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Father Weber’s Memories

… On Low Sunday, 19 April 1914, the Sodality was born. 28 members were accepted. Fr Provincial placed the little Chapel of St Michael at its disposal for religious functions. The chapel was restored and dried out. In his consecration address on 18 October 1914 Fr Kentenich presented a significant idea: Wouldn’t it be possible to transform the chapel into a place of grace through our contributions to the capital of grace.

This idea found a vital echo in the hearts of the Sodalists – both those who remained in the temporary accommodation in the ‘Old House’, as well as those who were already in the barracks and on the battlefields. …

The ‘Old House’ had for years been described as ready for demolition by the building authorities. For two years – from 1912-1914 – it had served as a workshop and storehouse. In August and September 1914, that is, during the vacations, it had been furnished sparsely.

The straw sacks lay close to each another on the attic floor, because the space had to serve the five senior classes, that is, more than 80 boys. The two junior classes were later sent to Ehrenbreitstein. Everywhere there were restrictions – when we were sleeping, washing or eating. There was no lack of opportunity for sacrifice. However, the more we felt this life of sacrifice, the more our zeal grew as a fruit of prayer and the good spiritual guidance of Fr Kentenich, and the disciplinary watchfulness of Fr Auer, who both lived in the Old House with us.

In the group work the sections specialized the sacrifices. This work found its first, great expression in the ‘May Blossoms” of May 1915. Each Sunday two little boxes were placed on the altar steps in the chapel. One was filled with little paper rolls. On each slip of paper there was a sacrifice for the coming week. For example, keep straw sack tidy; keep washbasin shiny; keep school books tidy and in order; go up and down the stairs quietly; take the breakfast bread slices just as they come.

Note: At 10 a.m. a basket of sliced bread was sent down from the College; the bread was unevenly sliced and the jam was unevenly spread. For many this was a temptation to chose the best pieces. At the time I noticed how some of the boys waited until last and made do with what was left over and often did not look very appetizing.

Other resolutions were: To do the housework like sweeping and dusting well; to clean the dusters before hanging them up; to keep the shoe cleaning room tidy; to pick up paper that is lying around and put it in a waste paper basket, and much more, which as a whole made up an exemplary running of the house and way of life. Besides this there were special exercises such as prayers and prayer intentions like the Stations of the Cross and the Rosary. There were also certain virtuous attitudes: punctuality, obedience, bearing with seeming injustice. All these things combined to form the “May Blossoms’ of 1915 as contributions to the capital of grace. This May brought with it such an improvedment in the lives of the boys that Fr Auer once said to me – I was in the sixth form and head of the Eucharistic Section: He had never experienced anything like it before as Vice-Rector and Prefect. He hardly had to correct anyone, still less to punish them.

On Sunday morning after High Mass the boys walked or ran to the chapel to fetch their ‘May Blossoms’ from the box. They read it, rolled it up and returned it to the other box. Some turned bright red as they read the slip, and many confessed: ‘That was just right for me again!’ There was a lot of laughter and childlike trust in their heavenly Mother. Their sense of belonging to a family, and their joy in their vocation and work grew. All increasingly felt that they were one heart and one soul. The tone of conversation also changed; it turned from being banal to become more spiritual …

However, the lion’s share of the contributions to the capital of grace was made up of the conscious contributions of the soldier Sodalists.

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