Sharing Experiences of God's Presence in Daily Life
Covenant Day: Celebrating one's own Covenant History
(mkf) Each 18th of the month is the day when Schoenstatt members all over the world celebrate the covenant of Love and their personal Covenant history. On April 18th, as the Covenant Renewal in Schoenstatt was marked by the atmosphere of Easter, a double rainbow over Schoenstatt highlighted the meaning of the Covenant of Love in view of the Covenant, that God has offered to humankind from the beginning and each day anew.
On April 18, the Wednesday after Easter, all of the covenant celebrations were marked by the Easter joy. After the 6:30 Mass in the Original Shrine, some new Pilgrim Mother images were blessed; in the 7:15 Mass, all renewed the Covenant of Love praying "My Queen, my Mother...", representing all who are spiritually united to this place of grace.
A beautiful double rainbow was visible over Mount Schoenstatt when the Covenant celebration in the Adoration Church had just begun, visible however only for those who were late. Along with the local Schoenstatt family and the Schoenstatt members from various countries living and working in Schoenstatt, Schoenstatt Men's youth from Munich, and some other groups of retreatants from various branches were present for the celebration.
God is not somewhere but in our daily life
Father Schapfel, Schoenstatt Institute of diocesan Priests, led the celebration. The Schoenstatt Priests' years motto set the tone for the celebration: "Sharing experiences of God". Practical faith in Divine Providence, one of Schoenstatt's central messages, says: Our God is not "somewhere", but in our every day life. Our God does not lead us "somehow", but personally and with love. Our God grants each of us the experience of his closeness and guidance. Testimonies from various persons were shared as well as the inspiration from a retreat: to reflect and ponder one's own Covenant history and to consciously thank for the people who belong to this history. In the light of this practical faith in Divine Providence, an errant bomb from World War II found in the busy center of a German town, causing an evacuation for some hours, can be experienced as a personal gift – for a pharmacist who badly needed some hours off to recuperate from too much stress in the work place and who had asked the Blessed Mother to help without having the faintest idea how that could happen. The Schoenstatt Boys' Youth from Munich present for the celebration had brought a beautiful symbol of their Covenant history, a piece of wood cut from a tree with the "rings of growth" visible. Schoenstatt sisters, a lady of Schoenstatt and a student provided music with guitar, violin and flute.
Easter and the Covenant of Love: God's and the Blessed Mother's Final Decision to Be at Our Side
In his sermon, Father Schapfel spoke about Easter in the light of the Covenant and the Covenant of Love in the light of Easter. Everything regarding the world and each one's personal life , now an in future, was decided on Easter. No matter what happens, Christ has risen, and thus the earth can never lose heaven and the experience of God's closeness again. When someone has sealed the Covenant of Love with the Blessed Mother, everything is decided. The Covenant of Love is the Blessed Mother's decision to always be at one's side, no matter what happens.
Father Kentenich totally counted on the Blessed Mother's faithfulness. Since the hour of each one's personal Covenant of Love, heaven is so close to each one, that, as Father Schapfel said, "Schoenstatt people encounter the Risen Lord each day. Schoenstatters, therefore, are like Mary Magdalene - people who run and spread the good news of their encounter with Jesus. Schoenstatters are persons who encounter God every day and who share this with others. In the Covenant of Love, we learn to look for God and to find him everywhere and each day anew." He quoted the text of the prayer service: "On each 18th, we celebrate our Covenant history, the history of God and the MTA's presence in life." Father Schapfel specially asked all to join in prayer for the people in Burundi, where on this day a military coup had failed.
Each one's Covenant History – a Contribution to the Capital of Grace
Before the Covenant renewal, all were invited to bring the covenant history of the past four weeks as a gift to the Capital of Grace: " Dear Blessed Mother, united with all who have sealed their covenant of love with you, we come to you. We bring to you our covenant history with all the persons who shared their covenant of love with us and with all the experiences of your mother love that left traces in our life: Nothing without you, nothing without us!
We come with the experiences of the past weeks: the encounters that touched us; the surprises, disappointments, gifts, losses; with all our successes and with all our broken pieces: Nothing without you, nothing without us!
We come with the persons who gave us gifts, and with those who hurt us. We come with all that happened in the past weeks, and we come to you with all that. Everything, really everything is valuable for the capital of grace. Nothing without you, nothing without us: My Queen, my Mother ..."
Then, all united with all those who anywhere in the world meet by a Shrine, a wayside shrine, in a home shrine, with all who receive the Pilgrim Mother, and renewed the Covenant of Love. Outside, the fire was lit, and the slips of paper with the contributions to the capital of grace were burnt. Easter songs were sung, and then all were invited for a little egg hunt. Girls passed on chocolate Easter eggs, and Dieter Alex, Koblenz, Men's league, who had found a special prize egg, was rewarded with a big smiling chocolate Easter bunny! A group of over 60 girls ages 9 –10, who were on camp in Schoenstatt, joined for the singing and egg hunt and sang some of their songs – the future of Schoenstatt is theirs!
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