Fr. Elmar Busse •
If you look at publications about Father Joseph Kentenich with qualitative content analysis methods from communication science or marketing keyword research, you will find the snow-white beard as a brand or logo and as keywords: “speedy canonization”, “always”, and since 2020: “abuse”. In the following series of articles, we would like to take a different look at Kentenich: neither the one with the bushy beard, nor the candidate for canonization, nor the one suspected of abuse of power or spiritual abuse. —
After the very positive response to the slightly updated texts written by Fr. Elmar Busse about 30 years ago, he was motivated to present further “Different Views” of Fr. Kentenich in the same style, written in this year 2023. With these new texts we also hope to enable a new, lively view of the multi-layered founder figure beyond the usual attributions, and thus to arouse curiosity to occupy oneself more intensively with him. We think: It’s worth it!
Transfer costs and the centers for young talent
The astronomical sums paid to transfer talented players from one club to another in professional football are not unknown to us. It is understandable that the big clubs have a lot of investment in youth development. Bayern Munich, for example, has had a €70 million investment in its own youth development center. Since 2017, the 30-hectare site in the north of the Bavarian capital has been home to the club’s youth teams from U9 to U18. There are eight pitches for training. A new job description has emerged less in the public spotlight: The talent scout. These are full-time or freelance talent scouts. They attend youth team tournaments in Germany and abroad and keep an eye out for talented players. Most of all, the scout wants to know if the player can handle the ball: What does their first touch look like? How do they react after receiving the ball? Are they ambidextrous? Do they have good coordination? For players of this age, the ability to finish the ball or make long passes is of secondary importance, as these skills can still be developed. More important is the natural technical ability of the players.
If you can develop a talented nobody into a top player for your club in about four years, with a market value of several million, then your investment has paid off.
The prophetess Hanna
This can serve as a comparison for us. On February 2, we celebrated the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. In the liturgical text from the Gospel of Luke, it is mentioned that the prophetess Hannah was in the temple when the parents brought the little Jesus (Lk 2:36-38). She could perceive that this was not an everyday ritual for little children, but that this little child was something special: the longed-for Messiah! Even though Fr. Kentenich was very insistent that Schoenstatters not ask for extraordinary gifts of grace, but rather focus on sober providential faith in methodical self-restraint, he also emphasized that God in his mercy can give such extraordinary signs to strengthen faith.
Special gifts: Intuition, truth vision, heart vision
In the book “Konnersreuth as a Test Case” three cases are described in which the pastor of Konnersreuth received letters with hosts. Therese Neumann described them as consecrated in each case. Another case occurred on October 12, 1934. The pastor entered the kitchen of the rectory with Therese Neumann. Both go to the table where the mail is lying. Therese reaches for a letter and hands it to the priest. He opens it and finds some hosts. Therese assures him that they are consecrated. In their accompanying letters, the senders had told the mystic of their doubts and needs of faith concerning the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Children often have an uncomplicated approach to the afterlife. The Benedictine David Steindl-Rast told on the occasion of his 90th birthday that he had had an irrepressible curiosity and joy of discovery as a child. And prayer with his grandmother, he said, had given him, even as a little boy, “a first inkling that there is something incomprehensible, something greater that goes beyond what is immediately given.”
Father Kentenich once put it this way: when women have purified their hearts and are free from fear or jealousy or vanity or feelings of inferiority, they are given an intuitive vision of truth. This gift is once again different from the gift of the vision of the heart, as it was given to Padre Pio or Don Bosco.
I look at him and he looks at me
The “Curé of Ars”, Jean Marie Vianney, finds in this godforsaken nest of Ars, with its 230 inhabitants, a peasant who keeps coming into the church and praying silently for himself, without a book or rosary in his hand, but his gaze fixed steadfastly forward on the altar. He asks him, “What are you doing here all this time?” The peasant replies, “I look at him and he looks at me. That’s enough.” This peasant Louis Chaffangeon was the beginning of a sacramental brotherhood for men only. Even though Jean Marie Vianney encounters much indifference and is given the cold shoulder – he stands up for those who are open, and in time the climate in Ars changes.
Fr. Kentenich’s view of those who are open-minded
Father Kentenich (probably) did not have any of these special gifts. And we usually don’t have them either.
But Joseph Kentenich had what makes a good talent scout in soccer as well as in business – an eye for talent. In this case: on the divine, on the openness to God in a person.
When Father Kentenich began his work as a spiritual director in 1912, he attached importance to the fact that there should be opportunities for exchange for those who want more; today we would speak of networks. From this emerged groups based on sympathy and common heartfelt concerns, from this emerged the MTA magazine, from this emerged this Schoenstatt with its network and ember core structure so complicated for bureaucratically trained eyes.
Even though in the Pallottine boarding school everyone declared that they wanted to become a priest, there were one or two with dubious motivation. They were fascinated by the social prestige that a priest enjoyed at that time. Well, for some the motives became clear, others left the Pallottine School. But Father Kentenich invested above all in those who were religiously open. He was a talent scout for the divine in man. For example, he “discovered” a Joseph Engling, neither the smartest nor the most athletic nor the most eloquent among the boys. But he was the one in whose soul every seed of Schoenstatt was sown and grew….
Searching of the divine in our fellow human beings
Perhaps it would do us and our joy of faith good if we did not focus on the signs of erosion of the Church, but on the traces of the divine in our fellow men.
Who has a good charisma? Who has charm? Who spreads around him a climate of hope?
Cultivating relationships with such people, speaking to them enthusiastically, founding prayer circles together, organizing worship evenings, networking to form trace-seeking communities, starting joint projects and seeing them through – that would do good for the vitalization and dynamization of our faith.
We can all strive to become talent scouts for the divine. One will succeed better than the other. But if we focus our attention on the positive, then we are on a good path.
 Konnersreuth als Testfall. Kritischer Bericht über das Leben der Therese Neumann (Konnersreuth as a test case. Critical report on the life of Therese Neumann). With an appendix: unpublished files of the episcopal archives in Regensburg. Josef Hanauer, Munich: Manz Verlag, 1972.
 David Steindl-Rast, Ich bin durch Dich so ich. Lebenswege, Vier-Türme-Verlag, Münsterschwarzach 2016, p. 15.
Original: German. Translation: Maria Fischer @schoenstatt.org