October 1 to 4. Franziskus v. Ritter-Groenesteyn gives his report of the second day.

Munich ( The Indian priest Father James Manjackal M.S.F.S. is giving a retreat from October 1st to 4th in Munich. Franziskus v. Ritter-Groenesteyn is attending and will be writing a daily summary of each day of the retreat for KATH.NET.

The second day – “More than just bread, a magnet or something…”
The sky is the same Bavarian blue colour as yesterday. The first timid rays of sunshine fall through the light guards into the area near the altar. The pews are not as full as they were yesterday but they keep filling up more and more till the afternoon, so that in the end more than 500 persons are there, many of them Croatians. For Father James that is a good sign. “Most of the miracles take place in the Bosnian, Croatian region. There they have a strong faith.”

The big theme of the second day has to do with confession and the Holy Eucharist. Sin has become a big taboo today. Our times are sick because nobody believes in the existence of the devil anymore – that makes it easy for him. Nobody wants to go to confession anymore, for the insight that they are sinning is missing, Fr. James remarks.

Using the story of Kind David’s sin of adultery and the murder of the husband, Fr. James explains that the devil causes the hardening of the heart, which prevents us from arousing remorse. David had several opportunities to repent, but he didn’t use them. On the contrary, he did everything to hide the sin. The world praised him for it, because they only what was exterior. The Prophet Nathan’s sledge hammer method was necessary to get him to confess his wrongdoings before the Lord, which ultimately inspired him to write the most famous psalm of penance in the Bible: Psalm 51. 

Fr. James talks about a more recent example: “One day a man asks for healing. He had cancer of the larynx. I refuse, telling him he should attend the retreat. He refuses, doesn’t have that much time. I am told how much good this man has done for others. So I pray over him, but I don’t feel any peace. I ask him if he went to confession. He says yes. I continue to pray but the lack of peace becomes stronger. Something is wrong with this man. I ask again, yes, he confesses his sins every week. I ask the Holy Spirit. The situation becomes clear. I ask the man if he also confessed the adultery he committed with Monika, his wife’s best friend, who is also married, the adulterous relationship he has been living in for 17 years now.
The man becomes angry.
Later on he tells me, he would have shot me, had he had a pistol at that time. He is very upset, his relationship to Monika is none of God’s business, his wife doesn’t give him what he wants anymore and he loves Monika more. What’s wrong with that? That’s none of God’s business”
Father James prays and fasts for him the whole night. When he meets the man again he is completely changed. “Father James, it’s unbelievable, yesterday I wanted to write the bishop an angry letter because of you, asking him to do something against this Indian priest. But then I came home and there was this light and I heard the words inside, ‘Father James is right. You are living in sin!’ That hit me hard.”
The man made a very good confession and let a priest bless him. Father James emphasizes, “Every priest has received this authority – the healing blessing – when he was ordained by the bishop, but unfortunately very few of them make use of this gift.” The priest who blessed that man didn’t believe in it either. But the man’s faith moved mountains: After receiving the blessing from the priest he was healed from cancer of the larynx. Today, seven years later, he is still in good health.

Five priests are present to hear confessions. There is a continuous line-up in front of the confessionals. To one side an African priest is sitting, a young white man is kneeling before him. The priest blesses him, they hug each other as if they were the best of friends. Besides, it is striking how much relief, how much joy can be seen on peoples’ faces here when they leave the confessional.

Father James introduces another common topic. In the middle of Munich’s gay and lesbian quarter  he proclaims: “God loves the sinner, but never the sin. Therefore, love your brothers and sisters, but not what they are doing. Pray for them. Homosexuality was never part of God’s plan.”
He emphasizes that sexuality has “a higher goal”. Today, half of the children born were not conceived in wedlock, but in other relationships. “The healthy family is missing. What will become of the children out of these relationships?” Fr. James also laments the demographic conditions.
“Ask yourselves, where Germany’s future will be! As of today, the largest mosque on German soil is in Cologne. The next one will be built in Munich. Read the Letter to the Galatians 5, 19 to 21 and Ephesians 5, 3-5 and Thessalonians 4, 7-8, so that you can understand what your calling is – your holiness!”

With that, he dismisses us for the lunch break and we have time to think about these things, to talk about them. On coming back we are told at the entrance, “bring your cards with you tomorrow, otherwise you won’t get in, tomorrow many will come.” Tomorrow is a holiday, many may pass by the church on the way to the Oktoberfest, not going inside. It is comforting to know, that many will still come to see Fr. James, even if there will surely not be quite that many. There is also another thought that may comfort us: there, at the Wies’n they can meet the parish priest from St. Maximilian. For he is there, serving at the grass-roots level. He is with the people,  completely in the tradition of St. Paul. He brings the litre mugs of beer to the tables. His wages will be given to a charitable organization, as well as the money from the sale of  Fr. James’ books and DVD’s in his parish church of St. Maximilian.

Fr. James continues, speaking about how the gospel is alive in the third Millennium: “Last week a boy got up from his wheelchair while he was listening to a DVD. Jesus does not only heal here. His power is not tied down.” I intend to buy a DVD for someone, who God will show to me.

The theme of the afternoon is the Holy Eucharist. Fr. James tries to make clear to us how important it is to receive Holy Communion, Jesus Himself, in the state of grace. The Holy Eucharist can bring us great blessings, but also a great curse. Here in Germany so many people go to Communion every Sunday and they have never gone to confession.” Then he tells the story of a young couple. Their child was dumb. They prayed for healing but nothing happened. They had faith, went to confession and to Holy Mass. In the Spirit, Fr. James sees the mother-in-law. It turns out that the couple put the man’s mother-in-law into an old-age home.
The woman had forbidden her husband to contact her, on the grounds that he was married to her. Father James: “When you receive the Holy Eucharist be sure that you are reconciled with your neighbour!” As a result, the young couple took the mother-in-law into their home, with tears of repentance. A short time later the mother-in-law was healed of asthma and the child was able to speak!
Spontaneous applause. The atmosphere is elated, all the “spiritual muscles” are at ease, the heart is wide open. The translator Richie is untiring in his commitment. His little daughter, about whom we spoke yesterday, walks around his legs without a care. He works as a doctor.

Later on, during the healing prayer he will be able to translate the healing of physical sufferings with the anatomically exact names: three abdomens, five pancreas, etc. Yes, the number of miracles proclaimed will also have increased on the evening of the second day. Is it because of the strong faith of the Croatians? A strong presence can be felt. I look at my neighbour, questioningly. Is it the Holy Spirit?
Father James increases our hunger for the Holy Eucharist. The following testimony touched me in a special way. I too, am one of those who receive the Holy Eucharist without ever feeling anything. It continues to be what reason wants to see – a piece of bread, no more. Father James feels the same way.
He was all the more astounded, when a Hindu once asked him to open the Ciborium. He wanted to see what kind of secret was hidden there. Father James said it was only a thin wafer of bread but our faith sees more in it, namely, the presence of God. The Hindu didn’t want to believe that. There must be more than just bread, a magnet or something, because he had felt a strong electrical power when his hands  had come close to the Ciborium.
I think about that when I put myself in the presence of the Lord up there in the monstrance during the eucharistic adoration. Again I don’t feel a thing. All those around me are deeply in prayer, holding hands. I am also holding my neighbours’ hands. Isn’t there something flowing from hand to hand….?

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