Hallo from Süsterseel! It’s been a whirlwind three days since we’ve been in Germany, and God has wasted no time in showering down His blessings on us. Dank sei Gott!
(Alright, that pretty much exhausts my German vocabulary at the moment. But, if all goes well, we should be starting language classes next week.)
There is so much to write about already! I’m going to have to break it up, otherwise everyone would be a little overwhelmed—pretty much how I felt when we first landed, actually. It was a little crazy when we showed up at Mass on Sunday night (after 10 hours total flight time with a 3-hour layover in London and an hour car-ride) and were asked to say something to the congregation—2 minutes after we walked in the door! Needless to say, we didn’t make the most articulate impression, especially considering our poverty where German language skills are concerned.
We were all really excited to be able to make it to Sunday Mass; we weren’t sure that was going to be a possibility with the way our travel was scheduled. But, by the grace of God, we made it on time, and I think it was God’s way of continuing to reveal to us exactly what our focus is going to be for this year of mission. While sitting in a completely foreign (in every sense of the word) church, not being able to understand any of the words of the prayers, trying to fumble through the sign of peace (“Der Friede sei mit dir”), God blessed me with the ability to see the beauty at the heart of the Catholic Church. The Mass is universal: the vestments are the same, the bells sound the same and they’re rung at the same time, the priest purifies the chalice the same way they do back home, and then folds up the corporal and kind of plops it on top of the pall like I’ve seen happen a million times before. Even the songs were the same (thank you, Matt Maher). And, most importantly: Jesus is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.
How beautiful. What a gift.
One of the Core members came up to us after Mass and said, “It’s very different here in Germany. Everything is different.” My response to him was, “Except Jesus. He’s here just the same.” That first Mass gave me a whole new perspective on what it means to be the Body of Christ—der Leib Christi—in a way that transcends time and space and borders and language. God is here, wherever your “here” is. I felt almost as if it were the first time I’d ever been to a Mass and really understood the significance of what was going on…I wonder if the first Apostles ever felt this way when they first journeyed into a new community after being with Jesus for so long, and finally getting it; all those questions of “Lord, what does this mean?” “Lord, what do we do?” “Lord, who are you?” finally being revealed in a more full way.
I have asked many of those questions myself throughout my life, and definitely as I was preparing for this mission year; I’ve come to realize that Christ in the Eucharist answers all of them.
“Lord, what does this mean?” : This means that God is truly at the heart of this mission; not just in spirit, but in actual, tangible reality.
“Lord, what do we do?” : What we are going to “do” is stay rooted in His love, especially as He’s revealed it to us through the Eucharist.
“Lord, who are you?” : God is love, revealed through the gift of Himself in what on casual glance can appear rather unremarkable.
God, let the anthem of this mission be: “Through Him, with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever. Amen.”