Welcome on Sunday, 2nd October to celebrate our Covenant of Love with Mary, the Mother of our Redeemer and our mother, given to us as the last will and testament of our Saviour – “See your Mother”. The international Schoenstatt Family marks the beginning of our Year of the Shrine. The centenary of Schoenstatt falls in October 2014 and in preparation for that event across the world we focus anew on the significance of the Shrine for us. In a prayer looking forward to the centenary we read: “Father Kentenich’s faith moved you to set up your home in Schoenstatt. In the shadow of this shrine a family was born, a new spiritual way within the Church, a charism in the midst of our time.”
In England we extended that invitation to Mary in the year 2000 when we built the Shrine as the Millennium gift of the Schoenstatt Family asking Our Lady to come and recapture her dowry. Inspired by the long tradition of the English National Shrine in Walsingham, which celebrates 950 years since the widow Recheldis de Faverches in 1051 received the instruction from Our Lady in a dream to build the replica house of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Walsingham was to become England’s Nazareth and a place of pilgrimage to pauper and prince. From the beginning with the first meeting of schoenstatt families in England Walsingham was a source of inspiration. We wanted to become a new Nazareth for modern times. When we were building the Shrine and looking for the words of dedication for the foundation stone the theme of the home of the Holy Family played a central role and so our foundation stone bears the name “Your Shrine Our Home”. We repeated the invitation from 18th October 1914 of the founding generation of Schoenstatt “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. 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…This sodality chapel will become for us the cradle of our sanctity… And this sanctity will apply gentle force on our heavenly Mother and draw her down to us.” (J.K.)
Celebrating our October Day this year we give thanks for all the blessings we have received at the Shrine. Our experience at St John Fisher’s is that we are family born anew in the shadow of the Shrine. We wish to welcome all who come here in faith and pray that they too experience the Shrine as a place of encounter of the God of life, a Father who keeps his promises. Those who ‘Shrine sit’ make the effort to welcome pilgrims and help them feel at home letting them know that they can always return and place their lives and concerns into the hand of the every loving Father. Discerning God’s plan of love for each of us, allows your trust and my trust in God to grow. The Shrine of Our Lady becomes my spiritual home.
In the shadow of this Shrine develops a new spiritual way within the Church. Ever since the Second Vatican Council in the sixties the Church encourages you and I to follow our calling to holiness. The image of the Church was that of the ‘family of God’ wishing to become a light for the peoples. This is a calling to become heroes of the Gospel in our everyday lives. Pope Paul led us further to make each of us aware that you and I are called to be apostles for our time. Only recently Pope Benedict said to the young people of Madrid WYD “It is not possible to find Christ and not tell others about Him. So, do not keep Christ for yourselves. Communicate the joy of your Faith to others. The World needs the testimony of your faith.” (Madrid, August 21st) Schoenstatt Spiritual Way leads us to a deep love of Christ and makes us fit for purpose to be apostles for our time.
The Shrine is the anchor point of a new divine initiative giving a charism in the midst of our time. Father Kentenich lived his life in deep love of Mary and he saw his mission to lead many to the heart of Mary that they may find and be won over for Christ. Our marian approach makes our hearts the fertile soil for the seed of God’s Word to grow. Mary is described as the fulcrum point between heaven and earth. Our deep love of Mary brings together all that belongs together. The world of creation becomes transparent showing the hand of the Creator. The weaving of the fabric of culture reflects the presence of the living God in our society. God belongs in our World and the ultimate aim our our journey is the heart of an all-compassionate Father.
A ‘relic’ of the original Covenant in 1914 is the Altar Stone from the original altar that was in the Shrine then and replaced by the present Altar in 1934. To inaugurate the Year of the Shrine in England (and latter in Scotland) we have this Altar Stone – a silent Witness of great times. Welcome to our October Day.
To download the poster with the programme of the day Click here.