Well, it wasn’t in English.
I attended my very first mass today at a nearby church in the hopes of finding it bilingual. It ended up being a very monkey-see-monkey-do experience. First, finding the door.
The church’s website was in German, so I used a translator to try to figure it out. The first translator I used said that church was in the crypt until Easter, which kind of sent a red flag up in my mind. crypt? Google translate, however, straightened it out by saying that it was actually in the under church.
Whew. No crypts for me.
Right, so finding the door. I followed a few older ladies and gentlemen to a door I certainly wouldn’t have found otherwise. I watched how they entered and made sure to cross myself with holy water when I walked in.
Prettiest crypt I’ve ever seen. It was Fasching Sunday (the Sunday before Fat Tuesday, part of the Carneval celebration), so the altar boys had big bow ties on, many of the children in attendance wore costumes, and there was more than one gaudily colored wig in the house. I’m not sure if it was normal for the altar boys to walk in to accordion music, but they did!I did catch a few words of the service: God, bread, fish (from which I gathered that we were talking about Jesus feeding the multitude), Father… And that was about it.
It was an expansive experience. Got my first contact with kneelers and holy water. Also, it might be sacrilegious to say it, but I think the wafers taste like cake ice cream cones, those kind of styrofoamy ones. Who says those can’t be holy, though?
I think I’ll go back. It’ll be an incentive to keep learning German. Fortunately, they talk slowly, so it’ll be good as I become slightly more proficient.
As much as it was an isolating experience since I didn’t understand the words, it was communal. Though I was separated from these people by language and religious experience and customs, we were still there because of the same God who shed his blood and broke His body – then repaired it – to redeem the world. There was still something to kneel for, a reason to sing, and holy words to read. Even when you don’t understand them, they’re still holy.
Though I like them better in English.
I think these kind of experiences are what travel is all about.