Praying Amidst the Chaos - SMS to Mary
Professional Women Looking for a Style of Prayer for the Workplace
(mkf) To take a breather - and then return to everyday life in order to place this life in God's love, and to place God's love in everyday life. That was the reason for 22 professional women to join a silent retreat in Schoenstatt, March 5 -11, 2001. The subject was "Praying amidst the chaos." The goal was to find a style of prayer that could be used during the workday. Agenda items that gave incentives for life were the Holy Mass as a feast of joy, looking back at the personal Covenant history, group recitation of the rosary and the idea of the SMS (Short Message Service) to Mary.
For Gabriele Sudermann, a pharmacist, the silence was important. "For three days nobody asks you for anything You have time to be with God and look back at your personal Covenant history. And then, you don't need any other ideas!" A 43-year-old kindergarten teacher came because the subject was challenging. "I learned to concentrate on what is essential, and to not only rely on my own strength," she said. "I wantted to center my everyday lif again on God and the Blessed Mother," Martina Rasch said. Like her, several others felt badly for not taking time enough for prayer and so often forgetting about God in the chaos of each day's workplace challenges.
SMS to the Blessed Mother
"The idea of the SMS to God and to the Blessed Mother will surely help me," said Monika Hillebrand. The Short Message Service (SMS) of the cell phones as a prayer idea – Instead of waiting for the hour-long "phone call" with Jesus (that too often falls through due to lack of time and tiredness), the idea came up to send SMS's again and again like "Do you see me?" or "Thank you!" or "I am so tired!" or "Help me not to lose my temper!" Another important insight was "to always be united with all who belong to Schoenstatt when we pray in the Covenant of Love, whether we are in our Homeshrine or at the workplace. We imagined that very practically others from our community or those with whom we unite in prayer walk with us through our workplaces and that we are with them." In his talks and sermons, Father Mosbach had often quoted verses from Heavenwards. "We are united in the Shrine ..." – this one from the morning prayer had a special impact.
My workplace - a Shrine
For some time, the professional women have focused on their workplace as the main place of their apostolate. There, the Covenant of Love is to make a difference; therefore the idea to not only work or do apostolic deeds there but to give Mary the possibility to work, to work miracles of grace by giving contributions to the Capital of Grace and ask her to "dwell" in the workplace like in the Shrine. That changes the perspective: "I have a mission in my workplace! The Blessed Mother wants to build her Shrine in my workplace, she wants to draw youthful hearts to herself there!" Martina Rasch is excited. "Mary is present in each work situation, as she is present in the Shrine. She wants to give gifts and graces if I try to live out of my Covenant of Love." Christel Hitzges, a nurse from Essen made her first Schoenstatt retreat. She now has the desire "to invite Mary into the place where I work, to know that she is already there, waiting for me, no matter how I feel." Mareike has belonged to Schoenstatt for six years, but this retreat brought a totally new insight. "Mary wants to live in the chaos of my life! That changes the chaos."
The Holy Mass - a Feast of Joy
Barbara Herbrand, a church musician, gave a talk about the Holy Mass as a feast of joy. Petra Ververs said, "She was so enthusiastic that we were inspired as well. It's true - Holy Mass is Jesus' personal invitation to me to join in his feast of joy, to celebrate the Covenant history of the people of God and my personal Covenant history." Gabriele Sudermann said, "I am looking forward to celebrating Holy Mass as a very personal encounter of love between God and me!"
Looking back at one's own Covenant History
A simple thought from the introduction to the retreat became the "red thread" of the retreat - the inspiration to look back at one's own Covenant history. "We were encouraged to write down our own Covenant history in view of the ideal of our community, the Dachau Shrine," said Petra Ververs. "That was enough for three full days!" Heidi Stepanek summarized what many experienced: "My personal Covenant history began already before I got to know Schoenstatt. And step by step the Blessed Mother got me there!" Looking back at how the Blessed Mother "got them there" was an inspiration for the future. Gabriele Sudermann said, "I am looking forward to the next chapter of my Covenant history!" A practical way of sharing the highlights of one's own Covenant history is the so-called "hour of the favorite child." What each one tries to do privately each day then takes place in community – to see the special love of God, of the Blessed Mother, in the life of each one and of the community. "It is special when we do this in the Founder Chapel with Father Kentenich. We simply share the experience of being a favorite child with him, we tell him where we experienced God's love. One begins, another one continues. Sometimes we listen to small events, sometimes to fun stories, sometimes to moving experiences. And while someone is sharing I often think, that's exactly what I experienced. It becomes more alive. And often we have a time of silence. That's the most precious time – then we share only with the Blessed Mother and Father Kentenich."
The Rosary of the Open Shrine
During the retreat, the professional women wrote the names of loved ones, of friends, and co-workers on sheets of paper that were taken along to Holy Mass, to adoration, and to the Founder Chapel and Original Shrine. A special experience was once again the group recitation of "Rosary of the Open Shrine": "I will pray the rosary at home more often because the group of the rosary was so beautiful. For each decade, we included intentions and petitions in view of the Open Shrine. Our co-workers, our fellow citizens, all those with whom we live, the international Schoenstatt family, and the people from the TV news have a place in the Open Shrine. Our rosary on the first day, for example, was for the people in Senegal who will receive the Pilgrim Mother, for all those who ever were on a pilgrimage to Dachau with us, for all those who visit "schoenstatt.de," for the co-workers of two of us, and for all who take the Pilgrim Mother to others." Gabriele Sudermann said, "We don't want to ignore our everyday life when we are in Schoenstatt but take this world into the Shrine. We want to open the doors of the Shrine for all. My co-workers would never go to the Shrine, but I take them there when we pray the rosary for them. And when I am back at my workplace, that will make a difference."
On Saturday morning, the retreat closed with the Covenant Renewal in the Original Shrine. The ladies placed the envelopes with their Covenant history in the jar in the Original Shrine and gave a red rose as the sign of their personal Covenant renewal. Some received their Covenant medals or rings anew. During the afternoon, an outing in the rain was made to Ruedesheim -Eibingen to the tomb of St. Hildegard, ending with a casual get-together in one of Ruedesheim's typical wine restaurants.
English edition: Joan Biemert, New Franken, Wisconsin, US
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