COSTA RICA, Rudolf Sauter and Fabian González •
As businesspeople or executives, one of the most ambitious projects that we can have is to take God, along with the Blessed Mother, into our workplaces. There are a number of limitations preventing us from openly demonstrating our faith in the workplace without affecting coworkers that profess other religious beliefs or do not like to mix work with religion. The Comunidad Internacional de Empresarios y Ejecutivos Schoenstattianos (CIEES) (International Community of Schoenstatt Businesspeople and Executives from Costa Rica has proposed developing tools of taking a Schoenstatt spirituality by means of incorporating it in a work-shrine. —
During the last talk in March, held in the corporate offices of Álvaro Castro, a group of businessmen and executives, active, and non- active members of CIEES gathered for the presentation of this talk along with its valuable testimony. This is what Álvaro Castro related about his talk and the experience:
“My work-shrine was born as a vital need. It was 2014, my wife and recently I had a Home Shrine blessed in our house in San José, Costa Rica. Almost immediately even before the blessing, the beneficial influence of the Blessed Mother was felt in our home and by each one of the members of our small family. However at work, I was going through a time of a great trial. There were great pressures, uncertainties, and problems that generated constant uneasiness. My wife’s ever-wise advice had me put these intentions in our Home Shrine, and yet there was still a feeling something important was missing in helping me feel God and the Blessed Mother’s presence at my workplace.
Barcelona and the Shrine in Valldoraix
In this stressed state, I had to take a business trip with a client to Barcelona during the first week of October of that year. After our meetings, I said goodbye to the client, and on Saturday, 4 October, I took a train in search of the Schoenstatt daughter shrine located at Valldoraix, in the outskirts of the city. I can say with all certainty that the Blessed Mother led me there, and I felt that it was an angel who left me right at the doors to the shrine. There I could give myself as a child seeking refuge on his Mother’s lap and imploring her to accompany me in the vicissitudes of my work.
The following day I set about returning to Costa Rica, knowing at my office, there would be a mountain of work, typical to a week out of the office, waiting for me.
My 18 October 2014
Upon my return and exactly on Saturday, 18 October 2014, Schoenstatt’s 100 year Jubilee, I was working at the office trying to catch up on a thousand things. This is when everything began to make sense. Around noon, I was driving toward the building’s parking garage exit, when I observed another car getting permission from the guard and entering. The woman who was driving gestured for me to stop. We rolled down our windows, and after exchanging greetings, she asked me a question I never expected. “Excuse me, sir. Is this where Our Lady of Schoenstatt is located?” Words cannot describe the impact that very simple question had on me. But the effect was greater when, as I was recuperating from the question, I was equally surprised by my response: “No Ma’am, she is not here.” In this very simple way, it was evident on –right on Jubilee day – that I had invited the Blessed Mother to accompany me at work, but I had not done anything to ask her and for her to accompany me daily.
The desire of having a shrine at my work
That very strange question was quickly answered, because the woman was seeking the Schoenstatt Movement headquarters to thank the Blessed Mother for a miracle. She had seen the announcement about the Jubilee celebrations, but she could not find the place. The headquarters was about 400 meters from my office, and so I took her to the parking garage’s exit to give her directions. But since the Blessed Mother does not like loose ends, when I finished the directions, the woman asked me: “Why don’t you take me?’ I did… Since that day, the desire to have a work-shrine crystalized for me, not simply telling the Blessed Mother about my uncertainties and sorrows, but to call upon her to remain there and to work close to her. Therefore I decided to ask that we be partners at work. That is, that we make the Covenant of Love from that moment on— as partners that know one another intimately, and who trust one another, making contributions to the common objective, sharing losses and gains, and working shoulder to shoulder daily— also giving witness to my faith and perhaps leading others to her feet so that they discover the wonder of counting on God’s presence at every step, during every hour of the day, and every day of the year.
I shared this story with my wife and my Schoenstatt group, and almost immediately, I had all the necessary symbols for the work-shrine in front of me, they were brought from Milwaukee by one of our companions. Since that moment, I have undertaken the task of conquering them, based on prayer, life meditation, and contributions to the capital of grace cultivating a sense of childlikeness and sheltering for the picture of the Blessed Mother; trust in Divine Providence for the Father Symbol; sacrifice for love and a feeling of service through the Unity Cross; gratitude for the graces received for the Holy Spirit; and the open manifestation of a mission and a witness of faith, for the Fr. Kentenich picture.
Also for the conquest of my personal symbol: a sleeping St. Joseph, who trustingly dreams God’s will in taking care of the child Jesus and his wife.
Work-shrine: To work with a partner
Working in association with the Blessed Mother has produced many gifts and blessings for me—not just seeking the purity of intention of the proposals, so that the efforts of work are worthy of being offered to God as capital of grace. But also for growing in my personal relationships to my superiors, peers, and subordinates; taking an interest in their lives and destinies: publicly giving thanks for a good achievement or asking for a desired goal before my small work-shrine.
All this led me to give Christian witness in thought, word, deed, and to keep quiet; making the name of God and faith the reason for reflection and spontaneous conversation, instead of a taboo or of propaganda.
It should be said that the problems, difficulties, and uncertainties at work do not disappear. It could be that sometimes they may even increase. However I now face them with the certainty that my partner accompanies me and helps me in discerning and trusting in God’s will during any sleepless nights. My partner invites me everyday not to lose the perspective of love and hope in each situation, and I know that she will never let me go from her hand nor will I lack the Trinitarian presence at my work.”
A question and a surprising answer
Resuming the experience in Castro’s testimonial talk, we could add that upon posing the question to the participants present, “Who among you have a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a crucifix, or religious symbol in your workplace? We found that the answer was in the affirmative in all cases. This answer was very meaningful since more than half of the participants had been invited to a CIEES activity only for the first time.
As of now, the great challenge that remains is in finishing to develop the tools necessary to construct a guide that will show the steps to follow in conquering a work-shrine.
CIEES Official Website (Spanish only): cieesinternacional.org
Original: Spanish. 30 March 2018. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA. Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA