Schönstatt - Begegnungen

His Life's Mission: To Lead People Homeward to the Triune God - Dilexit Ecclesiam

Thanksgiving, Prayer and Contemplation on the Anniversary of Father Kentenich's Death in the Year of Grace

Pater Josef Kentenich
Todestag am 15.9.1968
14.9.2000: Sr. Dr. M. Nurit Stosiek
Talk - Vortrag - Charla

15. 9. 2000
Founder Chapel

Schoenstatt members from various branches, and pilgrims, joined the talk and prayer service in the adoration church
Schönstätter aus mehreren Gliederungen und eine Gruppe Wallfahrer kamen am Vorabend zu Vortrag und Gebetszeit in die Anbetungskirche
Der Altar in der Anbetungskirche, an diesem 15. 9. mit Kelch und Stola geschmückt: Hier feierte P. Kentenich am 15. 9. 1968 die heilige Messe - seine erste in dieser Kirche und die letzte seines Lebens
Altar in the adoration church in Schoenstatt, decorated on this day with a chalice and a stole: Father Kentenich celebrated holy Mass here on September 15, 1968 - his first one in this church and the last one of his life
15.9. Pater Dr. Lothar Penners
Predigt in Blick auf die letzte heilige Messe Pater Kentenichs
Sermon in view of Father Kentenich's last holy Mass
Wallfahrer aus Belecke und Ulm auf den Spuren des letzten Tages im Leben Pater Kentenichs
Pilgrims from Belecke and Ulm walked to the places where Father Kentenich was on the last day of his life
Fotos: Fischer, PressOffice Schoenstatt, © 2000

(mkf) The day of Father Kentenich's death, September 15, was commemorated at the place where he was called home to the Eternal Father 32 years ago, in the adoration church, Schoenstatt, Germany. A vigil was held with prayer and adoration, and an inspirational talk by Sr. Nurit Stosiek on the streams of love flowing from the Triune God, mirrored in the spiritual families. Early in the morning, on September 15, more than 20 Schoenstatt Fathers from all over the world concelebrated Holy Mass attended by Schoenstatt members from all branches. Father Penner's sermon highlighted the altar in the Adoration Church, where Father Kentenich, on September 15, 1968, on the feast of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, celebrated his first holy Mass in this church - the last one of his life. All day, people filed into the Founder Chapel and Adoration Church to pray and express their attachment to Father Kentenich.

As it has been each year, the place where Father Kentenich died on the floor of the former sacristy was decorated with white lilies and carnations. Long before the vigil began at 7:30 p.m., people came to pray by Father Kentenich's tomb and remember all those who could not physically be there. Like Anna: "Spiritually, I'm in the Founder Chapel the whole day, remembering Father Kentenich's presence there. But he is also here in Canada."

"Doesn't one have to kneel at a place where the heart of a person took its final direction - homeward ?" Quoting this saying, Fr Penners explained what makes the Founder Chapel so special for thousand of people. The words woven into the simple carpet indicating the place where he was called home to the Eternal Father – "Our way leads homeward to the Father" – are understood, touching the innermost longing of each person. This longing was unfolded by Sr. M. Nurit in her talk during the vigil: Father Kentenich's mission was to lead Schoenstatt, the Church, and many people into the streams of love flowing from the Triune God.

"To Rekindle My Love"

This process of being loved and of rekindling one’s love, the first love, was the theme of Sr. Nurit's presentation and the prayer time in the vigil on September 14. Schoenstatt members from various branchhes, and several pilgrims and visitors, came to the Adoration Church that night to begin the anniversary of Father Kentenich's death together. "Our Founder's goal was to lead his family and the whole church to understand by experience the mystery of the Triune Love," she said. "Referring to the morning consecration from 'Heavenwards', he once said that at the 'morning', at the beginning of the newest time, also, our first thoughts and affection should be directed towards the Triune God and his unending love – to joyfully greet Him, and to thus rekindle our love."

Father Kentenich's aim was, that each one would experience to being Special for God, personally loved. This would free people to really be themselves. But he aimed further: "His vision was that not only would each individual be touched by the streams of love from the Triune God, but that the 'new community' would mirror the streams of love flowing within the Triune God as a spiritual family." To live "new community" as a family, would, however, neither mean constant harmony nor ethical perfection. Instead, it is the challenge "to see the radiance of grace in human limitations." Father Kentenich marvelled at the beautiful place in each human being, in each community, in his Family. – He would give us this way of seeing each other and each community. The prayers were about the Song of the Home, (Heavenwards), picking up the theme of the talk. Time for personal meditation, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, made for a joyful and deep atmosphere.

The Altar of his Last Holy Mass

The altar where Father Kentenich celebrated his last holy Mass on September 15, 1968, was the focus of Father Dr. Lothar Penners' sermon in the Holy Mass celebrated early in the morning of September 15 in memory of Father Kentenich. The solemn entrance of more than 20 Schoenstatt Fathers and deacons from all over the world – many of them participants in an international tertianship – highlighted the festive character of this day. "United as his Family", as Father Penners stated, they and all the participants gathered round this altar. The early Christians, Father Penners said, had small wooden altars in order to distinguish them from the mighty altars used by the pagan worshippers and for the sacrifices of the Old Testament. Only later, when the Roman and Gothic cathedrals were built, bigger altars of stone were put into the Christian churches.

In his liturgical retreats, Father Kentenich had often spoken about the altar as a symbol of Christ, who is the sacrifice, the priest, and the "place" of the sacrifice in one. "With Christ being the altar, Mary is the sanctuary," Father Penners added.

Father Penners then picked up a sentence of recently beatified Pope John XXIII. During his illness before his death, he said: "My bed is my altar now. I clearly see before me my life, my soul, my priesthood, the Vatican Council, the Church." Father Kentenich is reported to have contemplated a lot during the last weeks of his life – he also saw clearly his life and mission, his priesthood, Schoenstatt, the Church. His last holy Mass could be seen as a summary of his life as a priest and as a founder, leading home to the Triune God in eternal praises. Celebrating Father Kentenich's call home to the Eternal Father in this Holy Year would focus our attention on the Year of Grace and the praise of the Holy Trinity. Father Kentenich would not only see the sacrifice, but also the call us to go with joy and hope into the new millennium.

Father Kentenich - Active and Involved

"Father Kentenich is not just another St. Anthony, a helper in all the little needs," Father Penners added. "Of course he wants and loves to help in all these needs, and we should not quit asking him. But if he has the mission we are convinced he has, he is also active and involved regarding all the urgent issues of Society and Church, the present and the future one." He wanted his family to answer these questions under his guidance. At the same time, he would encourage them to see and give thanks for the ‘in breaks’ of grace in this Holy Year, which could also be seen as the "dawn" of some of Schoenstatt's visions. Father Penners mentioned the Holy Father's trip to the Holy Land, combining this with Father Kentenich's urge to help the Church to live out of its origins. The World Youth Day gave the amazing experience that this old, fragile Pope could gather and enthuse the youth of all continents for Christ and for the mission to build the Church. Father Kentenich said already decades before, that the mission of the Blessed Mother from her Schoenstatt Shrines all over the world would be to gather and enthuse committed people from all nations to carry on the mission of the Church.

Father Kentenich, Father Penners continued, was filled with joy and hope, and at the same time realistic – he knew the problems of this time, of the Church. Like him and with him, we as Schoenstatt family should see the tensions and difficulties and the sometimes deplorable state of the Church. "Father Kentenich is involved, he is ready to give his contribution also today!"

A Day of Deeper Attachment - All Over the World.

All day, people came to the Founder Chapel and to the Adoration Church. The altar there was decorated with a chalice and a stole. In the afternoon, 100 pilgrims from Belecke, and about 60 pilgrims from Ulm walked the ways Father Kentenich had walked on his last day. This meditative procession ended in the Adoration Church. Later in the afternoon, another holy Mass, attended by many pilgrims and visitors, was celebrated there.

In a Chilean Schoenstatt family's homeshrine, a candle was lit on this 15th of September "in memory of our dear Father and Founder, reminding us to pray for his canonization. The candle burnt all day. But we are also very much aware that his canonization depends a lot on us, too. Today, we are remembering Father Kentenich with deeper love and attachment. Tonight, we'll have a Holy Mass in his memory."

English edition: Marlene Peter, Harare, Zimbawe


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