When there’s partridge, have partridge!

Interview with Fatherr Jodok Müller

Those who went to mass in Lech know: Father Jodok Müller is popular because he doesn’t shy away from touchy subjects. Which is why we were looking forward to this interview all the more – and we were not disappointed.

L.L.

Let’s get straight to the point: Do you as a priest have any taboo topics?

​J.M.

No, neither earthly nor spiritual. Of course I do not publicly speak about intimate details of my life but apart from that there are no topics I shy away from.

L.L.

You were appointed to Lech at the Arlberg several years ago. The jackpot for a priest?

​J.M.

The parish of St. Nikolaus which comprises Zürs, Zug and Lech is quite renowned. Luckily I became aware of the open post in time and back then I took a lot of time to think about it, to consult others and in the end I did not regret coming here. At the beginning I did say though: I’m only staying for a year. A tourism location is of course something special, one has to live in both worlds, in the low and in the high season. It is a great parish!

Pfarrer Jodok Müller
Pfarrer Jodok Müller

L.L.

Are you a gourmet?

​J.M.

Yes, I am indeed, even though that’s quite expensive. The quality is important because that which we eat and drink goes to the centre of our bodies and thus directly to the soul. And when there are artists who make food into something beautiful and tasty and one gets to enjoy this, life becomes even more beautiful. I remember the old Christian tradition where it says: “When you fast, fast. When there’s partrige, have partrige” So celebrations are celebrations and our palate should notice that too.

L.L.

How much material luxury can a priest permit himself?

​J.M.

As much as he can afford. The official salary of a catholic is priest is not terribly high. I allow myself a car with all wheel drive and I have a great official apartment in Lech. CDs, books, concerts, clothing and skiing gear I am thankfully able to afford. I am very content with what I have.

L.L.

And how much self-will? Catchword Helmut Schüller.

Heilige Messe in Lech
Heilige Messe in Lech

J.M.

Every human needs a bit of self-will. Otherwise one would be other-directed. I think it’s not a bad thing that nowadays there are groups and people in the church that indulge in their own self-will. I do not want to become obstinate though, that’s a negative qualification. The priests’ initiative that simply says: “We as priests see things differently” is ok with me. And I would very much suggest the higher levels of the church listen closely.

L.L.

Are your sermons different when tourists are present?

J.M.

Well instead of speaking in dialect I try to speak a clean German or maybe even English. I pay attention to my listeners: How do I get my message across? When there are winter tourists present and it was a nice and sunny day, I naturally make reference to that. And when the church is full of chefs or couples in love because it’s Valentine’s day, I also try to adapt my sermon to the crowd.

L.L.

Sometimes, in winter, do you pray for snow?

J.M.

We officially pray for a good winter season each year on November 11, we pray for the right weather during the coming winter. This year some people suggested we go on a pilgrimage to Bürstegg in order to make the snow stop and the cold lessen.

L.L.

And in summer, do you pray for good marriages? Lech is a popular wedding background...

J.M.

Yes, I do pray for good marriages. That’s a very important topic in our lives and good relationships transport a lot of happiness into our daily life. That’s important for me and I especially pray for the relationships to work out that were married in Lech.

L.L.

“You may kiss the bride”. How many times have you said that?

J.M.

Actually this is not part of the catholic wedding liturgy but the relatives often want me to say it. Most couples kiss anyway after saying “Yes, I do”. And if someone wants it, I say ‚The groom may kiss the bride now’. The kiss after a wedding is a nice thing and we like our weddings here in Lech. Together with the church music and edel.weiss we strive to give people a very special wedding environment.

L.L.

How do you prepare couples for the sacrament?

J.M.

Well at first there are the bureaucratic preparations. At first a wedding takes place on paper. Forms and documents have to be compiled. The church obviously likes to make sure it’s a monogamous marriage – so one has to prove one is unmarried. The wedding protocol contains a lot of very factual questions on rights and duties to make sure there are no nasty surprises later. Of course, how one’s life turns out is always open. Us humans we are not mere stones, we are alive and develop constantly. Then we prepare the mass, with music, text, clothing and so on.

L.L.

What if the couple has resigned from the church?

J.M.

Well if both partners have resigned, a wedding in a church does not make a lot of sense. If one of the partners is baptized and part of the church though, we find a way. There is the so-called dispensation or wedding to a resigned partner. These kinds or weddings are obviously celebrated like all the others. The resigned partner has to confirm with their signature though that they do not oppose a catholic lifestyle in their marriage.

L.L.

After the ceremony enthusiastic bridal couples that tie the knot in the old church of Lech make their way through cheers and the cemetery. A specialty or rather a scurrility?

J.M.

There church has been there for 600 years. Most of the bridal couples see beforehand that the cemetery surrounds the church. The only possibility to avoid it would be to order a helicopter and leave the church through the tower. No one has done this before though. The symbol, that all bridal couples have to pass by the dead to reach everyday life, is not that bad. And essentially the cemetery is a sea of flowers.

L.L.

Now, at the end, let us turn things around. What was the most difficult question you were ever asked?

J.M.

Mostly there are two questions that really touch my soul. Why did you not marry your girlfriend back then? And: Why did you become a priest? These are questions that are not as easy to answer as: Why are you wearing this tie today? There were a great number of reasons and motivations and up until now the path I have chosen has made me happy.