ITALY, Eugenio Minici •
On Sunday, June 16, 2019, in Matri Ecclesiae Shrine in Belmonte-Rome (the International Schoenstatt Center at Belmonte), the Couple’s Feast Day was held, which is a day set aside for couples of all ages — married or engaged—providing an opportunity for serenity and a deepening of the couple’s unity together, and renewing its original freshness, in the light of the Schoenstatt Movement’s Christian experience.—
Father Marcelo Cervi, rector of the International Schoenstatt Center at Belmonte-Rome gave the introduction. Father Beltrán, Father Facundo, Sister Vera Lucia, Sister Ivone, and Sister Julia were also present; in different ways, they accompany the Schoenstatt Family from Rome and Italy.
The program’s schedule unfolded like this:
- A video on various topics (the importance of married love, covenant, dialogue, the courage of daily life, and facing difficulties as an occasion for a new beginning, domestic spirituality);
- A moment of common reflection on the themes of diversity in the couple and change, which was articulated in two comedic scenes from couples’ lives, interpreted admirably by a couple from the League. These were followed by reflections that touched the gears of the feeling of couple but in a perspective of daily life as a couple;
- Couples’ coffee: after a moment of common reflection, the participating couples were offered time to dialogue as a couple, in a relaxed atmosphere where coffee was served, with topics of conversation offered to prompt conversation between the couple if desired. Questions like: What change, recent or past, have you experienced as particularly important? How have you experienced this change, individually and as a couple? Has God had a role in this change as a couple? If so, how have you felt the Lord present in your partner?
- After lunch, a developed, fun game, that indirectly provoked a reflection on the themes of the day, which ended with a group dance;
- After the game, Father Beltrán coordinated a moment for sharing reflections from each couple;
- The Couple’s Feast Day concluded with Mass in the Shrine.
The idea of a Couple’s Feast was inspired by Father Kentenich’s pedagogy, and is now in its second edition originating in an initiative called “Couples’ Coffee”, which consists of a tour of five meetings, about one to two hours in length, which offers topics referred to words in the initials of the word Coffee (Covenant, Openness/sharing, Faithfulness, Fertility, and Education/Self Education). The meeting involves a brief introduction to a proposed theme, followed by dialogue for individual couples on the basis of a track that facilitates the dialogue path of the same couple, during which coffee and snack are served. At the end of the dialogue, a moment of sharing and dialogue follows. This journey, whose objective is to offer an opportunity to maintain the couple’s relationship, has already developed with different groups both at the Cor Ecclesiae Shrine in Rome and Saints Aquila and Priscilla parish, where there is a couple from the Schoenstatt Family Movement.
Paolo and Francesca, the couple who acted out the two comedic scenes, underline the importance of giving testimony to families of Father Kentenich’s message, in the light of Mary, which is always very enriching both for the couple who propose it and for the couple who will receive the reflections directed to them. After each day, Paolo and Francesca always say, “There is so much preparation, commitment, and growth both individually and as a couple. We hope that sowing this seed will bear much fruit. We are trying.”
The spiral-shaped snail of Belmonte
During the Feast of the Couple, each of the couples is given a refrigerator magnet that represents, in a stylized way, the Belmonte Shrine image, and the shape of the snail with which the square was structured in front of it. The colors are those of the cross symbol of the International Schoenstatt Movement. On this occasion, the participants were instructed about the particularity of the construction of Belmonte’s International Center that was structured on the idea of the “spiral-shaped snail”, whose symbolism is present in the architecture, in the aesthetic forms of the square located in front of it, but also in the architectural features of some of the interior. This idea was born from the fact that the permission to build had been granted only on the slope below the Shrine that lent itself to be structured in the shape of the snail shell spiral. The genius of the choice consists in having used the Christian symbol of the snail, present in many images of art related to the spiral, which indicates the Resurrection as soon as, in spring, it breaks the old shell and is born to a new life. It should also be said that the spiral form of the snail refers to the so-called golden mean, also called Divine Proportion, which, traced clockwise and from the center outwards, shows us that something is emerging in our consciousness and symbolizes the creative movement of God.
The League of Schoenstatt Families intends to continue this path of growth to which the architecture of the Shrine of Belmonte constantly refers.
Original: Italian, 20/06/2019. Translation: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, USA