Where Every Day Life Meets the Divine
Schoenstatt Movement Remembering Anniversary of Founder's Death on September 15
(mkf) A carpet or white lilies and carnations in the Founder Chapel - a reminder, each year on September 15, of the day of Father Kentenich's death in 1968. Immediately after having celebrated Holy Mass he died at this place in the then sacristy of the Adoration Church, an invitation for dinner, addresses to the priests who had concelebrated, and blessing of rosaries being his last deeds on earth. Since then, the place where Father Kentenich died and was buried had become a place where people from all over the world come to entrust themselves and their loved ones far and near to his intercession. With a vigil on September 14, and a Holy Mass early in the morning on September 15, the Schoenstatt Movement remembered the anniversary.
September 15 is the feast of the Seven Sorrows of Mary; the liturgical texts and the tone of this feast day seems to resound the feelings that mark this September 15 in the wake of the terror attacks, as the International Schoenstatt Movement joined in mourning and praying for the victims in prayers services, Masses, adoration. The day before, the Memorial Mass had taken place in the Adoration Church; the vigil on September 14 as well as the Mass on September 15 was marked by the solidarity of hope and prayer that united Schoenstatt in the past days.
Called to Live in this time and for this Time
Father Kentenich wanted to form a specific type of Christian – he even speaks of holiness – through Schoenstatt: a strong and firm personality living in close and attentive contact with the world and time, a person who overcomes the negative tendencies of this time in himself and his surroundings, and who is able and willing to actively change and model this time, said Father Angel Strada in his talk during the vigil. Schoenstatters, he emphasized, are persons who live in this time and for this time. It is not about a holiness that makes or encourages persons to flee into niches of piety or to protective islands, but a holiness that urges people to live and suffer and feel with the concrete time; the hundreds of prayer and solidarity notes that came and still come in from all over the world since September 11 are an illustration of this type of holiness that Father Kentenich lived for.
A procession – in silence – to the new statue of Father Kentenich in front of the Father Kentenich House closed the vigil. With the statue in the center, the participants formed a wide circle and renewed the Covenant of Love, remembering all Schoenstatters in the world and all of the terror victims and their families.
Jesus – Light of the World, Radiating through the lives of his Saints
The light of the world, Jesus, would radiate through the lives of persons, Monsignor Wolf said in his sermon in the early morning Mass on September 15. He mentioned the picture of the sunrise over the rubble of the Twin Towers that created so much emotion throughout the world on September 12. From this picture, he turned to another one – the Christ Sun Window in Heiligkreuztal, a gothic window that has Christ as rising sun on top; with the sun rising, the light illumines the lower parts of the window – the saints; from there, the light illumines the places of the faithful who gather for early morning service. Jesus, Monsignor Wolf said, would share his light through persons. Father Kentenich wanted Schoenstatt people to live in the time and word and to love them, to be interested and ready to act, to intervene, and to speak out. The Shrine would be the guarantee for being able to do so without losing Christian identity: as the cradle of holiness, as the place where every day life meets the Divine, meets God in the Covenant of Love.
A Day of Prayer and Encounter
All day, people came to the tomb of Father Kentenich to pray. On this day, approximately 1,200 pilgrims from Paderborn came to Schoenstatt, together with Auxiliary Bishop Becker. Many of them used the chance to simply kneel or sit in the Adoration Church or Founder Chapel to pray in silence. September 15 – a day of prayer and personal encounters in the Founder Chapel, where the small American flag reminded all of the terror attacks' victims, families and nation. The day of encounter closed with families from Santa Maria, Brazil, gathering there for a private hour of compromise; they wanted to express their longing and readiness to live in faithfulness with and for the mission of Father Kentenich. For five years, they had hoped, planned, and saved money to make their common trip to Schoenstatt possible for this occasion. As first course of the Federation of Married Couples in Brazil they have a special closeness to Father Kentenich: "We made our Covenant of Love as a course on September 15, 1993, when Schoenstatt commemorated the 25th anniversary of Father Kentenich's death. Since then, we have grown into a very close relationship with him. On this evening we experienced more than words can express. We want to dedicate our life to the faithfulness to the Founder, that the Federation in Brazil will be his, will be how he wanted the Federation to be."
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