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Institute for Pastoral Initiatives News

Words from a Marianist

By Sr. Angela Ann Zukowski, D.Min, MHSH

Many years ago Marianist Brother, Fr. Quentin Hakenewerth, S.M., sent me his book, "The Grain of Wheat."   

His message on the power of words has guided me throughout my life.

Father calls our attention to the fact that words, even ordinary words, have great power. Words can inspire, they can encourage, they can support.

Just a word is all it takes at times to make another person feel like trying life anew once more.

Fr. Hakenewerth, who is 91, now lives in Querétaro, Mexico. He is chaplain of the Marianist Formation Community (prenoviciate). 

"I think the underlying message of 'The Grain of Wheat' is: If you want to live your life to the full (life in abundance), live for others, not for yourself (your ego)," Fr. Hakenewerth said.

"The virtues of Jesus are the best way to do this."

It is very important, therefore, that we become aware of just what our words do bring to others.

Our words are like husks. Their meaning for another depends on what kind of grain we put inside them.  We learn words like ready made shells, but the kernel inside will come from our own goodness or lack of it. It is not the husk of the word which makes the difference to the one who listens, but how much of ourselves is carried as grain within the husk. 

Our words, like grains of wheat, may be full or empty. 

Today, think of the grains of wheat, the power your words and give new life to someone.

Fr. Quentin Hakenewerth, S.M., has written extensively in the areas of Marianist spirituality and thought. His most recent book was published in Spanish by Edicines Paulinas:  Historias de ConfesionarioLa misericordia de Dios en el sacramento de reconciliation. 

In addition to "The Grain of Wheat," Fr. Hakenewerth has authored dozens of titles, including:

  • "Growing in the Virtues of Jesus: The Marianist Method of Virtues for Use in Groups" 
  • "A Manual of Marianist Spirituality"
  • "The Great Design of God's Love: A Companion to Growing in the Virtues of Jesus" 
  • "Mary in Modern Spirituality" 
  • "The Mother of Jesus Was There" 
  • "Fullness of Life Through Prayer" 

Sister Angela Ann is the Director of the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives and the VLCFF online, which offers three week ($40) and five week ($50) classes year-round. Go to and click calendar to see the online courses available.

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