Fr. Guillermo Carmona, National Director for the Schoenstatt Movement in Argentina •
We share the covenant letter sent to the Schoenstatt Movement in Argentina with a message that can be adapted and applied to all of our realities.
Dear brothers and sisters in the Covenant,
Every 18th of October, we are invited to immerse ourselves in the mystery of the Covenant to give thanks and remember the Blessed Mother’s actions in the history of our Family. We would not be what we are if she had not touched the heart of our father and founder and suggested sealing a Covenant of Love with her in the Shrine. This living memory give us confidence and sets our heart on fire. The Covenant is like the flaming bush at the foot of Mount Sinai that changed Moses’ life. And because God was there, the Patriarch had to remove his shoes for he was standing on holy ground. Each time we enter a shrine, we are entering a holy land: God, present there, wants to give us the proof of his love through Jesus and Our Mother.
From a Schoenstatt that is organised and structured, to a Schoenstatt that goes out
This year, Covenant Day brings us great external and internal challenges. It hurts us to read the statistic that more than 32% of the people of Argentina live in poverty. We cannot ignore that one in three of our compatriots are in dire straits. The scourge of drugs and its consequences has become one of the greatest enemies of our society. However, there are many things that give us joy and lift up our souls: the canonization of Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero, the beatification of María Antonia de San José — popularly known as Mama Antula — and the processes for the canonization, according to the statistics, of more than 40 who were presented to the Argentinean Bishops Conference. We could ask ourselves: is a renewed current of holiness emerging? We remember the proposal of our father and founder in the Founding Document: “acceleration of the development of our self-sanctification as a means of transforming our chapel into a place of pilgrimage.”
Also within our Schoenstatt Family we can see the shadows and light. There are many shadows, but there are even more blossoms and buds that sprout into new spring times. The Covenant is spread throughout Argentina: there are new wayside shrines and projects for future shrines, new religious and social commitments are springing up. Many initiatives are being born and are changing the face of the “organized Schoenstatt” that is structured to a “Schoenstatt that goes out. Youth and family missions, activities to help those in greatest need, pilgrim mother images that go out to the peripheries, all these express this idea that we are not a “window display” as the Holy Father warned, but we get our hands dirty and go out there.
The Covenant, answer to the social problem
The Covenant wants to be the support for these initiatives and also a deep response to the social problem. It offers the experience of a home and a nest for us and for many. Everyone has the right to have an oasis and a refuge. But we are not meant to remain in the nest forever, but we have to fly out of it, taking comfort to others. Like the medieval fortresses, we find rest and comfort there, but we also replenish our supplies to leave and continue building the kingdom.
Argentina needs a net that sustains everyone. A net is different from a crevice. Without it, we would be alone, subject to the elements and in danger of falling into emptiness and doing evil. The knots of the net are attachments that come together in freedom and love. Attachments cure and redeem. Because we rely on this net, we are able to jump like trapeze artists, and if necessary, leap towards new horizons and not become paralysed. Schoenstatt is simultaneously a nest and a net.
“Go and set the world on fire”
The Covenant is our campfire: the fire gives light and warmth, helps to overcome loneliness, feelings of being orphaned, fear, crosses, absence. Like the Israelites in the desert, we also rely on the “Ark of the Covenant.” Looking at Mary, our “Ark of the Covenant,” our pilgrimage through life becomes bearable: we can see the way and do not stumble as much. Despite our forgetfulness and craziness, our idolatry and sinfulness, our self-centredness. By looking at the Ark we are healed and we can continue. We need renewed ardour as a people, a new hope: each one of us receives a torch in the shrine that we can enflame others with the fire of love: “Go set the world on fire.”
Dear brothers and sisters, I invite each one of you to bring a rose that symbolizes this to our Blessed Mother in our heart shrines. In this sacred space, consecrated to Mary, she will form the new person. And even if it sometimes hurts us and we are afraid, we give her our forever ‘yes’ — both yesterday, today.
Original: Spanish. Translation: Sarah-Leah Pimentel, Cape Town, South Africa