Love sees more: a light, a rose, and a rosary for my nephew who lost his job and my neighbor who is going to die…
National Leaders' Conference of the Professional Women's League of Germany, November 9 – 12, 2002
SCHOENSTATT, mkf. "Strange, isn't it – still working on your career and the furnishing of your apartment, and then thinking of letting go and preparing for death…" Gabriele and Sybille, two of the younger participants of the German Professional Women's Leaders' Conference, are thoughtfully reflecting on the workshops of the day. Approximately 30 delegates had studied the hospice movement and worked on the topics ranging from phases of dying to practicing of letting go. Other central issues of the conference were, in conformance with the German Schoenstatt Movement's general outline of the year 2003, human dignity and "seeking signs".
Sunday evening, Founder Chapel. In view of the Year of the Holy Rosary, the "rosary experts" of the branch, the Professional Women from Northern Germany, shared their "Illumined Rosary", not by talking about the beautiful experiences they had with this way of praying the rosary but by praying it with the participants.
Linked to a stream of prayer
"Actually, it is not 'our rosary', but we picked up the idea of the Illumined Rosary of the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign of the Pilgrim Mother in Argentina, because this was something that fascinated us since we first learned about it in a report on schoenstatt.de," Gabiele Sudermann explained. "It's not just a method, it's being linked to a stream of prayers, a stream of grace." She does not need to explain more, as the Illumined Rosary unfolds during the next 60 minutes with each participant saying the name of a loved one or a personal intention before praying a Hail Mary, lighting one of the candles that are placed on the sarcophagus in the form of a rosary, and giving a small yellow rose as a sign of her loving confidence. When all candles are lit and a garden of roses has grown, all renew the covenant of love and the covenant with Father Kentenich, and then just don't want to leave… Later that night, the three who clean up spontaneously decide to place the 60 miniature vases with the roses by the carpet that marks the place where Father Kentenich died: the rose that was given for the nephew who lost his job, for the neighbor who is dying of cancer, for friends in a marriage crisis, a little baby baptized that Sunday, a girl badly longing for her visa to be able to visit her sister, the old league member in her terrible sickness, the children who died when their school collapsed during the earthquake in Italy… "So many people liked that," the sacristan later shared. "One could sense it was something special."
Training to let go
Gabriela Bergmann, teacher for nursing in Southern Germany, earlier in the day spoke about the subject of accompanying people in the process of dying, phases of dying, the special needs and chances of each of the phases, and how relatives, and friends, can accompany a person towards this once-in-a-lifetime experience, with all respect for each dying person’s unique and holy way of doing and experiencing dying and death. A topic of strong interest given the fact that due to demographical reasons of Germany's and German Schoenstatt's special history, the branch is made up of a big majority of old members. A special apostolate of the older generation members is to care for those of the branch in homes for old aged persons or nursing homes, and to accompany them during their last days on earth.
Training to let go should not begin only in this phase, Gabriela Bergmann stated, but early. A simple exercise had a strong impact on all – she asked all participants to write on separate sheets of papers the answers to questions like:
- Who at this moment is the most important person for me?
- What would I still like to experience?
- What, with whom would I like to clear, reconcile?
- Where would I still like to go, to be?
Then she picked one sheet from each participant. Some wanted to give her all at once, some started to negotiate, some did not get ready, all anxiously looked to what was missing and what was left… The "Practice of Dying" that Father Kentenich added to the Night Prayer in Heavenwards (so frequently omitted because it is not understood, as many admitted) suddenly became valuable … To train to let go, the participants, young as well as the elderly, said unanimously, will go with them as an inspiration both for their striving as well as for their daily living arrangements. It was inspiring to hear the testimonies of some older participants of how they are prepared – and how the trust in the endlessly merciful and loving Father frees them from fear.
Dignity, attentiveness, and: "Love does more!"
In the line of the German Leaders' Convention, "October Week", Father Rudolf Mosbach's talks and the discussions around the motto for the next year were centered on human dignity and the attentiveness for each other, and for the God of life to be found in every day life. "Love sees more" is the motto also for the branch. The main contents of the coming year's work were expressed in a prayer along with the Covenant prayer, "My Queen my mother", linking eyes, ears, mouth, and heart with applications of the year's motto: Love sees more, loves listens, love talks respectfully, love dares more… and finally, as one of the participants eager to return home to her apostolic work added: "Love does more!"
English edition: Joan Biemert, New Franken/WI, USA
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