GERMANY, Renate Siebenkäs •
Every month, the “Covenant Celebration Night” is the highlight in the program of the Schoenstatt Center Marienberg in the Archdiocese of Bamberg. On covenant night on March 18, as is the tradition, the close connection to St. Joseph was emphasized. —
Fr. Andreas Hornung welcomed the faithful at the beginning of the Holy Mass and joyfully explained: “On December 8, 2022, a Joseph – Dr. Josef Zerndl – chose St. Joseph as the patron of the pilgrim groups of the Archdiocese of Bamberg. For the men who organized Covenant Night that night, he has always been their patron saint. Father Joseph Kentenich venerated him very much as their patron saint. Pope Francis made him the patron in times of crisis and even proclaimed the Year of St. Joseph in 2021″.
The month of March is dedicated to St. Joseph. His statue in the shrine was carefully decorated with a golden cloth. Fr. Andreas Hornung referred to this and said that he not only saw the golden foundation of the cloth, but also a golden foundation laid by St. Joseph as the patron saint of the church. In his homily he surprised with the story “Ceinture de Saint Joseph” – St. Joseph’s Belt, which he discovered in an article by Henning Sußebach in the German newspaper “Zeit”.
In the church Notre-Dame de la Nativité, in the rural town of Joinville, in the northwest of France, a small village of just over 3000 inhabitants, surrounded by fields and forests, a new parish priest began his duties.
Whenever Father Marie-Lucas N’Dione approached the altar, he could see to the right the darkness of a side chapel under a stone arch. A couple of times he walked past it. Finally he entered. After his eyes became accustomed to the dim light, the pastor recognized a glass box, similar to an aquarium. Inside was something resembling a roll of paper towels, with some sort of ribbon wrapped around it, a leather strap wrapped in faded silk. On the back wall was a piece of paper with the inscription: “Ceinture de Saint Joseph” – Saint Joseph’s belt!
It is said that, in the year 1248, a son of the city found this belt on a crusade in the Holy Land. After this find, it became clear to the priest N’Dione that such a valuable treasure could not be allowed to “rot” in such an undignified way. So he tried to motivate his parishioners with the person of St. Joseph and started looking for donors for the restoration.
The arguments of the priest, the journalist, his own, in favor of a contemporary image of St. Joseph turned into a varied and passionate sermon on Joseph as a feminist or as a father of a family, as a wise man, as a silent man….
This ended with the question addressed to all:
- What does St. Joseph have to do with me?
- Is he relevant to me?
- Do I feel united to him?
In the Shrine of Attachment there are currently two representations of St. Joseph. In the right corner of the shrine is the Holy Family, a wood carving from Oberammergau, which was recently donated to the Schoenstatt Movement.
In that image, Schoenstatt priest Andreas Hornung saw St. Joseph as an especially powerful protector. That corner of the shrine is designed as a year-round window representing our way of believing in Divine Providence. The annual motto is: ” Listen to God together”, just as it is in the world. The current world events are very disturbing.
May St. Joseph extend his fatherly hand protectively over the war-torn people and build a bridge to peace for all.
How the covenant celebrations led me to the Schoenstatt movement
Without the covenant celebrations, I would have never found my way to the covenant of love with the Blessed Mother, I would have never experienced the embrace in this place of grace. My faith in a loving God was renewed and came alive.
This evening is enriched by the organization by the different branches throughout the year, in collaboration with a Schoenstatt priest. The result is a varied, vivid and up-to-date program.
The elements of grace of each 18th consist of moments of adoration, the prayer of the rosary, the possibility of confession, the celebration of the Eucharist with an excellently prepared homily, which gradually explains the mysteries of the Schoenstatt Movement and connects them with my daily life. In this way, a very intense bond has also been formed between the faithful.
The highlight after the Eucharist is the renewal of the covenant of love with the Blessed Mother. This gives me a lot of strength for the next four weeks. I return home renewed, stronger, and infinitely grateful. A new desire grows. Because also, it is worth saying: after the 18th is before the 18th.
Original: Spanish 2023-03-24. Translated by: María Aragón, Monterrey, México