Every year Holy Week leads us to the high point of our Christian faith, the Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter. We remember the suffering, death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ, the gift of the Eucharist.
This year Holy Week is marked by special events. I would like to go into two of them in more detail. We are affected by the corona virus worldwide. Perhaps many people have used this Easter penitential period for personal reflection, have taken time for one another in the family, taken time for God, for prayer. Through this pandemic we experience that we do not have everything in our own hands, that not everything is possible. We experience that we are in need of salvation. Christ has redeemed us, but we still live in the order of the cross. Suffering belongs to every life. What Father Kentenich aptly says applies to us Christians:
“Without the cross, there is no crown. Without Good Friday, there is no Easter.”
The beginning of Holy Week this year is April 6. On this day 75 years ago, our founder was released from the Dachau concentration camp after more than three years in prison. A miracle, if one knows how dangerous it often was, how much he dared. In addition, typhus had been prevalent in the camp for months, which caused many more deaths.
In this way we want to give thanks for all that Father Kentenich gave us from Dachau, sacrificed or us. Let us “only” think of the prayer book “Heavenwards”.
With Father Kentenich we look forward to this great Holy Week.
Already in the prison in Koblenz – formerly a Carmelite monastery – Father Kentenich wanted to transmit a great love of Christ to us, his spiritual family. From there he wrote lectures – secretly on bag paper – about the life of Jesus and our relationship with him for a young Sisters’ course in preparation for their consecration to the Blessed Mother. What he writes in the introduction to the consecration lecture is also very relevant today:
“Your consecration falls in an extraordinary hour of fate, suffering and blessing. We all know and feel that we are in an hour of destiny of the world, of peoples, church and family history”.
Through his imprisonment, tortures, renunciations, humiliations, Father Kentenich was taken into a deep communion of suffering with Christ. He also wanted to lead us, his spiritual family, to a deep union with Christ. An impressive prayer which he already composed in the bunker in Koblenz bears witness to this:
“I don’t want to die before the family sees their ideal of Christ clearly … That was one of my most heartfelt pleas in the first four weeks: Savior, if you do not consider me worthy to proclaim yours … then let your mother move you to choose another instrument for this purpose. I want to give my health, strength and life in the background for this God-worthy gift. I am at your disposal for this purpose with all that I am and have. Adsum. Only see to it that all whom you have entrusted to me love Our Lord and learn to live and die for him.”
From many verses in “Heavenwards” we can read a great connection to Christ. In the Way of the Cross, Father Kentenich asks the Blessed Mother to lead us deeper to the Savior. With her we want to accompany the Savior on his path of suffering.
“I ask you, Thrice Admirable Lady,
to let me look deeply into our Savior’s heart
and in the midst of an ocean of brimming hate
to let me stand at his side with the warmth of your love.” (P. 61)
May this be a gift to us and give us strength and confidence in our daily lives in this current emergency.
In 1945 the 6th of April was the Sacred Heart of Jesus Friday during Easter Week. So may Easter confidence fill us in all our suffering also today.