By Juan Zaforas and Maria Fischer •
I think the Christian family, the family, marriage has never been so attacked as it is now. Well then, there is nothing left to do than to do something. So then your question, what can we do? Yes, we can give good talks, declare principles, sometimes you have to do this, right? With clear ideas: Look, what you are proposing is not marriage, it is an association, but it is not marriage. Sometimes one has to say things clearly, and, of course, it is necessary to do so. But the pastoral approach of helping in this case has to be body to body. That is, to accompany. And this means loss of time. The great master for losing time is Jesus, no? He has lost time accompanying in order for consciences to mature, to heal wounds, to teach. To accompany is to walk together.”
These words of Pope Francis resound from the Jubilee audience for the Schoenstatt pilgrims called “an encounter of commitment with him, with the Church” by the new Superior General of the Schoenstatt Fathers, Fr. Juan Pablo Catoggio. They resound a few weeks before the Synod for the Family. They resound a few days before the World Encounter of Families in Philadelphia, and they also resound on the eve of the General Chapter of the Family Federation.
Between September 3rd and September 13th, in Schoenstatt (Germany), the third General Chapter of the Schoenstatt International Apostolic Family Federation will take place.
Participating in the Chapter will be representatives from the autonomous Federations from Germany, Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Poland. Other Federations not yet autonomous are: Ecuador, Spain, USA, Hungary, Mexico, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Czech Republic, South Africa and Switzerland. Autonomy requires a certain number of members and structural development. The first international and constitutive General Chapter took place in January 2005, at the Josef Kentenich Hof in Germany with families from Germany, Argentina, Chile and Paraguay. Between that chapter and now, the Federations from Austria, Brazil and Poland have reached autonomy.
International, federal, free, with sound initiative…..in a word, what is most characteristic of Schoenstatt
In this historic time, before the Bishops’ Synod on the Family, families from six countries, from two continents, in four languages, will work on topics related to the international, federal, free communities with sound initiative, sound responsibility – all the topics proper to the Federation where initiative and responsibility are invested in the groups, in the regions and countries; decisions cannot be delegated “upwards”. These are topics that concern the whole of Schoenstatt, because Father Kentenich designed it as a federation of independent communities; the only bond that unites them is the Covenant of Love.
“There are existential questions like: What is proper to the different communities? What refers only to this country? What is common to all?” says Norbert Jehle, one of the Chapter participants interviewed by schoenstatt.org . “How can we support and complement each other from our own experiences, in the pedagogical itinerary? How can we achieve better communication between countries, or in a continent?” he says, and adds, “And all of this in an international federation where there is no central government as in the Institutes… In the Federation everything can only be done voluntarily.” The answers we find can be of great value to all of Schoenstatt.
A Culture of Encounter is a Covenant Culture which creates Solidarity
In an exchange with Ramón and Marité Marini, outgoing leaders of the International Apostolic Schoenstatt Family Federation, and faithful collaborators of schoenstatt.org, the conversation turned to the audience with Pope Francis on October 25, 2014, and how his words about a culture of encounter, a covenant culture and solidarity, are like a message to the Family Federation at this time….. This led to a gift on behalf of the schoenstatt.org team to the Chapter: the Marinis already have in their hands a package with the Audience Book for each participating family, in the relevant language, of course.
What can we do? Yes, we can give good talks, declare principles, sometimes you have to do this, right? But the pastoral approach of helping in this case has to be body to body. This is, to accompany. And this means loss of time. The great master for losing time is Jesus, no? He has lost time accompanying in order for consciences to mature, to heal wounds, to teach. To accompany is to walk together.
Original Spanish: Translation: Carlos Cantú, Schoenstatt Family Federation, La Feria, USA , edited: Mary Cole, Manchester, UK
Photo above: iStock/Getty Images/for use on schoenstatt.org