Our Lady of Schoenstatt
On October 18, l9l4, a German priest, Father Joseph Kentenich, and the members of the Marian Sodality under his care, made a Covenant of Love with the Blessed Mother. Father Kentenich wanted to work towards transforming the little Chapel of St. Michael into a Marian place of grace through the conscious co-operation of human instruments. He and the boys of the sodality, with their genuine striving for holiness, would prevail upon Our Lady "with gentle force" and draw her down to that place. Making use of every opportunity that arose - all of the little, insignificant things that go to make up everyday life - the boys began to bring their "contributions" to her little shrine so that she might work miracles of grace in men's hearts and thus renew the world.
After World War I, this sodality developed into the International Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt. After World War II, its development spread to foreign countries and it became an International Movement, which has cast roots in all continents. This movement includes six secular institutes, and fifteen federations and leagues. It also includes pilgrims. These four groups differ from each other in their commitment to Schoenstatt, in the degree to which they have applied the Schoenstatt asceticism, community life, Marian devotion, and apostolate to their own lives. Worldwide, the organized movement has about 200,000 members, not including the pilgrims.
The Schoenstatt Movement has a special mission. It is a renewal movement in the church, offering a place to any Catholic interested in intense spiritual striving. It is made up of people of all walks of life, all states in life, all ages and cultures. The members of the institutes bear the responsibility for the constant training of all the branches in keeping with the spirituality of the father and founder. They strive for everyday sanctity and try to serve the universal apostolate of the Church in the world today. On the 18th of each month, the Schoenstatt family and pilgrims on all continents celebrate covenant day. They celebrate their covenant of love with the Mother of God.
Schoenstatt was founded as a work and an instrument of God through Mary. As Mary was chosen to be the associate of Christ in his entire work of redemption, Schoenstatt members celebrate their covenant with her to bring Him to all peoples and to help establish His kingdom in this world.
A beautiful picture of Mary and her child, Jesus, is honored in all Schoenstatt shrines throughout the world. It is a copy of an original painting done by the Italian artist Crosio towards the end of the nineteenth century. Although the original title of this picture was "Refugium Peccatorum" (Refuge of Sinners), it is now known as the Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen and Victress of Schoenstatt. The picture was put up in the shrine at Schoenstatt in Germany in l9l5.
In this picture of grace, Mary is revealed as the Thrice Admirable Mother. She is the Mother of God, the Mother of the Redeemer, and also our Mother. Mary's deep love unites her to her divine child, and urges her to lead all who come to her to Him.
"The heart is the innermost center of the spiritual life of a person." (Pope Paul VI). The human heart is the most precious of all the gifts which Mary wishes to give her son. Mary draws us to give our hearts to Him.
Mary is also honored as queen. According to the will of the Eternal Father, Mary bore the anguish and death of the cross in loyal love together with her Son. Now she shares in his kingly glory and power in a unique way. At the throne of God, she sees to the building up of his kingdom in our world.
As victress, Mary stands in the forefront of all the battles of God which must be fought in this world. She leads us to Christ and through him in the Holy Spirit into the heart of the Eternal Father for the glory of the Triune God.
Schoenstatt's covenant of love with Mary is a means to realize one's baptismal covenant with the Triune God. Its message and great gift for our Church and time is the original covenant of love which has grown out of a living, practical faith in Divine Providence, and which finds expression in a deep mission-consciousness and fruitful apostolate.
Father Kentenich wrote, "Keep your place in the heart of Our Lady. You belong there whatever happens. There you will find peace, security and confidence in the victory in every circumstance and in every instance. Do good where the opportunity arises, and see a kind Father-hand in everything. He guides your destiny according to His wise plan of love."
Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen and Victress of Schoenstatt, help me to live each day with a practical faith in Divine Providence. Let me be calm and really listen to what God asks of me each day. Accept my heart as a gift for your divine Son, and help me keep my baptismal covenant with the Triune God.
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Copyright © 2004 by Ann Ball
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