Friede sei mit Ihnen!

Grüßen aus München!

Greetings from Munich, each and all!

Time is certainly starting to fly for me here; however, I have already had a great many fruitful experiences in my brief time abroad.

So far, I have made several walks through the city, checking out whatever places look interesting to me. I’ve visited a number of absolutely beautiful churches here in Munich, and I’ve found a couple of neat bookstores, from one of which I bought a couple of German books. I’ve made a trip to Heidelberg to visit a Notre Dame professor who showed me around his city. I took a hike with the mother of my host family and their dog Stella around Andechs, a Benedictine monastery not far from Munich. Although not exactly German-related, I was even fortunate enough to catch Notre Dame’s Glee Club performing in a nearby church. I’m making use of everyday in the city and learning more about German and Germany with every step!

Here I am in Heidelberg!

One of my first priorities upon arriving in Munich was to find a Catholic church where I could attend a daily Mass that would fit my schedule. Fortunately, I was quick to find a beautiful church just a short walk from the S-Bahn stop at Karlsplatz. It also just so happens that St. Michaels Kirche is a Jesuit church, immediately a little comforting for me who attended a Jesuit high school and who has a number of friends and former teachers in the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). Here’s a picture that I took of the interior:

While I was comforted with that sort of familiarity, I was rather outstandingly not German at first in my not knowing the responses in Mass. I still grab a hymnal with most of the responses at the beginning of Mass, and at first, I was very clumsy with the way I would flip back and forth from response to psalm to hymn back to response, etc. I’ve memorized almost all the responses by now, but the one that made me the most nervous, the one that required me to pay very close attention to what fellow church-goers were saying to me, was what to say at the Sign of Peace. It was written nowhere in my Gotteslob hymnal, and everyone spotted me as the goofy American pretty darn quickly. So everyone just gave me a pitiful smile or mumbled softly as I shook a hand and likewise whispered some incomprehensible nonsense to hide my ignorance.

Finally, after shaking a number of hands and searching for the right words to say, I took a shot in the dark and gave the straight translation from English to German. After piecing together mumbled words and hoping that this phrase had not changed overseas–of course expecting to be horribly wrong and consequently embarrassed for making a silly mistake–however, I was pleased to be met with widened eyes and a hearty smile from a sweet lady when I hesitantly gave her a “Friede sei mit Ihnen.”

Indeed, a very simple saying, almost as quick as slang, but the formula for which is crucial to my partaking in the community around me. Since then my confidence in fully participating in the German Mass has increased in me the ability to speak more fluidly with locals and with my classmates. Just this simple colloquial phrase which almost every Catholic knows has done much to change the way I participate in and mentally approach German culture. Through this exchange, which is very familiar to me in English Masses, I have felt more welcome in Germany and more confident in my fitting in with the locals around me. Such a simple phrase has helped me become a little more German!

And so, I leave you with this as I embark on the next adventure in Germany:

Friede sei mit Ihnen!

P.S. German has even followed me out of Germany a bit. I took a quick trip to Rome on a long weekend, and when I turned around in Mass to give a Sign of Peace to the woman behind me, I was surprised to hear “Friede sei mit Ihnen!” I was overjoyed to be able to respond likewise.