History » 1939 - 1969 » 1948 New Tabernacle

The New Tabernacle 1948

From: Schönstattquell 1948, p. 74 ff.

A precious gift

The last day of may was coming to a close. (Note: The celebration began at 5.30 p.m. The officiating priest, who also preached, was Fr Josef Friedrich SAC.) The altar in the shrine of our Mother Thrice Admirable and Queen of Schoenstatt was beautifully decorated with many white carnations and slender candles. Fine tulle covered the stands on either side. They had been built up in steps so that the flowers flowed like a train almost to the communion rails. The shrine looked really bridal as though awaiting a great event. The wooden tabernacle doors were close and no sanctuary lamp burned, because it was empty. The members of the Women’s League who were staying in Schoenstatt for their retreat gathered silently to the side of the shrine in front of the heroes’ graves. The sanctuary of the shrine was brilliantly lit. When the priest arrived as many of the women followed him into the shrine as they could; the rest remained outside. What a pity that the walls of the shrine cannot stretch to take them all in.

Once the choir had sung the “Veni Sancte Spiritus”, the priest spoke about the history and symbolism of the new tabernacle, which they were about to dedicate solemnly. The members of the Women’s League had worked for it materially and spiritually.

As he came to an end, the Angelus was rung. A lovely moment! We were reminded of that mysterious moment when the Blessed Mother became a living tabernacle at the hour of the Annunciation.

Then all present joined in praising the Blessed Mother. In spirit they included the whole League community as they paid homage to their Queen, thanking her for her merciful love and faithfulness, and presented the precious gift of a new tabernacle for her Son. A reading from Sacred Scripture about the new Jerusalem, God’s dwelling among men, and about the ark of the covenant were applied to the Blessed Mother, who was filled with God, and who as the living ark of the new covenant embodied the ideal of the League community. They prayed:

Leader: Wonderful Mother of the only begotten Son of God. You were chosen to be the first, true tabernacle in this world.
All: We greet you, Mary, God’s holy tabernacle!
L: Exalted Lady, long promised and desired, you bore the salvation of the world in your womb.
All: We greet you, Mary, God’s holy tabernacle!
L: God-bearing Ark of the New Covenant, still today you bear Christ into the whole world.
All: We greet you, Mary, God’s holy tabernacle! Mary, Mother of Christ, bless us!
L: Virginal Madonna! You have brought us the most pure manna, the living Bread of God!
All: We praise you, Mary, God’s living tabernacle!
L: Mary, filled with love, bringing life, you give us Christ, your Son, who lives in our hearts.
All: We praise you, Mary, God’s living tabernacle!
L: Dawn and reflection of the Lord, you bring us Christ, the Sun, and lead us to him.
All: We praise you, Mary, God’s living tabernacle! You bring us Christ, bless us!

After a prayer of consecration the choir sang the hymn, “Holy ground, my Schoenstatt land ..”, the third verse of which centres wholly on our Lord. While this was happening the priest slowly opened the tabernacle. All eyes were directed there with expectation. The wooden doors were opened wide and the outer door of the metal shrine became visible. A golden cross rises from a large lily chalice. The gilded and engraved doors bear the superimposed words: Nobis datus, nobis natus, ex intacta virgine – given to us, born to us, from an intact virgin.

Then the metal doors were opened and we could see the Annunciation scene on the silver inner surface – the Mother of God, kneeling before God in receptive self-surrender, and the Angel Gabriel on the other side in reverend awe. It is as though the Blessed mother is all recelloction and readiness, while the angel is pure reverence. The tabernacle curtains hide what is within. How many souls will be moved to prayer and meditation on the intimate connection between the mystery of the incarnation and the Eucharist by this most beautiful and artistic work of the goldsmiths. The Blessed Mother has obviously guided the artist’s hand to bring his work to success, to glorify her Son, and to draw souls into his ambit.

The liturgical dedication took place before the opened tabernacle. Now it is ready to receive the King of Kings. The Blessed Sacrament was brought over from the Tertianship house, and the choir joyfully greeted the Eucharistic Lord as he entered the shrine. Adoration in the monstrance followed. The choir then sang the Tantum ergo and the priest gave us the blessing before exposing the Blessed Sacrament in the ciborium. The final hymn echoed and summarized the celebration:

O Lord, let me be a tabernacle, …

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