Fr. José María García – Shrine of Madrid, August 2013.
Dear Dream Team* friends,
In preparation for a jubilee meeting of one of the university youth groups from Santiago de Chile, one of those young people recently wrote to me about our Holy Father Francis as someone valiant in his fatherhood, someone who is a “father without complexes” and who leads the Church without complexes or strange commitments.
Although the formulation may not be very politically correct – by those who might feel referred to negatively – I believe it is an excellent, simple and strong description of the fatherhood which Providence is giving to us in our Holy Father Francis in order to lead the Church toward “the new shore,” as our Father and Founder would say.
His recommendation: Go out onto the street!
Every part of the Church, and many others outside of her – believers or non-believers – have received his clear and hope-filled words. They are also words that motivate us to assume the responsibility we all have to build a world in accordance to the Will of God, in the strength of the Spirit and through the way of Christ.
Cardinals and bishops, priests, men and women religious, novices and seminarians, families, the youth and elderly, communities and institutes have received this challenge to go out “onto the street” to take – not a utopian hope – but concrete deeds in living evangelization projects to all men and women wherever they may be. And if they are on the “outskirts” then we have to go there, with all the risks and dangers it may include. He repeats to us constantly: I prefer an injured church, because she goes out to serve, to a Church that is sick because of her self-absorption. Testimony to this can be found in the section of Schoenstatt.org where on a weekly basis texts are selected which motivate us on our own pilgrimage toward the 2014 Jubilee. Undoubtedly, because we are the Church, these words are also directed to us. How happy must our Father not be with this missionary impetus which is given to us from the very heart of the Church!
“Let us walk like you through life, let us mirror you forever, strong and noble, meek and mild, peace and love be our endeavor. Walk in us through our world, make it ready for the Lord” (HEAVENWARDS, American Edition, p. 171) – a prayer from our Founder which embodies our Holy Father’s vision.
Beyond the jubilee
Reading the signs of life, the leaders and those responsible for our International Schoenstatt Family established in Conference 2014 and in their final declaration – the “Message 2014” – what they thought should be our preparation and attitude for the Jubilee. Today, the Church and the Holy Spirit are ratifying it step by step! We almost dare to say that our preparation began there not only for the internal Jubilee, but also to enable us to contribute as Father’s Family to this Church which has no fear, which has no complexes about calling things by their name and starting the changes in those attitudes and institutions which with time have remained decrepit, and are a burden in their task of evangelization, as our Holy Father tells us repeatedly.
A Church that seeks encounter and wants to serve
However, what is important for us – after what was so deeply experienced in WYD in Rio in so very many encounters with our Holy Father Francis – is to see that our Jubilee can take our Father’s “dilexit ecclesiam”, He loved the Church, to the “cor ecclesiae”, the heart of the Church. Each of us in his or her own place, and according to each one’s means and possibilities, by living their covenant of love in solidarity with everyone, especially with those most in need and those who are estranged. We do not do it while seeking recognition or confirmation, but in order to fulfill our mission to serve. The Church goes out to serve and needs the serving attitude and action of our Mother and Educator. She has already done it as “Pilgrim Mother”…..what great evangelization! So much hope has been sowed in both people and institutions!
My gratitude goes out to those who were and are a launching point for the Blessed Virgin in her service, to the “missionaries/coordinators of the Pilgrim Mother. God uses those who are the little ones to show us the way – as our own Father and Founder reminded us – when he asked Fr. Esteban Uriburu and his course of priests to look at and reflect on the “evangelization project of the future” undertaken by Don Joao Pozzobon. If truth be said, it was something that was considered at that time as having little to do with Schoenstatt.
The Church is renewing herself with Pope Francis
This is a missionary evangelization task we can undertake – exactly as was done by the Schoenstatt Family, because it had a Father who was concerned for the truth in his gestures and words, in his service to the life of each individual both within and outside the Family, and in his real and tangible closeness. We are aware that his mission to be a Father, and to form fathers so that Schoenstatt could be a Family at the service of life, both within itself and outside of itself, was to a great extent what led him into exile in Milwaukee.
It is this renewed Church which impetuously gives Herself to this missionary service, and faces it bravely and realistically, because She has a Father who motivates Her to go out from Her strongholds…..to discard Her complexes…..to look at the truth of life and history, no matter how hard it may be, and to face life head on, even knowing it includes pain and sacrifice, troubles and disappointments…..that the cross forms a part of her existence, but is enlivened by faith in the Resurrection. How beautiful was Pope Francis’ homily at Aparecida! And the believers accepted it valiantly, knowing that we have a Father with us, that the Church has a Father, just as the young couple said at the favela in Rio and “overlooking protocol” calling him, Father Francis.
The real path of the Beatitudes and the Magnificat
In Europe we are in “crisis”, not only financially, economically or culturally, but vitally. We are in need of hope and are tempted to enclose ourselves within ourselves like the apostles in the Cenacle. We see it in defensive nationalism and lack of confidence; we are suspicious of one another, of what is strange, of the foreigner, of the person who thinks differently, of the person who is not one of us – simply because we re afraid. What Father Francis proposes to us in the purest style of the Gospel is the royal highway of the Beatitudes and the Magnificat…..to go out and give…..to offer our lives, not only our ideas, as disciples of the Master and children of Mary in the power of Pentecost.
A well-known Spanish academic, Javier Reverte, recently wrote as a self-defined “Catholic agnostic” that “in times of social depression/dejection, of discredited politicians, of unleashed corruption, of voracious greed by the great financial powers, and moral collapse, a brave Pope without desires of earthly powers can awaken hope in lay society and including agostic persons. Because we humans need heroes and ethical proposals” (ABC, 08,22,2013).
Let us assume the risk of being children of a complex-free Father, who is brave, simple and humble, who serves and makes credible and tangible – not only himself – but Christ in his Church.
Where there is a Father there is hope, a family and strength
I unite myself to the prayers of our International Family, asking for the canonization of our Father and Founder, making our own the words of Jesus: “Whoever sees me, sees the Father!” We know that as Family we are the guarantee of his sanctity and of his mission, in truth, justice and love. This is how many years ago a generation of university youths in Chile began, and this is how a current of life has broken through, renewed and hopeful, within the Church. It is the current of the Father which allows us to be as children, “missionary disciples.” Where there is a father, there is a family and hope. There is also the strength not to fall into fear or self-absorption, which are real dangers for the Church. We have been forewarned by our Holy Father Francis.
Serve courageously and without complexes
We have just celebrated the “Queenship of Mary”. She is the Queen of each one of us because we allow ourselves to be formally questioned by the Father, our Father Francis and our Father. They call us to serve valiantly and without complexes.
From the Shrine in Madrid and grateful for your surrender and service to the Family and the Church, I send you my blessing and love. I am glad to be able to share with you these reflections, the fruit of all the hope the Father awakens in me. Thank you to everyone.
Fr. José María
* Letter written to the close collaborators of schoenstatt.org (“Dreamteam”)
Translation from Spanish: Carlos Cantú, Schoenstatt Family Federation, La Feria, Texas USA 08252013
Thank Fr. Jose Maria for your beautiful reflections. This article shows that what Pope Francis is asking of the Church is not something strange or new for us in Schoenstatt. He is merely asking us to live as our Founder showed us.
Fr. Kentenich urged us to look beyond ourselves in our service of Christ’s church. Church is all those we meet, even if they do not profess the same ideas as us. Church is both those who have positions of importance and (especially) those who remain anonymous at the margins. Church is life in the Covenant of Love, giving itself for the renewal of the world as we head to the "new shore".
Thank you for the reminder to unite ourselves with our Holy Father and use what we have learnt in Schoenstatt to help him in his mission of a the new evangelistaion and his vision of a new way to be Church.