|170: St Michael, Munich, Bavaria, Germany|
|Other reports | Comment on this report|
Mystery Worshipper: Terry.
The church: The Jesuit Church of St Michael, Munich, Bavaria, Germany.
Denomination: Roman Catholic.
The building: Late renaissance / early baroque, very light inside, and really comfortable.
The neighbourhood: Downtown Munich: office buildings and stores, virtually no residential population, but people come from all over the city (and the greater Munich area) to the downtown churches. Most them (the churches) are beautiful, and you just drop in while you're shopping, or after work.
The cast: Celebrant: Fr. Robert Locher, SJ. Preacher: Fr. Alban Mueller, SJ.
What was the name of the service?
Krankenmesse mass for the sick. In the 17th century, a medieval shrine containing the bones of Cosmas and Damian, famous physicians in the early church (and martyred for their faith), was transferred to St Michael and given a place in a side chapel. Every third Saturday in the month, there is a mass with intercessions especially for the sick, and after the eucharist the priests and acolytes move to the shrine to pray for them (the entire congregation turns towards the shrine, too).
How full was the building?
About 40 per cent full (at 11.00am on a Saturday!).
Did anyone welcome you personally?
I was the altar server (St Michael has a "crew" of young adults for that purpose), so I had to be in the sacristy well before mass started, and the sacristan welcomed me.
Was your pew comfortable?
St Michael's pews are wooden but comfortable, but I sat beside the priests, on a lavishly padded seat, deep red velvet.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Calm, no strained silence. People were obviously happy to escape the bustling centre of Munich. In the sacristy, things were a little more hectic, of course.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
In Namen des Vaters und des Sohnes und des Heiligen Geistes ("In the name of the Father"...)
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Gotteslob, the standard prayer and hymnbook of the German Catholic churches. Most churchgoers knew the liturgy anyway.
What musical instruments were played?
Organ and flute.
Did anything distract you?
As an altar server, you always worry what is about to go wrong in the next moment.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Formal, but rather lively. You could feel that the churchgoers were really present.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8. Fr. Mueller preached in a lively way and was surprisingly short.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Sin means declining the life God offers us, so its consequence is death and illness. However, this must not be understood on an individual level; it is rather the environment we live in that makes us sick. (Remember, a Jesuit preached, so it got a little intellectual.)
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The music as I stood near the altar to receive communion.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Some months ago, the whole PA system of St Michael was replaced. Despite repeated adjustments and fine-tuning, there are still many, err, resonant points and acoustic holes: you hear nothing, or the sound comes from all sides. One consultant had suggested the entire church interior be redesigned.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I had no chance to hang around as I helped the sacristan with the usual cleanup: extinguishing candles, unplugging the microphones, bringing the lectionary, chalice, etc., back into the sacristy...
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was no coffee.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10. I wouldnt like to have the Krankenmesse every week as it is something special, but once a month is great. I'd rather give it a 20!
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Two miracles: at the end of the intercessions, Fr. Locher related that some days after the last Krankenmesse, a woman told him that the condition of a hospitalized sick person suddenly improved considerably at the time of the service. And my back that had worried me for months ceased to ache during the prayers at the shrine.