Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Living on Church Time

Hardly a day goes by without the church bells ringing more than just the quarter, half, three-quarter, and full hours of the day - which "for many would be a plenty."  Since we have lived in European villages and towns before and because Peter was an altar boy and studied at a monastery, we recognize that the most common reason for the "non-hourly" bells is a mass being said on behalf of a dead person.  The 6 am EVERY Saturday morning "call to mass" bells are especially noteworthy.  But there are times that we look at each other and wonder if a war has broken out or just ended somewhere - we are totally clueless as to the insistent ringing.

Then too, there are the church holidays that catch us off guard.  On any number of occasions, we have totally missed that an important Saints Day was about to occur - which means schools and stores will be closed.  Unless you know about these things, you are likely to have nothing in the kitchen to cook and must go to a restaurant for your meal, unless it is the "Ruhetag" (rest day) or "Freizeit" (vacation week) for the restaurant.

It is not a bad thing to live on church time - just a surprise for someone used to a secular calendar.  There is no pretense of separation of church and state -- rather a cluck-clucking distain for the efforts to secularize the society (Josef II in 1780s; Napoleon in 1803/1804; Hitler in 1930/40s).  Nor is there an expectation for people to live a life of "hyper-spirituality" or exhibit "holier than thou" behaviors.  No one is competing for my soul on behalf of a religion - not even the priest.
So - we have made every effort to download an annual Saints Day calendar, attended church so that we can pick up the weekly pamphlet that announces the scheduled "masses for the dead," and joined our landlords for celebrations that everyone else knew were happening but we had no idea.

And somehow, it is all okay.

Sanctuary of the church at the Cloister Seeon.

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