Schoenstatt’s spirituality can be characterized as:
It cultivates a deeply personal and effective relationship with Mary, the Mother of God as the “swiftest, shortest, surest way to Christ” (see encyclical Ad diem illum). Its Marian richness is anchored in the covenant of love with the MTA and the importance of her Shrine as Schoenstatt’s unique place of grace
It works to answer the challenges posed by the modern world to living the faith and striving for sanctity. The “new man in the new community” is an attempt to integrate the Gospel with such typical features of the modern person and society as freedom, individuality and life in close contact with the world. It strives for everyday sanctity and practical faith in Divine Providence to enable the modern person to find God and live with him in the modern conditions of life.
Schoenstatt spirituality that is attuned to life and to the integration of all its parts; of nature and grace, of the natural and supernatural. This accent is so important to Schoenstatt’s spirituality because the modern person is so greatly affected by the breakdown of healthy relationships –both from God and human level –and growth towards sanctity today is impossible unless organic integration is explicitly fostered. Moreover, Schoenstatt’s organic spirituality is also a fruit of its strong attachment to Mary, who radiantly unites in herself the natural and supernatural realities.
Concrete & Practical
Schoenstatt’s spirituality does not merely clarify dogma or theory; it wishes to take the truths of the faith and live it out concretely and practically in everyday life. This shows in the important role of pedagogy in Schoenstatt, for much of what Schoenstatt reflects on is how to grow, concretely and practically, toward sanctity.Fr. Kentenich was fond of describing Schoenstatt’s spirituality as being “three-fold” or “three-dimensional.” By this he referred to the three aspects of Schoenstatt’s spirituality, reflecting on the richness of life:
- Covenant spirituality
- Instrument piety (or instrumentality)
- Everyday sanctity
Christianity is a covenant-based religion.
The covenants of the Old and New Testament are the very core of God’s revelation about how he saves us and draws us to himself. This plays a central role in Schoenstatt’s spirituality.
Schoenstatt was founded through a covenant of love with Mary and this same covenant is seen as the key to Schoenstatt’s distinct identity and manifold forms of life. This Marian covenant strengthens anddeepens the covenant with God by giving an experience of personally knowing and loving a heavenly covenant partner, of being aware that this partner knows and loves me in return, of my personal salvation history, of having personal holy times and places, of growing through longings and fragility to a greater covenant faithfulness. The covenant experience even helps our attachments on the most human and natural level strengthening and/or healing these basic attachments.
Schoenstatt’s covenant spirituality is one which reaches into all areas of life, spoken of as the “four-fold infinitism” of the covenant of love. Ultimately, the covenant of love with the MTA should become more and more the “fundamental purpose, form, strength and norm” of our life (Fr. Kentenich, 1952). It helps us make the covenant with God and to live as Christians in the today’s world.
The covenant of love with the MTA is not only about personal formation, but is also about offering oneself to God to help build up his kingdom on earth. In this sense, the covenant is apostolic. Essential to Schoenstatt’s spirituality is therefore cultivation of our attitude and life as instruments of God.
Through my apostolate and service to family, friends, Church and world, I cultivate a lifestyle of actively building up the kingdom. But at heart the instrument also wants to be constantly attuned to God’s will; here is where instrument piety meets practical faith in Divine Providence. Behind this is the need to constantly renew one’s desire to seek and do God’s will and overcome the tendency to do only one’s own. Herethe Blank Checks and Inscriptio dedications have led many to become more effective instruments of God. Here too, the cultivation of the attitude of childlikeness before God plays an important role in one’s becoming an instrument who is more likely to trust in God and fulfill his will.
The Cristian vocation is the call to holiness. In Schoenstattthis call is realized as everyday (or workday) sanctity, meaning the integration of one’s faith with every aspect of ordinary life. Fr. Kentenich contrasted it with “Sunday sanctity” of Christians who go to church on Sunday but do not allow their faith to affect the rest of their lives.
Everyday sanctity has many facets. It can be described as “doing one’s ordinary duties in an extraordinary way (ordinaria extraordinarie)” or as “fulfilling the duties of one’s state in life as perfectly as possible out of a total love for God.” Fr. Kentenich developed its most comprehensive definition in 1932:
“Everyday sanctity is the God-pleasing harmony between wholehearted attachment to God, work and fellow-man in every circumstance of life.”
Everyday sanctity is therefore attentive about not neglecting God because of the world, nor one’s family because of apostolate, nor one’s fellow-man because of work, nor one’s duties in life because of God. The ideal of the “everyday saint” is to strike the proper balance between the natural, rational and supernatural sides of the individual and community, so that’s one’s spiritual life is strengthened by good health, one’s physical faculties augmented by clear thinking and one’s resolution of mind and will are tempered by respect for one’s emotions.
Everyday sanctity also seeks to integrate work, prayer and suffering. In this context Schoenstatt understands work as man’s sharing in the creative activity of God, for prayer as a dialog of love with God and suffering as crucial part of the Christian vocation.