Living the Ideal of "New Community"
Monthly Covenant Renewal Creating Awareness of Being United Internationally
(mkf) As always on the 18th of each month, Schoenstatt members and friends got together in Schoenstatt, Germany, by Shrines, wayside shrines, in parish churches, or home shrines, to renew the Covenant of Love, united with all who have dedicated themselves to Schoenstatt. The monthly covenant renewal keeps alive the sense of the new community created through the Covenant of Love – a community meant to reach out to all.
Twenty pilgrims from Santiago, Chile, were privileged to be in the Original Shrine this morning, on the last day of their stay in Schoenstatt. After the Covenant Renewal in the Original Shrine, they had a special holy Mass in the Shrine of the Families. "It lasted over two hours," one woman shared, "because it is so special to be here on such a day." Her husband added, "It is a grace to be in Schoenstatt on a day like this. We will always remain grateful for this gift. We feel so much united with all who live in the Covenant of Love, even without knowing them." An e-mail arriving in Schoenstatt on February 18 read, "Our little world here is connected to a bigger world, and it is good to experience that on each Covenant Day. We know that we are remembered in Schoenstatt." A student from Canada wrote: "Although it is already Monday in Schoenstatt, here it is still Covenant Day; and I want to send Covenant greetings from Edmonton!"
"Hands, Abundantly Filled"
A text from the Third Founding Document (September 24, 1944) was read and meditated upon during the Covenant Renewal in the Adoration Church. "The root of our Community spirit is the belief that Our Lady has chosen Schoenstatt as the place of her activity in order to form everyday saints there and instruments that can help her realize that aim. Our experience throughout the years had shown us that whenever we found the Mother Thrice Admirable, we also had community. Faith in Divine Providence tells us that our having come together is no coincidence. As a result, when we make this consecration tonight, it must also be a decision to bear responsibility for one another." The meditation, testimonies and prayers of the Covenant Renewal in the Adoration Church were centered on the idea of the new community. Testimonies were shared at the beginning from Schoenstatt members practicing and experiencing the reality of giving something valuable to each other, with contributions to the Capital of Grace. It became obvious that the Covenant of Love actually unites every person in the "shadow" of each other's heart shrine: the neighbor and the bus driver, the co-worker and the parish priest, the people next door and the people met in the TV news. Several jars in different sizes and colors were placed by the MTA picture. Country flags and the music group, with Schoenstatt members from Germany, the Philippines, and Brazil, underlined the mutual responsibility in and as a new community in the Covenant of Love that becomes concrete in deeds, prayers, and contributions to the Capital of Grace. Jars, pots, baskets or other containers typical for each country stand in many Shrines – with the first such container being a simple box in the Original Shrine already in 1915, a box destined to hold the slips of paper with the contributions written by the sodalists. Since then, Schoenstatt encourages the belief that "Everything is valuable" when given to Jesus and Mary as a contribution so they can work from the Shrine. "People come to the Shrines with their hands abundantly filled," Father Kentenich said, describing this process. All were then invited to come with their hands abundantly filled with all the broken pieces of resolutions, with all that fell apart, with all that hurt and with all that failed; with their hands abundantly filled with joys and gifts received, with the experience of God's love; with their hands abundantly filled with sorrows, longings, wishes, the needs of others.
To Add Value to Everyday Life
The texts of the Covenant Renewal were inspired by the year's motto of the Schoenstatt Men's League: "Living New Community In Covenant With The Triune God". Men from the Koblenz Men's group read the texts. In his sermon, Father Matthias Wiebel of the Schoenstatt Priests' Federation encouraged all to live in covenant love with the Triune God and to also live in covenant love with all persons whom we meet every day. This would mean to sanctify everyday life and to give meaning, and in the end, real joy to everyday life in our families and in our work places.
The participants of the Schoenstatt Covenant Renewal, coming from many nations and thus representing the international Schoenstatt, renewed the Covenant of Love, remembering all who are spiritually or physically attached to any of the shrines or who receive the Pilgrim Mother. The Cardinal-designates were remembered, especially Archbishop Francisco Javier Errázuriz, of Santiago, Chile, who is a Schoenstatt Father. The German Schoenstatt Movement's gift to him (to be given to him by Father Beller in Rome) was placed on the carpet in the Founder Chapel during the Covenant Renewal. It is a stone from the foundation of the Original Shrine, with a small gilded Schoenstatt signet and "1914" and "2001" written on it. After the blessing and final song, all processed outside where the fire was burning. The slips of paper with the contributions to the Capital of Grace were burned, while all joined in singing "Protect Us With Your Mantle." Other songs in Portuguese and German followed. Covenant Day is also a day to greet and meet each other and to share news. One woman said, "The example shared at the beginning really touched me - the woman who watched the news about the earthquake in El Salvador and understood that these people now were not just in her living room but in her home shrine. When I heard that she took a piece of paper and wrote 'El Salvador' on it, I thought I'll do that the next time I see pictures of persons in need on the TV." Another one commented, " Probably she did not even know that Schoenstatt exists in El Salvador ..."
English edition: Joan Biemert, New Franken, Wisconsin, USA
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