An optimist with faith in god

An optimist with faith in god

"To still have life ahead of you is not a pure pleasure. Having life largely behind you is by no means pure horror," says former Abbot Primate Notker Wolf. On this Sunday, the 21st. June he becomes 80.

"Runs," is the name of one of many books Notker Wolf has published over the years. In 2016, after 16 years as Abbot Primate at the head of the Benedictines worldwide, he compiled a collection of words of wisdom. Because he had been asked again and again: "Why do you look so happy??"

He is a friend of clear words, he confesses, and loves to put things in a nutshell. And some of the things you encounter every day can only be endured with humor. That's why his recommendation is: "Smile at life. And yet do not take it too lightly."

Early morning sport and rock music

A motto that can carry one through a long life. At 21. The religious man turns 80 in June. But discipline is also part of it. For example, Wolf revealed to the Catholic News Agency (KNA) that he regularly does morning exercises. At five o'clock in the morning he stretches and stretches a few minutes.

Not because he felt an "irrepressible desire" for it. But "this little bit of exercise helps me through the whole day, I feel better and am in a better mood". Music also keeps him fit. He likes to pick up the flute and sometimes the electric guitar. Fear of contact he knows neither in matters of rock music nor when it comes to saying his opinion.

Missionary booklet found in the attic

As the son of a tailor, Werner Wolf was born in Bad Gronenbach in the Allgau in 1940, the year of the war. The family was well Catholic, but not overly pious. The boy was an altar boy, but he had his awakening experience in the attic, as it says in Heidemarie Winter's biography of him.

There the senior high school student found a missionary booklet. The reports awakened his longing for freedom. As a missionary, he wanted to get away from the mother who was so protective of him and reconcile his "intimate relationship with Jesus Christ".

"For God's sake, already the fifth Notker."

As a small child, he was not in good health. When he fell ill with rickets, the doctor let the mother know that she could "write off" her son. With the help of the local priest, the good student nevertheless made it to the high school of the Missionary Benedictines in Sankt Ottilien.

After graduating from high school in 1961, he entered the order. When he chose the name "Notker", a confrere said: "For God's sake, already the fifth Notker."For four candidates before had left the archabbey again.

Freedom and dignity of the individual

He studied philosophy at the Pontifical College of Sant'Anselmo in Rome, and in Munich Wolf enrolled in theology and the natural sciences. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1968. Two years later, Wolf taught natural philosophy at Sant'Anselmo, followed by a doctorate with a thesis on the cyclical world model of the Stoa.

When a new archabbot was sought in Ottilien in 1977, the decision fell on the 37-year-old young man. In doing so, it was important for him to overcome harsh drill and surveillance to create a fear-free monastery. The freedom and dignity of the individual should be respected.

Much traveled

Wolf says about himself that he makes decisions when they are needed. When, after 23 years in Ottilien, the move to Rome led him to the monastery of Sant'Anselmo as supreme Benedictine, he proceeded in the same way. Even if he never wanted to build, this became part of his work.

For this purpose he traveled 300.000 kilometers around the world to visit confreres. He does not even stop at North Korea and China. In both countries he succeeded in building hospitals. Strange food was sometimes put in front of him. He would no longer order a dog, not even a snake. "They can be terribly tough."

Listening to the younger ones

Wolf speaks several languages fluently, and he wanted to deepen his knowledge of them after his return to his home monastery. But he is still a welcome guest at lectures and talk shows. He sees the synodal path taken by the Catholic Church in Germany as the right one.

"In my opinion, a process like this should be going on all the time," the religious finds. Already St. Benedict recommended to the confreres: "Do nothing without advice, then you will not have to regret afterwards."Above all, the younger generation must be listened to. God often tells them what is better – but sometimes also an older one.

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