Meet Till Engelhard and Yves Reichenbach, two new friends with whom my son Matthew and I have been spending the past few days in Munich. They are faithful Catholics who are interested in The Benedict Option . Till and his wife Monica invited us to stay with them in Munich, and their friend Yves flew in from Geneva.
We had a wonderful time sharing beer, wine, and good food, visiting churches, meeting other friends from the Engelhard’s circle, and talking about the faith. Tobias Klein, a young Catholic journalist who writes for Die Tagespost , a German Catholic newspaper, took a six-hour train down from Berlin to meet me and talk Ben Op.
Tobias and his wife are ready to get started being the “creative minorities” that Benedict XVI said Christians must be. We talked about how local churches have a lot of properties they aren’t using. Why don’t they renovate them and turn them into rental housing for Christians who want to live in closer prayerful community? We talked about things like this. Yves is working on a project with farm families and monasteries in France. Things are going on over here. Yes, the faith faces a hard road ahead, but don’t for one second believe that there are no Christians left here. I’ve spent the past few days with some who know who they are and Whose they are.
It really is happening. We really are starting to know each other, and building these networks of friendship and mutual support. Hospitality is a Benedictine virtue, and I have never been shown more generous hospitality than the Engelhard family of Munich showed to my son and me. To know such strong and gentle Christian souls are living their lives and raising their families over here is such an encouragement to me — and to you, I hope.
I need to get that website designed and launched so we can arrange international meet-ups with Ben Op Christians who are traveling, and who may like to meet for something as simple as coffee. We in the US rarely hear about Christian life in Europe, unless it’s a story about how it’s on its last legs. But when you come here and spend time with believing families, you find hope.
“You have a home in Munich,” Till said as we left. I know he meant it. And his family has a home with mine in Louisiana. Fellowship is a precious thing. Thank you, Engelhard family! Thank you, Yves! Thank you, Tobias, and all the rest.
What a joy these days in Munich have been. I leave much encouraged about the future. We are off to Venice in a few hours. But one more thing: today we visited the grave of the Blessed Rupert Mayer , a Jesuit Catholic priest from Munich who went to prison and then to a concentration camp for standing up to Hitler. What a stunningly brave man. He is buried in a Munich church. I knelt at his grave and prayed that we would all have his courage in the days to come.