By Fr Egon M. Zillekens, Rector, and Maria Fischer •
The pictures of the floods threatening the Original Shrine, and Msgr Peter Wolf’s courageous rescue operations, are still fresh in the minds – and on Saturday, 25th June, the Wambach again broke its banks after cloudbursts, but this time it was worse than before. Within minutes a brown, muddy mess poured from the Wambach valley along the roads leading to the Original Shrine. The water was knee-high in front of the Old House, and poured into the Original Shrine, reaching the altar step. A few people who were praying in the shrine were so shocked that they didn’t know how to get out of the shrine. “Take your shoes off and paddle!” Many ran around all day barefoot and with rolled up trousers, and tried to do what they could. The fire brigade with thirty men had their hands full.
A meter of water in the ground floor of the Marienau
The Marienau was badly hit. Before we knew what was happening the dining room, kitchen, staff rooms and the famous “Klause”, the room where generations have met for a beer and talk, had a meter of muddy water sloshing around. “It came through the windows”, Fr Zillekens related, “through the door and from all sides. Those who were downstairs only had time to save themselves. It is good that nothing serious happened …” When the fire brigade had pumped out the water, the floors were covered with 20 cm of mud.
The Sisters working in the Pilgrims’ Centre spontaneously offered to help by taking in the guests from Marienau. Then came an amazing and wonderful wave of solidarity – Sisters from the Training Centre and Mother House arrived, along with Sisters from the Pilgrims’ Centre, to help with cleaning up. It was truly amazing!
Pilgrims who had come to the Original Shrine for Holy Mass, and who were faced with a soggy mess of mud, simply joined in the clear up operations.
Soiled with the mud of the street
Our beautiful, white Original Shrine was surrounded by waves of dirty brown water. For decades Schoenstatt worldwide has sung: “Unconquered we shall remain!” Initially this referred to the Blessed Mother and was applied to the Original Shrine, but it reaches much further …
“A missionary heart”, Pope Francis called out in Evangelii Gaudium, “is aware of these limits and makes itself “weak with the weak… everything for everyone” (1 Cor 9:22). It never closes itself off, never retreats into its own security, never opts for rigidity and defensiveness. It realizes that it has to grow in its own understanding of the Gospel and in discerning the paths of the Spirit, and so it always does what good it can, even if in the process, its shoes get soiled by the mud of the street” (EG 45).
Our beautiful Original Shrine and the Marienau soiled with the mud of the street (or the Wambach). Shortly after the 2014 Jubilee Auxiliary Bishop Michael Gerber said,
“Schoenstatt’s birthday is taking place here at the shrine, and it would be celebrated soon afterwards at many other places. To exaggerate somewhat we could say: Schoenstatt was born in the mud – in the mud of the trenches of Verdun, Merville and Cambrai, and the sludge of the Dachau Moss. I think that we, who have grown up in more peaceful times, would do well to go spiritually to those places, and try to visualise and experience the filth and the mire everywhere, so that it penetrated not only the clothes, but also the souls. … The foundation leads us directly into the mud.”
The covenant of love not only coped with the mud, but even grew in it …
Original: German. Translation Mary Cole, Manchester UK