It’s really happening – tomorrow, Bishop Joe Vasquez will dedicate the first Marian Shrine in the Diocese of Austin! And you’re invited to come! For all information about the Shrine Dedication, including event schedule and off-site parking, please see the website! (And if you can’t come, watch it on live streaming!)
God is doing something amazing in Austin, Texas. Come see for yourself! The atmosphere surrounding the Shrine construction is thrilling; it’s really something supernatural. Many people are working day and night to finish the building and all the logistics of the Dedication Day, and yet there is a tangible hope and love flowing freely that makes this unlike any other construction project or event planning. The people are offering their best efforts – the construction workers going and going, day and night, the youth pitching in everywhere, moms and dads helping build and organize, the choir members studying diligently, the priests always working – they are all putting in a truly gallant effort! And yet this is where Schoenstatt spirituality really shines – because our work is rooted in the conviction and inner faith that we are not alone. There’s a phrase in Schoenstatt spirituality – “Nothing without you, Nothing without us!” It means that God doesn’t want to work in the world without us, and that we cannot do anything apart from Him – and that united, all things are possible in His will. Nothing without you, nothing without us! This phrase is at the heart of the Covenant of Love, the Marian consecration that grew out of Schoenstatt and became the soul of the Movement. Nothing with you, dear Blessed Mother, and nothing without us!
It is this harmony between the natural and supernatural, between man and God, this new way of living a covenantal relationship with Christ through Mary that Schoenstatt wants to give to the world. The Schoenstatt spirituality also emphasizes the harmony between daily life and spiritual life, this way of being a contemplative in the middle of the world, of “seeing through” the world to the reality of God, as Fr. Kentenich, the founder, put it. When we’re working on the Shrine, laboring in the heat, making phone calls, organizing the volunteers, ironing table clothes – we are called to see through, to contemplate God behind all events. We really have to live it in our daily lives to make any difference. That’s what impacts me so much about witnessing everyone’s faithful labor and genuine openness to the guidance of God’s grace through this whole building process. Yesterday at the construction site, as a group of us were eating lunch, we started talking about being “in process” towards becoming holy. We were sharing how very much “in process” we all felt – that it is a real struggle, that we are so small, and God only knows how far we have to go! And that is what is so beautiful about the Schoenstatt spirituality. Fr. Kentenich said:
“Holiness must be synonymous with genuine, spontaneous and ennobled humanity…Grace wants to involve all our natural strengths as far as possible, and in addition it gives us a significant measure of supernatural strengths…[There is] a huge disparity between religion and life today. Many go to church, but are not Christian (…) Grace must form noble human beings. Our lives must become a work of art. Both the natural and supernatural dimensions must be developed, but not in a one-sided way. Above all we want to make use of the means of grace to form our lives. Nietzsche once said: “If the redeemed would only lead more redeemed live, I would find it easier to believe in their Redeemer.” This dichotomy is the greatest illness of our times. It is one of the foremost reasons why the working classes have become disenchanted with the Church. People today do not believe words, they only believe in life, in example. They do not want the apologetics we find in books, they want to see the genuineness of faith expressed in our lives. When I go out into life, the graced person in me must have taken profound possession of my nature. First human, then Christian, then fully human.” **
We are called to live our lives in an organic way, with a deep bond between the natural and supernatural – an “everyday saint”! Evangelizing through this way of being is part of the new evangelization. Fr. Jonathan Niehaus, a Schoenstatt priest, calls our attention to Saint Pope John Paul II and the New Evangelization:
“In the encyclical “The Eucharist in the Church,” the Pope John Paul II states that “To contemplate the face of Christ, and to contemplate it with Mary, is the ‘program’ which I have set before the Church at the dawn of the third millennium, summoning her ‘to put out into the deep’ on the sea of history with the enthusiasm of the new evangelization.” From the very beginning, Schoenstatt has “contemplated the face of Christ” not only with Mary, but through Mary and for Mary. What Pope John Paul II sees as the connection between contemplation and new evangelization has been at the heart of Schoenstatt since 1914, when committed, youthful hearts dedicated to Mary came together with a deep desire to shape the world in the image of Christ.”
It has really been a deep blessing to be a part of building this new Marian Shrine – and I’d like to extend an invitation to you to come and see, to be a part of something great! I am convicted that God has great plans for the transformation of many hearts in the new Shrine; that through Mary’s presence there, He will help the people of Austin along the “process” of holiness, to be more fully human, more fully Christian, more fully the people whom He has created us to be.
**Kentenich was speaking in Germany in 1929. He has a very thorough way of teaching about life that is sometimes hard to depict through small quotes! For a more thorough study, you can check out the book: Joseph Kentenich- Collected Texts: Free and Wholly Human. Herbert King, ed. Excerpt from page 200-201.