In watching the news I recall the German word "Schadenfreude'. It means "satisfaction felt at someone else's misfortune."


I don't usually think in German. English is my language for the past 60+ years, but I was born in Netherlands and also lived in Germany for a while (mostly with the U.S. Army). Although I've forgotten much over the years, I understand Dutch and German without too much effort. The word "Schadenfreude" is mentioned from time to time on television. How can anyone show pleasure at the suffering of other people? That's very unfeeling and downright rude.


People who watch all the war stories on American television about World War II, Vietnam, etc., and gloat at the glory or loss of participating armies should be cognizant of how this affects other people. The people you live with, for instance. Not everyone will have the same reaction. I like war stories but I live alone, so I am not hurting anyone. On the other hand, constantly watching war stories isn't particularly good for maintaining a deep spiritual life. I know when it is time to shut off the television, when it's too much.


Empathy is a quality that one should show others. Also compassion, and love. Those are Judeo-Christian values. We hope that you have these feelings about other people, people who suffer from war, loss due to hurricanes, fires, etc., and that you can pray for them.  We hope that their living conditions will improve over time, especially this time of year when people are happy that Christmas is coming.


People who live or try to live in lands where there has been fighting, and where houses are in shards and there is almost no quality of life, are in my prayers. I do not know them personally but I pray for them no matter who they are, and on whose side they are. They are human beings with whom we share this sad experience of living on earth. Just because they live on the wrong side of a line does not mean that we laugh at their human condition. Their lives are sad and many times completely hopeless.


As I write this, Christmas will be here in two weeks. Can you imagine the sadness where people have noplace to lay their heads (California fires, come to mind). The immense feeling of loneliness when one has lost everything. We ask God's mercy and compassion on all those who have no warm bed, relatives, or a safe place to be. Many have no clean water or food. We ask Jesus who comes to our hearts at Christmas time to help those in need by bringing a meal, a blanket and people who have compassion and love to spread around.


Will there ever be Peace on Earth? God, I hope so.


Fred Schaeffer, OFS
December 12, 2017


A Gift of a New Life
A Biography
by Fred Schaeffer, OFS 2019

Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis

Divine Mercy Fraternity

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Term expires: 2/10/2022

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