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Schoenstatt
Apostolic Movement

In Times of War: How to be a peacemaker through the Covenant of Love

By: Karen Bueno / Sr. M. Nilza P. Silva

In these times when many conflicts are escalating in the world, we need to return to working together to build peace. It seems difficult, it seems impossible. But it is not. Using the compass of the Covenant of Love, we find very practical ways for our daily lives: I have to be a peacemaker here and now, wherever I am.

Where to begin?

Whoever knows the history of Schoenstatt knows that the Movement was born and grew amid wars, in a world of weapons, bombs and destruction everywhere. And in this chaotic phase of history, the Blessed Mother, using her young sodalists, promoted peace. The Schoenstatters could not stop the war or escape to a peaceful territory; they were forced to fight and, nevertheless, they were the protagonists of a culture of peace among their troops through small gestures.

When Joseph Engling was involved in a quarrel

This was the case with Joseph Engling. One of his greatest adversaries was not the enemy army, but his explosive temperament. In his biography it is said that Engling’s sword was once stolen and, as a consequence, a quarrel broke out between him and another soldier in the barracks. When Joseph was by himself and at ease, he was able to think more clearly. He asked himself, “Did I do the right thing?” He knew it wasn’t wrong to insist that his sword be returned to him, but was it necessary to make such a fuss? He felt guilty. He did not find peace until he turned to his colleague and apologized.

Like this example, there were many other instances in which peace was fostered in small, everyday situations.

A simple gesture to achieve peace in the family

It is essential for everyone to strive for peace in the family. Fr. Joseph Kentenich loved to tell stories, and on this subject, he commented on the power of silence as an instrument of peace. This is what our Founder told us:

“Surely you have heard many times about the religious St. Vincent Ferrer. One day a woman whose main complaint was against her husband came to him… What was he like? (as the wife described him): irritable, impulsive?

Vincent Ferrer was an intelligent confessor and told the woman: ‘Go to the convent and ask for a bottle of water from the well. It has to be water from the convent well. Then do the following: When the husband comes home, screaming his head off, take a sip of the water and hold it in your mouth until he stops screaming.’ What was the result? From that day on, there were no more quarrels.

The people in the neighborhood started to say they wanted the miraculous water from Saint Vincent. Did it have to be water from the well? That had nothing to do with it, there was no need to go to the convent to get it, he had said that to add a hint of mystery. What was the real remedy? The woman’s silence.”

It is important to mention in this story that Fr. Kentenich is not speaking of a submissive silence. His advice, applicable to both men and women, is to adopt an attitude of humility, which is helpful in any relationship: to wait until “tempers cool” in order to conduct a more balanced dialogue. With simple gestures, peace is built day by day and is seen throughout the world in difficult situations.

The current wars – to some very close, to others more distant, but affecting the whole world – are also a time to re-evaluate inner peace and the relationship you have with yourself. Only then will you be able to communicate this gift to the world, transmitting love, peace and joy.

Where to find peace

In the most difficult situations of violence to which we are exposed in this world, we can recall the role of the Mother of God as Victress and remember that peace is always found in her heart: “Your sacred heart is a refuge of peace for the world, a sign of election and the door to heaven” (Heavenwards, 541). Like the heroic sodalists, we cannot escape the present “battlefield”. But, like them, we can take refuge in Our Lady’s heart and trust in her help. So that we may always be instruments of peace, wherever we are.

Here is another excerpt from Joseph Engling’s biography:

“Joseph Engling and his companions wer lying on the ground within range of the shots. All around them there was the vibrating, light whistling of grenades. Many of those ‘little monsters’ fell very close and the shrapnel whistled over our heads […]. Suddenly, a greater roar was heard. A grenade had exploded next to Joseph who, feeling so close to death, made an act of perfect contrition and entrusted himself to Mary. As if in a flash of lightning, the image of the little Schoenstatt chapel appeared in his mind, flooding him with peace”.

Finding peace and shelter in Mary’s heart, let us become instruments of peace on the battlefield of our daily life, a peace born of justice, mercy, the peace of those who strive to know and fulfill the will of God who loves us and speaks to us in every situation.

 

References

– Hero with two swords. Olivo Cesca. 3rd Brazilian edition
– Monday afternoons – Dialogues with the families, vol. 3. Brazilian edition: Mother and Queen Society. Santa Maria/RS: 2010.

Source: Schoenstatt Brazil, schoenstatt.org.br

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