Fr. Juan Pablo Catoggio •
We publish here the sermon of Fr. Juan Pablo Catoggio, President of the General Presidency of Schoenststt, in the Holy Mass at the celebration of October 18 at the Original Shrine, October 18 in the Holy Year of Mercy. —
Dear Schoenstatt Family,
We celebrate the 18th of October, the covenant day. It is also the feast of the Evangelist Saint Luke. He is known as the Evangelist of mercy. Texts like the parable of the prodigal son, the good Samaritan, or Zacchaeus, we find them only in his Gospel. As messenger of the Good News he represents the missionary task of the Church, what the Gospel of today points out. Mercy and mission, the two clues which characterise the renewal of the covenant of love this year.
The Founding Event
We celebrate the 18th of October, the event of the Covenant of Love, the occurrence of our origin, our founding event. At the beginning of our history there was no softy idea or ideology or a well-planned project. At the beginning was God, was Mary. There was an event, an encounter. Our Father and Founder repeated it untiringly: inbreak of God, inbreak of the Divine.
Particulars are three aspects of this event: first, God took the initiative through Mary, second, the irruption is inextricably linked, attached to this place, the small shrine, and finally this irruption of God is an offer that demands our response, our collaboration: it is a covenant and we are aware of our contributions to the Capital of Grace.
We can ask ourselves: how do I live my covenant of love? Can I say with conviction that my covenant is also an irruption of God, an inbreak of God in my life, in my story? Can I say as our Father and Founder said, that the covenant is a turning point in my way and is becoming more and more the centre of my life? Am I aware of this initiative of God in me and through me?
Schoenstatt reaching out
The great Jubilee 2014 has shown the dimensions of this event, of the covenant. 100 years of Schoenstatt give us the certainty that the covenant of love makes history and makes much more and more future. The youth took the torch in their hands, they bring the fire of Schoenstatt into the future. The future of our Family is in good hands. The many representatives from all over the world have also made it clear that Schoenstatt belongs to the whole church and to the whole world, that the covenant of love breaks all boundaries and encompasses all peoples, all cultures, all generations. We have learned the universality of the covenant and have once again learned that the covenant of love is a mission, is our mission.
This year I was particularly touched by an encounter: I met Sister Vernita in Burundi. In 1952, with barely 23 years, she was still a young novice, she was sent to South Africa in the mission. Ten years later she was among the three first sisters who started in Burundi. When did you return to Germany for the first time?, I asked her: 19 years later, 1971. And will you go to Germany again: No, now I’m too old, I will die here. That was already in those days “Schoenstatt on the move, Schoenstatt which goes out”.
Time of Mercy
The Holy Father has given us a clue in this Holy Year, which captures the core of the Gospel and also the centre of our message of the Covenant of Love: mercy. Nothing else, nothing more important, needs and expects today’s world of God, and therefore of the Church and of us Christians. “I believe that this is a time of mercy. The Church is showing her maternal side, her motherly face, to a humanity that is wounded. She does not wait for the wounded to knock on her doors, she looks for them on the streets, she gathers them in, she embraces them, she takes care of them she makes them feel loved”. (Francis, The Name of God is mercy)
We may renew this year our covenant of love in two special dimensions: as a covenant of mercy and as a covenant of mission.
“The blessed Mother is merciful everywhere. But she wants to pour out the wealth of her mercy over suffering humankind especially at her places, her shrines…If we want to awaken, to challenge God’s mercy, the mercy of our dear Blessed Mother, what must we then give to her in virtue of the covenant of love? First, our misery, second, our heroic confidence, and third, our total surrender. … Schoenstatt is a perfect union between God’s infinite mercy and endless human misery. The history of Schoenstatt is nothing else but a race between divine mercy and human misery. And who will win this race? Divine mercy over human misery. Second, divine mercy in spite of human misery, and third, divine mercy because of human misery.” (Fr. Kentenich, On Monday evenings 5, 18. February 1957).
Mercy and Mission
Our Father and Founder says anew to us: Child, don’t forget your misery! Don’t forget the divine mercy” Don’t forget your Mother!
Keep this two words: mercy and mission. Only a merciful Schoenstatt can be a missionary Schoenstatt. As our young students say in Chile: mercy on the move, mercy which goes out!