Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, a day when I've always done my best to attend Mass, or at least an ashes service. For the past 7 years, this hasn't been a problem - teaching in a Catholic school meant that Mass was part of the program on Holy Days. But this year, no school and our regular English speaking Mass centre only had a service at 7:30 (didn't even check if it was am or pm, just not a good time either way)
So - in the spirit of adventure that I am trying to cultivate - I checked the website of the Archdiocese of München und Freising to find a Mass somewhere. I ended up deciding on 11am at St. Peter's (Alte Peter - the oldest church in Munich), as it worked in best with other plans.
Armed with my 'Mass for Travellers' booklet that Chris so thoughtfully provided, I arrived just as Mass started. And I realised that - though Mass is essentially the same everywhere you go - there are also many differences, and not just in language.
The interesting thing with German is that, at times, it is very similar to English. When the Priest starts with:
In namen des Vaters
und des Sohnes
un des Heiligen Geistes
it's pretty obvious what he's saying. Following the Gospel was not so easy though.
The biggest difference was the Church itself. As I said earlier, St. Peter's is Munich's oldest Church, built originally in the 12th Century. It is incredibly ornate - the art work on the walls and ceiling can be quite distracting when you're there for Mass not sightseeing. There is only one altar - old style, against the wall - so that the Priest said the Eucharistic Prayer with his back to the congregation. It also has an altar rail, so when we went up for the ashes and communion, we knelt along the rail, rather than just walking up the aisle to stand in the centre in front of the Priest.
All in all, an interesting experience. I am considering going in to Mass there more often on weekdays so that I can learn the main prayers in German. From what I can see, there are many Masses each day during Lent, so I should be able to get there once or twice each week.