The "torn" image of the Belmonte Shrine, a living testimony of the festivity which took place: Our Lady of Sorrows.
A week after the blessing of the Shrine at Belmonte: the 15th of September in Schoenstatt
SCHOENSTATT, mca. On the 15th of September, all of Schoenstatt arose early and that was the least which could happen…How could one miss the 7 A.M. Mass in the Adoration Church? Our Father and Founder died at that hour exactly 36 years ago on that date after celebrating Holy Mass for the first time in this Church. In addition, this time there was another motive, something unheard of would begin on this day: a family breakfast on the farm near the Church would take place after Holy Mass and a visit to Father’s tomb.
For all practical reasons it was night time upon entering the Adoration Church which was already full even though it would still be a good while before the Eucharist would begin. Sisters of Mary, Ladies of Schoenstatt, Schoenstatt "neighbors" both far and near – Costa Rica, Panama, Puerto Rico, Brazil, United States, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Australia, Burundi, Nigeria, Poland, Argentina, Chile – all awaited anxiously for the beginning of the celebration, almost as if Father himself would preside. His presence is so strong there that one almost seems to see him peering out from all corners
Expression of simplicity and poverty
At the sound of the first chords from the organ, majestically played by the Sisters, a "flood" of priests from the Institute and the Federation of Diocesan Priests entered as well as the Schoenstatt Fathers from numerous nations and whose parade seemed never to end! To the surprise and joy of many immediately behind the priests came two Auxiliary Shrines – The Third International and the one for the blind – carried by four missionaries from Argentina: Pelusa Bieule, Cristina White, Luisa Cullen and Mercedes MacDonough who – in the best "native" style – placed them at the foot of the altar, whether or not it is the custom in Germany! Dominating the altar was the "torn"image from the Belmonte Shrine framed in cardboard as a living testimony of the festivity which was being celebrated: Our Lady of Sorrows. How many memories were recalled by those who witnessed her fall in the Vatican Gardens and how impressive was the reaction of the Diocesan Priests, her "guardians"! It was really impressive to see her there in her utmost expression of poverty and simplicity:"set" in old cardboards "acquired" in the streets of Rome. It hurts deeply to see you this way, dear Mother, but we know that behind all of this there is hidden an enormous lesson of life. In his homily, Msgr. Peter Wolf intertwined the message of the wounded image with the assumed mission by the Schoenstatt Family through the construction and blessing of the Shrine in Belmonte, the Shrine which belongs to all of us, the Shrine of love for the Church, a love which believes in the renewal of the Church in the strength of the Covenant with the Mother of the Church.
"Look into our eyes and know that the kingdom of love among us is coming to life"
With the "famous" scarves which everyone wore during the three days in Rome the 50 plus pilgrims from Argentina take a "touch of Belmonte" to the Adoration Church where on that morning Father reunites his international family: not only through 150 emails with "letter to Father" -- arriving from Canada, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Mexico, El Salvador, and Panama --. There are also texts, readings and hymns from the Mass, in Spanish and German. Msgr. Wolf greets those present in Spanish and German, the readings and petitions are done in three languages and Father Angel Strada reads alternately the Spanish version of Msgr. Wolf’s homily. "As in Rome, I did not feel like a visitor, as a stranger, but I felt at home as part of the family", a radiant and joyful lady from Costa Rica commented after the Mass. Accompanied with guitars, a small choir from the Argentinian delegation presented its Schoenstatt songs from Australia, United States and Costa Rica expressing their petitions during the prayer of the faithful. What they later sang in procession to Father’s tomb could be felt: "Family is sharing the heart, looking into each other’s eyes and knowing that the kingdom of love among us is coming to life".
Father, we are here, we go with you…
The long "procession" of people who wanted to visit Father and greet him on this so special day literally took everything which was on Father’s tomb, even with each of the cards with two of Father’s telephone numbers! Without a doubt no one left the place without a gift from Father as was promised at the end of Mass… At his tomb everyone renews his promise to him, they present petitions, desires, necessities, all that they want to put into his heart and they give thanks for all that he gives to them, to each one personally and as Family. Once again they express: Father, your legacy, our mission, here we are, we go with you, our hand in your hand, our heart in your heart…The choir "moved" to the tomb of Father and accompanied the procession with songs which speak about being Father’s Family. "From Venezuela, I unite myself to the pilgrimage with my whole soul, heart, and thoughts. I cannot be with all of you in person but in my heart I am near…I will pray the rosary and will ask for gifts and graces from the Virgin on this anniversary of our Father", Maggi Grillet wrote on the night before.
"Where I may sit with my own and share the bread on the table…"
Then began the "social" part so properly named: the family breakfast at the farm, a brilliant idea from a Sister of Mary, faithfully seconded by her fellow sisters and members of the different branches like Martina Rasch from the professional women "alma mater" of this so warm moment and the Schoenstatt volunteers from the Office of the World Youth Day. Since it was the first time to take place, the local family awaited the moment with great expectations. It went so well that the foreigners thought it was a regular "tradition" and not a true debut! It could not have been better organized, in the true sense of the word, the quantity and quality of goodies, drinks, candies, breads, all that which makes up a "German" breakfast – a really smart method of distribution – four persons attended hundreds instantly! -- , the presence of Priests, Sisters, Ladies of Schoenstatt, members of all the branches and pilgrims sharing elbow to elbow this "delicious" moment, and – of course—the paternal presence of Msgr. Peter Wolf who remained until the last "diner" left and who spoke to everyone and thanked them a thousand times for being there.
Without a doubt, the most fortunate were the ones who came from afar for not only did they benefit from the delicious breakfast but also had the possibility to meet and get to know many members of the Family. Many were the echoes later, for example, the comment by a pilgrim from Argentina: "I feel more at home here than at any other place in the world". Thank you, Father, for this family day we spent together with you! We hope that this continues each year for the joy of your children here and beyond.
Translation: Carlos Cantu, LaFeria, Texas, USA
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