Since this morning is the Second Sunday of Advent I decided to make church a high priority. First I went to the Kreuzkirche, the Evangelische, that is the Lutheran Church, for their morning service. The trombones and trumpets performed beautiful advent musical selections from Mendelssohn, Schutz, Eccard, Rutter, Handel, and vigorous congregational singing of traditional Advent hymns from which I derive such joy and spiritual benefit.
At the conclusion I had a delightful walk to the Hofkirche that is the Catholic cathedral and when I walked in I was overjoyed because it was overflowing and I had to stand, and I was 10 minutes early. Although Mass was in German I felt right at home with the Latin chants. What a wonderful church where you feel at home. Of course great congregational singing accompanied by the Gottfried Silbermann organ. It was stunning but more stunning was the men-and-boys’ choir.
The Dresden bombing of 1945 when 25,000 residents were killed that night was ever present on my mind all through Mass. This church was leveled but reconstructed in all its glory and filled with believers. Hope is what Advent is all about.
There was a chapel in the cathedral dedicated to all those innocent men, women and children whose lives went up in flames that night. The memorial is explicit in that it reminds us we can only obtain peace through Christ. And on the wall were the names of 30 priests in the Dresden diocese who suffered because of their resistance to the Nazis. There is also a chapel to a priest of that diocese who has now been beatified. He was murdered on 3 February 1943 by the Nazis and as the pamphlet reminded us, Blessed Alojs Andritzki was with 1000 priests at Dachau. We must not forget the heroic witness of so many Christians. He was beatified and on 14 June 2011 his ashes were transfered to the cathedral in the presence of 11,000 people. What a witness to faith incarnate in the life of a man who resisted evil even to point of giving up his life.
Wandering around the city was delightful but also pensive in that the night of the carpet bombing was ever present in my mind. How quickly a cultural heritage can go up in flames with the slaughter of innocent lives and yet there is hope as this Sunday proclaims.
Then back to Kreuzkirche for an organ concert of selections from Bach, Messiaen, and Buxtehude. All day I have heard variations on “How Brightly Beams the Morning Star.” After the concert the bells were pealing, the air brisk so I decided to go to evening Mass at the Hofkirche. The church and its fine instrument are attractive however a church full of people singing great Advent hymns is even more appealing. I was not disappointed. Once again a full church with vigorous hymn singing. This has been a wonderful second Sunday of Advent in Dresden.