The Covenant of Love in the "Open Shrine"
Methodist Christians from England Visiting Schoenstatt
SCHOENSTATT, mkf. On Monday, May 14, 2002, at 10:00 AM, Pat Murphy sealed her Covenant of Love at the place she had deliberately chosen for this occasion: in the Original Shrine in Schoenstatt; she did so in the presence of her husband and two couples from her home town, Rustington in Southern England, Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary from USA, and Germany, and a Father Franz Bruegger who in April 1983 prepared John and Jan Beebe to make the Covenant of Love, the couple who introduced Pat to Schoenstatt, and now renewed their Covenant. They as well as Pat belong the Methodist Church.
Over the years since they got to know Schoenstatt and found their spiritual home there, John Beebe a now retired Methodist minister and his wife Jan kept bringing individuals and small groups from their Methodist church to Schoenstatt. On Tuesday, May 7, 2002, they arrived to House Sonnenau with two couples that over the past months had gotten so much interest in Schoenstatt that they wanted to get to know the place. "Schoenstatt people are firm in their faith because they have found a real home in Our Lady, in the Shrine, in the sure guidance of Father Kentenich," John Beebe had told them, "There is nothing exclusive about this, either, for anyone who wants to make their Covenant of Love in Schoenstatt, it they are sincere in their love for God." It's the idea of the 'Shrine without walls', the Open Shrine. "I want to make the Covenant of Love," was some months ago Pat Murphy's response. Pat, who is suffering from myopathy, felt personally called by Mary for the Covenant of Love.
"I Enjoy the Freedom of Knowing my Heavenly Father"
On this morning in the Original Shrine Pat spoke her personal dedication prayer and the prayer, that millions of persons from all walks of life pray, "My Queen, my mother", a personal love story came to its focal point. "When I first saw a picture of the Schoenstatt Unity Cross, it touched me very deeply, and moved me to tears," Pat shared, "I was touched by the very deep love of a mother for her son and his love for her. Soon I was praying to mother Mary for help and comfort, specially in the times of pain caused by the disease, longing to know deep down a mother's love and care. Through a very deep experience of her closeness, she gave me the wonderful love and care of a mother I had never felt before. Oh what a joy! In February, I had been reading and praying from Sister Emilie Engel's book and was really moved by her wonderful childlike faith in the Heavenly Father. I so wanted to trust in my Heavenly Father like she had, but I was shocked to discover that I could not trust in him like she did, because I did not know him in reality, only by my faith in him. I prayed and asked Mother Mary to lead me to the Heavenly Father so that I might know him and experience him as my Heavenly Father. During the week, I was very conscious of being drawn nearer to him. It felt him speaking to me: 'I am with you always, I will not hurt you, and I will never let you fall.' With Mary standing behind me, I found myself walking, slowly at first, and then running straight into his wonderful outstretched arms. It was at that moment that I knew and experienced the wonderful love, care and protection of my Heavenly Father. With Mother Mary's help I had been led to the Heavenly Father and have been set free from the painful past to know and enjoy the freedom of knowing my heavenly Father!"
"Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you "
The readings, psalms, and songs of the covenant service in the Original Shrine resounded the joy and gratitude that by the end of a week's stay in Schoenstatt was shared by the other participants in their way. "It was a real pilgrimage for us and we were very moved by all we accomplished. It was a real privilege for us to be invited to join John and Jan Beebe on this visit and we hope we may be able to return one day," wrote Yvonne and John Whitehead immediately after returning from Schoenstatt.
"Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord", "Praise, my soul, the King of heaven" were the opening songs; Father Brügger welcomed the little group and told the chance visitors of the Shrine present that this were to be a decisive moment and that all were grateful for some representatives of the international Schoenstatt family being present. Through their Covenant of Love as a personal covenant, the Methodist Christians who would today make or renew their Covenant, belong to the Mother Thrice Admirable and her Shrine; through their covenant as a participative covenant, they belong to the Schoenstatt family, ready to play their part. In his sermon, John Beebe spoke about the God of the Covenant in the Old and New Testament. The Covenant to be made today would be an extension of the New Covenant in Jesus, made with the help of his and our mother.
The song sung before the Covenant, "Gently and softly you called me by name", expressed the longing of all. The signs of the Covenant a ring and the unity cross, along with the traditional medal of the MTA were blessed (an expressed wish!) and given to Pat Murphy. At the end of the service, the song made by a member of the English Schoenstatt family, "Do not be afraid", summed up the joys, longings, and emotions of this moment of the "Open Shrine".
Open Shrine: Two days before, on May 11, two protestant Christians from Germany, a father and his daughter (together with the mother of this family, a Catholic from Korea), had made their covenant of love in the Shrine of the Families, where John and Jan had made it almost 20 years before.
Highlights of a Schoenstatt Visit
The deacons' ordination on the Feast of Ascension had been one of the highlights of the small group's Schoenstatt visit. While Pat spontaneously felt at home in the Original Shrine, Yvonne, a lay preacher, was fascinated with "the tangible presence of Father Kentenich in the Founder Chapel". A visit to Metternich was one of the outstanding experiences as well as the tour of the Father Kentenich House and the visit of several Shrines in Schoenstatt. A boat trip, shopping in Vallendar, and in the gift shops in Schoenstatt, and a lot of fun and laughter (the photo session in Press Office Schoenstatt, for example!) contributed to the harmonious and relaxed stay. House Sonnenau with the many international guests made for the feeling of belonging. One mealtime spent with a Germans, Chileans, Mexicans, and Americans ended up with the spontaneous invitation to a pilot from Texas to visit the families on his next flights to London! John Beebe: "We'll try to be back very soon!"
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