The Covenant Culture is Schoenstatt’s answer to the question posed by the Church and by society: Schoenstatt, what do you do?
The Schoenstatt Movement has been responsible for the birth of many apostolic, social, educational, missionary and pastoral activities throughout the world. It is about the dynamic power of the Covenant of Love, a Covenant Culture in all aspects of life.
The Working Document for 2014 explains the meaning of the Covenant Culture as follows: “Covenant culture is how we typically express the way we live and work: our attachment to God, to people, to nature and culture, to Church and the world, all based on the covenant of love.”
With concrete manifestations of the Covenant Culture, Schoenstatt shows – through deeds – its love for the Church, for families, for youth, for the poor and needy, for society in its political and pedagogical aspects; for a world of development and investigation and for all aspects that have something to do with people and the longing to live in covenant with God, with their neighbours, with nature and work, and with themselves. This is the concrete contribution that Schoenstatt offers for the development of a new social order, the realization of its call to build a new world, from the Covenant of Love, and through new persons.
The Covenant Culture is, moreover, an offer from Schoenstatt for the Church and society. In the same way that poverty wasn´t meant for the Franciscans alone, neither the discernment of spirits only for the Jesuits, peace only for St. Egidio and unity just for Focolare, the Covenant Culture is by no means, only for Schoenstatters.
Hence, the “tents” for the jubilee have some kind of an internal dialogue as well as an external sign of our times, about the challenges of modern man, being this a dialogue that springs forth from facts. They show real life, and not only from a theoretical speculation. This gives it more strength and conviction.
Every project a contribution to the Covenant Culture
Many of these initiatives were started by people or by groups from a particular branch of the Movement, or they have been the fruit of a calling or an inspiration from the Blessed Mother or the Shrine. These are people who have been opened to Blessed Mother and the mission of the Shrine have established systematic and ongoing social initiatives that make a difference to the lives of those who need it most.
These projects, initiatives or institutions work daily to embody the spirit and the pedagogy of Schoenstatt. In their daily work, they apply the pedagogical concepts of Father Kentenich and apply all material and human tools to work towards human dignity.
Therefore, each project has a “missionary” and evangelizing aspect in itself, and at the heart of its mission is the aim to lead all those who suffer to God and to share with them the message of Christian love.
There are many different kinds of social, pastoral, pedagogical and missionary projects that have been born out of the Covenant of Love, which are not only a reflection of the varied needs experienced by modern man, but many of these also originated from the “encounter” with personal vocations and concrete situations that must be translated into actions.
“In “nothing without us” we bring our covenant gifts in gratitude for all the fruits Schoenstatt has produced over the last 100 years through its presence and its growth. We also do this as a sign of our willingness to leave our mark, our “Covenant 2014”, on a new Schoenstatt century. Our covenant gift is our commitment towards a covenant culture expressed in all the missionary apostolic projects within the strategic fields of the apostolate: marriage and family life, youth, pedagogy, Church, and society.” (Working Document for 2014)
Strategic Areas of Apostolic Activity
These initiatives embrace different areas of life and can be categorized into five areas, identified at the 2014 Conference (February 2009) as the “five strategic areas, which must become a priority. Our apostolic deeds must also be improved at this point in time.”
The fact that these initiatives encompass other areas shows that they have been the fruit of an organic focus.
These areas are:
- Marriage and family life
- The challenges and dynamism of the youth
- The application and dissemination of Fr. Kentenich’s thought within the educational field
- The incorporation of our original charism in the diocesan and universal Church
- Effective collaboration in the creation of a new social order and a culture inspired by the covenant.
For the great celebration in 2014, many will have the opportunity to show their projects in tents according to their category and which show the Covenant Culture. The International Communications Office 2014 wants to anticipate the joy of the lived Covenant of love by creating “Virtual tents” in which many of the initiatives that apply Fr. Kentenich’s spirituality and pedagogy can be known. These projects touch life and make the Covenant Culture concrete in daily life.
The most important answer: Mary
Through the Pilgrim Mother Campaign we can feel the vital application of what is most important in Schoenstatt’s social, apostolic and missionary actions: Mary is the final answer to all human needs. They aim to take her to all areas of modern life, so that she can act and build a Covenant culture. “The centre of the Campaign is to take Mary as an image of grace, she should be at the forefront. This means taking her ‘wherever we can and She will act…in her is what we have always wanted and emphasised. (Fr. Kentenich, 11.04.68)
“Through Deacon João Pozzobon’s Campaign, the Blessed Mother and Mother Thrice Admirable wants to go out from the Shrine as the ‘Great Missionary,’ as the ‘one who will work miracles’ to take the Covenant of Love to countless men and women, and through it, to Christ and the fullness of the Gospel. (Santa Maria Consensus Document, 1989, II, 1,3)
The Campaign, as Schoenstatt’s ‘missionary countenance,’ is present all of the strategic areas of the apostolate, and wants to reach out to all men and women, especially families so that their homes can become shrines where Mary can educate and evangelize. In particular, João Pozzobon reached out to children and the poorest of the poor, and wanted the Campaign to work towards “salvation of families” (Testament). Here we see a strategic pastoral accent.
The Campaign aims to work as Mary’s instrument in her evangelising mission so that she, the great teacher of faith, can educate our people and lead them through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit to the Father. (Santa Maria Consensus Document, 1989, II, 2, f)
From the Shrine to the poor: the social commitment of the Campaign has its origins in João Pozzobon himself, in the commitment and mark of his actions.
The most important apostolate: prayer
Since the beginning it was always important that there be people who support these apostolic projects through their prayers. Schoenstatt has been a place of uninterrupted perpetual 24-hour adoration since the Christmas of 1929. Within the Institute of the Sisters of Mary, there is a community of Adoration Sisters who come from many countries around the world and are relieved of their other duties to carry out this important service.
Since 1989, the Mother Shrine once again became a place where the Sisters of Mary pray before the Blessed Sacrament for the intentions and needs of the world. These sisters come from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Poland and they go to the Original Schoenstatt for three years where they live a contemplative lifestyle and their main task is to support the Schoenstatt Movement and its initiatives with their prayers, by asking for blessings for everything and everyone, thus forming the foundation of everything that grows in and for Schoenstatt. They pray for those that need God’s support from the Movement’s original place, in such a way that all the fruits are born from a common action and prayer.
All of us can collaborate with our prayers, accompanying the Sisters in their task. They receive all the petitions sent to them daily from all over the world and they include these in their prayers. They have also formed a prayer circle among the laity, who support each other despite the enormous distances, are enriched and encourage each person to develop their spiritual lives.
In addition to the Sisters, there are different circles made up of Schoenstatt Fathers and other Schoenstatt communities that hold Eucharistic Adoration in different ways. They also make great sacrifices for the success of the many Schoenstatt initiatives and pray for blessings for all those who send their prayer requests.