By Federico Bicciconti, Bahía Blanca, Argentina •
Federico is a 24-year-old Argentinean, and he was in Schoenstatt approximately fifty days ago. The most loyal readers of schoenstatt.org will remember him:
That young Argentinean, who wanted to walk the Camino de Santiago [St. James’ Way] from Lourdes to Santiago de Compostela, and the way he chose to do it was to leave from Schoenstatt, more precisely from the Original Shrine.
“Sometime ago, I promised to send you a brief summary of my visit to Schoenstatt, and as you will see later, this letter was written some time ago. I hope that the time has come for my anecdote to be shared,” he wrote to the editor of schoenstatt.org, adding: “Let me say that I fulfilled the objective of my trip. I arrived in the land of Santiago de Compostela and the coast at the end of the world after thirty-one days and 1100 km. (683.5083 miles) of pilgrimage. I am sending you my summary with a jubilant soul because of everything I have experienced lately, and I include a warm embrace for Fr. Egon Zillekens.
My experience through Schoenstatt’s indescribable mountains and valleys
Seated at the only bar open beginning the walk through the streets of Paris, and at dawn on what seemed would be a humid day, I begin to investigate the area of feelings.
I had just left Germany a few days ago, and although everything is still very fresh in my being, a breath of inspiration indicated that this was the moment to narrate recent events.
I have planned the difficult task of telling my experience through Schoenstatt’s indescribable mountains and valleys, and although I will try to omit redundant details of my visit in Schoenstatt Shrines, read between the lines that I collaborated every second of my experience to form a story that will be difficult to forget. From the kindness of the Sisters and employees, Father Egon’s generous hospitality, and the friendly greeting of every person who saw me carrying my backpack. She [the Blessed Mother] was my loyal companion in my recent trips and anecdotes.
Moreover, I add, that although this was my first visit to Schoenstatt, I had already visited and experienced the sensation of the Blessed Mother’s sheltering in Buenos Aires as well as Mar de la Plata, Paso Mayor (close to Bahía Mar, my birthplace) and Comodoro Rivadavia (Chubut, Argentina). Furthermore, I had a measured pattern to rely on at the time of the spiritual contact.
Now, that I have organized my thoughts, my first impression was that there was very little difference being in Vallendar. Whoever built the Shrines around the world has respected the premise of maintaining the exact measurements as those of the Original Shrine.
Although there was a great difference in me…
Inside of the Shrine, I am at home
Perhaps because of my present moment of pilgrimage through Europe, perhaps because I am so far from home, the first thing I perceived was that pleasant sensation of feeling at home. For a minute, and then after some time, I was not a visitor.
Moreover, I emphasize this point, and it is not a coincidence that I say it first, since for me this was, a well-known sensation within the Movement.
They are feelings charged with melancholy for a traveler who has been away from home for a long time, and for my good fortune, they disappeared at Schoenstatt.
Inside the Shrine I am at home.
Perceiving in silence
Very early on the second day, I began the task of visiting the different Shrines that are found around the valley.
My personal pedometer kilometers increased as the afternoon elapsed.
At times I walked slower or I stopped, and at other times, I picked up the pace trying to react loyally to all the emotions that happen between seal and seal within conversations and silence.
Later this effect would occur frequently, and stronger during my pilgrimage through 1,100 km. of my walk to Santiago de Compostela; it was a condition I tried to respect from the beginning, because with nature and silence as the great emotional catalysts, being open to perceive and to react accordingly without the interference of reasoning modifying the original impression.
It is important to clarify that I reserve the right to describe what happened to me during this time; they are very personal feelings that remain in my interior and they will be nourishment for my soul. There is no value in explicitly sharing them.
What is clearly relevant is that I fervently encourage any person, who is thirsty for an encounter with the Blessed Mother and with his/herself, to visit Schoenstatt. I invite the restless and curious one, I invite the self-assured one and whoever is lost.
The profoundness is found in the simple things
Then I sigh, I consecrate myself to the Blessed Mother, and I express my gratitude for this new adventure.
It is the adventure of discovering the Blessed Mother’s richness in the small deeds and the humble gestures of kindness of people I see everyday.
For some reason, large cathedrals, monasteries and monumental priests’ retirement homes have never attracted my attention.
I believe profoundness is in the simple things just as in daily life.
I believe that holiness is in the simple things; I find my faith in the simple things, and perhaps this is why the greatest exponent I found in the Blessed Mother’s Shrine was in the simple things.
The anecdotes will continue and I do not doubt that my trip will continue to be blessed as it has been until now. This visit to Schoenstatt will not go unnoticed; its graces will accompany me in the arduous road that awaits me in a few days.