Sarah-Leah Pimentel. We have spent the first three weeks of our Lenten journey examining Fr. Kentenich’s metaphor for our spiritual life as a seed and exploring the qualities needed for its growth. So far, our reflections have been on our individual spirituality. But Fr. Kentenich’s words are just as relevant in the context of Schoenstatt’s spirituality, for us as an international family, a gift to the Church and society.
Let us begin by exploring the first part of the text we’ve been working with: “Their [the seeds’] inner ability to germinate urges them to bring forth a distinctive spirituality and universal apostolate” (Joseph Kentenich, 1954/55, Kentenich Reader Vol. II, p. 25).
In the same way as we have the necessary elements to unfold our spirituality already within us, so too Schoenstatt has already laid the foundations that will allow our spirituality to blossom even more abundantly in Schoenstatt’s second century.
The Blessed Mother has prepared the terrain for us by initiating her relationship with us. She set up her home in our shrines – daughter shrines, home shrines, office shrines, heart shrines. Her Covenant of Love with us is the first building block of our Schoenstatt spirituality. When we respond by sealing our covenant with her, we cement that relationship bond.
Our shrines provide a resting place, a home, a quiet space to spread out our roots and let them take a firm hold, so that the plant will grow to be strong. The grace that flows from this place where hearts give themselves to each other becomes a fount of life giving water from which others can draw strength. Many will come to our shrines in search of peace, answers, love. But more often than not, we will be the living, walking, listening shrines that encounter pain, despair, loneliness and suffering in all the places we walk in our lives. Our Schoenstatt spirituality is one that extends beyond the walls of our own comfort zones.
Inside the seed of our Schoenstatt spirituality lies is a rich history of those who walked this path before us, showing us what it means to live out the Covenant of Love in everyday life, to live out for others, even in the most unlikely places where we might expect to encounter death rather than life – the killing fields of World War 1 France, the death camps of Germany, the carnage of road accidents, the blood of a martyr whose only allegiance was to God and the Blessed Mother. There are those who forged the path we will walk on by stepping into the darkest corners of human misery, those who suffered the abandonment of exile and the debilitating pain of illness that slowly sapped all life out of them. Despite that, they persevered. They continued to love, continued to serve — to the very end.
So many of these stories are living prayers of encounter, solidarity, love without measure. We are called to walk in their footsteps and do the same.
Sometimes we feel that the times are different, and it’s true journey of the second century will be shaped by different battles and new triumphs. And already we have have heroes standing in our midst, standing as heralds, showing the way Schoenstatt should continue to live out its Covenant of Love in service to the Church and the world. The solidarity houses in Paraguay is just one small example.
Pope Francis embodies that which is already natural and alive in us – a Schoenstatt that seeks to encounter the new person on the new shore, one of the gifts of the 31st of May. However, Pope Francis reminds us that the new shore might not be where we expect to find it – in our churches and our schools. Very often the new people we’re called to reach out and encounter are the destitute, the weak, the marginalized, the fearful, those who have lost all hope, those who don’t even know that they’re searching for God, those who have been cast out – often by our own brothers and sisters in the faith.
In this new century, we’re called to plant Schoenstatt in the new soil. We’re encouraged to tend the ungrown plant and trust that it will grow. Be confident that it will bear abundant fruit.
Reflection: Where do I see myself within the Schoenstatt family? What is my mission in Schoenstatt? Which margins does the MTA call me to go into? Where can I live out my Covenant of Love in solidarity with others? Where is my living shrine?
Prayer: Dear Jesus, in this fourth week of Lent, we remember that it is only through grace that I have been saved through faith and that this grace is your gift to me. Teach me to be generous with this gift and to share it with others. I am fortunate that I have known you, but there are so many people in my city — in my family — who are lost because they have not encountered you. Teach me how to encounter them with love, without judgement, and to joyfully share what you have given us. Amen.