Wide Horizon – Fr. Angel Strada on Father Kentenich

In our Father and Founder, we stand before a personality who opens great horizons and unites them in small steps.

Let us consider other notable figures of the faith and thus we will be able to receive a better angle to see our Founder. Among relevant personalities in the history of the Church, probably St. Paul is the one who with greater strength embodied that creative tension. Paul is the man of great horizons…..the apostle of the gentiles…..the one who battles against the narrowness of the synagogue…..the one who battles the norms and the traditions of the Jewish religion. These impede the extent and the universality of the Gospel of Christ. Paul does not fear the open confrontation with Peter and other apostles (Gal 2, 11). Christ has brought new life for all people…..He wants the conversion of hearts and not the exterior fulfillment of ancient rites and norms. What is decisive is the openness to the action of the Spirit and not the binding to tradition.

Simultaneously, Paul is the man of small steps. The unconditional following of Christ and the fidelity to his task motivate him to a self-sacrificing commitment to his own. He will become father and mother to men and communities (1 Cor 4, 14; 1 Th 2, 7). With love he reprimands the Galatians and with clear words he warns the Corinthians (Gal 3, 1; 2 Cor 12, 11). Paul manifests his concern for all communities: “When someone is weak, then I feel weak too; when someone is led into sin, I am filled with distress” (2 Cor 11, 29). In the young Church there are fights, jealousies, envies, and the search for power and honor. Some are followers of Paul, others of Apollo (1 Cor 3, 4). Paul suffers because of this and confesses that “I become all things to all people, that I may save some of them by whatever means are possible” (1 Cor 9, 22). His love is concrete and personal and he speaks of “dear brother Onesimus,” “our dear friend Luke,” “the dear son Timothy.” He greets cordially Priscilla and Aquila; Rufus “the chosen of the Lord and his mother who is also my mother;” “dear Persis who has done so much work for the Lord” (Rom 16, 1).

The God of history also places our Founder before great horizons.

The secular times of change demand a new type of man who from the depths of his inner being freely chooses Christ. They demand a new type of community which is characterized by a profound solidarity between all of its members and an active co-responsibility in the fulfillment of a common mission. Our Founder places his hand on the pulse of time and his ear to the heart of God. He lives in an epoch which has no tranquility or harmony. Secular times of change and the hastening of history constitute the historical background of the biography of Father Kentenich. The miseries and the shadows of the time do not scare him. On the contrary, he gains new impulses for the mission. An old world is in flames. Men and communities suffer and we suffer along with them. A new world is coming forth. We share the hopes and we work for it. “

A new church that sets out to the people

“Out with the narrowness,” is the call after the time of imprisonment in Dachau. “With hope and joy, confidant in the victory, we go with Mary into the newest times,” is his last message to the Family.

The newest times demand the renewal of the Church. They convene a Church which is not sedentary and comfortably installed and awaiting men to come to Her, rather She goes out to meet them. She is a Church which is a friend and servant to all men and women, especially the poor who are alone and excluded. She is a Church which radiates the joy of the Gospel and is a place for a living experience of God where all apostolic forces work together, just as was the vision of St. Vincent Pallotti. Our Founder is encouraged by the hope that Schoenstatt will be the anticipation of a renewed Church and which will effectively collaborate in its edification. He announces these great objectives and with the same decision works for their success.

If this message of renewal wants to be concrete and effective, it has to follow the workplan in miniature, fulfilled slowly and with effort.

The great horizons run the risk of ending up as utopian dreams and empty promises. On the contrary, they should be a stimulus for clear objectives and a firm basis for concrete projects.

The small steps run the risk of being ineffective and dull. The new shores are not two meters away from dry land. They require boldness and broad vision. Visions which have been historically effective unite great horizons and small steps. Both are inseparable.

The service of paternity

Small steps are for Father Kentenich his daily program. The service of paternity to those who have been entrusted to him, stimulate him for countless personal dialogues and thousands of letters. His self-sacrificing love for his Work is manifested in the retreats, meetings and conferences where he gives strong promptings and clear directions.

He says: “It was a long and thorny road, marked by the smallest of the smallest works in miniature. The great conferences were not the main things. All of them, without exception, would not have meant much without the personal accompaniment of the participants. The exact understanding of the situation and the continuous vital contact of the participants determined the direction of the conferences, or better said, the selection of the topics and the questions in particular. Thus he guaranteed his productivity and effectiveness” (1955).

The words becomes flesh, especially in the life of the Founder. This is the greatest reason for his great moral authority. Mary, the soul of his soul, gives him a broad vision for the great horizons and strength and tenacity for the small steps.

The grateful remembrance of our Father and Founder is a calling for us. With him we are called to put our hand on the pulse of time and to sharpen our vision for the multiple challenges. This certainly is the best means against paralysis, routine and an infertile centering on ourselves. May the great horizons pointed out by our Founder awaken in us creativity and a new ardor. We need them on the way to 2014. In the same measure, we need courage and tenacity for the small steps demanded for the realization of the mission. Today, let us implore our Founder to remain with us and to accompany us on the way.

September 15, 2007