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Apostolic Movement

Take risks and trust! was the motto for the Night of the Shrine 2023

By: Claudia and Heinrich Brehm

With the motto “Take risks and trust!”, the Festival of Faith and Schoenstatt Youth from Germany took place the first weekend of September, a few kilometers from Koblenz. “We want to focus on trust and lift our eyes up with hope,” expressed the festival’s core team. They have been planning and preparing for the event for almost a year.

Sarah Tasch, the moderator, welcomed more than 300 youth and young adults from all over Germany to the place where the Schoenstatt Movement originated. Since 2006, the Night of the Shrine has taken place on the first weekend in September.

This event is all about spirituality, faith, important life topics and celebrating. The unique atmosphere of the Night of the Shrine always attracts young people and allows them to recharge their batteries together during this weekend.

The festival is held in the large pilgrims’ square in the Schoenstatt Valley (Photo: Brehm)

Taking risks and trusting in real life

It has become a tradition that Saturday morning is dedicated to discussing the topic of the Night of the Shrine. This year, the chosen motto is “Take Risks and Trust!” The programming team has chosen a live podcast as the format. Contributions recorded in the podcast highlight different perspectives on the motto: for example, Rima, an immigrant, says that taking risks can help you move forward.

An interesting discussion on the topic of forced prostitution, in which participants from the audience were also able to contribute with questions (Photo: Brehm)

Jana, a cyber-professional, contrasts the danger of being negatively influenced by a constant stream of bad news with the fact that there is definitely more good news than bad news, if you pay attention. Constanze Falkenberg, who lost her husband and three children in a traffic accident in which she was also involved, speaks from her experience that one can expect a positive development in the future by firmly trusting in God.

Sarah, who is involved in refugee aid and sea rescue, makes it clear that despair and trust are in the same boat. Parish priest Jörg Meirer, who runs a parish affected by a flood disaster two years ago, emphasizes that it is the task of today’s Christians to bring trust into the world based on the hope born from Easter. The fact that the motivation to live a confident life can also lead to appropriate actions is made clear by Schoenstatt Father Pedro Kühlcke, who describes the work of the Schoenstatt Family in Paraguay with young people who have committed crimes. His experience has shown that it is not enough to accompany the young people while they were in prison, but that it was also necessary to support them after their time in prison.

The highlight of the Night of the Shrine is the Covenant of Love celebration

The Covenant of Love celebration for the Night of 2023 begins with a striking dance by Elisabeth Schulz in front of the Pilgrims’ Church altar, which conveys the feeling of present-day life “Everything feels heavy” through dance.

The songs, impressively presented musically, as well as the exceptional lighting contribute to the special feeling (Photo: Sr. Francine-Marie Cooper)

Testimonies on the Covenant of Love

Afterwards, five young people provided brief testimonials about what the Covenant of Love means to them. They spoke about how it helps in the struggle along the path of faith: Mary, who was completely human, can help us in this struggle. Another testimony made it clear that the Covenant of Love can help especially in difficult times, “when you need someone whose hand you can safely hold. You, as a bridge, connected me with Jesus.” One feels like an instrument of the Blessed Mother, said another young man, “and she places great people by my side”. The Covenant of Love reminds us to value the small moments of love and joy in daily life and that makes us grateful, expresses the fifth contributor.

Shaping a lifestyle focusing on Jesus’ message

With songs and candles, they walked to the Original Shrine under the brightness of an almost full moon. The colorful illumination of the trees and the Schoenstatt chapel provided a wonderful atmosphere. The participants gathered around the Unity Cross and the acrylic Shrine, which contained hundreds of Covenant letters from previous years. It was a very special moment when the young people renewed their Covenant of Love with the simple prayer of the Small Consecration at the place where it originated more than 100 years ago. “You call us all to take responsibility for the future and the Church and to shape our lifestyle with Jesus’ message in mind,” prayed the youth.

Arrival at the Original Shrine (Photo: Sr. Francine-Marie Cooper)

Trust that there is someone who will pull you up

A story of faith, doubt and growth characterizes the closing Mass of the Night of the Shrine 2023, for which the young participants gathered once again this Sunday morning at the festival grounds in Schoenstatt, Vallendar. After the long night with the talent show on the open stage, the renewal of the Covenant of Love and the festive activities, the main celebrant of the Mass, Father Johannes Oelighoff, from Stuttgart, emphasized in his introduction that now was the time to celebrate the presence of the guest of honor, Jesus.

Taking risks and trusting in Jesus

“Take risks and trust” is a motto to launch out into life, emphasized Schoenstatt Father Jakob Busch, Munich, in his homily. The preacher said that each person has his or her own rhythm. Some love to take the leap into the unknown, others already cringe at the word “risk” – and in between there are many different hues, which always depend on the individual phase in life and one’s own state of mind for the day. “In any case, risk has something to do with us and does not leave us cold. The willingness to take risks is a first step that allows us to grow.”

Fr. Johannes Oelighoff from Stuttgart is the main celebrant of the closing Mass (Photo: Denkinger)

This is also a powerful message of the Gospel passage where Jesus walks on water, which the participants have just heard. “This encounter between Peter and Jesus is ultimately a story of faith, doubt and growth: a wonderful mirror for our own relationship with God.” The Gospel makes it clear that Peter takes a risk in the storm and chaos of the night and thus takes the first decisive step. “In the relationship between God and man, we are invited to take this step towards God.” To take a risk in spite of all doubts must stem from the human being. “Because if you stay in the boat, you will not experience the strength of the one who pulls you out of the water!” expressed the priest, who motivates the participants to venture into their lives with trust in God and to confidently state, “Now I’m taking a gamble.” “Trust that there is someone who will pull you out.”

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