Melk (not Milk)

I got into Gaming, Austria on Sunday for my semester abroad. It’s looking like it’s going to be a great semester! Yesterday, we had the opportunity to go to Melk, a small town in Austria. We visited a very old Benedictine monastery that had been a palace before being a monastery. The monastery is the length of two football fields, 100_0472covered in lots of gold. Because we couldn’t take pictures with a flash, a good number of my pictures didn’t come out very well. However, even if I had been able to use a flash, I’m sure that the photos would not have come close to doing justice to the beauty of that building. There were relics of various saints, and beautiful chalices and other priestly instruments that were centuries old. There were medieval copies of the Rule of St. Benedict. There was a library consisting of something around 12 rooms filled with tens of thousands of ancient and medieval texts, in a variety of languages. We could only see two of the rooms (and we could not take pictures). Though, I could not begin to fathom the storehouse of language in which I stood.

We were able to take a tour of the museum within the monastery, going through rooms decorated with some of the most intricate and beautiful works of art. I just wanted to perpetually gaze at these works of art. We went out on a terrace, which gave us a beautiful view of the town of Melk, which sits right on the Danube River. Going through the library, I thirsted for knowledge. Being surrounded by innumerable texts with words arranged in the right order to provide insights to truth and beauty, I desired to sit there and consume all of the knowledge contained in all of those books – the books ranging in subjects from law to medicine, from philosophy to theology. The works around which I had been surrounded were written by men and women with bases of immense knowledge. Even just thinking about reading these early editions of their texts brought joy to my heart.

After the library, we made our way down to the abbey church. Oh. My. Gosh. Words could not come close to describing the beauty of that House of God. The works of art painted on those walls and ceilings, those gold statues of the holy men and 100_0495women who have had relationships with God for which I could only dream – they brought me to my knees, both literally and figuratively. Standing in that church, I felt truly small. I cannot fully comprehend WHY I felt small. However, my heart and mind were truly turned to God; I found myself face-to-face with the infinite. I, a sinful and imperfect human being, found myself in the presence the good and perfect God, the infinite Being to Whom I owe my existence. While God is truly present in any church dedicated to God – body and blood, soul and divinity truly present in a Catholic church –, each church can make us feel our finitude, experience God’s infinitude. We had the opportunity to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the church. That church can truly humble a person, bringing them to their knees. ‘Melk’ comes from a Slavic word that means ‘border.’ In that church, I truly found myself on a border – the border between finite man on Earth and infinite God in Heaven. Nothing can humble a person better than finding themselves in the presence of pure Perfection.

“While you may want to just take pictures,
the best way to experience a church
is on your knees.”

 -Elisa Raubach


Duc In Altum


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: What I Learned in Austria Is… | Eärendil Star

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