Appears bi-monthly in a number of European languages. It brings news
and thoughts from and about the kajata community. The English version
does not yet appear regularly. If you read e.g. German or Hungarian, you
may order it in the language of your choice. If you would be willing to
help with translation (approximatly one day's work every other month),
please contact Brother István at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you only wish to be informed occasionally on kajata - say once a year - you may subscribe to another mailing list.
Have a look at the on-line edition of the German and/or Hungarian newsletter, if you understand that language.
This is a personal letter of Brother István to his English-speaking friends:
Unfortunately, save one or two exceptions I was not able to keep in touch with hardly any English-speaking friend. Thinking of my time in Australia with all its keen memories is like thinking of a former life on another planet. Some of those occasions come to my mind, when you meet an old friend, whom you haven't seen for ages, just to find out that the friendship continues, just as if no time had passed. Even if you'd spend only a few moments together weaving the threads of friendship, you know that this goes on to exist beyond farewells and separation. You might also find out, however, that you are unable to pass beyond courteous phrases: Your former friend, just as yourself, may have developed in a different sense. He or she may have married, changed profession, hobbies, faith and philosophical views. Sometimes this goes to the point where it hurts, where you are confronted with deception. In some cases it may also offer you a chance to get to know and to love a different, matured person - something I have experienced with my own brother.
There is a solid majority of Adventists amongst the recipients of this letter. I trust that those of you who are not Adventist won't be bored reading the story of the unfolding of my Adventist faith life - and that Adventists won't be scandalized. I sincerely hope that the testimony of my life will contribute to mutual understanding and that it will be a living offering towards the growth of Christian - and even Adventist - unity.
Most of my friends typically were
not French, but US, African, German, Asian and so on. (This considerably
changed only with my involvement at the St.Francis of Sales parish at Geneva.)
My room mate was Robert Holbrook junior, in the first place; with him and
Daniel Daniel, the Aussie guy (Mr. Doust) and the American girls - amongst
others - we did have some great time. (Was I trying to balance academic
laxity with some cultural laxity? I don't know, I guess I've stayed quite
conservative all the way long, even compared to the Adventist average.)
My room always looked like a living museum, and served as a cultural café,
as a meeting point for sharing self-made prose and artistry, as a hide-out
for girls in boyz hall, as an emergency entry for late- and early comers
(delivery window for beer supplies), and as a fondue restaurant. I might
have abused the trust of student deans who usually passed on the entrance
key to a theology student without questioning. But there was a relationship
of trust between us, and this was essential for individual assistance.
At least I knew where the guys went on Friday eve, who had an alcohol,
drug or love problem etc.…
Rob and D.D. discovered a neat place in the squatter's quarter at Geneva behind the railway station. On some days we ran it in the "owner's" place: you could eat crêpes-pancakes and drink coffee or Mexican beer. Those habits and contacts also influenced the development of my cultural taste and habits.
I started to attend Geneva Central church - quite a large community - attracted by its concern for liturgy, by the intelligent Sabbath school classes and by possibilities for involvement. (By the way, faculty at that time began to systematically encourage involvement of theology majors in local churches.) I particularly worked with the small German language community at Geneva church, including well-prepared and innovative services, assisted by Günther Preuss with all his musical and liturgical fervor. The English church, where we attended occasionally and where I was invited to preach, offered a family approach, and a thoughtfully structured liturgy as well.
During the last months of my stay at Collonges and Geneva there is a
thrilling record of my spiritual engagement: at the Central Adventist church
and at the English (international) church, at the Roman-Catholic parish
St.Francis of Sales (run by the St.John's Community) and at the Hungarian
Catholic Mission; I used to confess at Notre-Dame de Genève and
had a spiritual father at Opus Dei. Next to this I participated in a Hungarian
and in a German ecumenical group, and there also was an exciting ecumenical
liturgical circle initiated by Adventists at the Chapelle St.Legér.
I got to know the Lutheran community and officers of the Lutheran World
Federation at a time when the first official Adventist-Lutheran dialogue
was inaugurated, and I frequently spent time at the Ecumenical Centre (route
de Ferney). How comes, and what about this turn towards Catholicism?
(P.S.: The Salève is the mountain behind the Collonges seminary. A Jewish guest lecturer once told us, that he had arrived straight from the Mount of Olives to another Holy Mountain. We spent much time "in the Mountain", some of the most spiritual one…)
One day I just started to live as an adventist Roman Catholic. There was no conversion, since inner realities have been evolving over the years. It just happened! It did almost no difference to my allegiance towards the Adventist Church, as I continued to live as an active, tithe-paying member of good and regular standing. Following an inner promise, I resolved never to quit the Church of my birth by my own action, as long as I would be able to live up to faith convictions. Interestingly, as I embraced Catholicism, Adventism has become to me exactly what the first model states: a prophetic religious community within the Body.
Getting serious about Catholicism had to do with my becoming a Hungarian. But before I tell you how, let me clarify two things: I did not become Catholic because of Hungarians, neither to please a particular girl. In a way, those people and circumstances are peripheral, even though instrumental. Secondly, the kajata community - although it can't be separated from my biography and from my circle of friends - is not to be equaled with my personal way! It is open to everybody. Yet I am particularly keen to see people join us, who know and live their faith within denominational boundaries. For example, Adventists who are able to share the Advent message with fellow Christians and Humans.
There are some corner stones, yet there is a whole human chain that has swept me to a tiny place called Füzérkajata, close to today's Hungarian-Slovakian border. (Note the fact that Hungarians - and to a lesser degree Slovakians - live on both sides of the border!) It was the son of an Adventist conference president who took me to the Zemplén mountains one summer day, and his house in Kajata was the most lovely place we had visited that day. He offered it in change with some old printing machines of my father's. (Because of the economic situation, real estate was and is sold far under its actual/idealist value.)
Even preceding final employment chats with Swiss and Austrian church
leaders I decided that this was going to be my temporary home after study.
I was still going to be a minister - although I knew chances were dwindling.
At Kajata I would ponder on how to shape my professional life beyond the
Adventist ministry option. I planned to add a year overseas in practical
service, preferably in an African country. But this did not materialise
in time - upon the news of my move to the poorest and most remote region
of Hungary mills began to grind. The idea of camp meetings was dropped
by some of my friends, and others had a vision of ecumenical workshops.
The need for a spiritual movement was discussed to counter a trend towards
denominational particularism and identity decay in Central and Eastern
It did not take long for me to get hooked, and by the time I actually moved from Geneva to Kajata I had decided that this was going to be for good.
And here I am. After more than two years of an intense learning process and after some humble beginnings I am still here, serving as a coordinator of a quickly growing group of friends. There is no official organization, no fees, you can't become a member. There is no shared life so far, although that seems to be a perspective. All you can do is to invest yourself with your potential, and you are encouraged to do so first of all within your own environment. Kajata, as we perceive it, is a way of life. That is one of the main reasons we have chosen as a model St.John the Baptist.
István is Hungarian for Stefan. Judit and some Collonges friends first called me like that. I got used to it, and as a consequence people who don't know me think I'm Hungarian - perhaps one who grew up overseas, or has a minor speech defect. It's a common name, certainly in honor of Saint István, the king who founded the Christian Hungarian state politically and culturally orientated towards the west. There is a definition of being Hungarian: to speak the language, and to love the country and its culture. According to this, no doubt I am Hungarian, just as much as Catholic. (Without rejecting my Austrian, Swiss, German and Adventist identity.) In a way, the identity question points to something larger, such as: European, and Christian. Or human, child of God.
Kajata is a beautiful place, a tiny village with hardly any youth, and with a drinking and unemployment problem. (Not a single person lives out of agriculture!) Our community of friends came to be known by the name of the place. Sounds different, and it's neutral. Since there is no membership, there are no exact numbers, but there is an inner circle of some 50 or so of active friends, and at the outer limit there might be roughly 3 or 4 thousand who know of it and, to some extent, support it. They are Roman and Greek Catholics, Reformed, Lutheran, Adventists, and one or two Orthodox, Baptist, Methodist and Evangelical. The herald's regular readership amounts to some 300, tendency growing. (Some group leaders xerox it, and it is also mailed to a few libraries and institutions.) Another fundamental is that you can't donate. I run a translation business (besides growing potatoes and vegies) for a living. Community friends may help only by the way of their personal involvement.
Get in touch! Lots of love,
(Much has remained unsaid - many an event which may seem significant,
a couple of incredible anecdotes, astonishing details of the story. Many
topics of human and theological interest remain to be exploited. If I were
to write each one of you personally, I'm sure not only a book, but a small
library would be the result! This might be a good intention for retirement.
If you deem this letter worthy of a response, however, I'll try to react
at least with a few lines, or by dropping an e-mail.
Anyone who'd like to receive the herald regularly, please let me know and I'll put you on the mailing list, as soon as the English edition materializes. From fall, there ought to be a Hungarian, German, Slovakian, Romanian and a French edition of the newsletter. Readers are asked for a voluntary contribution. Costs are about US$ 5 per year and subscription, including air mail. Should there be a surplus, this goes into reduced and free subscriptions for Eastern Europe.)
Communion in Christ, the hidden meaning of the Hungarian name of our newsletter, kajatai követ. The k letter stands for our Saviour and for the Church, his bride. k is unique within its fast-moving time. It's dynamic and it's standing still. Firm as a rock it bears with God and with man. It belongs to the community, yet in case of need it may stand by its own. k was born into pluralism, it is flexible and truly tolerant. First of all, however, it has learned to listen to the divine Word. It resists the egocentric, suicidal behaviour patterns of its time. It's the parable of a loving Community, of the Family of God.
What is our calling as individuals and as a kajata community? With 2000 closing in, some people's fantasy is going through. For Christians, the essential is commemorating the birth of our Saviour. And not only his coming in the flesh - the Kingdom of God is closing in as well. One year, two millennia closer towards the return of the Son. For humans, that's enough time to be bothered. With God, it's like one or two days. Within the preparation for the Jubilee, this year we are reflecting on the Son. Our calling is to re-approach each other by following Christ, the living Word. Scriptures speak of him from the creation stories onwards up to a new creation, each writer at least glimpsing at him. Only if we meet the Son of Man on the pages of the Bible will it become to us the Word of God, source of new life. Otherwise it remains just a book, literature, mystical, boring at times - printed letter.
1. Our calling - to encounter ourselves. To tap those sources of living water that have quenched the thirst of our forefathers. Let us love and value those sources above all. There are other sources as well, that sprinkle and pour out just the same water. Jesus says, I am the Good Shepherd, and I have sheep in other folds. He told his disciples to keep on going to the ends of the world, teaching and baptizing all of mankind. Today, this means us. So we ought to bother about other folds - but there are other flocks and other shepherds in place. What about them?
2. Our calling - to accept and to get to know others, as they are. Other sources may never become our own, but it's not forbidden to drink out of them and to ponder upon them. That's what Adventist pioneers have done, amongst many reformers, saints and sinners. That's why we've grown into a Family. If we know our own face "by heart" - in every sense of the word - we're winners. We won't be deceived by pollution and dead tracks, because we will keep our eyes fixed upon Christ and we'll cling to Scriptures, to the source above all. Upon returning to our own sources, we are more likely to discern possible pollution in our proper nest.
3. We can't know in advance, where exactly our calling is going to lead us. Abraham found a home in the distance. After tasting eternity, he returned to his fathers. Humanly speaking, it was no huge deal. Neither was it a bad one. He was able to accept present realities, he was flexible - sometimes too flexible. And yet eternity was something just as real to him, something he needed to deal with. God calls even us to leave home for an uncertain, distant shore. Each and every youngster needs to leave the nid - those who are unable to do so, will handle in a bunch of problems. Perhaps you experience that period, as it were some sort of Alice's wonderland - just to wake up closely to your point of departure. No place is more beautiful than home. Home is where we're at peace with ourselves and - more or less - with our environment. This remains true even if reality lacks the splendour of our fond dreams and ideals. Let us all pine for that ultimate home, where truth is grooming love to gender a peace that endures time and eternity.