PARAGUAY, Patricia Domínguez •
Through a labyrinth of paths I came to the Schoenstatt Shrine. I would like to tell you how deeply I remember when I first entered this place of grace, but I do not. I would like to say that I felt a burning in my heart when I gazed at the MTA for the first time, but that is not so. I would like to say that my life has changed forever since that meeting of hearts. But it was not like that. At least I didn’t think so.—
I must tell you – to my shame – that I left disappointed from my first visit to the Shrine. I always heard people say that this was their second home, that it was a little piece of heaven in the middle of the city. The little chapel with the uncomfortable benches? It didn’t make sense to me, and they probably said that because it sounded so nice.
But here I am years later, on a Wednesday morning, looking forward more than ever to being back in this little chapel. So today I would like to tell you not only the when or why, but also how Providence led me to the Shrine again and again until the Blessed Mother finally took possession of my life and my heart.
The three pillars of my faith
I was able to base my faith and my spiritual growth on three pillars: the love of mission, the human tools and the covenant of love. Connected in one way or another, somehow confused for the human gaze, but in God’s eyes each piece was placed in the right place at the right time.
In 2015 I experienced my first missions. I could talk for hours about how I lived this Holy Week, but I want to get to what caught my attention, and that was the heart of a missionary who communicated so much peace and serenity. She spoke about God as if nothing was more important, and with a motherly smile she sent us on a mission every morning. And so, in a city in the interior of Paraguay, I felt that I had to be that for others: a little Mary. In other words, God wanted me to strive for weekday holiness from that moment on.
Me? A little Maria? I was and am so far from fulfilling that wish. But God has taken it upon himself to break this clay pot and put it back together again, not by hiding its cracks, but by using them as a source of witness that he does not ask for much more than a heart that is willing and loves him. Just that.
From the desire that was born in this mission, I moved on to the second pillar, to my human instruments. How many teachers God has put in my life! Countless, from a smile on a bad day to an unexpected “Today I prayed for you”. They took me off the street, as the Good Samaritan did. Beaten and wounded, they healed my wounds with love, with a snack, with a Tereré, with a cantata in the Shrine. This is how little and how much they have done for me and what you and I can do for someone else. It makes me think that each of us has a role to play in the life of a person, and how can we not want to be light and hope for that person? With so little we can touch a heart when we know that we are little instruments in the hands of Christ.
The “folly” of Christ
He has no hands, feet or voice, but he asks for ours! How so? My hands, so small and so dirty? After a short – and humble – walk by his side, I can say that these are the hands that Christ loves best. And my feet, which are so tired and move so slowly? It is with precisely these little feet that Christ wants to go out and conquer the world; it is enough to see Pope Francis in his solemn blessing urbi et orbi. And my voice? If I do not know much about the faith or the Bible, what can I say? But he wants to speak with my voice.
The truth is that Christ – with all due respect – is insane. If we were to analyze the things he does and demands of us according to human logic, this would never bear fruit. We would laugh and say: Jesus, this is impossible, do it differently. And he, with his warm smile, would answer us: For my Father there are no impossibilities.
And so the covenant seemed impossible. I was so bad and she was so good. I was so weak, and she was so faithful. I was so me, and she, well, so her.
This exchange of hearts took place in the most difficult year of my life. In health, family, financial and legal matters, my world turned upside down in less than a month. But there was my MTA, she came unexpectedly and only left after she had prepared everything for my eternal Fiat.
And so one day in October, without light because of a power outage, under the typical Paraguayan heat and with many mosquitoes, I wrote my name in the heart of my queen. What I could not see then was that she had written her name in my heart long before!
Our Lady’s love was my salvation
Her love saved me. She taught me to pray, to carry my crosses in silence and to say “Thy will be done” in every situation, but now with an ace up my sleeve: The Mother of Christ is my ally! There is nothing and no one who can stop me.
This covenant of love is based on two parts: It is nothing without her, but it is also nothing without me, without you, because the Covenant of Love is much more than a rite in the Shrine.
This wakes you up every morning and gets you ready to get the most out of yourself at work and at university. It means to give everything for love and to do it with joy. It means to ask yourself in every situation: What would Mary do in my place? How would she react to this insult, to this situation? It also means falling down, reaching the lowest point and letting her save you again.
Being an ally and longing to be a little Mary is simply a way of life.
Original: Spanish 11.05.2020 Translation: Lindsay Burger, Ohio, USA