Stay and Go, Go and Stay: the Cenacle Way
Pentecost Novena in Schoenstatt
SCHOENSTATT, mkf. Stay and go, go and stay with two key words, the "Cenacle Way" of missionary Christian life was described in the Opening talk of the Pentecost novena in Schoenstatt, starting on the eve of May 9, when the feast of Ascension was celebrated. During nine days before Pentecost, Pallottines, parishioners from Vallendar, and Schoenstatt members and friends gather by the Original Shrine to pray for the Holy Spirit. The novena was opened in the Pallottines' Church with a prayer service and talk given by Schoenstatt Father Joseph Fleischlin, director General of the Institute of the Ladies of Schoenstatt.
The Pentecost novena is held in Schoenstatt already since a couple of years; gathering approximately 100 150 persons each night at 8:00 PM by the Original Shrine. This year's motto: "The Spirit of God frees to life". During the nine days until Pentecost, Pallottines, parish of Vallendar and different Schoenstatt communities are taking turns to prepare the liturgy.
In the Springtime of Christianity
Father Joseph Fleischlin started his sermon on May 9 giving a panorama of the springtime of Christianity a church marked by the freeing power of the Spirit. It was an experience that profoundly changed the life of the apostles and those who joined them, an experience of unfolding strength, an experience that started to influence society. These three features, Father Fleischlin said, are the essential components of each springtime experience be it in a person, in a community, or in the church as a whole. Where ever these features, on the other hand, are observed life is changed, strength unfolds, society/surrounding is influenced one can deduce the Holy Spirit at work.
He briefly mentioned the German historian, Mommsen, who at the end of the 19th century wrote the "Rise and Fall of Roman Empire". Of the five volumes of this work, volume 4 was never written it would have been the era marked by the springtime of Christianity, the phenomenon of a small group of simple people from a forgotten region at the margins of the Empire set out to conquer this empire for their vision and mission and succeeded. The historian was unable to analyze this phenomenon, volume 4 remained unwritten, Father Fleischlin noted.
The Process behind the Powerful Spread
Two words, Father Fleischlin said, would mark the process behind this powerful spread of springtime Christianity: "stay", and "go"
It's the word of the Lord to his apostles on his ascension to haven: "But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."(Luke 24,49), and his missionary order: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." (Mt 28, 19-20)
This, he said, is the Cenacle way of missionary life.
Stay and Go: the Life of Mary
The disciples gathered around Mary during the nine days between the Lord's Ascension and Pentecost, around her, the living reminder of their beloved master. Maybe that they even looked at her face to find his features there
Mary's life is marked by the process of "staying" and "going": she who stayed with Jesus, who kept all her experiences in her heart (a way of "staying" in an experience), she set out and went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, bringing Jesus, freeing the house of Zachary to life.
The Schoenstatt Experience: She is the Great Missionary, She will Work Miracles
God freed this place, Schoenstatt, to life. When in 1901 the Pallottines arrived to dwell at this place, they found an old chapel, two towers of a dilapidated church, some ramshackle buildings. Hundred years later, we find a city where thousands and thousands come to find their home and new strength, a place full of life.
Vincent Pallotti founded his work on this process staying in the Cenacle, and parting, going from the Cenacle. This is his legacy.
For many people, Father Fleischlin added, the experience of "staying and going" was connected with the old St. Michael's Chapel. In 1914, the Cenacle experience of "staying and going" repeated.
Stay: Father Kentenich and the students asked Mary to come and stay in this place, to work miracles of grace there, to prepare a room for prayer and personal experience of God's closeness.
Go: with the students being sent to the battlefields of Word War I, a dynamism started, making Schoenstatt become the birthplace of many religious communities, causing the erection of over 160 Daughter Shrines and Formation Centers all over the world.
"Welcome in the University City of Vallendar"
It would be a dynamism that not only "happened" in the first years of the movement, but a dynamism continued up to this day with only in this month of May a new Shrine to be dedicated in Argentina, another one, on the same day, may 18, in Monterrey, Mexico, on the Sunday afterward the new Pilgrim Church would be blessed in Burundi, and at the last day of the month, the construction of a new Shrine in Lima would start. This all, he emphasized, began in this little chapel here in Schoenstatt where the students asked the Blessed Mother to stay.
Entering the city of Vallendar, car drivers are greeted by a big sign: "Welcome in the University City of Vallendar!" referring to the two universities, the Theological University of the Pallottines and the Economy University. But when ever he would see this sign, he'd think that a third "university" would be missing, the Original Shrine, the "University of Spiritual Life", a university where so many got the strength both to stay and to go.
Holy Spirit, Come!
From the Pallottines' Church, all processed to the Original Shrine, where the prayer service closed with the prayer for the gifts of the Spirit. During the following days, the parish of Vallendar, the Pallottines, the Women's Federation, and the Schoenstatt Priests were in charge of the novena. On May 18, the Vigil of Pentecost, the novena will end with the Pentecost fire to be lit.
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