Our altar stone, symbol of the Apostolate for the Sick and Housebound, will have been in the shrine for ten years on 18 October 1959.
One of us has written to mark this event:
“In 1949 we offered up our altar stone materially, and even more spiritually. In spirit we scratched or engraved our names into the altar stone. We remembered it graphically (in our diary or some other way) in this way: We engraved our names in capital letters. Each line was part of a letter and a special sacrifice. So line after line was joined to form a name. It was complete by 18 October.
At 10 p.m. (17.10.1949) the altar stone was placed into the altar by Fr Friedrich at the request of Fr Kolb. The act was planned for an earlier time, but the stone was too big, so the opening for it had to be enlarged.
Should this tenth anniversary not be an occasion to renew and deepen, this spiritual gift? Those of us who were not there at the time could enter into in retrospect. At the same time it would be a beautiful opportunity to realize our motto for the year. It would be an act of love and loyalty to our dear MTA, our Queen, to the shrine, and also to the founder of the whole Schoenstatt Family.”
Since the history of the origin of our symbol goes back to 1934, that is, for 25 years, and our guardianship is very closely connected with our symbol, I would like to ask you to read the letter of June 1957 once again. Then we will commit ourselves with new zeal to our guardianship. Please make further suggestions to what has been said!
Some important news! Someone suggested something to me which I have weighed up a great deal and discussed: that we again perpetuate ourselves by donating a new door for the shrine. Since it is easy for us to connect the meaning connecting the door and our altar stone, I agreed. However, I do not want to deprive you of the joy of working for it yourselves, and ask you to send me as soon as possible your ideas of the connection, and what the symbolism of the door could say to us who are ill.
Whoever would like to contribute to the cost of the door, even if only through a stamp, can do so. If you are unable to do so, please do not feel depressed about it.
Both in keeping with the above-mentioned purpose and including our great Schoenstatt intentions, we will take part really or spiritually in the large pilgrimage of atonement of the sick pm the second Sunday in September (13 September 1959). As last year we choose St Michael to be our patron (Letter Nr 5, 1958). The more lovingly we prepare for this day of atonement with all its difficulties and sacrifices, the more it will be blessed. The same applies to the retreat for the sick from 14-18 September 1959, and recollection day on 4 October 1959. Please send me your enrolment for these events in good time. It is not necessary to write to Schoenstatt as well. (the day for the sick, the retreat and the recollection day will be conducted by Fr Barton.) On 4 October 1959 we will focus on the symbolism of the door and its connection with our altar stone will. I would also like to invite all our leaders and carers very warmly to take part in these events, as far as they can.
Whoever would like to submit a short, personal prayer of consecration (it could be a sentence you have written down personally or the prayer: My Queen, my Mother …) before 18 October, please do so (this was suggested by some). We want to place them with our spiritual sacrificial gift on our altar stone in the shrine. On 13 September and on 4 and 18 October 1959 Holy Mass will be offered up for us all, including our dear departed. The more we allow ourselves to be transformed into a spiritual sacrificial gift (through Jesus and Mary), the more effective each Holy Mass will be! Let us not forget Fr Hagel and other sick priests. How much they could still do in this time that so lacks priests!
“We can be really grateful to our dear Mother and Queen for these new proofs of her motherly love. We are filled with joy by the new gift and task, which she has entrusted to us, her sick children.
We will soon see the connection between the paten, sentry duty and the law of the open door.
We enter through the open door to place our contributions to the capital of grace at our place the hidden altar stone in the little shrine. Let us do our best, let us be very zealous, recollected and prepared, so that everything, absolutely everything out of our everyday life as sick people, can flow into the capital of grace. In this way we can open the door to the shrine for many, and lead them to our Mother and Queen, and to her work. For the others who have left the shrine and never returned, we can mediate grace through our untiring contributions to draw them home again.
We enter the shrine through the open door not just when we actually visit it, but also at every spiritual pilgrimage.
Unfortunately it has not been possible in the last few months to return to our door symbol. Since the wood for making the door had not dried sufficiently, the replacement of the old door had to be put off to late autumn 1961. During the summer months it is impossible to close the shrine for a few days.
Here are some thoughts and inspirations from our members with regard to working spiritually for the door.
“Our shrine’s door has to be renewed. We, the members of the Apostolate of the Sick, are privileged to give our Blessed Mother a new door. This didn’t happen by chance, because for believers nothing happens by chance. We see the donation of the shrine door, as well as the door to the Adoration Church, as a commission from our dear Mother Thrice Admirable and Queen of Schoenstatt. It seems that she needs many contributions to the capital of grace, because the door to the shrine has to be worked for not just materially, but also spiritually.
The shrine will be a Schoenstatt shrine only as long as there are people who live the covenant of love of 18 October 1914 with the Blessed Mother, that is to say, who give her their contributions to the capital of grace, so that she can distribute her treasures from the shrine, work miracles of grace, and in this way reveal her glories. This building becomes our Schoenstatt shrine through our living the covenant of love with the MTA (Mother Thrice Admirable). It becomes a place of grace ‘not without the Blessed Mother, but also not without us!’ So if the shrine needs a new door, it will have to be penetrated through and through with our sacrifices and prayers, so that the door becomes a ‘door of grace’, as it were. Our Mother knows that the most sacrifices come from the sick. Through our gift of the door she calls us to intensify our sacrifices and prayers.
The door could remind us of the words of the Epistle for the feast of the Rosary [before the reform of the Liturgy]: “Blessed are they who listen to my words and watch at my door all the days of their life, and wait at the posts of my door.” These words surely remind us that we visit the shrine spiritually each day to keep our hour of spiritual Adoration and pray the Rosary. The door also reminds us that the Blessed Mother is the ‘Gate of heaven’, and that we are to help her to wind many people for heaven. We bring many contributions to the capital of grace so that she can also glorify herself as the ‘Gate of heaven’ from our shrine in many sinners, prisoners and the dying, the souls in purgatory, the pagans, unbelievers and Godless. Think of the hymn: ‘O Star of the sea, Gate of heaven, hope and goal of all who sail the seas! If you shine out for me, if you comfort me, the storms will cease and I will find harbour …!’
Christ also calls himself ‘the door’ (Jn 10,11). It is in this sense that the Blessed Mother challenges us through the door to do our best to help everyone to acknowledge Christ as the Redeemer and King of the world, and to follow him as the true Shepherd (conversion of the Jews, Muslims and Hindus, etc.)
However, the shrine door is also a symbol of the true Church of Christ. We could connect our support for the Ecumenical Council with our door project, so that all our brothers and sisters may find the door to the true sheepfold, and together with us adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and love his sacred wounds.”
Our door project has awakened a great deal in you. I can see this from the many letters I have received. We will gradually consider them all. I hope that each of you will find something that suits you. This letter is addressed to many, so it offers a wide choice. I would like to recommend various great tasks to your loving remembrance.
A few months ago we got a terrible fright, which gave us no rest. It was caused by the question as to why it is taking so long for the door to the shrine to be replaced. It gave rise to the question: Has the door really been covered inwardly with our sacrifices?
At long last what the whole family of the sick has prayed and sacrificed for over about two ears has happened on Monday (27.3.1961) the new shrine door was blessed.