This past weekend I was at Schoenstatt. Thank you to all who prayed for me. 🙂 Our Shrine is a prominent, vital part of Schoenstatt; without the Shrine, Schoenstatt would not exist. This is the meditation that I wrote for this weekend about “what the Shrine means to me”. If you have any questions about what I wrote (including terminology) please let me know and I will explain to the best of my ability. 😀 I wish to give a slight glimpse of the greatness of Schoenstatt through sharing my experience.
What does the Shrine mean to me? Words are so inadequate for me to really explain and communicate its greatness. In the same way that I am not able to explain the sun, air, universe, or our souls – each vitally important to our lives – so in attempting to share what the shrine means to me, I can only use a few feeble words that still do not grasp its full meaning and the dearness in my heart.
First of all, it is my home. It is the place where I can let my soul relax and unwind. “Home” is the familiar place where we encounter those we love; and yet it is more than that. It is a place where the heart can rest, it is where we are formed, it is where the roots of our family and the roots of our character grow. I did not always realize how much of my home the shrine was. One evening a couple of months ago, when I came out to the International Center for a meeting, I was unable to come early and visit the MTA in the shrine like I normally do. After the meeting, it was late and the shrine was locked. It was kind of like going home, only to find the house locked and with no key. I think that God deprived me of the comfort of that visit, so that I would appreciate the gift of the shrine as my home so much more. I cannot forget that evening of not being able to stop in the shrine, and now I always try to adjust my schedule to include a visit, and if that is impossible, I am sure to make a spiritual visit. I have also taken great comfort in the Schoenstatt Chaplet through which I implore the three graces of the shrine.
It is a place of encounter with our Mother Thrice Admirable, my Covenant partner, my Mama. When I look into her eyes and the eyes of her Son and feel their presence around me, I am so thankful for this little piece of heaven that refreshes my everyday life. The shrine here in Waukesha holds an especially dear place in my heart because this is where I made both my Acceptance and Blank Check Dedications. It is here that I promised to remain faithful as a leader; it is here that I promised to never desert the banner of our Ver Sacrum Patris Youth; it is here that I have promised so many times to give myself entirely to the MTA and requested that she use me as an instrument for the renewal of the Church.
It is a place of encounter with our Founder. In the shrines here in our Exile land, there is the special grace of walking in Fr. Kentenich’s footsteps, kneeling where he knelt, and being in the place where our Mother and Queen showered him with so much love and joy.
I have often wondered what has made me so different from others … of course, everyone has a unique personality, but I believe that the Father and our MTA formed me in a special way through drawing me to the shrine. It has been my refuge, a place to let my heart cry and put my troubles in our Mother’s hands; as well as a place to rejoice and let my heart sing. Many struggles have been gone through – and although I may not get answers as quickly as I desire, I gain strength, patience, and joy from our little shrine.
Many people have told me that I have a beautiful smile; a great joy for me is putting a smile on someone else’s face just by simply smiling at them. Archbishop Dolan has admired the joy of Schoenstatt – it is a universal joy that I think really cannot be explained except in understanding what Father Kentenich called “the divine smile and the human cry”. We have the confidence of knowing that nothing can happen without the consent of the Father, and nothing happens that will not turn out for the greatest good. Even in our human brokenness – or perhaps even because of our human brokenness! – we find the joy of resting in the Father’s loving will. This gives us the royal carefreeness that has come to characterize a member of Schoenstatt. The shrine is where we receive the grace to live this heroic simplicity; it is the place where we receive our education and formation from our Mother Thrice Admirable.
Through the shrine, I have come to understand more of the mission of Schoenstatt, and received the strength to live my ideals more perfectly. It is one thing to learn, another to understand and yet another to live. Last year Fr. Mark Niehaus explained Schoenstatt as a triangle: the points of the triangle are our three “contact points”, our head, heart, and home. Inside the triangle is the life of the Covenant – that is Schoenstatt. It would be as impossible for Schoenstatt to exist without the shrine as it would be to exist without our MTA or founder. It is my striving to grow ever closer in contact to “our Flames” through the shrine; so that the life of Schoenstatt in me may become more and more of a reality.