"They told me: Go to ‘Seeking God’s Traces’, it’s worth it!"
More than 4,500 people in the noon prayer "Looking for Traces of the Power of God" with Cardinal Karl Lehmann, from Mainz, in the Katholikentag (German Catholic Day) in Ulm
KATHOLIKENTAG, mkf. Two girls from Ulm decided spontaneously to go to the Katholikentag on Saturday. They didn’t have a programme, they went just to look around. How is it that they ended up in Hall 2 to the function entitled ‘Seeking God’s Traces’? On recommendation! On their way to the Fair Grounds they were told: "Go to ‘Seeking God’s Traces, it’s worth it!" Apart from them, about 4,500 people went to Hall 2 and some were in Hall 1, because there wasn’t enough room for everybody. They came to search, to find, and to love the presence of God in their daily lives, as it shows in things and events, and in the people around.
"And what was the trace you found yesterday?" At the entrance to Hall 4 one girl put this question to another with a big smile. "I met Sister Gabriele and …" It was just a remark picked up in passing. The girl was holding a sheet with the songs from the ‘Seeking God’s Traces’ stand. Mrs. Sturm was standing purposefully beside the Schoenstatt Stand in Hall 4 when Sr Mirjam passed by. "Sister, I must tell you this. Yesterday I went to the ‘Seeking God’s Traces’ function and lost my scarf. It is a very expensive one. I told God: I was there to look for your traces, and of all things I lost my scarf! This morning I found it in one of the offices, someone brought it there. That is really a sign!" In the bus, on the way to the main train station, a Sister said, "We can find your traces everywhere…"
About 25,000 people attended the 95th Katholikentag in Ulm on a full time basis, and there were about 10,000 other visitors each day. Since 4,500 people went to the "Seeking God’s Traces" function on the 19th of July, it means that one-eighth of the total participants was there. On the 18th of June there were about 3,000, and on Thursday another 1,800. So Schoenstatt left its mark on this Katholikentag. "It showed that it was right for the Schoenstatt Movement to work together and to invest a great deal in a single project at the Ketholikentag," Dr Hubertus Brantzen remarked. "Together," stressed someone else. The Oasis Inschalla, ‘Seeking God’s Traces’, and the information stand had a great impact, and show how we live with one another, in one another, and for one another. "And it was all so professionally done; from the colors of the flyers to the material of the flags." "It all matched so perfectly with the colors of the Katholikentag," commented Dr. Brantzen. "HE was professional! We only noticed it here that everything matched so perfectly."
Seeking, Finding, and Loving God in all People, Things, and Events
The bad weather that had been forecast drew in at midday on Saturday. As we sang the words "Everywhere we see your traces" the clouds separated and for a moment Hall 2 was filled with brilliant light. "We want to seek God, to find him and to love him in all his people, things, and events," said Dr. Huberts Brantzen at the beginning of the noon prayer. "In the sunlight, in technology, in science, in politics, in what we see, hear and discuss here at the Katholikentag, we ask ourselves: Where is God?"
Cardinal Karl Lehmann took up St Paul’s words in the Areopagus, which set the direction for that day’s search for God’s traces: "He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions, so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us.
For 'In him we live and move and have our being,' as even some of your poets have said, 'For we too are his offspring.' (Acts 17, 26-28)
As Cardinal Lehmann said, Paul taught the Athenians in the language of their philosophers and poets: the whole world is full of traces of God. We are also surrounded by his traces, but we must learn to "differentiate between the traces." Not all signs come from God. But we have been promised that we will be able to seek and find a sign from God that will lead us to him
Seeking God’s traces means discovering a trace of God in the beauty of the smile of a child or in the face of another person. We can discover a trace of his guidance in what happens or does not happen "just at the right moment’. We can find traces of God in the whole world, he said, it is a distinctive way of living. God is present in all things, events, and people. As a "trace-seeker" you realize that God speaks to us in many ways, not just through the Bible, although his words there are and remain most precious to us. God also speaks through people – through a nurse who has nursed the elderly with great sensitivity, through the carers and Sisters in a Home for the Elderly who have not given in to routine, through a mother who cares for her child. They all are real signs of God’s presence. According to the Cardinal, a sure criterion by which to judge whether something is a trace of God, or not, is that something is done by someone without their drawing attention to themselves
In conclusion he encouraged those present to come together to seek God’s traces as couples, committees or groups, because doing it together makes it easier for us and helps us to differentiate.
We Want to be Sign-Seekers
Prof. Bratnzen asked the participants to ask themselves the question: in the last few days, what motivated, impressed, or touched me? This would help them to remember their experiences and to awaken them to new life.
After this first step, he invited the audience to share their experiences. Marie-Luise Weiß told about her sign: She had distributed the flyers for the function "Seeking God’s Traces" with lots of enthusiasm. A little, white-haired lady with deep wrinkles passed by. The lady didn’t take a flyer, but she said: "I myself am a trace!" I was so surprised it too me some time to realize what the lady then said: ‘When someone asks me how it is that at 89 I’m still in such a good shape, I answer: I live with the Lord God.’ Marie-Luise Weiß said, "She was a trace for me."
Mr. and Mrs. Schmucker had been looking forward for weeks to a special meeting in the Family Center. On their way to the Katholikentag the tram broke down, then they passed their stop because they were still so shocked, and had to turn back. When the finally arrived, the room was full and the door had been closed. They were disappointed and upset. "Then we sat down on the grass and fell asleep… That was the best part of the day, it was a gift from God, it did us good just to sit and rest together…"
Then the turn came for the 4,500 participants to share their signs. Some were very small: "I saw people walking around Ulm with their maps and they still went the wrong way, and I was suddenly so thankful that I did not need one, because I am from here and know the city pretty well!" "I landed today in a very beautiful Mass, with a Youth Choir from Kroatia, and at the end they sang a most beautiful song to Mary. I had been so sad that I hadn’t gone to the Ecumenical Marian Celebration, and then that came…"
Applause for the Traces of God
They applauded the hundreds of traces through which God had made himself present in those moments in the Fair Hall. Cardinal Lehmann took up the traces and expressed them in a prayer, then he blessed all present. Wilfrid Rörig and his friends then led the 4,500 people in singing: Love sees more…!
To conclude they played one song after the other and the demand grew for the Mini-CDs with "Love sees more" and "Everywhere we see your traces", as well as for the sheet with the songs.
It was applause for the traces of God and for the trace-seekers who brought this subject to the Katholikentag. The story continues...
A Schoenstatt member from Niederrhein, who had not been able to go to Ulm, sent an email: "Yesterday I looked for God’s traces with two other colleagues in a little room during the lunch break. I was very impressed because a 29-year-old colleague said, "To tell the truth I haven’t seen a lot of God in my life, but maybe it is worthwhile looking for him more closely."
For more Information about Seeking Signs: www.spurensuche.info
Translation: Christel Sonnekalb, Venezuela/Mary Cole, England
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