The Grace of a Home

A famous French actress – Catherine Deneuve – once said in an interview: “I think that I always want to run away because I it terrifies me to think about the future. For now, it is enough to feel much younger than I really am. I hope that time will give me some wisdom so that I can finally learn how to live” (Clarin/Magazine, 18.1.1981). These words make us think. This woman reveals her insecurity about the future. She confesses her lack of wisdom that could show her how to live. The problem she has in understanding the meaning of life is also shared by millions of people. This problem is endemic to our culture. The ultimate drama of modern man is not the increased pace of life, increased demands that are imposed on us or the difficulties of daily life. The real drama is the lack of transcendental values that can give meaning to our lives.

The drama is spiritual uprootedness which generates many spiritual nomads, hobos, vagrants. It is the lack of stability and consistency of personal attachments…..lack of attachment to places…..lack of attachment to tradition. Finally, it is the lack of being sheltered in God. Because man is a creature, because he is ultimately not secure in himself, he is an insecure being, a being at risk. No one can escape this dimension of the human condition. There are certainly many ways to avoid it, but avoidance can never be a real solution. If we have been created by God, if God is our final destination, if we come from Him and we return to Him, there is no other solution than our radical surrender to Him.

Son of God the Father

The deepest dimension of our being is that of childlikeness. A child will only find peace if he is with his father and his mother. This, in turn makes it possible for him to encounter his brethren. To be a Christian means, in the deepest sense of the word, to be in Christ, a son of God the Father: “See what love the Father has for us that we are called children of God, for that we are!” To be a Christian means that we have  received the Holy Spirit which is not a spirit of slavery to fall in fear, but “a spirit of adopted children which makes us exclaim: Abba, Father! The Spirit itself unites with our spirit to give witness that we are children of God (Rom. 8:15-16). A Christian is someone who is one with his brethren. It is  the experience of participating in a history which is the history of salvation and which will one day end in eternity.

Meeting the Virgin Mary in the Shrine is, above all, the meeting of a son, of a daughter with his/her Mother. It is the experience of feeling at home, of feeling accepted and praised… I am, with my light and my shadows, with my successes and my failures, with what is good and what is bad in me. In the Shrine I feel sheltered, I feel good. (“All who come here to pray shall experience the glory of Mary and confess: ‘It is good for us to be here. Here we want to build our tents, here shall be our favorite place!'” Fr. Kentenich, October 18, 1914)

No child can explain with words what his mother means to him. Much less can we explain when it deals with the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our Mother. She has a mysterious maternal charisma which is extraordinary, universal and unique. As Puebla teaches so well: “Mary, Mother, awakens the childlike heart which sleeps within each man. In this way, she leads us to develop the life of the baptized for which we were made children (DP 295).

While he was a prisoner in the Dachau concentration camp, Father Kentenich expressed this experience in a profound and simple way.

The Mother has accepted me with goodness and as only a mother can do, she has promised to take care of me faithfully in every situation of life so that, joyfully, some day she will embrace me on an Easter morning.

Above all, She is the merciful Mother and Queen. As such, She leads us skillfully to discover and to accept the truth about ourselves, that is, also our history of sinfulness and misery which is included in our life. She helps us discover, in a vital way, the mystery of Christ which did not come to seek the just but the sinners. Following is a great testimony from St. Paul: “This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost. (1Tim. 1,15)

In Christ, she increasingly leads us  to penetrate  the mystery of the Father and of his love for us (“Man and his highest vocation”- affirms John Paul II – “are revealed in Christ through the revelation of the mystery of the Father and his Love.” Encyclical Dives in Misericordia, 1) Mary leads us to discover the mystery of God the Father’s merciful love for each and every one of us.

This is the basis of mercy with one’s fellow man which in daily life is expressed by concrete attitudes…..patience, being disposed to forgiveness, always hoping for the conversion of sinners, not judging in order to not be judged.

She who is unsurpassable in her maternal love for her children and like a good Mother, favors the weakest, the most needy, the most miserable. She teaches us that shelter in God results from seeking the will of God in everything and putting it into practice. If like Christ, our norm is to do the will of the Father, we will be sheltered in his heart. “The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him” (Jn 8,29). The Virgin Mary had to suffer and endure much bitterness in her life but she always lived sheltered and secure in the will of the Father: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1, 38).

The lives of many sons and daughters of Schoenstatt are an authentic testimony that Our Lady of Schoenstatt from her Shrine has given in abundance this first pilgrimage grace: a spiritual home. Its fruit has been a growing attitude of total confidence (and not of fear or anxiety) in life and death and beyond. That is as it should be. The greatest gift we have received from God and the fundamental norm of Christianity is love. God is love says St. John and who remains in love remains in God and God in him. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear (1 Jn 4,16,18).

A simple and profound prayer by Father Kentenich summarizes very well this grace of being at home:

“I trust your might, your kindness, Mother dear,
I do believe that you are always near.
Schoenstatt’s great Queen, O mother mild,
I blindly trust in you and in your Child.”

(USA) (HEAVENWARDS p. 170 American Edition)