Monday, September 19, 2011

Cry Room Chronicles: German(y)

We arrived in Germany on a Saturday. The hotel's guest information said the local Catholic church's Mass was at 10 a.m. So the next morning, we got up, had a yummy (though expensive) breakfast at the hotel, asked directions from the front desk, and headed out at 9:15 to find the church that was 10 minutes away.

We walked as slowly as the children wanted since we had plenty of time. We followed the little paper map the hotel had given us and wound up at a bus stop. We looked around and eventually spotted a church spire. We wound our way through the streets and found the church. The sign on the front said "Evangel. Kirche" so we weren't sure we were in the right place. We walked around some more and asked four or five different people. Some weren't sure; two people directed us back to the neighborhood of the church we had found. We returned.

We walked back and went inside. It looked like a fairly normal church. The altar table up front had a large book set up like a typical church missal. Stained glass with actual pictures of bible figures looked promising. The people already there were quiet and prayerfully waiting. A female greeter handed us the hymn books.

The books definitely seemed not Catholic. I couldn't find any Mass parts or liturgy summary. Some old man came in and sat down in front. He was dressed in black except for the rainbow stole he had around his neck. Either this was the pastor or some sort of weird protester. The church bells began to ring at 10. Then the organ started playing. Eventually the first hymn started which we didn't recognize, but hey, it's a foreign country and maybe they have different hymns? The Catholic churches in England also had different hymns.  Jacob asked to go potty, so he and Angie headed out.

Then the guy in front went up and began the service. This clearly wasn't looking Catholic at all. Even though it was in German, I would have recognized the sign of the cross, which did not happen. Then a psalm was sung from the book followed by the preacher praying more prayers. Angie and Jacob came back. The kids were a little antsy.

After a bit, the female greeter came over to us and told us there was a cry room for the kids with a speaker so we could follow the service. We followed her around the outside of the church to the room. It seemed like the sacristy. She brought out some books and toys which delighted the children. She seemed happy to be able to share them. She showed me what songs were coming up in the book and headed back to continue with the service.

Jacob and Lucy did enjoy the toys and books. Lucy did some coloring. Jacob made up a story based on the pictures in one book. I can't blame him, I would have made up a story too since the words were in German. We listened and never heard an Our Father-type prayer or anything like a communion service. Eventually the service ended and the lady came back for us.

We thanked her for her help. She asked if we were new in town. We said we were just visiting. After shared smiles and goodbyes, we headed out. The Catholic church only had one service in the morning, so we were out of luck. But we did the best we could.

The most ironic thing about the whole situation was that I had brought John Paul II's  encyclical Ut Unum Sit for spiritual reading on this trip. It is, of course, his work "On Commitment to Ecumenism." Someone has a sense of humor.


  1. German Catholic Churches are hard to find -- almost everyone is Lutheran, I think. If you find one, though, it is guaranteed to be spectacular! I think the Wednesday night mass is also pretty popular among Catholics here.

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