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Benedictine Hospitality In Germany

Till Engelhard and Yves Reichenbach

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 [1]. 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 [2], a German Catholic newspaper, took a six-hour train down from Berlin to meet me and talk Ben Op.

Tobias Klein and Area Man

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 [3], 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.

9 Comments (Open | Close)

9 Comments To "Benedictine Hospitality In Germany"

#1 Comment By Charles Cosimano On June 16, 2017 @ 9:25 pm

I hope that if ever I have the courage to do something that might get me killed that I have the good sense to ignore it.

#2 Comment By jasper On June 16, 2017 @ 10:14 pm

Based on the many photos of you (and others) hoisting a stein, the Benedict Option will not require its adherents to give up beer in forswearing the ways of the world.

jasper

#3 Comment By Elisabeth On June 17, 2017 @ 2:25 am

A wonderful report from Munich, thank you. Yes, Europe is of course still a Christian continent but expanding Islam, the parallell Muslim societies within Europe, makes me very worried. I want to keep Europe as we know it, great culture, architecture,history, ideas and beliefs. I wonder what your German friends said about it, I am sure you discussed it, I mean, Frau Merkel opened the borders in an absurd way 2015. And so did our PM. I am, by the way, Swedish.
I look forward to your reporting on Venice, I was there earlier this year, will be interesting to compare with your impressions.

#4 Comment By OMM 0910 On June 17, 2017 @ 7:34 am

Could it be that the social lubricant of alcohol will be the key to the future success of Benedict Option communities? Should said communities be built around breweries?

#5 Comment By Rocky On June 17, 2017 @ 7:40 am

“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?”

This is the kind of question that is driving lots of creative experimentation in certain quarters of mainline Protestantism in the U.S. as well.

#6 Comment By Potato On June 17, 2017 @ 9:07 am

Yes, the faith faces a hard road ahead, but don’t for one second believe that there are no Christians left here.

This is apparently a new discovery?

Only people who don’t spend any time in Europe think there are “no Christians left” there. And European Christians aren’t all candidates for the Benedict Option either. My daughter, in her 40’s, is a member of an active parish in the Netherlands. Her pastor and her parish are quietly going about their business of being Christians without the fanfare or the labels. It is nearly always inaccurate to generalize.

#7 Comment By Bill Murphy On June 17, 2017 @ 11:09 am

Thanks, Rod. If I remember correctly, Blessed Rupert is entombed in the crypt of that beautiful church about five minutes’ walk west of Marienplatz, walking along the main pedestrianised street towards Karlplatz. The crypt is lined with Stations of the Cross, with the figures about half life size. He survived the war but never lived to see his beloved city rebuilt from war time devastation.

[NFR: He is entombed there. I knelt at his tomb and thanked God for his courageous witness, and asked Bl. Rupert to pray for all Christians to show the same bravery if we are put to the test. — RD]

#8 Comment By Chris C. On June 17, 2017 @ 7:12 pm

Reading this, I am reminded of a certain piece of Franklinian wisdom: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” To which I say: Amen!

#9 Comment By Lauren On June 21, 2017 @ 5:02 pm

Glad to see that you enjoyed your time in Munich! It’s a wonderful city.

“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.”

I have the impression that the American perspective on faith in Europe is pretty out of touch with the reality on the ground. I can obviously only speak to my experience, but I can say that my husband and I were baptized into the Catholic Church in Germany several years ago as part of a very active student congregation. Multiple other baptisms during our time there, and a few acquaintances from this congregation have followed vocations or are contemplating doing so. Not such a dismal picture.