That the Vision become Each Christian's Mission
"With Mary For a Missionary Church" -- May Opening in Schoenstatt
(mkf) "We are talking about the mission written into the hearts of the Christians: Your Kingdom Come! People searching for light and hope will find us when we, like Mary, together devote ourselves to constant prayer." Inspired by these words from the sermon given by Pallottine Father Alexander Dinsberg, Schoenstatt members, friends and parishioners from Vallendar began the month of May – commemorated as the month of Mary in Germany and several countries – on the eve of May 1 around the Original Shrine in Schoenstatt. The motto of the May opening, "With Mary for a Missionary Church," was taken from the German Bishops' recent letter. Approximately 500 people (among them 38 Schoenstatt mothers from Spain on pilgrimage to Schoenstatt) joined in praying and singing of God's love like Mary on that beautiful spring evening.
The brass band from the Pallottine High School and College in Rheinbach provided the music for the prayer service in the Pallottine Church. Over 300 people filled every free place in the church. The parish priest of Vallendar, Fr. Mayer, and Fr. Beller, Movement Leader of the German Schoenstatt Movement, led the prayer service together with Fr. Dinsberg SAC. In his sermon, Fr. Dinsberg inspired all to follow the example of Mary, the great missionary, to be missionaries of God's love. His sermon was based on the words from the Acts of the Apostles describing the waiting for the Holy Spirit: "Together they devoted themselves to constant prayer." A Pentecost picture from the window of the house chapel in the Old House was a fitting illustration for his practical applications of these words.
The Strength to Remain – also in Situations of Disappointment and Hurt
Referring to the "constant" prayer of the disciples, Father Dinsberg spoke on the importance of the strength to remain; that would not mean to be stubborn, to withdraw into a niche or to "wait and see what happens" but it means the active strength to remain, to not give up and withdraw in situations of disappointment, of discouragement, in situations of being misunderstood, in situations of tensions and hurt. It would also mean to stand firm for values and ideals that were actually worthy of being defended. As the Church would have lost the wide acceptance of former times, this attitude of "remaining" would be important. Mary would be the model of this attitude, a strong woman who never gave up her mission.
The Courage of Persons with a Mission
How this attitude of "remaining" would be lived would be illustrated by two other key expressions of this verse, Father Dinsberg added, one of them being: together, or, unanimously. The Original Greek word used in this verse, he said, had also the notion of "courage"– the courage to fight for something that one wanted to achieve. Mary, walking the mountains and visiting with Elizabeth, showed the courage of a person with a mission – she overcame all obstacles to proclaim the good news. She wanted to bring the God of dialogue, and she sang of God's love and faithfulness forever, the song of her vision and mission. "Are we rich enough in our faith that we can sing a song of God's love?" The practical application: The way we talk with each other and to others should be marked by the courage of persons with a mission, marked by zeal and love for the mission.
The Vision Written in Our Hearts: Your Kingdom Come!
"In prayer," Father Dinsberg continued, the disciples waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Praying would neither mean many nor intelligent words, and would also not mean to escape reality. Two of Mary's prayers are known to us, "Our Father" and the "Magnificat," and both of them should keep Christians restless and concerned. Both of these prayers would speak of the vision written in our hearts: "Your Kingdom Come!" The crisis of the Church is not caused by the negative condition of politics and society, of economy nor the deterioration of humankind in general – but it is a crisis from within because instead of doing what is necessary to make this vision each Christian's mission, too much energy would be wasted on "circling around ourselves and self-pity". He concluded: "People searching for God and for light and hope will find us when we, like Mary, remain united in prayer!"
Living in the Light
After the prayer service, a candlelight procession headed to the Original Shrine, all joining in singing Marian songs accompanied by the brass band. From all directions then - also from Mount Schoenstatt with a separate procession – people came to the Original Shrine. Up to 500 people finally stood around this place of grace, candles in their hands. In a prayer to Mary, Father Beller said: "Mary, Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen of the Apostles – sometimes we simply have enough, and when you are close, we go on. You make us go on when we have enough with our family, when we have enough with people getting on our nerves, when we have enough with ourselves. When we come close to you, Mary, we go on, we remain where and what and who you asked us to be. When you look at us, we see that we are united with someone, that someone is at our side, and that gives us the courage and strength to go on. And then we see the light, and we simply go on no matter what. We live in the light. Mary, touch us and give us the strength to remain so that we feel God in our hearts." All joined in a prayer for the strength and courage to be missionaries of God's love.
The "Schoenstatt Feeling" – United With People Whom One Never Saw Before
After the Eucharistic blessing and "Protect Us With Your Mantle," the formal program ended, giving way to the more informal part of greeting the Blessed Mother in her Shrine and each other. Some sisters from Burundi in Africa sang songs for Mary in Kirundi, beating the drum in the typical African style. The benches near the Original Shrine came in handy for 38 Schoenstatt Mothers from Spain who are on a pilgrimage in Schoenstatt. They started their own Marian sing-along with Spanish Schoenstatt songs. Soon Schoenstatt members from
the Dominican Republic, from South America (and also a few from Germany) joined in the singing. A young woman from the Cologne Schoenstatt Family Branch came for the first time to the May opening: "It is this special Schoenstatt feeling! Here are people who I never met before, who I would never have met without Schoenstatt, with whom I cannot speak a word – and with whom I simply feel united in the same Covenant of Love, with the same ideas. The Blessed Mother must sincerely enjoy this!" This lady obviously enjoys it. For a long time people kept going to the Original Shrine on this beautiful spring night. It was just the opening. On May 13, the Schoenstatt May Sunday, they and many others are invited again to come to Schoenstatt and praise Mary with songs and flowers during the Marian sing-along in the Adoration Church when all the missionaries of the Pilgrim Mother Campaign are invited to bring the Pilgrim Mother pictures and when all will ask Mary to go with them to be a more missionary church.
English edition: Joan Biemert, New Franken, USA
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