This afternoon, Bishop Werner Guballa, auxiliary if the Diocese of Mainz, succumbed to severe pneumonia, after a battle with pancreatic cancer which began in June of last year. Bishop Guballa was 67. Half an hour ago, the largest bell of the tower of the Cathedral of Saints Martin of Tour and Stephen rang to announce his passing.
Shortly after his diagnosis, Bishop Guballa spoke of his disease:
“I am ill and I accept the will of God in that. But I also say to God: “Help me to find a way. I am not so much concerned about the disease, but about the road to health. […] I will fight [the disease], provided I have the power to do so. I said to my tumor: “You will not have the last word”. […] I go my way, not with fear, but with confidence.”
Bishop Guballa was appointed auxiliary bishop of Mainz in February of 2003, and held the titular see of Catrum. He was the first titular bishop of that Algerian see. Within the German Bishops’ Conference, he was responsible for the portfolio of Marriage and Family.
Remaining in the diocesan curia of Mainz are Bishop Karl Cardinal Lehmann and Auxiliary Bishop Ulrich Neymeyr.
A late reflection today, in part because we’re looking at part of the Scripture reading from today’s Vespers. Here, in the Letter to the Romans (12:1-2), we are reminded of the kind of worship that we as people should perform.
“I urge you, then, brothers, remembering the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, dedicated and acceptable to God; that is the kind of worship for you, as sensible people. Do not model your behaviour on the contemporary world, but let the renewing of your minds transform you, so that you may discern for yourselves what is the will of God — what is good and acceptable and mature.”
We have already learned earlier that we are to be our own sacrifices (our “broken and contrite hearts” – Ps. 51:17), as this passage’s first line repeats. The text now adds that our sacrifice is in fact our way of worshipping God. It is fitting for us as “sensible people”.We may ask ourselves of our worship – our prayer, our Mass attendance – is anything like that. Or is our worship perhaps more based on what we do? If we lead a prayer group perhaps, are especially pious in our prayer, or if we are lector, acolyte or sacristan at Mass? All these duties, fine and necessary as they are, are exterior features and have nothing to do with being “dedicated and acceptable to God”. Before anything else, we must remember “the mercies of God”. This opens us up to God, and, as later lines of the text tell us, this “is good and acceptable and mature”.
“I realise very well that a priest today is a walking question mark. I consciously wear a Roman collar. Older people are often surprised. Younger people recognise it mostly from movies. Because they can more easily recognise me as a priest, I can meet many people who entrust me with their questions.
Today we should, I think, in addition to the social engagement we have as Christians, dare to focus more on the vertical axis, on the spiritual: to bring people to God”.
Words from Belgian Father Filip Hacour in an interview for Kerk & Leven. Fr. Hacour is a group leader for seminarians at the John XXIII seminary in Louvain, and it seems that he gets that the priesthood is more than just being socially active in a parish.