We were ready the bells were hanging on the mountain. We could even sound them and let them ring. Who would have thought that this would happen while the participants at the October Week were still there! So they still had not place in the programme to the sorrow of Fr Menningen and the young men, who had given their all in the last weeks to be able to ring in the 18 October to the joy of the Blessed Mother and the whole Schoenstatt Family. Now all their efforts had been rewarded, and the young guards of our Schoenstatt Queen felt a justified pride because they had donated their gift in gratitude for the protection of their Schoenstatt home in most difficult times, and had now managed to bring it up the mountain.
It suggested itself, therefore, that all who were taking part in the Crowning Week should be allowed to share in the joy and pride of the young men. So the programme of 17 October was enriched with a new point. The other events of the day had to be moved slightly as a result. It wasn’t so easy, but they managed it. After all, everyone was happy that the bells, and hence also our upright young men, were fittingly celebrated. So we set off on pilgrimage towards 3 p.m. to the playing field. Even the sun peeped out from the clouds. It seemed to want to announce its interest and see to it that we didn’t get too cold on the windy heights. Flags and bits of cloth in white and gold decorated the site near the steep slope leading down to the shrine. The four bells were hanging there from their iron supports 20-30 cm above the ground. The silver shone in the sunlight and the bells were garlanded with oak leaves. The smallest bell had a blue and white flag planted before it so that we could know it was the Mary bell. Those who arrived early enough could make out the inscription of the whole peal:
CUM MARIA MATER ET REGINA NOSTRA
PER CHRISTUM FILIUM
IN SPIRITU SANCTO
AD DEUM PATREM
With Mary, our Mother Thrice Admirable and Queen, through Christ, the Son, in the Holy Spirit, to God the Father.
So the bells indicate our Marian and liturgical way: with Mary through Christ in the Holy Spirit to the Father and repeatedly make us aware that we may and must grow into the whole supernatural organism.
As the time for the ceremony approached, the place around the bells had to be cleared. The choir of Brothers from the College took their places to the side. If you really wanted to see, you either had to have to good luck to be in front, or the smartness to push yourself to the front, to climb the surrounding hazlenut trees, or to find a place on the rocky slope from which you could see. The others could stand on tip toe and look between heads and shoulders. The best thing, however, was to be satisfied with hearing what was happening.
A small platform had been erected for the speakers. The rocky wall at the back had even been hidden with branches from the fir trees, and s step-like approach to the platform had been specially constructed.
The priest arrived and surveyed the site with visible joy. He vested in rochette and stole, and the white cape was placed round his shoulders. The godparents, the representatives of the individual Branches, took their places beside their bells, and the young men carried the sodality banner. The Brothers sang a most beautiful introduction, which was followed by a poetic statement about the bells:
Bells proclaim, bells call,
bells fill the land with sacredness.
Four metal worshippers, four metal voices
are connected by the sacred words.
They ring together, the call together,
into the hearts, into our Schoenstatt realm:
With Mary, our Mother and Queen,
we go through Christ, the Son,
in the Holy Spirit
to the Father on his eternal throne.
The consecration rite followed. It includes a number of psalm and two most beautiful prayers. In the first we prayed:
“... Grant, we beseech you, that through my humble service this bell will be sanctified by the Holy Spirit, so that its ringing may invite the Faithful to Church and to their supernatural reward. And when the sound of these bells reaches the ears of the people, may their faith and piety grow, may persecution of the Evil One be kept far away, and may hail, storm and lightning be averted; may the power of your hand and the sign of the cross inscribed on them destroy the powers of the air, so that by the sound of these bells they may tremble and flee, ...”
After this prayer the priest incensed each bell in turn and sprinkled them with holy water while the choir recited the Asperges me … Sprinkle me, O Lord, … that I may be pur, wash me and I will be whiter than snow. As the priest incensed the bells, the choir recited: Let my pray rise up before you like incense …
The second prayer followed:
“... Pour out over these bells the dew of the Holy Spirit, that the wicked enemy may ever flee from their sound; may they invite the Christian people to faith, frighten off the enemy hosts, strengthen the people in the Lord, and, as though filled with joy by David’s harp, may the Holy Spirit descend. As once Samuel slaughtered the ewe as a sacrifice to the eternal King, and the thunder drove off the army of the enemy, may the sound of these bells penetrate the clouds, so that the army of angels my protect your people ...”
Once again the priest moved from bell to bell, blessing each with the sign of the cross, beginning with the God the Father bell and saying:
In honorem Patris
In honorem Spiritus Sancti
In honorem Christi, Regis et Salvatoris
In honorem Matris et Reginae ter admirabilis.
The blessing was completed. Now the godparents spoke. With a hand on the bell they spoke their baptismal words. The youth:
“Mary’s bell, your metal tongue
proclaims Mary’s glory ...”
The other godparents followed. Then the priest (Fr Kentenich) went to the podium and began to speak. He said:
With great gratitude and holy pride the Second Founding Document calls Schoenstatt and Schoenstatt’s children the favourite creation and favourite occupation of the Mother Thrice Admirable and Queen of Schoenstatt. In the course of the past years, indeed in the course of the past decades, how often have we not been able to experience this joyful fact! Today’s simple celebration is an eloquent proof, an eloquent witness to it.
In this week we want to crown the Mother Thrice Admirable and Queen of Schoenstatt the Queen of the World. She allows us to crown her, she allows us to enthrone her, not to rest there, but in order to set off on her victorious conquest of the world in us and through us …
Dp we fee; the weight of responsibility we take upon ourselves with this crowning? Must we not, may we not in future, rise up from the valley into the heights, we who have proclaimed Schoenstatt’s message within a limited circle of people? Until now the little bell in the chapel tower has proclaimed Schoenstatt’s message, must not the powerful ringing of these bells call out in future over valleys and mountains?
Whoever has taken part in the solemn blessing of bells before will know that the ceremony requires the bells to be washed from within and without. It is anointed with the oil of the sick and chrism. According to the mind of the Church, a bell has to be seen as a person, a priest. Does it have a priestly task?
The priest may teach. The priest may be a shepherd. He may be a priest in the narrower sense of the word. That is also the great task our bells have in the time to come: as teachers they have to proclaim Schoenstatt’s secret, as shepherds they have to protect Schoenstatt’s secret, and as priests they have to help to realize it.
To teach the mystery of Mary! What does the Mary bell teach us? It is the smallest of he bells, Just as Mary was small here on earth she was the Ancilla, the handmaid of Christ, the servant of the Holy Spirit and the Father, so the Mary bell rings humbly, simply and modestly into the world. What does it proclaim? It invites us to enter into a covenant of love, a perfect covenant love with the Mother Thrice Admirable and Queen of Schoenstatt. However, it also wants to hear the other bells ringing with it, it wants to cause the other bells to ring, it wants the covenant of love with Mary to become a perfect covenant of love with Christ, the King, with the Holy Spirit and God the Father.
So her bell rings out the message of Schoenstatt into the wide open spaces. It is the message of the covenant of love of the world with Mary, with Christ, with the Holy Spirit and the Father. It teaches the peoples that this perfect covenant of love has been given an original character through perfect faith in Divine Providence, which reveals the God of life in the crises of our times, which listens to his wishes and answers them through everyday sanctity. The perfect covenant of love finds expression in perfect mission-consciousness. This is how the bells share in Christ’s teaching office. This is how they have to teach.
However, they may also take part in a distinctive way in the pastoral office of Eternal Love as the protectors of Schoenstatt’s secret.
After the Church dedication the bells have to ward off storms, it has to help to banish the influence of the devil. Listen, bells, that is your task to keep all enemies far from this hily land as the Blessed mother has done most brilliantly until now. It will be your task to see to it that the devil, who is totally anti-Marian, will not find the way into this world. When we come here, or think of Schoenstatt, and feel that we have been negligent, that we no longer believe properly in Schoenstatt’s secret, then please protect Schoenstatt’s secret in us, watch over it and preserve it in us. See to it that we are always enthusiastic about Schoenstatt’s secret and remain true to it.
The bells are protectors, guards! However, they also have the function to be priests of Schoenstatt’s secret. They have to be a holy peal, transforming the air into holy air. The bells have to fulfil a transforming task. They have to help us to become inwardly transformed into Mary, into Christ, into God, that we become living Schoenstatt secrets ...
The bells have been donated by our young men. So they represent the world of our young men. What may resound here? There was once a time when our young men were the great supporters of our Schoenstatt secret. Has this time passed? Haven’t others begun to compete with us? In this gift, the gift of the bells, isn’t there an echo of a certain sense that we are guilty, a certain petition: Bells, ring out into the world what we have not rung out sufficiently! We were meant to be teachers, guardians, priests of Schoenstatt’s secret, but we lacked so much.
Bells, represent us! Ring out into the world and ring the young men to Schoenstatt! Ring into everyone’s soul: You too have a task in our Schoenstatt realm: Become messengers again, become supports of Schoenstatt’s secret, in the way foreseen by Eternal Love! Try to re-conquer your mission.
Yet the bells also want to symbolize us all. As often as we hear their sound, our souls must sing: You who believe in Schoenstatt, increasingly become children, supporters, teachers and priests of our great Schoenstatt secreit.
So may the sound of the bells take up the sould of the little bell down in the valley. May it ring out into the wide world over lands and seas until the answer returns: The Blessed Mother, the Mother Thrice Admirable and Queen of Schoenstatt, must become Queen of the Universe. We, her instruments, her messengers, want to see it as our task to give our all for her reign, no matter whether we live or die for it.
After the task we sang the Hymn of Hme out over our Schoenstatt valley. The young men set the bells in motion a solemn, melodious sound echoed into the world around and up to the heavens to praise the Triune God and the Blessed Mother. How will they sound one day when they hang from a high church tower? So lost in thought we listened to the sound.
The ringing died away. The priest closed the celebration with his blessing and the greeting: Nos cum prole pia benedicat virgo Maria! Mother with your loving Son bless us each and every one!