ECUADOR, Maria Fischer •
What gives a Schoenstatt shrine its life? The building? The altar? The picture of the Blessed Mother? That community that gathers there to pray? The Schoenstatters who feel at home in it? The capital of grace? These are all good and valid reasons, but the “insider reasons” do not mean anything to ordinary people, to society. Do we have “outsider reasons” to explain what gives a Schoenstatt shrine its life? In Quito, Ecuador, there is one. —
In Quito, Ecuador, there is an outside reason that reveals itself in the long queues of poor people who have been receiving a monthly basket of goods since December 2020, containing food, clothes and blankets to combat their hunger and the cold. They experience, quite literally, that “all those who come here to pray shall experience the glory of Mary and confess: It is good for us to be here!”
Charity baskets: “Thank you to the church that helps us”
A couple arrive with tired bodies and eyes that shine with new hope after receiving their baskets with foods and a shelter. Young mothers with their babies in their arms also arrive. How often will they tell their babies that they survived thanks to the donations by Fr. Rafael Amaya from this small chapel, and the friendly and generous brothers and sisters who belong to it? And their babies, as young people, as adults will even tell their children and grandchildren….Perhaps they will never learn to pronounce this German word “Schoenstatt”, or seal their covenant of love or join one of the movement’s branches, but they will know that they found the motherly face of the Church within the walls of this tiny building and at the hands of these people who gave them food to eat during that terrible pandemic, when so many people lost their jobs and did not know what to eat or how to feed their children.
“Thank you to the church that helps us,” they said in the lovely video they made to thank the benefactors of the Schoenstatt family in Quito.
I saw Jesus in the queue toward the shrine
“When the Son of man comes in his glory accompanied by his angels, then he will be seated on his throne of glory. They will gather around him from all the nations and he will separate one from the other, like the shepherd separates the sheep. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left hand.
Then the King will say to those at his right hand: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, “I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Then the righteous will answer him: ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’” The King will reply: ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:31-40)
In Germany, this is the second consecutive year without a Corpus Christi procession due to the pandemic, without the possibility of accompanying Jesus through the streets of the city and presenting him to the people.
But Jesus was there. On the streets. I saw him. He was walking among the elderly and the young mothers in search of their charity basket in Quito. The biggest Corpus Christi procession at the height of the pandemic.
And the large queue in front of a real Schoenstatt Shrine.
Collaboration: P. Rafael Amaya, Quito
Original: Spanish. Translation: Sarah-Leah Pimentel, Cape Town, South Africa