The missionary current is real life: Family Missions in Spain
SPAIN, Father Carlos Padilla. San Rafael, in the Segovian area, is located in the center of the Sierra de Guadarrama at 1,212 meters above sea level. Its population of 3,000 inhabitants swells to 9,000 during the summer months. It is attached to the royal highway that united Madrid with the Royal Palace of the neighboring area of La Granja de San Ildefonso. This strategic point became a place of rest for those who crossed the Guadarrama Sierra.
Many second summer homes, among which there are many manors with splendid gardens of firs and hundred year old sequoias, were built because of its proximity to the cities of Madrid and Segovia and its leafy forests at the foot of the mountain. Therefore, the nucleus of the residents of San Rafael works with livestock, hospitality, and business; in addition there is a broader extension of summer residents from Madrid and Segovia, who come to rest and recreate.
In the midst of those beautiful gardens, there is a mountain church whose pastor requested the presence of the Schoenstatt Family Missions during Holy Week. That is how ninety-five missionaries, little ones, teens, and adults, leagues, institutes and federations, professionals, crusaders, apostles, scholars, university students, and pilgrims carried their backpacks on the Saturday before Palm Sunday to accompany the residents of this place from Holy Week to Easter Sunday.
An overwhelming sign of the missionary Schoenstatt
The objective of the Schoenstatt Family Missions in Spain is none other than to give testimony of a faith that is lived within the family and in community; it is possible and not only is it possible, but rather it is essential for the healthy and organic growth of any society. Just as the Family Missions are carried out in other Hispanic countries in the Americas, in Spain, the Family Missions are born from the desire of showing themselves before society as a united, joyful, creative families deeply anchored in faith. For this reason and in order to achieve it, the streets, the parish, and the places we visited were filled with the noisy activities of our youngest ones, the songs and laughter of our youth, and with the hopeful message that the family contributes in its entire splendor.
By the hand of the Pilgrim MTA, the cross hanging around their necks
By the Pilgrim MTA’s hand and with the cross hanging around their neck, the missionaries divided into families or mission pairs to knock on house doors thereby allowing Mary to enter into them and to dispense her graces. They became small instruments, inviting the local people to the afternoon activities that were always very carefully chosen: this year, Valivan (known from EWTN) delighted the people with his puppets, the children’s workshops, and the forum for a recently released movie, Maktub, held an enriching debate for everyone. The family prayers throughout the different times of the day offered rest for the soul, not only for the missionaries; but also and especially for those who shared their needs, sorrows, solitude of soul, their large or small sorrows that purify the hearts of those who suffer.
The three pillars of the Family Missions
The three pillars on which the Family Missions are based were accomplished:
The external mission- that is in charge of taking the message that Christ lives in us to all the homes. The Heartshrine is then opened wide to welcome the one visited and to offer the best that we have. The doors are not always opened…or sometimes they open doors, and then immediately close them. When door is the closed, a Hail Mary is prayed…and She will bless! But all the missionaries leave with the experience of having been invited to enter some of the homes, of having heard the reality of other families, which is sometimes desolate, of hearing about the disillusionments with the Church provoked by ourselves, of having shown them another reality of this same Church, the reality of the Pilgrim Church that always walks toward the most needy. They leave with the experience of having taken them a little bit of hope and of having prayer, a simple prayer, because it is sincere, because it comes from the soul, because is not bound to political correctness.
The internal mission is lived within; it allows everyone and each missionary to give their best. It is impressive to contemplate how generosity and giving of self are carried out. Weariness or the discomfort of the house does not matter. The cold, rain, and snow, which have been abundant this year, do not matter. Everyone gives what he/she has. The unfurling of talents cannot be counted, and each one finds his/her place because they have a place. Prayer, especially the night prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, renews hearts profoundly and meanwhile, the youngest ones sleep peacefully in the house. In the chapel, a fire is lit so that hearts will be on fire. The hearts are on fire! During the day and during free times, it is striking to see how the mission children feel secure; they play and build huts like the ones they see. With two branches of an old tree, they make the cross for their own chapel that they decorate with flowers…
And finally the inner mission… is the way in which the external and the internal mission renew our beings as people, couples, and families; it is the work that is carried out within each person confirming that big things are not necessary for happiness. It confirms the mission of being and not of having. One can be so much and so happy with so little!
From the ashes, a society that is on fire demands the maximum, without horizons, where values are confused, where man’s soul drowns in the loneliness of materialism and of egoism, hope is reborn in one who has faith. The warm becomes fire. It is the fire of love that transforms. The family mission is confirmed and affirmed, where the human being is allowed to grow healthy, developing harmoniously secure, because he/she feels loved.
The family, is the best we have
The family should be this fertile soil, because it was plowed and planted by God's hands, where the children will be rooted and will spread their wings to be what God wants for them, where the parents accompany and love them, where siblings are bonded giving the best to each other. So many fears are dissipated! That is the family, the best that we have, it is the response to the great restlessness of the human soul. That is what the Family Missions are; it is "…the land so warm and dear which Eternal Love has built itself: where noble hearts beat with affection…" (Heavenwards, p. 162) of which Father Kentenich spoke. That is Schoenstatt.
This is what we have had the privilege of experiencing during Holy Week, what we have offered the people of San Rafael. We have seen the Church full during the liturgies, we have shared hot chocolate with the local residents after the Easter Vigil and the fireworks that made us all laugh and cry. Moreover we have observed the joy and the gratitude of a pastor who is accustomed to living alone in a coarse town of extreme weather. We have two more years of mission in San Rafael, and meanwhile we will allow the seed to sprout!
Family of Mary, be loyal to your mission!
Celina M. Garza, San Antonio: English translation - M.P. Janknegt: English edit