School of Apostles
After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. (Luke 10:1-2) Jesus called many to follow him. Some of these he took into training so that he could send them out to lots of places to prepare for his visit. He instructed them, encouraged them and empowered them to be envoys of his Good News. This strength coming from him allowed them to set the same signs he was setting so that people could see and believe that our God is a Father who keeps his promises and has given us the Redeemer promised.
Academies of the Christian Way
Throughout the history of the Church Schools of Discipleship have been established to fulfill this commissioning of the Lord: go ahead of me and bring the Good News of Salvation. Their first task is to be changed in the power of the Gospel and believe that Christ is their personal Saviour and that he wants to bring this gift to the world through his Church. Following this deep conversion they gave shape to their new lives forming a culture based on the Gospel showing a way of life which brings many into unity with the risen Christ and empowers them to bring this message to others.
School of Life
In most recent times Movements of Renewal have taken on this task of developing schools of living faith. In this month’s Word of Life from the Focolare Movement we read : “All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God (Rm 8:14). This Movement has developed in a special way our love for Sacred Scripture as an encounter with the God of our lives. In an extraordinary way the Charismatic Movement has taught the world how to enter into a deep personal faith in God through their experience of prayer in the Holy Spirit. Schoenstatt as the first of the Lay Movements in the last century has established a culture of the Covenant of Love through the networking of the Shrine in many countries. In Schoenstatt a new approach to living our lives as Christians led to the growth of a spirituality which embraces many if not all of the aspects of present day living and seeks to find a way that all these dimensions of our life take place in God’s presence and help us to use the concrete events and processes of our lives to live in God’s Spirit. Our life becomes a window to God. Our experience of history and the events of our time become stepping stones to encounter the God of Life. It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians.” (Acts 11:26) Each of us is called to be followers of the way of the Gospel and to help others to find their way.
The Way of Father Kentenich
Father Kentenich was to develop into someone specially gifted in uniting everyday life to a life of grace. He wanted to develop a School of Holiness for everyone. His Gospel Heroism was not exclusively geared to those who wanted to live apart from the cares of the world and give up life in the world in a monastery in order to live a life in the sign of faith. Father Kentenich wanted a spiritual way where people can become holy through their vocation in life – in marriage and the family, through single blessedness of those who do not marry and of course for those called to the priesthood and consecrated life. Building our home and caring for our family in a life of grace is about building God’s Kingdom on earth. Completing our work according to the values of the Gospel is about helping to build a just and caring society.
Even those things we think we would rather do without – our suffering, limitations and our failings belong to growth in the Covenant of Love . In Schoenstatt we find a group of those who suffer disability or are limited by poor health who want to see their suffering in the context of Christ’s suffering. In some places they call themselves helpers under the cross. Victor Frankl said from his experience in a concentration camp that those who had a deeper sense of meaning in their lives survived the trials and injustices better. Maximillian Kolbe decided that he was called to give his life to save a family man who was condemned to death. I suppose it is the ultimate test of anyone’s faith to be able to take such a decision.
Our stewardship of our world can also be seen in the context of Covenant of Love. Striving to build a sustainable world which serves many and raises many out of poverty is an act of solidarity with future generations. Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II extended the principles of Catholic Social teaching to include solidarity. In the third Founding Document Father Kentenich spoke about the dimensions of our Covenant and explained that as well as our bond of love with God and with others we had a bond of solidarity with past history and with future generations. Our Covenant Culture should contribute to the sustainability and healthiness of our future.