BRAZIL, Ruy Kaercher, Maria Fischer •
“You gather what I am aiming at: I would like to make this place a place of pilgrimage, a place of grace for our house and for the whole German province, and perhaps even further afield. All those who come here to pray shall experience the glory of Mary and confess: “It is good for us to be here. Here we will build our tents, here our favorite place.” Words from the first Founding Document that we Schoenstatters know almost by heart. Words that invite us to contribute to the capital of grace so that Mary can (or rather, wants to) act from here, from this place. Words, experience has become, that lure us to this place on every Covenant Day and often more. —
It is an “oral history,” but I remember a dialogue of Schoenstatters, all now deceased, about a conversation with Father Kentenich at the end of or shortly after World War II, shortly after the real and probable danger that a bomb would fall on the Original Shrine and reduce it to rubble. Would Schoenstatt end with the destruction of the Original Shrine? “The Covenant of Love is with the place,” Father Kentenich is reported to have said.
I was reminded of this conversation again when there was a slight earthquake near Koblenz a few days ago. Nothing happened, of course. But, I thought, maybe I need to rewrite my favorite story from the MTA magazine, the one about an Albert Eise who, with enthusiasm and love for Mary, wanted to build a dignified church on the site of the humble and small chapel in Schoenstatt Valley, which he wanted to tear down to make way for something bigger, more dignified, more beautiful. Perhaps Father was so serene in the face of this ludicrous idea because he knew that the covenant was with the place? I don’t know …
Ten years after the immense gesture of the Pallottines to give the Original Shrine to Schoenstatt, the last thing that is meant is a diminution of the value of our Bethlehem … but, it is true, who would have thought of taking out the MTA picture, altar and everything else to rebuild the Original Shrine in a less humid and dark place, with a greater number of pilgrims and more space?
Ideas, reflections that arise when one looks at the invitation for the blessing of the second Shrine of Santa Cruz do Sul, which is equipped with all the interior furnishings including windows and door that were torn out of the first Shrine, and then sees the photos and videos of so many faithful celebrating Covenant Day in the Shrine of Santa Cruz do Sul, of which only the walls remain, the stones in front of it, over which thousands of pilgrims have walked in 40 years, and the love of its pilgrims.
Covenant Day in the Shrine
On April 18th, a large number of pilgrims gathered in the Shrine (or in the chapel as has to be called now). How much love, how much self-giving, how much faith is written in the slips of paper with the contributions to the Capital of Grace that were burned at the end of the service!
Nothing is lacking: there are pilgrims from babies to the elderly, there is music and singing, there is prayer and joy, and there are bags of food and donations for the poor of the neighborhood.
Our Shrine radiates into our time….
Men`s Rosary in the Shrine
A few days later, the Shrine was filled with men, members of the “Men’s Rosary,” one of the strongest currents of life in Brazil, who marked their presence in our chapel.
Masses, rosaries and another meeting of the “Men’s Rosary” are already planned for the month of May, the month of Mary in Brazil.
We are apostles of Mary, we are Schoenstatt going out!
Original: Spanish. Translation: Maria Fischer @schoenstatt.org