The 18th, Day of the Covenant
It was July, 1947. Refugees from the Eastern territories were gathering for the first time in Schoenstatt, Germany for religious exercises.
It was a small portion of the millions of men and women who, as a consequence of the Postdam and Yalta Treaties signed by the conquering forces of World War II, were unjustly expelled from their homeland. They lost all they had and were turned over to East Germany which was suffering the consequences of the lost war and was struggling to survive and rise again. The theme of the aforementioned Exercises was: “Through a strong love in sacrifice, be heroes, saints and apostles in daily life.”
At the conclusion of the Exercises, during a conversation, someone made these suggestions: Would it not be something great if we would come together spiritually on the 18th of each month in the Schoenstatt Shrine to remember the Covenant of Love we have sealed and to renew it there? Would it not be meaningful to write our names in a book as a symbolic expression of the eternal Covenant of Love? Would it not be something valuable if on the 18th of each month, a Holy Mass would be celebrated in the Shrine for all those who have sealed a Covenant of Love with the MotherThrice Admirable and Queen? These insinuations quickly caught on fire. Since then, in the Schoenstatt Family, the 18th of each month is celebrated as a “Day of the Covenant.”
A day of remembrance and renewal of the Covenant of Love
It has to do with a day of remembrance and renewal of the Covenant of Love sealed on the 18th of October 1914, by Father Kentenich with the Blessed Virgin Mary in the old Chapel of St. Michael, in the valley of Schoenstatt. (Something similar to what the 7th of each month is for the devotees of St. Cayetan, or the 13th for those connected to Fatima).
A day of remembrance. It is so necessary to “stop,” periodically in our daily comings and goings to raise our spirits above the daily problems and remember the great works of the Lord in our favor. A great day in the history of the 20th century was October 18, 1914, when the Most Blessed Virgin, responding to the desire and petition of Father Kentenich, wanted to attach Herself to that little chapel – then semi-abandoned – in the valley of Schoenstatt. If we contemplate what took place on that day from that place in Germany, we will understand how certain were the words which Father Kentenich wrote for October 18, 1939: “She is simply the gift which God in his wisdom, kindness, and omnipotence gave to our family in a special way on October 18, 1914, and through our family in a new way to the world.”
A day of remembrance, but, likewise, a day of renewal. Who does not understand that, in this world, all which is not renewed constantly, in time, tends to decay under the influence of an inexorable law of “spiritual gravity?” Every 18th, we want to renew the Covenant of Love which we once sealed with the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen and Victress of Schoenstatt. We offer Her all we were able to do during the passed month to her “Treasury of Grace,” and we place into her hands and heart the following month. Upon doing this, Mary also renews the Covenant She has sealed with us, since this covenant has, as we have seen, a mutual and reciprocal character.
A day of pilgrimage to the Shrine
On that day, the 18th, we try to go on pilgrimage to the Shrine to which we are attached. If we cannot do it physically, we at least try to do it spiritually. In this way we want to advance, on the way of our earthly pilgrimage…..month by month…..year by year. The Covenant of Love we have sealed with the Blessed Virgin Mary should become more and more the fundamental axis of our life.
For us, nothing happens by chance. Nothing exists which does not have some meaning. We surrender it all – especially that which is most difficult, that which costs us more – for the Shrine’s “Treasury of Grace.” We also know that Blessed Mary is faithful to the Covenant which She has sealed with us. This leads us to experience a profound feeling of being sheltered in her Immaculate Heart, in the heart of God. “I firmly believe that no one who remains faithful to his/her Covenant of Love will perish.”
Translation: Carlos Cantú, Schoenstatt Family Federation, La Feria, Texas USA