Sarah-Leah Pimentel. God writes straight on crooked lines. This is our experience of life. Sometimes our perfect plans don’t quite work. Other times we feel that we are on the right path and circumstances turn everything upside down. The newly-born Schoenstatt Movement of 1914 could not ever have imagined the events that shaped the history of its first 100 years. God chose to write on these crooked lines. Time and time again, it seemed that everything was acting against it. Joseph Engling, Max Brunner, Hans Wormer – some of the first sodalists – didn’t even get to see the first five years of Schoenstatt’s life. The first Schoenstatt Sisters sent to South Africa and then the Americas had just barely finished their formation and they found themselves in a kind of exile in foreign lands where they had to figure it out as they went along. And nobody goes into a concentration camp and expects to live. This is hardly the best way to build the foundations of an international spiritual movement. And yet, it was on these crooked lines that God chose to write. So as we conclude this Lenten series let us look again at Fr. Kentenich’s description of the best kind of terrain for growth: “The outward conditions for growth are all sorts and degrees of difficulties, continual inner and outward battles.” (Joseph Kentenich, 1954/55, Kentenich Reader Vol. II, p. 25) And I’ll add the sentence that follows this quotation we have been working with for five weeks: “This is [what is] meant when we say that Schoenstatt is a child of war.”
Nobody asks for struggle in their lives. But it is the times of struggle that make us stronger. In the hardships we realize that we cannot rely on ourselves alone. Instead, we are called on to rely – first and foremost – on God’s steadfastness, the Blessed Mother’s intercessions on our behalf and the Holy Spirit’s guidance. But also need to rely on each other. Each one of us is weak, but when we come together as one, we are strong and our faith can make even the impossible possible. The prayers and strivings on many are what brought Fr. Kentenich home…twice. As we go into our second century of Schoenstatt, we can be assured that this movement, which is a child of war, will face many battles. But we can be assured that Fr. Kentenich’s words in 1929 will continue to be true: “In the shadow of this Shrine, the destiny of Church and world will be essentially co-determined for centuries to come.”
Use us according to your will
And we should not be afraid to ask for cross and suffering, as we do each day in our Morning Prayer: “Use us according to your will…you may use us for your work and send us crosses, suffering and hardship; whether we meet with failure or success, we want to proclaim your love.” (Heavenwards, Morning Consecration). This week, as we walk the Way of the Cross with our Lord, we can perhaps reflect with thankfulness that Jesus has already walked this way for us and through his death and resurrection, has claimed the victory over every weakness, hardship and failure. But as we prepare for the battles that will come, let us not forget that we are one Family, that our individual differences are not a source for division but rather, are the gift of the many graces we have received.
Giving ourselves in loving service to all those the Blessed Mother calls
May love be the only justification for all our battles we are called to face. Let us not succumb to power struggles or rivalries among ourselves, but rather treat one another with compassion and kindness, even when our views differ. Let us volunteer to be foot soldiers on the battlefronts of inequality and poverty, as Pope Francis has urged us, giving ourselves in loving service to all those the Blessed Mother will call. In all we do, let us never be afraid to stand up for truth and righteousness, even if it costs us our good name. Above all, let us live out our Covenant of Love in unity with the Church we love and serve, so that we can never be accused of the scandal of exclusion or indifference.
Prayer: Dearest Jesus, this week we walk with you through the streets of Jerusalem, laying out our palms to honour you as our king, and we weep with you as you climb up to Golgotha. As we walk the way of the Cross, we pray that we may encounter both our family and the stranger along the way. We pray that we will encounter them all with the same love you had when you looked down from the Cross to your beloved Mother and the same compassion you showed to the man crucified next to you. We also ask you for all the cross and suffering we need to grow deeper into you and to better recognize the needs of our brothers and sisters around us. Amen.