(mkf) Each 18th of the month is a celebration of love, as Schoenstatt members around the world join in celebrating the Covenant of Love in their home shrines, by a Pilgrim shrine, Wayside Shrine, or Replica shrine spiritually united with the place where Schoenstatt began on October 18th, 2000: the Original Shrine in Schoenstatt, Germany. Schoenstatt members present there on March 18th, 2000, joyfully represented the international Schoenstatt there for the covenant renewal.
"We remember the present and future Schoenstatt members in South Africa, in USA, in Mexico ..., we pray for all those who receive our MTA in a Pilgrim Shrine, and ask our MTA for covenant love and joy from our holy Schoenstatt places for each of them......" Joyful anticipation marked the atmosphere when 16 professional women from Northern Germany, together with two young women from Ireland and England, gathered in the Shrine by Marienland, Schoenstatt for a holy Mass at 8:00pm on March 17th, celebrated by a Schoenstatt priest from Nigeria.
Schoenstatt Shared Around the World
This holy Mass was followed by adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament until covenant day dawned. Each of the young women had picked one country England, Ireland, Russia, USA, Mexico, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Nigeria, Kenya, Burundi, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, South Africa, Zimbabwe, etc. - which they wanted to represent during their adoration hours and in the closing holy Mass of their retreat at 9:00 am in the Original Shrine the other day.
The Schoenstatt members of Harare, Zimbabwe, met in the afternoon of this covenant day: "It was wonderful to read that we were prayed for in the hours of adoration and Mass by the ladies. What a blessed time was had by all in Schoenstatt. I'm sure the graces flowing from there reached every corner and everyone associated with Schoenstatt. We went to the Arnold's home in Mt. Pleasant (not mountainous at all) where our altar shrine is. Beginning in the shrine we processed outside and prayed the stations of the cross from Heavenwards around the beautiful garden on a lovely sunny afternoon beginning at 3 p.m. Then back in the shrine we renewed our Covenant with our Mother Thrice Admirable after prayers on behalf of so many needing our supportive prayers. Several people we knew had died in the previous days. We also gave thanks for so many blessings received."
A Rose Bouquet for Mary in the Original Shrine
In the holy Mass in the Original Shrine, each woman brought a red rose to the altar, as a sign of her covenant renewal. The bouquet with 20 red roses in the Original Shrine was also meant for all those who spiritually touch this holy place. 20 Pilgrim Shrines were blessed at the end of this holy Mass, with prayers said for all who receive a pilgrim shrine.
Approximately 400 persons gathered in the Adoration church for the covenant renewal of the local Schoenstatt family at 7:30pm. Father Beller led the celebration. He welcomed the local visitors and Schoenstatt Family, and all those who came: mothers with their children from the Speyer diocese, the professional women from Northern Germany, who provided the music, Schoenstatt Sisters from 10 countries in the International Seminar, Leaders of the Schoenstatt Girls' Youth who were in the Sonnenau to prepare the International Meeting of the Girls' Youth in August, and as special guests the couple from Hungary who had brought Schoenstatt to this country. Father Beller pointed at the Brazilian flag which had a special place in the stand, reminding us of the New Schoenstatt Shrine Tabor of Hope to be dedicated on March 19th in Brasilia, the Capital of Brazil, the first new shrine of the year 2000. Father Willi Seidemann, Schoenstatt priest of the Limburg diocese, who had died early in the morning, was remembered in gratitude for all he had done for Schoenstatt.
Covenant Joy and Gratitude
Joyful songs, accompanied by guitars, bongos, flute, and bassoon, set the tone for the covenant renewal. It was marked by the joy in the covenant, and the gratitude for Father Kentenich, whose nameday was commemorated on March 19th/March 20th. Everybody was invited to remember the gifts and graces of the past weeks and to offer all of the joys, sufferings, disappointments and longings to the capital of grace. During this time, "With heartfelt love" was played with the instruments and then sung by all (in English and German), when young women from Ireland, England, and Germany collected the slips of paper and put them into the jar placed by the MTA picture.
Father Beller encouraged everyone to tear down the walls that hinder from real Christian Joy the 'wall' of over-responsibility, the wall of perfectionism, the wall of disappointments. Father Kentenich, he emphasized, had given our time the message of God's mercy and love. Again and again we are invited to go home to the merciful Father who loves each one as his favorite child.
Then, all renewed the covenant, spiritually united with all those in the world associated with Schoenstatt by a pilgrim shrine, home shrine, replica shrine.
All were invited outside to the fire where the Capital of Grace was burned. "Protect us with your mantle" was sung in different languages, while the sheets of paper were put to the fire. Those in charge were joyfully supported by some kids who obviously enjoyed the fire! While more songs were sung Dios te salve, Maria; Who is this gracious Lady; Nothing Without You, Without Me", and the "Prophet Song" in honor of Fr. Kentenich a little one fell asleep in the arms of his proud mother. Although it was dark and pretty cold, many people stayed until the fire was down and the singing ended. "It's such a joy to be here, and I am so grateful it stopped raining," one of the guitar players said afterwards. Two other musicians had to leave immediately after the celebration: "I have to drive 3 hours and got to work tomorrow at 9:00am, but I would not have wanted to miss on this!"