Sunday, July 27, 2014

Catholic for a day

Jeremy has been out of town for a few days, if one can be out of town on vacation. He took the car with him, which left us without a ride to church this morning (the Mormon chapel is a 30-minute drive away).

So we decided to be Catholic for the day. The handy thing is that most villages here have the worship times posted on a sign as you drive into town, so we knew when mass started. Bright and early this morning, the kids and I walked down the hill, through the main part of town, and back up the hill on the other side to make it to St. Michael's, the Catholic church.


The Catholic church here has the more modern-looking building (1965, above), while the Protestant (Evangelische) church inhabits the building that dates back to 1817. I guess it used to be the other way around, but they switched some years back?

The bells started ringing just as we were walking up the stairs to enter the church. The girls were so impressed - seriously, in awe! (Note to the Mormon church: look into bells.)

My maternal grandparents (and mother) were Catholic, so this wasn't my first time attending mass. But it was certainly my first time in a long time, so the girls and I read up on protocol the night before. This morning, the first thing I asked the man we sat next to in a pew near the back was if it was OK that I had the kids with me - there wasn't another one in sight! To my great relief, he said it was "kein Problem" - no problem. To my even greater relief, a young boy walked in with his mother just a few minutes later.

We did all the sitting, standing, and kneeling during the mass, though I hadn't seen where to pick up the hymnals, so we couldn't join in the singing. And of course, beyond the Alleluias, I did not know the proper responses to some of the things the priest said. There was a reading from 1 Kings, which is interesting because we just finished studying that in Sunday School. Another reading was from one of the Pauline Epistles; not sure which because German. The main sermon from the priest was about treasure, which I know because I just barely learned that word from a billboard that is all over the place here (something about driving safely, but it uses the word Schatz, treasure).

I was just getting nervous about the part where we'd have to perhaps awkwardly sit out communion, but Sterling started making a lot of noise - just happy, cooing noise, but still noise in a very quiet, very acoustically gifted room. We slipped out and left a little early.

Those of us who belong to churches know that we are very welcoming to visitors, and we want them to come, but this morning's experience reminded me how intimidating it can be to not know the ins and outs and behavioral expectations for children, etc. Even though it wasn't what we're used to, I'm so glad we could be Catholic for the day and get some worship in.

7 comments:

Jen said...

Every year I tell myself I'm going to go to Midnight Mass....and every year I'm so tired on Christmas Eve that I don't end up going! This post has reinvigorated my desire, though. I'm going to rest up for the next few months!

Greg Lewis said...

Thanks for the post! I attended Mass at St Michael's last Christmas Eve at midnight. It was done with only candlelight, and the highlight for me was Silent Night sung in the original German. Great memories - Grandpa Lewis

Liz Johnson said...

That's so lovely! Sometimes I want to take the kids to other church services, just to show them the differences and to have a different experience. Plus... they're usually shorter than three hours. Not gonna lie, some mornings, I'm just in the mood for an hour of church.

Maybe I should just grant myself and my kids this small privilege and start indulging Thank you!

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I've gone to the Catholic Church when there's no LDS ward within a reasonable distance (and once went to Anglican). My favorite are the Eastern Rite churches. It's a healthy thing for Mormons to once in a while attend other churches; it fosters an understanding of other cultures and beliefs, and can be the basis for dialogue and unity between different religions. As for communion, it is optional for the member attendees, so you would have been just fine to stay in your seat with the other non-communioners.

Bridget said...

Did Anna and Chris recruit you to their cause of getting us to come visit them for Christmas? Because it's working.

Aimee said...

I really enjoy attending different religious services. I agree it unites people. For me, it makes me realize what a wonderful energy is throughout the Earth. And I also love "Silent Night" in German at a candlelight mass.

Greg Lewis said...

A German Christmas in Northern Bavaria is NOT to be missed - and worth every sacrifice to get there - just sayin'...the memories will live on long after the price is forgotten!
Grandpa Lewis

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