May Opening at the Original Shrine
"Mary creates a smile amid darkness and fear of the future!"
(mkf) Approximately 700 persons - Vallendar parishioners, Pallottines, and Schoenstatt Members - united for the May opening at the Original Shrine on Sunday, April 30. Following a prayer service in the Pallottines' Pilgrim Church and a candlelight procession to the Original Shrine, all gathered around the shrine to greet Mary, who - as Fr. Beller said in a short prayer - creates a smile amid darkness and fear of the future as she helps people discover the Eternal Father's personal and unconditional love.
Long before the prayer service began in the Pallottine Church, people joined in prayer at the Original Shrine, among them some children from Vallendar on the day of their first Holy Communion. A brass band practiced nearby, participants of the Schoenstatt Men's annual workshop, and Federation mothers, women from academic professions, and Schoenstatt Girls participating in various retreats and workshops held on that weekend, came and joyfully greeted friends - a joyful atmosphere everywhere.
A Place Where Thousands Find Direction
A brass band provided the music during the prayer service in the crowded Pallottine Church. Father Rummel, SAC, director of the Original Shrine, led the prayer service and greeted the three groups joined that night: parishioners from Vallendar, Schoenstatters, and Pallottine Fathers and Brothers who are soon to celebrate the 100th anniversary of their arrival in Schoenstatt in 1901.
The Annunciation Gospel was read. Father Rummel spoke about Mary as a person whose life honored the Holy Trinity and who leads us to a deeper relationship with each Divine Person. Here at her place of grace and in this Holy Year, the Mother Thrice Admirable would help those who entrust themselves to her care to better understand the love and mercy of the Triune God, to more gratefully respond to his gifts, and to honor him. Father Rummel then spoke about the meaning of God being not only one person living in relationship with all of humanity, but God being relationship in himself, living an eternal one-in-anotherness and for anotherness - as a model for human relationships. He then mentioned that Father Kentenich
realized in a very profound way, already at the beginning of the last century, that it is not abstract ideas which move people but only what is alive in their hearts, and he found Mary to be a means to plant love for the Triune God in hearts. The young students became excited about Father Kentenich's plan to ask the Blessed Mother to dwell among them in the little shrine. Today, this little shrine has become the center of an international movement, a place of pilgrimage where thousands receive special graces on their journey to the Triune God.
A smile amid the darkness and fear of the future
Mass servers and priests led the candlelight procession, with about 700 persons processing from the Pallottine church to the Original Shrine. Accompanied by the brass band, the pilgrims sang Marian songs and finally gathered round the Original Shrine. Father Beller, the leader of the German Schoenstatt Movement, invited all to look at Mary at the beginning of the month dedicated to her. Often, he said, our life will be complicated, and we will not know the direction it will take. She will then simply encourage us: "Come with me. Often I did not know what the future held for me. You are God's child like me." Mary's mission would simply be to help us on our journey home to God whom she called "Father" like Jesus did. Being convinced of his fatherly love, Mary could smile at him amid the human cry. She passes on her childlike love of this merciful Father to those who go with her. Thus, Fr. Beller said, Mary creates a smile amid darkness and fear of the future. Darkness would remain darkness, fear would remain fear - but illumined by her smile because God is a loving Father. "We often feel alone, not understood by those close to us. Then you, Mary, tell us that Jesus lives in our hearts and that we are not alone, that we have a home." In this year of grace, Mary offers us the gift of a growing confidence in God's love and mercy.
Then all renewed the Covenant of Love. The blessing was given with the monstrance, then all joined in singing: "Protect us with your mantle ..." Before returning home, many of the participants paid a short visit to the Original Shrine - remembering there all those who feel close to this place of grace.
The May opening is a tradition at many Marian shrines and places of pilgrimage, often at the same time as at the Original Shrine. In Schoenstatt, May is opened with a candlelight procession to the Original Shrine - an event sponsored by the Pallottines, the Schoenstatt
movement, and the Vallendar parish.
English edition: Joan Biemert, New Franken/WI, USA