a life of heroic sanctity
On July 23 we celebrate the birthday of the Venerable Servant of God, Mario Hiriart, a life of heroic sanctity. Mario was born in Santiago, Chile in 1931. This year he would have been 90 years old.
He was an outstanding Schoenstatt professional, consecrated as a Brother of Mary, who suffered from an illness that would accompany him throughout his life.
Fr. Eduardo Aguirre
July 23, 2021
His life’s journey: heroic sanctity
From the moment Mario came into contact with Schoenstatt, at the age of 16, he committed himself consistently and with fidelity. From then on, he began a serious evolvement in his religious life, identifying himself increasingly with Schoenstatt’s ideals. In his first annotations written in his personal notebook, which he began to write in 1948 and kept until his death, he already clearly expressed his serious aspiration for sanctity.
“In order to do good, I need a basis, a foundation: spiritual life. To give glory to God I need to have prepared myself for this task; this preparation implies a spiritual achievement that allows me to stand above the environment I wish to influence; I must therefore sanctify myself. To sanctify myself I must intensify the fulfillment of my duties as a student, since the primary obligation of every Catholic is the exact fulfillment of his present duties. The faithful accomplishment of one’s professional duties must be offered to God as a sacrifice made for His glory and for the love of Him.”
Instrument in the hands of the Blessed Mother
Mario consecrated himself as a layman with the Brothers of Mary, as an instrument in the hands of the Blessed Mother. Gradually, Mario came to identify himself completely with Schoenstatt, with its spirituality and ideals, discovering in it his journey of faith, his way of participating in the life of the Church and his commitment as a Christian in the midst of the world.
As he participated in and assimilated Father Kentenich’s teachings, he became one of the founders of Schoenstatt in Chile where he was a member of the first youth group that emerged in Bellavista and one of its most determined, enthusiastic, and consistent leaders.
Schoenstatt, my whole world
As he learned more about Schoenstatt’s spirituality and pedagogy, his admiration for the Founding Father, Father Kentenich, grew. In 1957 he wrote in his diary:
“Today is October 18, my tenth October 18 as a Schoenstatter. It has been10 years of a total transformation of my whole life. Dear Mother, I do not believe that it is a simple evolution resulting from the end of adolescence: I believe I can say that I discovered myself in these years, that I discovered why I exist, that I found the reason for my life. Yes, dear Mother, that’s it. Before knowing Schoenstatt, the reason for my life seemed to be to read and study, but now, dear Mother, everything is so different!
These 10 years have uncovered a whole new world for me. I think I can say with complete honesty that Schoenstatt has become my whole world, an immense and marvelous world, from which I live and for which I live. My whole life, dear Mother, now has no sense without the little chapel, without you in it, our Covenant of Love, our Father Kentenich, the whole Family. I have found people who have given me a supernatural human love, I have found parents, brothers, sisters, I have found peace in moments of uneasiness. Dear Mother, I have been happy there because I have had all this being with you. Therefore, dear Mother, today I want to renew my Covenant of Love with you in your Shrine”.
Other quotes from his journal
On April 18, 1957, he wrote:
“Dear Mother, regarding the renewal of my consecration, which I will make immediately (exactly at midnight on Holy Thursday), I want to give it the character of an Act of personal Loyalty to Father Kentenich”.
And later, on January 3, 1958:
“… (I see the) need of being completely attached to Father Kentenich as the only way to bring about Schoenstatt in us, which he embodies. My dear Mother, you know how my attachment to him has increased in the last few years. I understand perfectly that he is the father of the Family, and that every member of the Family who wants to live it to the fullest has to be like him. The only way to be a true Schoenstatter is to assimilate oneself to the model of a Schoenstatt lifestyle, which is our Father and Founder.
That is also why it is necessary to create a vital personal relationship with him, because one can only imitate what one knows and loves. Therefore, it is fundamental for us to know and love Father Kentenich intensely, to establish with him the deepest vital relationship possible”.
From Bellavista, on July 8, 1956, Mario wrote to Father Kentenich:
“Dear Founding Father: The path of my vocation, as I see it today, was my personal conviction that Christianity in our time imperatively demands an extraordinary degree of lay sanctity. This lay sanctity must be translated into a determined vocation to a profession and a mission in the lay world, upheld by a perfectly Christian and theocentric conception of the lay life and carried out with a heroism equal to or even greater than that of the greatest martyrs of the Church. The lay state of life must also be an ordinary way of sanctification.”
Mario Hiriart died of cancer in Milwaukee, USA, on July 15, 1964, where Father Joseph Kentenich, upon visiting him, gave him the last rites. His remains rest behind the Schoenstatt Shrine in Bellavista, Santiago, Chile.
Fr. Eduardo Aguirre, Postulator – Rome, July 2021
Related video (in spanish): ⇒Mario Hiriart, un video que tocará tu corazón