(mkf) January 18, 2001 - The first Covenant Day of the new millennium was celebrated in Schoenstatt with the blessing of Pilgrim Shrines, Covenant Renewal in the Adoration Church, burning of thousands of paper stars from "Ten Minutes by the Crib," followed by a Covenant party by the fire with Christmas tea and cookies. The Schoenstatt family in Zimbabwe, preparing for the crowning of the MTA as Queen of Zimbabwe two days later, were especially remembered.
Like on each 18th of the month, new Pilgrim Shrines to be sent out in the coming weeks were blessed in the Original Shrine. "Nobody had believed a couple of years ago that the MTA would visit over 30,000 families in Germany by the end of the Holy Year," said Sr. Marié. The Covenant Renewal in the Adoration Church began at 7:30PM. It was pretty cold with some snowflakes. The crib was still in the church, reminding all of Christmas and of the over 10,000 persons who came to the crib during the Christmas season and of all those whose names were written on the stars.
The flags of the eight countries where Schoenstatt Shrines were erected in the Holy Year - Brazil, Germany, Poland, Peru, Chile, India, Paraguay, England - stood by the MTA picture, along with the flags from three African countries, Burundi, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, reminding all of the MTA to be crowned as Queen of Zimbabwe on January 20. At the beginning, Monsignor Wolf welcomed the local Schoenstatt family, the Schoenstatt Fathers' students from South America, and all the Schoenstatt members from the different countries who are in Schoenstatt and represent Schoenstatt's internationality at the place of Schoenstatt's origin. He extended warm, special greetings to the Schoenstatt family in Zimbabwe. A "mixed orchestra" with keyboard, flute, violin, and guitars - and League and Institute Families, Schoenstatt Sisters, and a Lady of Schoenstatt involved - provided joyful and lively music!
With Mary, Joyfully and Confident into the Third Millennium
In his sermon, Monsignor Wolf highlighted the meaning of this first Covenant Renewal in the year 2001. He had experienced the beginning of this year and millennium in Bellavista, Chile. There, and everywhere in the world, the joy was shared about two gifts Schoenstatt had received at the end of the Holy Year. They were the fruitful encounter of the Trier Diocese's leaders and members of the Schoenstatt General Presidium in December, and the Holy Father's surprise visit to the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary's Shrine in Rome. We should, he concluded, see the Holy Father's belief in Mary's mission for the church, and take this as an encouragement for our Marian mission. Father Kentenich's prophetic words about a new Marian time would already become true in many parts of the world. The Blessed Mother, Monsignor Wolf said, would wait to guide all into the newest time; and we should trust her guidance and follow her. The title of a new book with texts from Father Kentenich about Mary's mission could also be seen as a New Year's congratulation to each other, "With Mary Into The New Millennium!"
Prayers for All Whose Names Were Written on Stars
All then were invited to write down their contributions to the Capital of Grace, and some girls from the Schoenstatt boarding school collected them and placed them in the jars. Then, all renewed their Covenant of Love, united especially with the Schoenstatters in Zimbabwe and with all who today or later would renew their Covenant of Love. Monsignor Wolf extended the final blessing and prayers to all those whose names had been written on the stars, in Schoenstatt or elsewhere in the world. After the blessing, all processed outside, where the Covenant fire was lighted. The slips of paper with the contributions to the Capital of Grace and the thousands and thousands
of stars were burned in the fire. Several people who had been in Schoenstatt for the "Ten Minutes by the Crib" had joined in the Covenant celebration because they knew that the stars would then be burned. As the girls threw heaps of stars into the fire where the flames consumed them, one man said, "I was here for the 'Ten Minutes by the Crib,' and I wrote the names of my friends on a star. I wanted to be here when the stars 'rise' to heaven. I am sure all that was written on those stars has reached heaven..." A Christmas song resounded in joyful gratitude for the 10, 000 people who had come here and for all they had received.
Christmas Tea and Cookies
And then - in good crib-singing style - Schoenstatt Sisters, the girls from the boarding school, and the Schoenstatt Sisters' candidates served Christmas tea and cookies. Although it was pretty cold, all stayed, enjoying the hot tea and the good cookies and sharing: in English, Spanish, Polish, German ... while sisters and girls walked from group to group offering tea and cookies. It was a bit like during the Christmas time! "It's just more fun to stay and talk with hot tea and some cookies in hand," a young man said. "A good start for the Covenant celebrations of the new millennium!"
English edition: Joan Biemert, New Franken, Wisconsin, USA
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