What languages ​​do you speak to God


The word "How many languages ​​you speak, as often as you are human" is said to come from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. With this saying he - I think - sums it up even better, which is also an East Slavic proverb: "The more languages ​​you speak, the more human you are". In the last days of Advent on the way to Christmas I became very aware of this again.

This year our seminarians' choir has added some German-language Christmas carols to its repertoire. While practicing these Christmas chants I became more and more aware of what I felt again and again during my studies abroad in Eichstätt, but basically never really thought about it. The spiritual content of a text is revealed in a special way when the text is read, prayed, sung or meditated in a foreign language that has been learned. At least I experience time and again that well-known texts from the Holy Scriptures and the liturgy - presented in foreign languages ​​- suddenly appear anew. When I hear the readings from the Old and New Testaments in German, I discover something new and often think: I've never heard that in Church Slavonic or Ukrainian. It is probably due to the fact that the word read and heard is not always heard with sufficient concentration in the mother tongue. Listening to and reading in a foreign language is possibly more characterized by a thirst for knowledge and thus seems to me to be more concentrated.

I often feel the same when singing our Eastern Church chants in our Heilig-Geist-Kapelle, where the services are mainly celebrated in German. Suddenly I have a thought, am overwhelmed by a lightning-like idea or just get stuck on a word or phrase. I think to myself or ask myself at the same time: I was familiar with this in my mother tongue, why have I never seen or understood it that way before?

At such moments, when the word you have read or heard suddenly opens up anew and comes to life, you are really filled with great inner joy and satisfaction. Because as a receptive and meditating person you approach the content of the texts and songs from different language perspectives, from as many perspectives as I speak many languages. It is probably precisely this experience that is put into words in the proverbs quoted at the beginning: “How many languages ​​you speak, the number of times you are human”.

The two proverbs also come into play in the mystery of God's incarnation, the word of God, or his birth, which we as Christians are celebrating these days. God not only allows us to mature and become human again and again by learning foreign languages, but he deigned to become human himself in his love for people. He learned our language. He learned the language of our flesh and blood and became a person in order to understand us and to make us completely understandable.

In the joy of the feast of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the true man who speaks our language through the Incarnation, we from the Collegium Orientale greet all readers of the blog WEITBLICK with a Ukrainian Christmas carol in the wonderful German translation by Michael Grill (Munich), which inspired me to take this small impulse, among other things: "Heaven and earth sing, jubilate ... (sentence: o. Nezhankivskyy / R. Stetsyk; choir of the Collegium Orientale)"

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