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 published: 2006-08-08

Every 18th the Blessed Mother offers us the grace of deciding anew

Covenant Day in July


Dia de Alianza en julio: Venimos a decidirnos nuevamente...

Covenant Day in july: We come to decide us anew...

Bündnistag im Juli: Wir kommen neu uns zu entscheiden…



Misa de Alianza, a cargo del Capitulo General del Instituto de Familias de Schoenstatt: llevaron el cuadro de Fritz Kühr, co-fundador de la Obra Familiar

Covenant Mass, sponsored by the General Chapter of the Institute of Schoenstatt Families: they brought the picture of Fritz Kühr, co-founder of the Schoenstatt Family Movement

Die Bündnismesse wurde gestaltet vom Generalkapitel des Instituts der Schönstatt-Familien: sie brachten das Bild von Fritz Kühr, Mitgründer der Schönstatt-Familien-Bewegung


Misa de Alianza

Covenant Mass







Renovación de la Alianza en el Santuario Original

Covenant Renewal at the Original Shrine

Bündniserneuerung am Urheiligtum


Tiembla de emoción…

Spontaneous party…

Spontane Bündnis-Polonaise

Fotos: POS Fischer © 2006-08-08


SCHOENSTATT, mkf. This July 18th’s Covenant Day in Schoenstatt was hot, very lively, and a true family encounter. Contributing to the great amount of activity was the recently convened General Chapter of the Institute of Families, in addition to youth who were in Schoenstatt from Poland, the Czech Republic, Italy, Argentina, Mexico, and the United States. In House Sonnenau, a Girls’ Youth camp had started just the day before. There was also a course of the Family Federation from Poland preparing to seal their Perpetual Consecration and a group of pilgrims that arrived from Brazil that afternoon. Thus, it was a large and diverse group that night as they all gathered for the Covenant Mass in the Pilgrim’s Church and walked in procession to the Original Shrine to renew the Covenant of Love.

Father Horacio Sosa Carbó from Argentina was the main celebrant of this Mass, which was attended by the participants of the General Chapter of the Institute of Families. On this same day throughout the entire world, Schoenstatters congregated in Shrines and wayside shrines to participate in Holy Mass, pray the rosary, say the One Thousand Hail Marys, and above all, to renew their Covenant of Love. A beautiful story about the significance of Covenant Day comes from Romania, one of the poorest countries of Europe and the "youngest" of Schoenstatt. In one Romanian city, there are seven girls that belong to a Girls’ Youth group, and they always try to meet on the 18th to renew the Covenant of Love. They sing songs, pray, and share what they have experienced in the covenant and in their daily life. This group, along with the rest of the Girls’ Youth members in Romania, have a most original custom: each 18th, they make their cell phones ring all at the same time (only ring, so that it will not cost them anything), and from this they all know: Today is Covenant Day! Sometimes they send each other text messages of only four words: Congratulations on the 18th!

A celebration with true first fruits

In spite of the oppressive heat, many pilgrims came to the Original Shrine throughout the day. By the time of the Covenant Mass at 7:30 p.m., the scene was beautiful as people arrived at the Pilgrim’s Church from every direction and walk of life: there were adults from Gottingen, participants of a journey for retirees from the north of Germany, a German group of Federation Mothers, youth from every continent, as well as the members of the General Chapter of the Schoenstatt Institute of Families.

The Institute surprised the rest of the Schoenstatt Family with their offering of first fruits: the General Chapter formed a choir and their own orchestra, and they took charge of the Covenant celebration, including providing the main celebrant and homily. This was something that had never happened before! And it was a great success: the statue of the Holy Family was on the altar, as well as a large photo of Fritz Kuhr, a "star" of Schoenstatt with whom Father Kentenich founded the Family Work in the concentration camp in Dachau. Added to the presence of so many youth, the message was clear: it was time for the families! And this was precisely the motto for the celebration: "The Family of God!" With songs in German, English, and Spanish and accompanied by guitars, bongo and keyboard, the families offered a real musical feast for everyone, and it was so delightful that it almost made people forget the heat and terrible humidity.

Families that live from the strength of God’s fatherly love

"Family of God’ has a double meaning," said Father Horacio Sosa, who accompanied the Chapter of the Institute. First, he explained that it can be understood in the sense that the families belong to God, are created and called by God, and are living in the love of God and reflecting this love in their marriage and family life. They are covered with a special tenderness by Him as His possession, and walk as families who live in the strength of his fatherly love. The love between man and woman make a family, and this love also creates children. This decision to love between a man and a woman, with God at the center, fulfills the sacrament of holy matrimony, not simply the blessing from the priest, as important as that is.

Father Sosa stated that the most fundamental components of conjugal love are: you, always you, and only you. That is what has to be lived and renewed each day. The fundamental relationships of each human being are born through the organism of love: paternal, maternal, filial, and fraternal love, with the strength of being loyal. In the already mentioned "You, always you, only you," the man and the woman create a marriage bond; the man becomes a father and the woman a mother, and a strong love is born. The first encyclical of the Holy Father addresses this subject: God is love. To the joy and also the surprise of many, what carries the family, the church, and all the world forward is not the norms, rules, regulations and prohibitions; rather, it is mutual love, a great and strong love given unconditionally that awakens a strong and committed love.

God is family: Love that is born from a personal decision and response to the love of God

Father Sosa explained that the second understanding of the "Family of God" phrase is in the sense that God is Family. God is love, yes, but He is not an individualistic, solitary love. Rather, in Him, we see a love of family, being a "God Family" as such, as the three persons of the Holy Trinity are united and bonded by a relationship of Love. Presently, it is not enough to only believe in God; instead, one must ask oneself in which God one believes. It is very important to believe in a God that is family, a God that is love. In the encyclical of Benedict XVI, entire paragraphs are written about the God of love, and in these texts, we are strongly reminded of the image of the God who is Love that Father Kentenich showed us. Those who love each other want the same thing, and they also reject the same thing. A true identification with the will of God is not born of impositions; rather, it comes from loving the same as He does and of having the same values. Only a love based on this identification is truly strong and can withstand all the obstacles and problems that come against it. "Family of God" means living a love that is a response to the love of God. In these post-modern times, it is not simply about loving, but being capable of a strong love that is born from a personal decision.

Every 18th, the Blessed Mother offers us the grace of deciding anew for the covenant, for

Her, for the Father, for a new world, for an organic love—not a little bit of love, hope, and faith, but a totality of love, hope and faith. We are grateful to the Blessed Mother for allowing us to decide each month anew and for giving us this love that is a strong love, an admirable love, a love that allows Schoenstatt to be Schoenstatt, and that fortifies our love and our faith.

Procession to the Original Shrine and offering of the Capital of Grace

During the petitions, which were read in German, Spanish and English, the couples representing the Institute asked for peace in the family and the world on behalf of all the families of the world. After the Mass, all the participants, along with the youth from the camp who had joined the group, went to the Original Shrine. In the procession, there were the children of the Institute couples, along with others not so young, such as the seminarians from Burundi and Congo, and many were carrying flags, some of them even from their own countries! To the sound of the song "Tremble with Emotion," the group approached the Original Shrine where the Blessed Mother was waiting with that very strong love. The intention for the renewal of the Covenant of Love was simple and profound: What is the sorrow that burdens me the most and that I want to give you today, beloved Blessed Mother? What is the greatest joy that I have experienced and for which I am grateful to you? Who is the person who needs you the most today and whom I want to entrust into your love?

At that point, Father Horacio Sosa invited everyone to renew their Covenant of Love, uniting themselves to all the Schoenstatt family in the entire world, with each one praying "My Queen, my mother" in his own language. Then, the group sang "Hymn of the Family" (which was heard most strongly in Spanish), and they all walked towards the bonfire where, as usual, the Capital of Grace that had been written and deposited in the jars was burned. "Many times while reading, I thought how beautiful it would be if I was able to be here sometime," said José Koestner, from Villa Ballester. "And today we are here." A couple from Chile added, "Last year, we were glued to the screen to see our children at the Schoenstatt festival, and now we are here. What a joy!"

An impromptu celebration and march around the Shrine

After the pre-planned program at the bonfire was finished, an impromptu celebration ensued, culminating with a march led by the Chapter families all around the Pilgrim’s square as they sang "In our flaming flag" with great gusto! Meanwhile, friends and long-time acquaintances, and even those who were connected mostly via, greeted each other with loud shouts and warm embraces of joy. (In order to be tactful, we will not mention who commented about others, "Is it really so and so? He looks so old—his hair is all gray!")

The Chapter ended with the election of the new leadership (link), and now the participants have begun returning to their respective homes. But they left in the Shrine and in many hearts the desire for many more Covenant celebrations to be so joyful and interactive, just like the one they were privileged to experience this July.

Photos of the 18th in Schoenstatt

Sounds of the 18th

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