"Open Shrine" – Experiences of Mutual Enrichment on a Weekend in Schoenstatt
Opening the Doors of the Original Shrine, the Founder Chapel, and my Own Heart
(mkf) "A network of Love to be created from the Shrine" – for the Professional Women from Northern Germany. This motto of the German Schoenstatt Movement becomes a reality in the "Open Shrine," the Shrine not restricted by walls, open for all. They want to be and work for the Open Shrine in their workplaces, in Schoenstatt, and everywhere. During their retreat on the first weekend in May they put into practice what they pray and strive for often: opening the doors of the Original Shrine, the Founder Chapel, and of their own heart.
"We are excited about the 'Open Shrine.' We talk about it and strive for it; then it's a thrilling experience to suddenly be in the middle of what 'Open Shrine' means - and just when I am sealing my Covenant of Love in view of membership and blank check surrender!" The woman who is bubbling over with joy and excitement is walking back from the Original Shrine after a somewhat "disorganized" bi-lingual Covenant Mass with 30 or so Chileans and 15 German Professional Women. "We had planned differently, of course, but this was to me a real gift!" For a couple of years, the idea of the "Open Shrine" motivated the younger generation of the Schoenstatt Women's League in Northern Germany. Ever since the Dachau pilgrimage in summer 2000, the women have been on fire for the "Open Shrine."- "We always had a strong sense for the International," shared their leader, Gabriele Sudermann. "On our Dachau pilgrimages and also at many other meetings, people from other countries joined us; and we always experienced the mutual enrichment when we shared the streams of life."
Opening the Doors of The Shrine for All
"Open Shrine -- that means to be interested in all those who belong to Schoenstatt; it means to open the Shrine - no matter which one, most of all one's own heart, because it is a matter of attitude - for all, not to close the door to anyone; to include many persons in our prayers, especially the rosary. And then, when 30 people from Chile are standing in front of the Shrine when we want to begin our Covenant Mass, it's clear to invite them to join in!" Saturday, May 5, 2001, 9:50 AM. When the group came to the Original Shrine, a group from Chile was waiting there to have Holy Mass. No time to think about the reason. Ten minutes later the Holy Mass began with prayers, songs, and readings in Spanish and German. Father Erwin Hinder gave a sermon in German about the meaning of the Covenant of Love. A representative of the German Professional Women gave a short explanation - in Spanish - about the white and yellow roses that the Germans gave to all who were in the Shrine. The roses were to be the sign of the Covenant Love with Mary, the Mother Thrice Admirable, a sign of gratitude and renewed faithfulness. Each one walked forward, placing the rose by the altar, thus expressing the renewal of her Covenant. In a very uncomplicated way, the Chileans (a group on pilgrimage to various European Marian places of pilgrimage) did likewise. Only two or three of them had known Schoenstatt before.
An Inspiring Discovery
The women remembered very well the "retreat of many people," as one put it, in spring 1997, the beginning of this life stream. At the opening of the retreat, they had written down the names of all those whom they wanted to include in the graces of the days spent in Schoenstatt. Since then, persons from the workplace, their own family, parish, Schoenstatt, persons about whose joys and sorrows they knew from personal contacts, via Internet or TV news, hardly have a chance to escape their prayers and gifts for them, often expressed with a rose given to the MTA representing a person. "Just at the beginning of this year when we had begun to reflect more about what had simply begun and developed in life, we made an inspiring discovery through 'schoenstatt.de' -- we learned that we are not the only ones to work with the 'Open Shrine'," said Gabriele Sudermann. The Schoenstatt Movement in Argentina began some years earlier, with the growing number of pilgrims coming to the Shrine through the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign, to work with the idea of the "Open Shrine," that was part of the year's motto for several years. "For us," they heard, "it is a great joy to share this stream of life and grace with the Professional Women and to be spiritually united with them. That means to live according to our commitment to open the doors of the Shrine for all - the doors of the National Shrine, the Daughter Shrines, the homeshrines,
he wayside shrines, or our own heart shrines- that are all united with our 'common home,' the Original Shrine!"
Rosary of the Open Shrine - with Candles and Roses
In the evening the women had a private hour in the Founder Chapel by the tomb of Father Kentenich. Like always when they get together, they planned to pray the rosary in community for all the persons whom they want to include in the "Open Shrine," the Shrine not restricted by walls. Already the night before, some of them had brought up an idea inspired by a picture they had found on the Internet in an article from Argentina - the illuminated rosary with a candle and a rose placed for each Hail Mary. "This is so beautiful, and is so much 'ours.' Can't we do that also in this way?" Not only because they didn't have the time to buy candles but because it fit the moment, they bought 60 candles from the Original Shrine and took them to the Founder Chapel on that night. In the course of an hour, an illuminated rosary was formed on the sarcophagus, with each light and rose representing persons or groups of persons included in the prayer: the pilgrims from Chile, a South African baby diagnosed with a tumor, the babies at risk visited by the Pilgrim MTA in Argentina, several bosses, co-workers, siblings, all those "Argentinean friends" working for the Open Shrine, the Pope on his travels, all those who visit Schoenstatt via Internet, and many more who will never be met in person but in the Open Shrine, where "Schoenstatt meets everyday life!"
"The photo of the Illuminated Rosary is in my home Shrine," one of the women shared some days later, "reminding me of all those whom I want to be part of my Schoenstatt life. I remember well a very hard time some years ago when I had just begun to get to know Schoenstatt. Who knows who then prayed and sacrificed for me?"
"We owe our Schoenstatt to them"
Another experience of this mutual enrichment was to take place on Sunday when three members of the older generation were invited to share about their Schoenstatt experiences and the heritage of their generation. The younger women were grateful to be able to participate in their stream of life at a crucial moment in their own Covenant history. "At a moment when we become aware of our responsibility for Schoenstatt, it is fantastic to experience persons who have lived their Covenant for decades and are still always finding new aspects and new reasons to be excited!" Another one of the younger generation suddenly understood a special dimension of the one-for-anotherness: "These persons have brought contributions to the Capital of Grace before I was born. We owe our Schoenstatt to them, and this Schoenstatt is now ours so we can one day pass it on to others."
English edition: Joan Biemert, New Franken, Wisconsin, USA
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