Mass in Dachau

June 17, 2021

A priest who was in the German prison camp Dachau describes the Mass after all the German guards were in bed. He said, “Our lives were in danger if we were ever discovered. A young priest had to memorize the names of all of those who had received communion, but it was forbidden for us to gather in groups for prayer. After night call and bed check, we would set our guards, darken the windows, and the lucky one to be chosen to celebrate for this momentous occasion would carefully brush his pathetic prison garb, put the stole over his shoulders, and by the small light of his smuggled candle begin the commemoration of that other great Passion of which our own was the physical continuation. We could understand the Mass. All that could crowd into the room were there, tears of joy running down our cheeks.  Christ the Lord, who knew what suffering was, was coming to suffer with us, to bring us strength and consolation. The small hosts were broken into as many particles as possible so the greatest number could communicate. We had to keep a secret roster of those who received. We missed some of the liturgy perhaps, but I think that God looked down into that prison room and found a particularly refreshing response to his cry of love from the cross, ‘I thirst.’ There was nothing that could keep us from doing all in our power to be closer to God.”