"Open our Souls for the Spirit of God, that he may Change the Course of the World!"
Pentecost Novena in Schoenstatt in View of a Renewed Missionary Spirit
(mkf) The longing and readiness for a new missionary spirit, subject of the German Bishops' Conference's letter, set the tone for the Pentecost Novena in Schoenstatt, that ended on the eve of Pentecost with a Schoenstatt sing-along by the fire in front of the Pallottines' Church. On the nine evenings since May 24, 100 – 250 or more persons gathered by the Original Shrine asking Mary to open their souls for the Spirit of God, that he may change the course of the world, picking up Father Kentenich's rosary meditation written in the Concentration Camp in Dachau. Prayers, meditations, presentations, dances and songs – all centered around the longing for the descent of the Holy Spirit to enkindle a new missionary spirit.
Schoenstatt members and friends, Pallottines and parishioners from Vallendar gathered after the prayer service on Pentecost Eve - held in the Pallottines' Church due to the heavy rain on this evening -, singing ever more joyfully the more it rained, while Ladies of Schoenstatt, according to a year-long tradition, brought cake and cookies. Members of the Ladies' Federation from Poland, a pilgrimage from Upper Austria with 57 persons, participants of the Pentecost Retreat for young women in House Sonnenau, of the Schoenstatt students' meeting in House Regina, of the Schoenstatt Men's Youth, and many members of the local Schoenstatt family joined in singing and sharing under umbrellas and under the roof of the church – the new culture of with-anotherness, subject of this day's meditation, being put into practice in a joyful and uncomplicated way.
Openness for God and for Each Other – the Spirit of Hope
The Pentecost Novena by the Original Shrine, a common prayer time sponsored by the Vallendar parish, the Pallottine Fathers and the Schoenstatt Movement since 1993, this year had the theme "To be a missionary church in the Holy Spirit." On May 24, when the feast of Corpus Christi was commemorated, the novena was opened with prayer service and sermon in the Pallottine Pilgrims' Church, where it now also ended. On each night, the themes of the meditations and prayers had been taken from the themes taken from the German Bishops' letter about the missionary spirit of the church. The parish of Vallendar, the Pallottines -who at this time celebrated the 100th anniversary of their beginning in Schoenstatt, in 1901 -, and various Schoenstatt communities prepared the novena. The word of Vincent Pallotti, picked up often by Father Kentenich, resounded again and again: "She, Mary, is the great Missionary, she will work miracles." She will, from the Shrine, work the miracle of openness for God and for each other, granting the spirit of hope.
The Testimony of Life
The Schoenstatt Families' branch did not only talk about but give a "testimony of life" with a short theatrical performance about hospitality and friendship, encouraging all to open the houses and hearts for all, without fear and the pressure to be perfect, with a smile and mutual sharing. With lively and joyful songs, accompanied by guitars, they created an atmosphere of missionary spirit. Afterwards, cookies were given to all. Gabriele Rohrbeck, from Vallendar: "This is the special 'charisma' of us families; on June 18, we are in charge of the Covenant Renewal here, we'll bring strawberry punch for all!"
On May 31, the Schoenstatt Girls' Youth gave the testimony of the life that grew with their ideal and experience of the 'living crown'. The songs from the International Meeting in August 2000, testimonies form every day life – underlined by a pantomime -, and a praise dance provided a hopeful climate, that urged Father Rummel, the director of the Original Shrine, to encourage all to applaud the girls.
"Set the World on Fire!"
The new flag with the symbol of the Holy Spirit by the Original Shrine was a sign for the expectation of the descent of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of strength and joy to share the good news.
The Schoenstatt Sisters' of Mary, in the year of their 75th founding anniversary, highlighted the Shrine as powerhouse of missionary spirit. Testimonies from visitors and from members of the Schoenstatt Pilgrim Mother Campaign expressed the blessing from the Shrine and the missionary spirit given there. A mother's testimony: "'I have an idea for tonight!' said one of my three boys. The night before the Pilgrim Mother visits us, we always think about something we can do to for her and her son."
The Pallottine Fathers and students provided a meditation on Vincent Pallotti's idea of Mary, the great Missionary, as apostolic model for all Christians. In the ordinary life, each one would be called to be missionary and apostolic, to bring, say and live the message of freedom and love. To honor the "great Missionary" and the "Queen of Apostles" would mean to be ready to work for the spread of the kingdom of God.
Each night, the longing for the descent of the Holy Spirit was expressed in terms of missionary spirit. Cards with small seeds passed on by the Ladies of Schoenstatt, encouraging words from Father Kentenich, the casual get-togethers after the prayer services - most of the time with with radiant sunshine! - and the short visits in the Original Shrine before and after, and the melodies of some of the songs, made for lasting memories during these nine days: "Set out into the world, set the world on fire!"
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