The highlight of our trip to Cologne was the Cathedral. We visited the Cathedral twice, once as tourists and once to worship. Attending High Mass at the Cologne Cathedral was my first time attending a Catholic service and there were some similarities that I noticed with Protestant services. These included the reading of various church liturgy, singing of hymns to organ, communal prayers, and a sermon: not unlike a conservative, Protestant service. The largest difference was the burning of incense throughout the service, which, after a discussion with another student, I learned was a denial of the efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ. In the Old Testament, incense was burnt by the Israelites as a humble offering to God to cover the stench of their sin, a practice that should have ended with Christ’s resurrection. Instead, this practice was continued by the Catholic Church, implying that Christ’s sacrifice was incomplete in some way, as our sins apparently still need to covered. But while this practice began this way, today it is only tradition to most people.
After the service was over, the Cathedral returned to its normal state: filled with tourists. It was weird to think that this building that was built for worship (it was built mostly as a competition between principalities, but it’s purpose is worship) is now more a tourist attraction. I can only hope that the magnificence of the Cathedral points people’s hearts to God, but I fear it is no more than an old building to most. Despite this, I still found the splendor of the Cathedral to be a foretaste of God’s glory, for if something man-made can be so awe-inspiring, how much more glorious is our flawless and omnipotent God.