Posted On 2017-07-12 In Original Shrine

A priestly experience of the Covenant of Love

BRAZIL/ROME, Fr. Rodrigo Ríos, from the Archdiocese of Maceió, Brazil •

As a child, my mother once took me to church, and giving me a scapular as a gift, she told me that Our Lady of Mt. Carmel was my godmother, and she would take care of me.  That image remains in my mind as the surrender of one mother to another.  Therefore that simple and beautiful picture always accompanied me.  In my youth, being part of a group of youths, I remember that we would make the consecration to the Virgin of Pleasures, patroness of my Archdiocese, on the Saturday of the novena.  It was a surrender of the future and projects in which she would help us.  Upon entering the way of a vocation, as a deacon, I made the consecration according to the St. Maximilian Kolbe’s method with the help of a priest friend who belonged to an Institute with a charism dedicated to this saint.

This priest showed me a new side to the Movement

Upon arriving in Rome to do a Master’s in Institutional Communication, I had the pleasant satisfaction of perceiving that the priests of my course were very Marian, especially a dear friend, Fr. Rolando Montes de Oca, a Cuban with a big heart.  I already knew the Schoenstatt spirituality through the Pilgrim Mother’s Rosary Campaign, which is very strong in Brazil my country of origin, but this priest showed me a new aspect to the Movement, emphasizing the brotherhood of the diocesan priests.  That left me enchanted!

On a morning of Marian spirituality, in the Cor Ecclesiae Shrine in Rome, Fr. Rolando spoke to me about the Covenant of Love and the Treasury of Grace.  There I learned the proposals of this project and something touched me deeply:  the experience with the Blessed Mother was made in a Covenant, where I offered something like a contract, requesting her protection and special gifts.  What was the gift I could surrender?  What would be my efforts, my sacrifices for this?  This news presented there filled my heart with peace since I could see in that process a form of self-education and this would be a way of being closer to the Blessed Mother, because with her example, I would have her attitudes.

“Whatever you ask…”

Then my Cuban friend invited me to seal the Covenant of Love.  For me, that would have a special meaning.  We celebrated the 300th Jubilee of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil and the 100th anniversary of the apparitions in Fatima, Portugal, devotions to which I am particularly attached.  Aware of this being a Marian Year, I resolved to make a more intensive pilgrimage with the Blessed Mother by visiting shrines dedicated to her, praying the 1,000 Hail Mary’s, praying the Immaculate Conception office, personal retreats, and other initiatives.  The Covenant would then be a giving to the Blessed Mother, offering something, which for me would be a great personal effort so that the graces would be abundantly spread.  But, what would this offering be?

Doing a spiritual reading of my personal history, I then discerned what it would be.  As a result, I wrote and prayed when I sealed my Covenant:

“My dear Mother, what I loved in the Schoenstatt proposal was to seal a Covenant of Love with you with something I can offer and thus commit myself to the consecration.  The sign of my offering will be my “yes” in obedience to the Holy Church.  Whatever you ask of me, no matter how difficult it may be, I propose to approve it freely and unselfishly.  With each “yes,” I will renew my consecration to you.  I will do it remembering that I am not alone, aware that your presence accompanies me in each mission destined for me.”

The “yes” cathedral

I have always had difficulties with obedience upon becoming independent rather early on and in the hierarchical ecclesial structure in which I live, to say “yes” to certain missions is very costly for me.  I saw in this that I should be educated and trusting of the maternal presence of the Blessed Mother, and that I could be more unselfish and lunge toward the projects entrusted to me.  It would be a sign of sincere commitment.

Without knowing all I had written or prepared, in the celebration of the Holy Mass, Fr. Rolando spoke about the experiences of Father Joseph Kentenich’s suffering and said:  “we are in the Original Shrine, the site of the Fiat, where we could say, the ‘yes’ Cathedral!”  There he contextualized the meaning of Father Kentenich’s surrender and how fruitful his obedience to the Church was.  At that moment, I saw the action of the Spirit that is capable of knowing the depths of our hearts.  I understood that my offering was pleasant and would be a sign.

All of this took place on June 27…

All of this took place recently on 27 June 2017.  Later I discovered that this was the date of Deacon Joao Luiz Pozzobon’s death.  He was a Brazilian and founder of the Pilgrim Mother’s Rosary Campaign.  I saw the hand of God in the selection of this moment.

I conclude by affirming how happy I am with this new time.  I observe how much the presence of the Blessed Mother gives me security in my priesthood.  Our stay here is brief, and I can already feel the reality of Heaven, in this Marian image that accompanies me and loves me so much.

Following is a poem I wrote the previous day:

Maternal glance

When I look toward you, Oh Mary,

What do I see?

I see your simplicity in the service of others

I admire your silence that guarded everything in the heart

I am moved by her maternity with which she did everything for her Son.

How many in these generations have proclaimed you blessed!

Today the prophecy is also fulfilled in me

As I look toward you, I proclaim you full of happiness

And I unite with so many who honor you with their life.

I want to get ever so close to you

Enveloping myself in your mantle which covers my pain

Allowing myself to be immensely loved

And thus sheltered rewarded in contact with others

I feel sheltered by your gaze

And what do you see, sweet Mary?

A child thirsty for loving and praising you

A child who discovered the power of being educated by so tender a Mother.

 

 

 The author is the one at the right side in the header photo.

Original: Portuguese: 2nd of July 2017.  Translation: Carlos Cantú, La Feria, Texas USA. Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA

 

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