Very important reflections took place in the Summer of 1916 about the further decoration of the shrine. They show how much the shrine had become the focal poin of the life and striving of the Sodalists in the meantime, and also how enthusiastic they were to increase its effectiveness with every means in their power.
Fr Kentenich’s letters give the ongoing discussion very briefly and in the form of hints, but they were very clear. An example is his letter to Josef Fischer of 24 July 1916.
His reference to an earlier programmatic letter was to one he wrote on 22 May 1916 in which a comparison with Vincent Pallotti’s idea of an organization appears for the first time.
It is natural that Fr Kentenich wrote his reflections on the further decoration of the “gem” not just to Josef Fischer, more as a passing reference, but also as far as possible to all the Sodalists. A reaction was quick in coming. He again mentioned his thoughts to Josef Fischer in his letter of 1 August 1916 from his vacation in Dernbach.
In this letter, Fr Kentenich referred to Franz Hafeneth had written we don’t know what it was. In keeping with Hafeneth’s character we may safely conclude that he repeated his thoughts in a number of letters. So Fr Kentenich could also have referred to the short extract that appeared in the MTA magazine, Nr. 20, and another that he wrote to Fr Kentenich a few days after the letter mentioned above.
The MTA (Nr. 21) of 22. October 1916 brought extracts from letters from Max Brunner, Albert Eise and Andreas Schäfer. They reflect the lively discussion about the shrine, its function and future.
As early as August 1916 Max Brunner took up the idea of a war memorial and spoke in favour of it. Also Albert Eise expressed his opinion to their Spritual Director. This letter also raises the idea of enlarging the Chapel of St Michael out of gratitude.
This extract from Albert Eise’s letter was followed by one from Andreas Schäfer. In it the idea of making the shrine a National Shrine in the future is raised. It should unite and, if necessary, reconcile the people. The remarks continue in der Nr 23 issue of the MTA, of 19 November 1916.
A vehement and very clear letter of rejection from Franz Wallbrunn brought the discussion about enlarging the shrine to a temporary conclusion. He was one of the eldest members of the Marian Sodality. At the time he belonged to the Fischer Section, and within it to the group led by Heinrich Richarz.
After this expression of opinion, the ideal of enlarging the shrine did not appear again in the MTA magazine until 1919. However, the idea of a war memorial was followed up until it was realized on 27 April 1919, the fifth anniversary of the foundation of the Marian Sodality. On this day the memorial with 109 names was unveiled on the right hand wall of the shrine.
The year 1916 brought two other signs of progress. One was the beginning of the album of Sodalists in the shrine, the other was a deeper discovery of the context of salvation history in which the shrine was seen. Both are continuously documented in the consecutive editions of the MTA.