With the God of Life for the Future of Love
October Week Opened in Schoenstatt with Approximately 700 Representatives of the German Schoenstatt Movement
(mkf) On the eve of October 18, the anniversary of Schoenstatt's founding celebrated in the entire world, the German "October Week", the annual leaders' convention opened with approximately 700 representatives of the German Schoenstatt Movement present. Father Tilmann Beller shared a letter written by Father Dr. Michael Joh. Marmann in the name of the General Presidium, addressed to the National Councils – an evaluation of the recent events and the inspiration to answer to this challenge emphasizing the interwovenness of fates, the grace of a home and of transformation, and the attachment to Mary who as Pilgrim Mother brings peace to the homes that open for her visit. The basic themes of the October Week are centered on insecurity, the sexual revolution and Schoenstatt's answer to both challenges, and the support of the growing apostolic trend in the German Schoenstatt. A Holy Mass in the Adoration Church closed the day.
A big photograph depicting Father Kentenich standing at the shore of Lake Michigan – looking at the horizon, the 'new shores' of a new time – this is the main "decoration" of the aula. With anticipation and joy to meet as family, the representatives of the German Schoenstatt Movement filed in the aula. The priests who came from the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Shrine on Mount Moriah radiated the joy and grace of this feast – and many were obviously contaminated by them! Thanks to the reduced number of participants all fit into the aula. In an attempt to increase the efficiency of work, this year only those members of Institutes and Federations were invited who actively work in the Schoenstatt Movement; the League branches are represented through the members of the leaders' circles.
God's Voice in the World Events
"With the God of Life for the future of Love" – the title of this October Week got a special mark through the events of September 11 and the air strikes that began on October 7. Aircrafts used as bombs, the death of 5,000 innocent persons in one moment, or the recent anthrax letters have caused a fear and insecurity of global dimensions. "These attacks have touched a deep sphere of our human existence," Father Beller said. "We became aware, with brutal clearness, that we have to die. The ground seems to shake, insecurity reigns and blocks us."
In the name of the General Presidium, Father Dr. Michael Joh. Marmann wrote a letter to the National Councils, inspiring the leaders of the international Schoenstatt Movement to join in a solidarity of compassion but also to try and find the message that the God of Life wants to pass on the Schoenstatt. The first answer – an answer that had spontaneously been given since September 11 in vigils, adorations, rosaries, memorial services – is an increased prayer commitment. A prayer commitment that will "apply gentle force" to Mary, the Queen of the World, the Queen of the Rosary, to become active in the history of the world – right now.
The recent attacks and the entire "culture of death", he said, can only be understood as the work of demonic forces. The events call for a culture of life. The loss of values and the widespread and profound insecurity may path the way for a new security in God that Father Kentenich calls "pendulum security".
Schoenstatt's Sense for the Interwovenness of Faith
The spontaneous solidarity that was born from the events on September 11 – a solidarity not only among each other but with the victims of the terrorists and the victims of the retaliation – is obviously a fruit of Schoenstatt's special sense for the interwovenness of faith that Father Kentenich highlighted on January 20, 1942 in his decision to accept his admission to the concentration camp for the freedom of the family, who, in response, offered all for the freedom of Father Kentenich. Schoenstatt's Covenant of Love can therefore never be restricted to insiders, it includes all people and all peoples of the world. The network of Shrines can be Schoenstatt's answer to the network of terror.
The Grace of a Home – the Grace of Inner Transformation
In a time of widespread fear and insecurity – airplanes as bombs, anthrax spores can hit each one and everywhere, no matter how innocent -, the grace of a home becomes crucial in order to not only have but irradiate the security and shelteredness that people today so badly look for. This security and home is complemented by the grace that helps for inner transformation – which is necessary to be able for active change and conversion.
Attachment to Mary – She Wants to be Present and Work Miracles
We have the experience, Father Marmann's letter concluded, that we can move the Blessed Mother to become present in our homes. As Pilgrim Mother she brings peace to many houses and families. He encouraged the movement to do all that this stream of live reaches ever more people in the whole world so she can work and bring peace. For Schoenstatters, he added, this means to challenge to believe that Mary, from her shrines, can and will reach the entire world with the power of the Covenant of Love. In this context he also mentioned that many had crowned the Blessed Mother in these days, and that a growing number of Schoenstatters will renew the crowning of Mary as "Queen of the Universe" that Father Kentenich did on October 20, 1946, in Weesen, Switzerland.
The network of holy places becomes a network of Persons
Father Beller added: "The network of holy places becomes a network of persons who love each other. As a second strong sign, he said, the sexual revolution calls for a response. Other than the terror attacks, this is a silent revolution but one no less harmful to humankind. One day of the October Week will be dedicated to study and research on this subject. The growing Apostolic zeal of Schoenstatt in Germany will be mirrored in 10 statement about Apostolic initiatives.
In view of the reduced number of participants, Father Beller shared a special experience of this "network of persons": older priests of one diocese, long-term participants of the October Week offered to substitute for younger priests in their parishes so that they could participate!
Sr. Marié: Initiative "Network of Peace"
Father Beller at the end invited Sr. Marié to speak about the initiative that she has planned with the team of the "Project Pilgrim Shrine" in Germany. Some days after the terror attack, the team had sent texts for a prayer service to all coordinators, who had been very grateful for this input. Many organized prayer services. From this response, Sr. Marié wants to go on and create an initiative where all can join -by ordering a "net card"- who want to work, like Mary, for love, peace and joy. Brochures with information and inspiration were passed on after the talk.
A Prayer in Dark Times
The prayer in dark times, written in the concentration camp Ravensbrück by Lotte Holubars, a Lady of Schoenstatt who died there, turned the audience into a praying community. The words, like written 'for this September and beyond', came from life and touched life. Lotte Holubars and other women who suffered in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany are honored with an exhibition in House Regina, Schoenstatt (until October 31). Father Beller invited all to find inspiration and strength in the testimony of Lotte Holubars.
The day ended with a Holy Mass in the Adoration Church, marked by a profound atmosphere of prayer.
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