Posted On 2015-11-20 In In a few words / Fr. Joaquín Alliende

Allow me to speak about my Schoenstatt, now, on 64 years of knowing the Shrine with Joseph Kentenich at the helm

Fr.  Joaquín Alliende Luco, via •

More courage, more commitment, more death leaps into the unknown. Less of the beach caressing us and more surfing on the crest of the wave, not because we’re at the height of the wave, but because of the sheer intensity of the wave.

I feel that sometimes, some of us remain near the shore dipping our toes but not throwing ourselves into the violent swell of our times. More surf, higher, more dangerous. We should not be interested in tired, well-worn, sleepy waves.

Let’s throw away the tranquillisers on the night stand that leave us limp. Let’s burn the rules of etiquette, acceptable to the international globalised middle-class majority. What personally attracted me to the newly-founded Schoenstatt in Chile was the humble and transparent genius of a good-looking youngster, with an ostentatious surname, a unique star of intelligence and Franciscan simplicity, with an amazing, understated and humble routine, pure as “blessed be your purity.”

Yes, Hernán Alessandri is a saint we discovered, who sends us into shock, because he is the Holy Spirit’s atomic bomb for our “Chenstat,” as many Latin Americans pronounce it. Hernán is a hidden treasure, till now. A precious pearl, for which is worthwhile to relinquish some of soft flesh carried by the “sinners” mentioned in the Hail Mary.

Death to those common places with those who gargle and remain unchanged: well-dressed, in control and calm. Death to repetitive and anaemic words! Blessed those who are clumsy, who despite their mediocrity, continue to shout truths to the winds, truths with which they condemn themselves, but they cannot remain silent, just like the saints! Scandalous truths form the children of a prophet who is more vigilant than ever before. Yes, let us listen to the specialist theologians, but who perhaps burn with a medium flame. We are talking about a certain Joseph Kentenich of “Chenstat”(this pronunciation rolls easily off the mixed tongues of this side of the Atlantic.)

Some people, I know several, who perhaps have a thick skin, have for some time been worried about our spiritual family.

Some confess they are scandalized by themselves and others. This is not about pointing fingers and behaving like Pharisees. Nor is it novelty for the sake of novelty. No. That would be the disguise of a pseudo prophet, syrupy and hysterical. He is ‘comme il faut’ (which sounds wonderful and doesn’t offend anyone) and as a result, doesn’t win over a single person who believes that it is inadmissible not to carry out a revolution against this pagan world that invades us. No, it doesn’t work this way. This way, we will only win over those with milk running in their veins. The founder used to say: “ I’m not interested in those who believe that the problems of the Church and society can be solved by plastering the walls and beautifully painting the ruins. No, Jesus brought a revolution, I want to contribute to a new edification of the Church for the world. Do not waste time with external details. I don’t waste it because I have very little time to carry out my task.”

Personally, I believe Jesus is the most insolent person in history, a professional provoker, not because he liked to upset the bourgeoisie, but out of obedience to the Father and the fire of the Holy Spirit: “What can I want except that my fire burns?” It seems that sometimes the word “mercy” is used to cover up our mediocre tepidity, our comfortable routine, our tedious boredom, by gargling with words of holy fire. At this point it is good to recall Fr. Kentenich’s definition of mercy, which is very similar Pope Francis’. Mercy, because we are “pitiful”, which means “in need of mercy,” with an existential need to be forgiven, because if truth be told, we are miserable. Let’s put an end to hairdresser Christianity, which is good for bourgeois conversations, with a whiskey in one hand. Let’s put an end to this bad, sleep-inducing phrase and is expressed as follows: “Should do…” and always thinking and waiting for someone else to do it. “We should collect money…” and think of the Schoenstatt Fathers who must bring Euro from wealthy Germany. Or those who think the Sisters of Mary and the Ladies of Schoenstatt have a bottomless money bag or don’t eat and have the same simple trousseau they received as novices.

Enough nonsense. Why is it that other movements are able to carry out such large projects? Why is it that when we publish Schoenstatt books, at enormous intellectual effort and financial effort, groups photocopy it so that they don’t have to pay Editorial Schoenstatt or Editorial Patris? No, we all know that anything that is worthwhile has its price. St. Teresa of Avila used to say: “Teresa alone can do nothing. Teresa with God, can do much. Teresa with God and money can do everything.” Isn’t the marvellous old girl magnificent?[1] There are some strange people, even in our beloved Schoenstatt, who consider it bad manners to talk about money. Of course, this refers to efforts to finance Schoenstatt, not the weekend or overseas holidays.

For me, it seems necessary to be kind to these people who are often surly to talk to…but who scream out scandalous, uncomfortable truths such as those that come from the children of a prophet. Like in the Old Testament. Words that are applicable today, tomorrow and beyond.

But, but, but…in Schoenstatt we don’t hear too many uncomfortable creative suggestions, those that prevent us from taking our Sunday siesta or sleeping on a cold winter’s night.

Such a Schoenstatt is useful for a conversation after Sunday Mass, in a beautiful and peaceful garden where the butterflies don’t bother anybody and gently beautify the landscape. In these instances, no one becomes upset, challenged and afraid. We don’t become uncomfortable listening to the Word of God, the ordained priest’s homily and receiving the ball of fire that is the host, the body of Christ.

How easy it is to go with the flow and make decency as the supreme dogma of everyday life, remaining at peace and meticulous among like-minded people.

It’s almost hard to believe that we, and possibly more than a handful, are so conventional and trivial despite the fact that we are Fr. Kentenich’s children, Fr. Kentenich who himself was so unconventional, so strange, not out of a desire to be strange, but because the Holy Spirit pursued him with the flames of the future for the Church and the world.

According to the experience of some people, the worst of the pre-conciliar, conciliar Vatican II, and post-conciliar Church, full of promising drives…is “conversationism,’ an illness whereby burning issues are only talked about and result in minor changes to the dress code and language. This is how we become pseudo-reformers. We aren’t in danger of anything. We will never be threatened with martyrdom. Instead, we will be candidates for the applause of those few who appear to be “important.” Or we could end up as average lukewarm Schoenstatters, decent people who are never disagreeable and never stumble, because we will always walk on paved roads and we would never have discovered anything new, nor submersed in the cement of human pain, and we would not have reached any unique horizons of holiness, communion or apostolate.

Every now and then, we should ask ourselves: Are we dangerous to the Devil and his followers? Of course we don’t worship the Prince of Darkness. But does he hate Schoenstatt, just like he hates the Virgin Mary, the woman clothed with the Sun?[2] Using the language of Genesis, am I Her heel, Mary’s heel? In chapter 3 of the first book of the Bible, we read: “and you will strike his heel.” In other words, the Blessed Mother removed the dirt from the Devil, who dragged himself and blubbering to the very last, took a bite out of the only part that she had not protected with the breastplate of the Living God: her heel. Church tradition teaches us that we are this heel. Therefore, whoever does not bear the scar of the Devil’s teeth against whom we battle, then, we are tepid water, lukewarm and spat out, exactly those things that do not please the Lord Jesus: “because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”[3]

“Schoenstatt that reaches out” is the motto we took from the Pope for the post-centennial generation. It is with reason that he asks us: Where have you come from and where are you going? What are you taking? It’s no good getting up from a lukewarm bed and go for a walk in the square or a fashion show, or frolic trivially in the sand.

“Schoenstatt that reaches out”means getting up from the anguish that we should experience when we see the Catholic Church regressing, paralysed by sex scandals of the clergy and the undaunted cowardice of so many who unwittingly become accomplices, but who don’t become dishevelled in their battle they follow from the safety of the stands.

“Children of war” our founder told us, thus highlighting our most intimate vocation. There can be no possible transaction between the children of Mary and the Evil one. Christianity is a war to the death, or else it is not Christianity. Schoenstatt is the child of war, or else it doesn’t belong to Fr. Kentenich. A bourgeois Schoenstatt. The lack of lay initiatives, accompanied by non-clerical, protectionist priests is not a luxury. It is a condition necessary for living life of Fr. Kentenich, Karl Leisner, Sr. Emilie, the Ladies of Schoenstatt who were martyred in writing by Nazism, the Kühr couple who founded the Family Branch, Sebastián Bitangwanimana, the diocesan seminarian who was martyred for the reconciliation of the people of Burundi. You get the picture.

In the above passage, it seems as if the author of these lines was blind in one eye, because he does not speak about the fantastic people in Schoenstatt, and who are, in fact, many and are an admirable fruit of the Trinity. They exist, but sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. And our forest is possibly wilting too much. It grows tired, which is normal, but it is from here that we need to react with resoluteness and efficacy, with our souls and practically, to carry out the great tasks that still await us.

Let’s look, for example, at the Catholic brothers in the Neocatechumen Movement. They are sending 10,000 missionaries to China. Heroically, these daring lay people organize, drive, and finance huge missionary works. The Pope has just reflected on how they are an admirable movement in the Church. They are expanding. Their founder is still alive and this gives them the strength of dynamite, or an atomic bomb. We are in the period “after the death of the founder”…and this carries with it other questions. For example: What does “creative faithfulness” in the charismatic revolutionary Joseph Kentenich mean? Did this bearded priest only speak for the century in which he lived, when there was no internet or social networks, when the Catholic Church didn’t resonate so loudly with so many scandals? When critical thinking has called into question even the way we walk, is what he said in the first half of the twentieth century still valid? Has an observer like Fr. Kentenich not been left behind? His half-romantic, half-academic language, what can he say to the youth of today, to the intellectuals of today, to the women of today, to politicians?

We can add something very important. Prophecy, first and foremost, questions and condemns the prophet. This person is a poor faithful who, trembling, receives an overwhelming task. And without a doubt, he is urged, sealed by the mandate that “we cannot but preach.” Just as our father noted on 31 May 1949. The day of a forgotten mission and relegated to the quasi-museum archives in many circles of our international Schoenstatt. We know that in museums, relics greet each other with a nod of the head, but they don’t disturb anybody in the flesh, nor in their bones, nor in their prayers, nor in intimate conversations.

This doesn’t mean that we should make ourselves important, choosing to insolently challenge others who are different from us. No, no, no. Each one of us is Mr. Nobody. But all of us should have the thirst of Advent, of a new birth of Christ in Schoenstatt and from Schoenstatt. We are simply children of a prophet from the Rhineland, who invites us to pray in the morning with ‘Heavenwards” between our fingers and to recite: ‘Through Schoenstatt may the wide halls of the Holy Church be filled again and your praise resound to your throne…where you radiate into the world the glories of our Mother…Let us glow like brands of fire and joyfully go forth to the nations (not only the Church but to the “nations”, plural, which is a lay, civil, political community beyond the Church)…and jubilantly lead all people to the Triune God.”[4]

In other words, a way of living a Marian Christianity, without imaginary pretensions, without any ounce of exhibitionism…but radiated with the light of authenticity and faithfulness, that convinces and infects and gives joy to a Church that is a little pale and fearful, yeast for a new world.

Fr. Joaquín Alliende Luco

6 November 2015

Cenacle at Bellavista


[1] This is how Pope Francis referred to St. Teresa when he was presented with her staff: ‘Is this the staff the old girl walked with?” and he then showed the simple staff similar to those used by the shepherds of the cold Spanish plateaus
[2] Revelations 12
[3] Revelations 3:16
[4] HW 7, 8, and 12.


 Original: Spanish. Translation: Srah-Leah Pimentel, Cape Town, South Africa

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