Year of the Shrine – Pilgrim Graces

A buzz word for me for the previous year has been – “expectant faith” – do we really believe in the promise made to us – the promise of scripture – the promise of the graces given through the Shrine. Sit back and think for a little while – do you “expect” these graces when you visit the Shrine?

God Bless

Fr. Andrew

What I bear and endure,
what I say and what I dare,
what I think and what I cherish,
all the merits that I gain,
what I direct and what I conquer,
all my joys and all my sorrows:
what I am and what I have,
I give to you as a gift of love.
Use it so that the holy stream of graces
flowing richly from the shrine
may fill the souls of those
who have given their hearts to Schoenstatt
and gently lead there
all those whom you wish to choose in kindness.
Accept everything that our efforts may be fruitful
which we dedicate to the Trinity.

Joseph Kentenich, 29 March 1945 (Heavenwards)

Encouraged by the history of the foundation at the Valley of Pompeii, the expectations of the Founder and the young Sodality were directed towards the development of a place of pilgrimage and grace at Schoenstatt. From the beginning their aim was not the healing of illnesses or physical ailments. Their expectations were directed far more to the Blessed Mother’s educational work in their midst. The Founder summarised in three directions what he had observed in the chapel’s field of influence. He noticed that many in the Sodality felt at home and sheltered in the little chapel. He observed that quite a number whom he had got to know well through spiritual direction underwent an amazing transformation and spiritual growth. Finally, it was impossible to miss that a vibrant missionary spirit had been awakened in the young Sodalists, and later also in the developing Apostolic Federation. Their apostolate also bore rich fruit. From these observations Fr Kentenich formulated what he called Schoenstatt’s original graces of pilgrimage as finding a spiritual home, and experiencing spiritual transformation and apostolic fruitfulness.

Three Original Pilgrimage Graces

I am thinking of the original, threefold pilgrimage grace which, according to our simple faith, is distributed here in Schoenstatt: the grace of spiritual transformation, of being spiritually at home, and an apostolic spirit. Continue reading “Year of the Shrine – Pilgrim Graces”


Advent – The Story of Befana

Befana was an old woman who lived in a small village in Italy. She was known throughout the village for her wonderful baking and the cleanliness of her kitchen. And many had heard her say that she was so busy baking and cleaning that she rarely had time to do anything else. One winter day, while Befana was sweeping in front of her home, three travelers stopped to ask her for a drink of water. They told Befana that they were astrologers (they were often called the three wise men) who were following a star to the birth place of the Christ Child. She kindly gave them water and then invited them to dinner. After dinner the astrologers prepared to continue their journey and asked her if she would like to come with them to see the Christ Child. Befana shook her head saying that she could not possibly take the time needed for such a journey. She was secretly itching to get back to her cleaning and cooking. Befana started being busy again. But hours later she began to feel that she had made a mistake. Befana decided to follow them. She quickly grabbed a basket and filled it with gifts of all kinds. Befana traveled all through the night but never caught up with the wise men and she never found the Christ Child. Ever since that night, Befana stops at the home of every child at Christmastime, leaving them gifts in their stockings. She hopes that one of the children she visits will be the Christ Child at last. Continue reading “Advent – The Story of Befana”


Taste and See Advent Family Mass

You are invited to the Taste and See Advent Family Mass on Sunday 11th December at 3.30pm followed with a shared Meal  and our Advent Celebration for Christmas. Christmas means  so much for families. So many happy moments and some sad memories – for Christmas happens in real time and eternity. When we think of our children on Christmas morning, impatient in their vigil for the day to start so they can rush to the Christmas Tree then we join the shepherds of over two thousand years ago in the fields outside Bethlehem and ‘hurry off to find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.‘ For this child marks the beginning of the new and eternal covenant. God was faithful to His promise, and a new King was born in Bethlehem. So we can exclaim with the old man Simeon: “My eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared before all people, a light of revelation to the nations, and for glory to your people Israel!” (Luke 2:30-32). Continue reading “Taste and See Advent Family Mass”


Nothing without us – yes us….

I am not always sure that people understand this when they come to the Shrine. God really wants us to help in his work of salvation. Just like he chose Mary to bring his Son into the world, he has chosen each one of us to carry the Lord to all the places he wants to be today. In our homes, churches, schools, hospitals, factories, etc… Be warned – once he gets a hold… anything can happen

God Bless

Fr. Andrew

Already in the talk he gave on 18 October 1914 our Founder urgently appealed to the Sodalists to strive for holiness, because it was this that would prevail upon the Blessed Mother to set up her throne of grace in the shrine. According our Founder’s thinking from the beginning, the condition for the transformation of the Chapel of St Michael into a place of pilgrimage was the Sodalists’ contribution of striving for holiness. In a similar way to the origin of the place of pilgrimage at the Valley of Pompeii, the human initiative from below was connected with the petition to the Blessed Mother for her initiative from above. The transformation of the chapel into a place of grace was founded on both together. This was expressed in the words: “Nothing Without You – Nothing Without Us”, which can often be seen on an altar frontal in the shrine.
Against the background of the teaching on the Church’s treasure of grace, and in the context of Grignion de Montfort’s spirituality, the Sodalists soon began to talk about making “contributions to the capital of grace”. Whatever we Christians can do in union with Christ in the spirit of “making a good intention”, can become a contribution towards the effectiveness of the shrine. Our Founder gave expression to this in the Morning Prayer in “Heavenwards”, which is prayed all over the world each day. During the blessing of the shrine at Maria Rast at Euskirchen, Germany, our Founder described these correlated thoughts as typical to each Schoenstatt Shrine.

Nothing Without Us

What is the price that has to be paid if the Blessed Mother is to descend here? I need only repeat well-known expressions. You have just read out, you have spoken and sung those thoughts into the soul: Contributions to the capital of grace! We have personally to become living stones! That is the big difference between Schoenstatt and other places of grace. Continue reading “Nothing without us – yes us….”


God’s Whisper

Not long ago I heard a story about a young man and an old priest. The young man had lost his job and didn’t know which way to turn. So he went to see the old priest in his Parish Church. Pacing about the priest’s study, the young man ranted about his problem. Finally he clenched his fist and shouted, “I’ve begged God to say something to help me. Tell me, Father, why doesn’t God answer?” The old priest, who sat across the room, spoke something in reply – something so hushed it was indistinguishable. The young man stepped across the room. “What did you say, Father?” he asked.The priest repeated himself, but again in a tone as soft as a whisper. So the young man moved closer until he was leaning on the priest’s chair. “Sorry,” he said. “I still didn’t hear you, Father.” With their heads bent together, the old priest spoke once more. “God sometimes whispers,” he said, “so we will move closer to hear Him.” This time the young man heard and he understood. We all want God’s voice to thunder through the air with the answer to our problems. But God’s is the still, small voice… the gentle whisper. Perhaps there’s a reason. Nothing draws human focus quite like a whisper. God’s whisper means I must stop my ranting and move close to Him, until my head is bent together with His. And then, as I listen, I will find my answer. Better still, I find myself united to God. Continue reading “God’s Whisper”


Year of the Shrine – Our Educator…

A Shrine is not just a place, a building. From this place someone special works. This was, for me, one of Fr. Kentenich’s deepest convictions. Who works from the Shrine, Mary…
Thanks once again to Michael J Davies for a stunning photo…
Fr. Andrew

Without doubt
we cannot perform a greater apostolic deed,
or leave behind a more precious legacy
to our successors,
than to prevail upon our Queen and Sovereign
to set up her throne here
in a special way,
distribute her treasures
and work miracles of grace.
You can guess what I am aiming at:
I want to make this place
a place of pilgrimage, a place of grace,
for our house,
for the whole German Province,
perhaps even beyond.

Joseph Kentenich, 18 October 1914

The following testimony is an extract from a letter written by Fr Kentenich in 1954 to one of his former students, later his confidante, Fr Alex Menningen. Although Fr Menningen was not present on 18 October 1914, he joined the Sodality soon afterwards. This letter shows how our Founder became increasingly convinced that the Blessed Mother was at work as an educator. In keeping with his profound way of believing in Divine Providence, the young priest, Fr Joseph Kentenich, understood his appointment as Spiritual Director as a fundamental commission to educate. This was to set its stamp on his life as a priest in the time that followed. From this time onward he was constantly searching and questioning how he could best carry out this commission. Everything he read or experienced was integrated into this conviction, and he allowed himself to be guided by it. In the formative influence of the Blessed Mother, to whom the Sodalists opened themselves with such great trust, he sought and found the decisive help he needed to carry out his task towards them. At the same time the little chapel in the valley increasingly became the place where he clearly noticed how the Blessed Mother influenced his charges.


Convinced of Mary’s Educational Work in the Shrine

In order to understand this I have to remind you that in 1912, as a genuine child of Providence, I regarded my appointment as Spiritual Director as a divine indication of my educational task for the whole of my life. You can find clear traces of this attitude in the Pre-Founding Document. You can read there, “Now comes my appointment as Spiritual Director – wholly and completely without my instigation. So it must be God’s will. I accept it and am determined to carry out my duties towards you all, and to each one of you, as perfectly as possible. I now place myself at your disposal with all that I have and am: with what I know and what I don’t know, with what I can do and can’t do, but above all with my heart.” Continue reading “Year of the Shrine – Our Educator…”