Posted On 2017-11-04 In Something to think about

Each shrine is memory, presence and prophecy

Fr. Guillermo Carmona •

Every year on 18 October, we celebrate the patronal feast of our Shrine. The date reminds us of its importance and gives us the opportunity to reflect: how important is this place for me? What do I find here? Why do I keep coming back? Here, in this place where we belong, we give homage to our Patroness and express our gratitude and joy. The Shrine is our spiritual home, it belongs to us, it is possibly the most beautiful and visible thing we have and it gives us a holy pride. Each time we come to the Shrine, we experience the presence of a Mother; here we find a place where we feel good, where we reflect, where we ask, where we offer difficulties and achievements, joys and sorrows.  This is why we reflect on the “Hymn of the Home” — I invite you also to do that today — and to affirm again and again: “It is my home, my Schoenstatt land!”

Earlier this year, Pope Francis asked the Church to give “pastoral value” to the role of shrines: “walking towards the Shrine and participating in the spirituality that these places express is indeed an act of evangelization, which deserves to be appreciated for its profound pastoral value. [1] When we go on pilgrimage to the Shrine and the wayside shrines — representations of the shrine — we can give the MTA our petitions and offerings of love, we can submerge ourselves in the “mystery of the Shrine” which is memory, presence and prophecy.

  1. Every Shrine is “memory” because it keeps the memory of the sacred act where the Blessed Mother decided to listen to the faithful and ardent prayer of Fr. Kentenich and establish herself in the Original Shrine. God loved us so much, says St. John, that He sent his Son to live among us. And this Son chose his Mother so that she could set up her home in the Shrine. He is, as Fr. Kentenich said repeatedly, a divine initiative, an eruption of God in our world.
  2. The shrine is “presence” and not only reminds us that the “Shrine is a permanent antenna of the Good News of our salvation” (St. John Paul II). The more we enter into the mystery of the Shrine, the greater is our astonishment at the marvels that the Lord works there. The Shrine is the constant presence of God in the city; and Mary, the silent celebrant of this mystery. They are places of evangelisation, citadels of faith, “field hospitals” on the one hand and at the same time “medical schools” (Pope Francis). As pilgrims, we invite many to share this experience and to be taken by this apostolic fervour, this daring of love, and this strength of spirit. A sign of all this is that, from our Shrines emerge audacious vocational proposals to the consecrated or priestly life or to holiness in the midst of the world. Mary invites many to make her words their own: “Be it done to me according to your word,” your will. In the depth of the Marian heart is this desire to love God and serve men. “Nothing is impossible for God.”
  3. The Shrine is “prophecy.” It encourages us not to look at what we have achieved but to respond more intensely to the problems in our country, to overcome social rifts, drug abuse, draw closer to those who are homeless and loveless, to help the poor and sick, to over come domestic violence, support honest policies that are concerned with the common good. The Shrine is heaven’s prophecy. We do not have a permanent city here. Every human tragedy rekindles us in the hope for a place where there is neither pain nor suffering, neither sickness nor death…only joy and peace, life and sanctity (cf. Revelation). When we get there, the promise will become real, and She is present there “until the eternal fulfilment of all the elect” (Lumen Gentium, 62)

Three symbols accompany us on this day of grace: the fountain, the lighthouse and the spotlight. The Shrine is the fountain from which we drink pure water that quenches the thirst of our faith; a fountain that can be found — as the Book of Revelation tells us — in the middle of the garden. For us, this is the Garden of Mary. But the Shrine is also a lighthouse that lights the way: we are going towards it, towards the victory of the new person in the new community.

More than this, it is the spotlight where all our efforts converge and where people from the most diverse social backgrounds — social, cultural, political — come together, with the single interest — the single focus — to allow themselves to light way. These powerful rays of light give us the happiness of knowing that we are loved by Mary and respond: “I love those who love me…prove with deeds that you love me.”

[1] Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu Proprio “Sanctuarium in Ecclesia”

Original: Spanish, 21 October. Translation: Sarah-Leah Pimentel, Cape Town, South Africa

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