I learned a bit more about Catholicism today. We attended a sung mass at Michaelskirche in Munich this morning. I thought that meant no sermon, but it apparently means there is more music than usual, but there's still a sermon. The homily sounded similar to ours (except in German), so I translated the usual encouragement, call for commitment, reverence and gratitude for Gott der vater and Jesus Christus.
But my special joy was in the architecture and music. Sitting in below-freezing temperature, watching the incense smoke lifting slowly to the barrel-vaulted ceiling, floating past beautifully gold inlaid sculptures and colorful paintings, hearing the angelic a capella choir behind and above in their loft over 30 feet in the air, near the incredible organ pipes (used to accompany the parishioners' singing), I was transported into almost-heaven. The overwhelming beauty mixed with the unreal devotion of about 1,000 people who weekly uncomplainingly brave the elements uplifted my heart. I felt in deep communion with people centuries before who worshiped here, and also with the older gentleman to my right who greeted me in Christus, and that was enough.
I pray that my faith be always strengthened by beauty of all kinds, by traditions beyond my experience, and that I remember that God is often found easiest in the most uncomfortable situations.