CHILE, Pablo Gaete Martínez, Ñuble Region •
It has been a couple of years (twelve to be exact) since I wrote for the Family International, but perhaps this historical moment that we are living as humanity made me reconsider the idea of writing an article.
The contexts in which the coronavirus has changed our lives and even our way of living and being a community, of living our Covenant; in summary: the way of being family and family life in Schoenstatt.
The Shrine to which I belong is called Monte Horeb, in the Diocese of Chillán which is geographically located in the just created young region of Ñuble (until September 2018 we were a province of the Bio-Bio Region) and next November 18th we will celebrate its 25th Anniversary; therefore we began the jubilee activities last year.
And in the midst of the Jubilee, COVID 19 changed everything.
Thinking about the context of the Jubilee of the Shrine before the Coronavirus, I was looking for a job and at the same time I was continuing my studies to obtain a postgraduate degree in Religion at the university. The next day, Sunday, March 8th, a Mass was held at the last minute in the Shrine it was celebrated by Father Marcelo Aravena, without ever thinking that it would be the last time we would go there (The Shrine to which I belong there are Masses on the first Sundays of the month since the Schoenstatt Fathers and the Sisters come from Concepción to attend to the family of Chillán once or twice a month and the Covenant Masses are usually celebrated by a diocesan priest). Up to that point, everything was normal.
At that time, many of us had everything or almost everything planned for this year, to side with those activities planned at Monte Horeb.
In two more weeks, exactly on Saturday the 21st of the same month, a beginning of the year conference was prepared in the Movement, when by governmental, ecclesiastical and National Schoenstatt Secretary instructions everything was suspended until now.
At that moment, not only my plans, but also those of many of us changed, and it would also change our lives in one way or another.
Pandemic, community life, technology and the reinforcement of being a family.
In the area where I live, the region of Ñuble, the outlook was not encouraging: many infected, psychosis, panic, fear, several dead, staying at home to avoid getting infected or infecting others, (some of those who were in intensive care are acquaintances of yours) and the saddest part without even being able to be at the funerals of some of them as a precaution. The news and television programs spoke only of this virus, but it has also allowed us to experience more of our faith at home thanks to technology and social networks.
I particularly, shared information and moments of prayer in the Whatsapp group of the movement in Chillán – among others – also, God wanted to give me a gift during this time: to have the possibility of participating in Masses even if it is virtually from other Schoenstatt shrines or communities, the reflections of the Fathers and Sisters, cantatas, adorations, etc. The gifts of God would not stop.
The pedagogy of the bonding with the Virgin Mary and the shrine in the middle of the quarantine.
During the Holy Week I received an invitation for something that was unthinkable for me: an online retreat. Yes! Virtual! This was organized by the Youth of the Cenáculo de Fundación Shrine of Viña del Mar and they were intense, profound days with testimonies and reflections that were very much in line with the quarantine that we are experiencing and if the Way of the Cross is added to this, and the homilies of different Schoenstatt Fathers as well as the talks of the Sisters through Youtube, Facebook, Instagram and Zoom, made it the most special Holy Week of all, since I live in San Carlos, 28 km away from the Shrine (closed due to the obligatory quarantine in Chillán). As I pointed out earlier, the fact that the priests come once or twice a month with the possibility of having them at hand – even if it is virtually – makes it possible to take advantage of, and reinforce something very characteristic of Schoenstatt, which is what I understand as the pedagogy of the bonding through the Covenant of Love with Mary and the three graces that emerge from the Shrine.
Quarantine, time to reconsider
We are experiencing as a society something that we are beginning to know the Coronavirus or COVID 19. This time of quarantine just coincided with two things: the liturgical season of Lent – which has already ended – and in Chile it came at the most complicated time, as a result of a social and political crisis of months, which has had us polarized among ourselves and which had been accompanied by an intense electoral year. These previous events have already challenged us as a society, as a Church, and also as Schoenstatters some reflections and changes. But something more would come.
COVID 19 has also not distinguished classes, race, sex, and religion. And being at homes has shown us surprising images: like animals passing through the city or how nature tries to reconstruct what we as human beings have directly or indirectly destroyed and which Pope Francis himself in his encyclical Laudato Si, had already warned us about.
But, despite the anguish that we may have, because we do not know when we will resume our activities, there is something that we must keep in mind when this pandemic passes: reconsider our treatment among each other; how social networks have often made us fall into physical isolation and lose contact even with those we love; reconsider our life. Will we return to the way we were before the pandemic? How will we take care of the common home? … It is another great opportunity that God is offering us.
Whatever happens after this pandemic causes us uncertainty and pain; we should have hope, since as children of God and being loved by Mary as mother and educator, if we remain loyal to her, she will never abandon us as Father Kentenich pointed out: “When we consider our own strength, we lose all hope and confidence. Mother, we stretch out our hands to you and ask for your many gifts of love.
“Even in storms and dangers you will always remain faithful to the covenant you have sealed with us and enriched with countless graces”. (Heavenwards, stanzas 13-14).
For this reason we were called this April 15th to crown Mary from our homes united to the Original Shrine as Queen of Physical and Spiritual Health. May this be an opportunity for her to also be queen of our hearts, of our blood family, of our spiritual family and that with this crowning, we will be the ones who irradiate the Schoenstatt charisma to the world. It will not be easy at first, but with Capital of Grace and effort, the results will be much more fruitful.
Original: Spanish 04.14.20, Translated by: María Aragón, Monterrey, México