The Covenant of Love, a Transforming Response
October 18 will be the 106th anniversary of Schoenstatt's founding
Written by: Enrique Soros.
The year was 1914, and the German Empire, -Deutsches Reich, 1871-1918-, was at its peak as one of the most powerful industrial economies of the planet. Education was Prussian. The emperor needed strong and obedient young men ready to fight for the Reich. As in all Germany, education in the Schoenstatt Valley consisted of discipline, study and compliance with the rules for the good of society.
It was in the midst of this reality that Fr. Joseph Kentenich, a Pallottine priest, as spiritual director of the young seminarians of the community, felt called to listen, more than to speak; to accompany, more than to direct; to motivate, more than to demand. There existed within him the germ of a new pedagogy, called to generate in others the awakening of their own mission, their own personal reality, their own self. Fr. Kentenich felt that his task consisted in letting himself be led by the guidance of Mary, to educate free, firm and apostolic personalities, as he had expressed to the boys of the community on October 27, 1912, in the act of pre-foundation.
These ideals reached deep into the souls of the young people. With Fr. Kentenich they felt free, they could lead their own projects, they felt valued, and at the same time, motivated to grow with strength in the formation of their personality, to deepen their spirituality, offering their hearts to Mary in the little chapel in the valley of Schoenstatt, and to fulfill their mission in an apostolic way, sharing the graces received, with many others.
Founding of Schoenstatt
On October 18, 1914, the founding act of the Schoenstatt Movement took place, with a simple talk given by Fr. Kentenich to members of the Marian Congregation of the Pallottine Seminary, in which he invited Mary to establish herself in the little chapel of the seminary, motivating the congregants to seriously aspire to holiness.
The priest expressed his suggestion in a bold way: “Would it not be possible for our little sodality chapel to likewise become for us the Tabor on which the glory of Mary would be revealed? Undoubtedly, we could not accomplish a greater apostolic deed nor leave our successors a more precious legacy than to urge our Lady and Queen to erect her throne here in a special way, to distribute her treasures, and to work miracles of grace”
A audacious idea
He continued: “You gather what I am aiming at: I would like to make this place a place of pilgrimage, a place of grace for our house and for the whole German province, and perhaps even further afield. All those who come here to pray shall experience the glory of Mary and confess: “It is good for us to be here. Here we will build our tents, here our favorite place.” A bold thought, nearly too bold for the public, but not too bold for you. How often in world history have not small and insignificant beginnings been the source of great and greatest accomplishments? Why could that not also hold true in our case?“
The First World War had already started. So Fr. Kentenich gave the sodalists tools to grow in holiness and leadership, with the words: “Do not worry about the fulfillment of your desire. Ego diligentes me diligo . I love those who love me [Prv 8,17]. Prove to me first that you really love me, that you take your resolution seriously. Just now you have the best opportunity to do so. According to the plan of Divine Providence, the great European War is meant to be an extraordinary help for you in the work of your self-sanctification.“
And faithful to his pedagogy of freedom, he finished: “You will understand that I express such an extraordinary challenge only in the form of a humble wish.“
Today’s great challenges
Today we are facing great global challenges: social injustices, political corruption, popular revolts, a pandemic that does not allow us freedom of action, a Church that is debating whether to hold on immutably to structures of the past, or whether, in the spirit of tradition and doctrine, to go with the Pope in a prophetic way to the future in a new pastoral of bonds, of closeness, of embrace and unity, of alliance and synodality, as Fr. Kentenich, with a vision advanced by decades, based on the graces and the pedagogy that emerge from the Covenant of Love in the Shrine of the Mother Thrice Admirable.
That covenant invites us to be today the ferment of a renewal of the Church and the world, through our testimony and generous surrender for a new social order, for a prophetic Church, which gives answers to the challenges of the time, with the hand on the pulse of time and the ear on the heart of God.
How do we respond to this challenge today? Schoenstatt International invites you to participate in an initiative with diverse ideas to grow in the spirit of the Covenant, with the hashtag #OurCovenant2020
Translation of the paragraphs of the Act of Foundation:
Schoenstatt–The Founding Documents (Waukesha, 1993) somewhat edited by Fr. J. Niehaus, 2001
The founding documents can be accessed through this link: : 1914 1st Founding Document – The Schoenstatt Cloudwww.theschoenstattcloud.com › sc…