ITALY, Laura Liberati •
On Sunday the 3rd of May, in the Church “Most Holy Mary Auxiliatrix of the Filanda of Aulla”, took place the 7th Meeting of the Regional Family of Schoenstatt in Tuscany, a crowning of various gatherings held in the Diocese of St Miniato, in the Monastery of St. Cristiana at St. Croce on the Arno river, and in the parochial hall of St. Pietro Belvedere, to allow the participants to experience the joy of Mary’s embrace.
The entire day was a stream of many precious moments in all of which the maternal protective presence of Mary was felt, who serenely pacifies whenever we can give her our heart with trust and joy.
Thus the return trip in the bus, blessed by a pleasant spring day proceeded peacefully without any traffic snarl-ups in the highway, something that could not be said of those coming in the opposite direction!
Enthusiastically we arrived punctually at Aulla in the hall of the church of Most Holy Mary Auxiliatrix, where to welcome us were Sister Ivonne Zenovello, responsible for the Pilgrim Mother campaign in Italy, and Father Giovanni Riba, responsible for the Schoenstatt Movement in Italy, and many faithful from Tuscany. It was emotional to be together, as we intoned the hymn to the Pilgrim Mother, followed by the chant of invocation to the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and to strengthen our desire to meet Mary and pray with her in our Shrine, our Cenacle.
Mary needs courageous hearts
The catechesis of Fr. Giovanni Riba, that followed this important moment of prayer, entitled “The challenges that Pope Francis gave to the missionaries of Schoenstatt on the Jubilee 2014”, rich of images, anecdotes and references to his native land, Argentina, which evidenced the essential qualities of a missionary figure. Mary “always triumphs over our weaknesses and limits. She cares for us, the families and of those that to her have entrusted themselves”, but needs hearts that are available, courageous, open to the love of God to perform miracles.
A courageous heart like that of a young boy in Argentina who, as Father Riba related, recovered an image of the Pilgrim Mother to restore, and circulated it in his school, with the result that he aroused the interest of the principal, who she herself became a missionary of the campaign. Or a courageous heart like that of the parent by the name of Crucified and of his wife that, as told to us in their heartfelt testimony, have always entrusted themselves to Mary in the battle against the incurable illness of their young daughter, until it was conquered. Indicative is the courage too, of the parish priest of Massa Carrara who started the Pilgrim Mother campaign among the inmates of the local penitentiary, awakening in them the desire to repeat the experience of their encounter with Mary.
The figure of the missionary, as Fr. Riba so well underlined at the conclusion of his catechesis, is well summed up in the little story we were read of the image of the humming-bird, the smallest of birds who is not scared to surmount mountains and glaciers to reach the goal of his travels.
Emboldened by these words and after a pleasant and convivial lunch pause in Cagina in the locality Aulla, where we could experience the gift of service and welcoming from the many volunteers of the St.John Bosco association, we prepared to live the most important moment of the day; the Rite of the Covenant of Love with Mary that we would have sealed in a short while during the celebration of Holy Mass.
Reliving the emotion of our meeting Pope Francis
Sr. Ivonne used the occasion to form small groups or all together, to give us advice and to encourage us to live to the best of our ability the precious encounter with Mary.
The viewing of the jubilee 2014 video, where we were able to admire all the beautiful celebrations that took place in the Schoenstatt Shrine on the 100th years of the foundation, and to re-live the emotions of the papal audience in Rome last October 25th all contributed to fill us with exultation and festive anticipation. As Sr. Ivonne reminded us repeatedly the meeting with Mary renders hearts youthful, cancels our actual age and makes us members of the same large family.
“……Virgin Mother …. You are the one that so ennobled human nature……”
It is the same sensation that we all felt (there were 33 of us making the Covenant promise) as we formed a semicircle around the altar, just after the homily of Fr. Riba, with a candle in our hands reciting the words that Father Kentenich spoke to the young men on the 18th of October 1918, on the occasion of the very first Covenant of love. The medal we received from the hands of father Giovanni, and the inscribing of our names in the registry of The Belmonte Shrine, were tangible signs that confirmed the strength of this embrace with Mary, our Mother, Queen and three times Admirable Victress of Schoenstatt.
The embrace of Mary knows no boundaries and limits, and aims to involve hearts all over the world, but requires, though, a love from our part that is sincere, true and faithful. “Nothing without You, nothing without us”. These are not words that encompass the covenant of an occasion or of a particular day, but that from now on guide all our lives.