Maria Fischer •
The small bunches of flowers attached to the pews in the Original Shrine were still there from a wedding in the afternoon of 10 June, but they fitted to this simple and beautiful Holy Mass on the eve of Trinity Sunday. In an around the shrine a colourful group of families had gathered to celebrate this feast of the Blessed Trinity, which provides us with a standard for the way we deal with one another, and for our actions today, particularly in politics, globalisation, medical advances and social networking. Our God is One who has committed himself with his whole being to this world in order to save it and lead it to a good end, as Fr Egon M. Zillekens said. On the following day he would be celebrating his 75th birthday, and had gathered his family and friends around the Lord for this Mass to start the celebrations.
And as he does so well, and since he can do nothing else, Fr Zillekens extended the circle to include in this hour of prayer all those who were not physically present, and yet in a real sense were spiritually present in this act of self-giving during Mass. He called it the key to the mystery of the Trinity and our own lives as Christians. He included everyone throughout the world who was celebrating the feast of the Blessed Trinity, all who were in Schoenstatt on that day – including the Confirmation Group from the Hennef Parish – the many whose names and commitment, thanks to his initiative, have found a place inside the walls of the Original Shrine, and two very particular people: His confrere from Ecuador, Fr Pablo Pelaez, who had worked for many years as pastor in Haiger and Rennerod, Germany, who had so often prayed in the shrine, and who at that moment was returning his life into God’s hands; and Bishop Emil Lorenz Stehle, “Don Emilio”. He had been the first bishop of Santo Domingo de los Colorados in Ecuador (1987-2002), and former head of the Latin American Catholic charity, Adveniat (1977-1988), who had died on 13 May in Konstanz, aged 90, after a serious illness. Fr Zillekens had worked in his diocese in Ecuador for many years.
Friend on the path of peace
“If we do something with love, it is more than doing our duty, more than conviction, because it is an act of love. .. God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. God loves this world so much, that for sheer love of the world he gave what was most important to him, his only Son,” Fr Zillekens said in his sermon. When he hears this sentence in today’s Gospel, he has to think of one person: Bishop Stehle. A friend. A “friend on the path of peace for El Salvador. This is how Bishop Stehle was once described by Auxiliary Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chavez of San Salvador. After the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero in 1980, he acted as mediator in this strife-torn Central American land. Bishop Stehle worked for peace talks between the government and the guerillas, for the liberation of hostages and the safety of the civilian population – until the peace deal was finally signed in 1992 in Mexico. He was nominated at the time for the Nobel Peace Prize. Bishop Stehle was honoured on a number of occasions for his work, particularly his peace work in Central America, for the release of seven NGOs in Nicaragua, and his pioneer work in Santo Domingo de los Colorados in Ecuador: Three honorary doctorates and the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
This Bishop had a hobby, and he put his whole heart into it, Fr Zillekens said. It was to free hostages. He did it with great love, it was a passion. Together with the ransom, a chicken for the peace meal, and the Gospel, he set out to release the hostages. He always read out the sentence: God so loved the world …
When we commit ourselves to a cause, we have a goal and want it to turn out well. When God loves the world and us, he wants us and the world to be saved and to come to a good end.
If we do something with love
“If we do something with love, it is more than fulfilling a duty, more than a conviction, it is an act of love …” This sentence followed us after a long and beautiful celebration, a plentiful Brunch and many conversations about anything and everything in the afternoon of Trinity Sunday under the trees in the lovely gardens around the well of Haus Marienau, where groups of people who work for Schoenstatt had gathered. “He does it with love”, one of them remarked, and meant the one who had just turned 75. “Everything – the Marienau, the Priest’s Federation, the Original Shrine, schoenstatt.org, simply all of Schoenstatt.” If someone receives almost thirty Whatsapp congratulations from ten or more countries at the start of his birthday, what was said under the tree in the garden must be true. One of his Cuban confreres also wrote: “Thank you for your unfailing fatherly welcome, for your love and your service to the Priests’ Federation, and for making Fr Kentenich so alive and real to me.”
Original: German, 16.06.2017. Translation: Mary Cole, Manchester, UK