Mass is a big part of missionary life! We try to go to Mass as much as possible. Here in Germany, that’s not always easy. We live in a small village on the German/Dutch border and there’s only one church in each village. These churches might have Mass once a week, if they’re lucky. Oftentimes, they’ll have mass only twice a month. This means that as missionaries who want to go to daily Mass we have to leave our village and travel around Germany and the Netherlands.
Last night, a bunch of us piled into our little white car and drove to a neighboring village for Mass. This village was only about ten minutes away, but we got lost multiple times and it took us a lot longer to get there than it should have. On the way there, Amanda informed us that we might not be able to go to Mass because the church is so small that there wouldn’t be any room for us inside. I thought she was just exaggerating because there’s no way that a church couldn’t hold five extra people. When we finally found the church, I realized that she might be right as this was the smallest church I’d ever seen!
We walked up to the church. I tried to open the door; it wouldn’t budge. All the extra people inside were standing in the aisle and blocking the door from opening. Luckily, Amanda knew what to do and she got them to open the door so we could squeeze inside. We noticed that there were a few open seats, so, we all sat down instead of standing in the aisle as the other people were doing.
Throughout Mass, I kept looking behind me at all the people. The church was packed! There were only five pews on each side of the church, but they were filled with people who were squished together along with many other people occupying the aisle. I was a little preoccupied throughout Mass thinking about the small size of the church. My bedroom, in our mission house, is bigger than this church! That’s how small it was. I’ve seen shacks bigger than this church; it was crazy! As I sat there thinking about how small and tiny the church was, I remembered a phrase that Br. John Ignatius frequently spoke to us during some of our formation classes. He always told us that “God is here,” and as I sat in that church all I could say to myself was, yes, God really is here!
In that moment, I realized that it didn’t matter how big the church was, God was there! It didn’t matter that the Mass was in German and that I couldn’t understand a word they were saying, God was there! It also didn’t matter that the church was ice cold, that I didn’t know any of the songs they were singing, or that I was on the other side of the world, God was there!
Oftentimes, people will go to Mass because they like the music that’s being played, because they think the church looks pretty, or because there’s a lot of people who go to that specific church. As I sat in that small church in Germany, I realized that none of that stuff really matters at all! I go to church because God is there! Plain and simple, He is there!
P.S. It’s 3:49 and You Are Loved!