CRUZADA DE MARIA, Facundo Ríos •
Last Monday, they reached the goal. On 20 January, 120 young men from Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Paraguay, Mexico, Spain, Germany, and Portugal deepened in the Cruzada de María, on the seventh edition of a journey that consisted of walking 400 kilometers and crossing the Andes Mountain Range, from the Mendoza shrine to the Bellavista Shrine (Santiago, Chile) on an adventure that lasted seventeen days. One of them, Facundo Ríos from San Isidro, Argentina summarizes his impressions in a letter addressed to the other crusaders and Fr. Kentenich’s first sodalists. He shared it with all the crusaders, minutes after arriving to Bellavista. We appreciate that he shared it with the readers of schoenstatt.org, —
Dear crusaders, dear Bellavista Family, dear first sodalists, dear Fr. Kentenich,
For several days, I have had the desire to share some brief words with you and before I begin, I should express gratitude to Fr. Claudio for giving me the opportunity.
Today is a day of rejoicing, a day of joy, I can feel your hearts burning, because after seventeen days, we fulfilled our resolution of uniting the Mendoza shrine with the Bellavista shrine. This is the first great characteristic of Cruzada de Maria VII. We wanted to unite two places, two countries, through this pilgrimage. But this exterior sign, is no more that an image of the real interior sign; these two shrines are separated by the Andes’ high peaks and a distance of 420 km, but they are united by the same ideal and by the same Mother, who is the Blessed Mother of God, Mary Most Holy. In fact, they are really one in the same shrine just in two different places, and this is the surprising thing, because without realizing it, we united our bodies and our souls. Two realities of the same being, but separated by the world’s high peaks and 420 km of weakness and frailty. With every step and each day, we came to know ourselves. Discovering our weaknesses and our virtues. Finding shadows and also lights. And today, in our house, before the Blessed Mother, we can say our body and our soul are found in one harmony, enjoying the fullness of the victory and tested in suffering.
See how they love one another
As I said before, today is a day of rejoicing, a day of joy. Because uniting these two shrines for one ideal and one Mother, we unite as a single community of brothers, a single community of crusaders. Because joys are shared, they are transmitted, the pains are divided, and they are borne when we are together. We walked with brother, shoulder-to-shoulder, encouraging each other and supporting one another in the failings and weaknesses of each one, because if you love those who love you, what merit does it have? Love those suffering, those who are alone, those who need you, and you will be rewarded in heaven. And that is precisely what we did! Blistered feet, complaining, things that were borrowed and unreturned, the pains and tribulations—everyone’s miseries were supported in greater or lesser measure by this community of crusaders. “See how they love one another” the people said about the first Christian community. And now seeing you, with faces tanned by the sun, feet bruised by the road, and aching arms from the embrace among brothers I say: “See how they love one another.” Because we are all gathered by the one, same Lady and one, same Mother. She gathered us today beneath the shadow of her mantle and made us be born to this community of brothers.
Walking for a noble cause: to crown the Blessed Mother
Today is a day of rejoicing, a day of joy. But it began on 18 January, with a profound pain.
Her dignity and greatness, our Mother, Queen and Victress, were offended when greed led those men to steal her crown. In this outrageous manner, our crusade was saturated with a Real cause. We have raised the victorious sign of the Cross over hills and highways throughout seventeen days, as past crusades have in pursuit of a noble and sacred cause: to crown the Blessed Mother, because the offense to our Mother cannot triumph. Because the glory of our Mother is powerfully victorious, enkindling the chivalrous spirit of Catholic crusaders in our hearts. We knew how to respond, dear friends and brothers, to the voices of the time, of being and of soul that united in this sorrowful deed, but that resurrected in a heroic and courageous act of returning to our Queen what is hers.
Today is a day of rejoicing, a day of joy. Because by conquering the loyal and most loyal fulfillment of obligation, we returned what belonged to the Queen.
Hail Victorious Queen! Those who crossed the Andes crown you!
Photos: Sebastián Valdez, Asunción, Paraguay
Original: Spanish. 17 February 2018. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA. Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA