Father Kentenich! Pray for us!
Dear Schoenstatt University Men of Portugal,
It has only been 5 months since I was with you all, up at the Quinta do Sao Francisco! What a grand old time! I want to thank each of you whom I met for embracing me and truly making me feel a part of one great international family. We are true brothers, united in our love for the Blessed Mother and Jesus, united in our strivings to be Saints for our Times, united in the mission of our Father and Founder.
I dream that we continue to build our bond as a family, personally, and as brother branches of Schoenstatt University Men. So I’d like to share with you some of my personal experiences of getting to travel and meet all of you this summer. My time witnessing Schoenstatt in Lisbon was a very deep and transforming experience for me. What were the greatest things that I took away from this experience of the Schoenstatt family in Portugal? On the trip I experienced that we are a family who the Blessed Mother has built, cared for and strengthened, and to whom the Blessed Mother has entrusted an immense mission for our Times. She intends to grant us everything we need to carry out this mission to the fullest if we only learn to dream with her, and to trust and hope in her and Jesus without reserve. As we enter into a new era: a new time of mission as a Schoenstatt family and as a Church, this all requires more than ever that we unite and, following our Queen, step out boldly to become a missionary impulse for our Family and for the entire Church.
1. We are a family. An international family. Being with you guys at the Quinta do Sao Francisco, I felt almost as if I was with my own branch here in Austin, minus the differences in culture and language (seldom do we all start to stand up during a debate.. Jordao..). We share our ideals and fire. Our desire to strive to be Saints, to respond to the needs of our Times, to go out to serve Christ and the Blessed Mother. And when it comes to Barbacue Imensobom, I think that my bro Hector could totally take on the likes of Mao.
2. We have an immense mission. Truly, being in Lisbon, it is really hard not to dream big. You all have such a rich history, even within your own branch. From great explorers and missionaries who went forth from your city such as Sao Francisco Xavier, to your own history as a branch, of missionaries from Campanario who enkindled life and created the impulse that has made your branch what it is today. During the trip I really grew in this conviction that we have an immense mission as men in Schoenstatt, especially as the youth, and that Schoenstatt itself will be such a gift for the Church in this coming century; such an answer. I was very inspired by your Branch motto, “Porta da Europa.” It shows that from the beginning you all have been conscious of your great mission to be catalysts for the re-evangelization of Europe. I really believe that this “New Evangelization” of the Church requires that we share our Schoenstatt charism. Without it, our Church will not be as strong or effective in the New Evangelization which will lead to the new Springtime. Never take your motto for granted. The Blessed Mother has entrusted to you, and to us, an immense mission for our times.
3. I left Portugal with the conviction that, with Mary, our mission becomes completely possible. Together we can be convinced that, since our Queen is Mary, we will carry it out. There is no question. She is the great missionary. We have a responsibility to dream big as her sons. As weak instruments, it is really easy for us to get discouraged in our mission by the slightest things, even the little smallnesses of daily life, but especially when we feel we have failed, we have missed an opportunity, or we have sinned and rejected God. This discouragement increases when we are convinced of the vastness of the mission that the Blessed Mother has implored for us in Schoenstatt, because we know that a great mission requires truly our highest strivings and all of our childlike daring. Failure then can make us all the more discouraged. Christ however never wants us to be discouraged. We’ve been taught again and again that our strength is truly in Him, and that we can do nothing without Him. “Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5).” And so if Jesus commands us to love one another as he loved us, and entrusts to us the task of making “disciples of all nations” and we can do nothing without Him, then surely he will give us all the strength we need to carry through to the goal, for he never commands impossibilities, but makes us able to do what we cannot on our own. And so with our mission. The Blessed Mother entrusts it to us, but requires also that we entrust to her that she will provide all the strength and guidance that we need for its fulfillment. Father Kentenich would say that what we offer her is our helplessness. We are weak, but she is the great missionary. She only requires our faith and trust, that in and with and through her we abide in Christ. We do this and show her we are serious by striving for the heights of perfection and sanctity in our daily lives.
The needed strength to strive for the heights of holiness, and to become true missionaries who will proclaim the Covenant of Love to our times, comes from this trust, and this hope: this firm conviction that the victory is already won. We truly will accomplish our mission to the highest degree, if we surrender in a full Yes, and we go further and further in our sanctity and union with Christ and the Blessed Mother.
In this journey I gained this conviction, that every time I feel discouraged, every time I feel I have failed, these moments should truly be moments to exercise our trust and hope, and become our greatest joy. Because we know in moments of failure, that if we only trust in Jesus and the Blessed Mother, they will conquer these weaknesses too. They will accept and work miracles with what we offer in authentic faith, even if sometimes we come empty-handed and only offer our weakness. If we place all of our hope and trust in Jesus and Mary, shown by the way we live, we will carry out our mission of transforming the world in Christ. Perhaps through our smallest daily actions, but truly to a high degree of fruitfulness. If we only trust in Jesus and Mary and give our all, they will grant us immeasurable fruitfulness. We must have this hope. The victory is already won, the Blessed Mother only requires our surrender, our Yes, our trust, that we show in our action.
4. We must unite and prepare for battle. We have truly entered into a new era as a Movement. We feel this very strongly in Austin. “We have entered into a time of mission and apostolic fruitfulness.” These words of Father Heinrich resonated in our hearts as we celebrated the Jubilee and entered the next 100 years with our newly dedicated Shrine. Now all the more so, this time of mission has become so real for us in Austin because we have just finished a very strong lifestream of crowning the Blessed Mother that developed simultaneously in our branch and larger movement of Austin. This lifestream of crowning the Blessed Mother grew as we entered the next 100 years of Schoenstatt, the time of mission in which we go out to share our charism. We understand that we have a vast mission that God and the Blessed Mother are entrusting to us. A mission as vast as the United States, and even our entire world. “To make the United States a place where Mary can reign, so that Christ can reign.” And we do desire to be missionaries. But we know that we are weak. Many of us last January felt that we lacked the fire and zeal we needed for such a great mission. And so we decided as our first step as a branch into this new era, this next 100 years, we would offer the Blessed Mother a crown. We would focus on the source of all of our life and fruitfulness in Schoenstatt, the Covenant of Love. In offering the Blessed Mother a crown, our goal was to grow personally in our relationship with Mary, in our love for her. Only then, we knew, could we become the fruitful missionaries we desire to be.
And so we began this time of crowning. We offered the Blessed Mother acts of love to conquer her crown, the goal: To grow in our love and covenant relationship with Mary, personally, especially by making our new Shrine truly our home. We were guided by the motto “Reconquering Mary’s Home, This House Belongs to Us.” This crowning lifestream and Capital of Grace lasted for 10 months until we crowned Mary as Queen of Our Mission on November 1, 2015. This crowning developed into probably the strongest missionary impulse ever in our branch. And so now, coming out of this crowning, we feel more than ever that we have truly entered into “the time of mission and apostolic fruitfulness,” and as stated in the last line of our crowning document, that now is the time “to devote ourselves entirely as missionaries of Our Queen.” This is the era in which we go out to share the Covenant of Love with all peoples beyond all boundaries as a Schoenstatt Family. For us as a branch, to conquer UT and make it a cradle of sanctity, and to conquer the United States for Christ and the Blessed Mother for the renewal of the world. I feel that in this time of mission more than ever, as an International Male Youth, the call is stronger than ever from the Blessed Mother for us to unite, to prepare for battle, and to follow our Queen blindly into our mission.
5. I was very inspired to see just how well-formed you all are as a branch. I was humbled to see your strength and all that you are doing, between Missao Pais, Seis do Mayo, and your other apostolates you are concretely transforming your culture. I believe that we still have so much more potential. As we enter into the new time of mission, we should unite in placing all of our strength in the hands of our Mother and Queen, and in an act of trust, step more boldly than ever into our mission. She has proven again and again that she will answer our honest strivings and risks with abundant fruitfulness if we would only trust in her. As branches of the International Male Youth of Schoenstatt the Blessed Mother challenges us to be the tip of the spear, a great missionary impulse leading our Schoenstatt Family, and our entire Church, more deeply into Her mission, into the New Evangelization. The Great Missionary wants to lead her Son’s Church into a new springtime and rich harvest of true saints, but she needs willing instruments. Men who are willing to be bold and give her the boundless trust she deserves. Who is willing to trust her without reserve as we enter into this new era? We are the missionary generation! “A new era of our history has begun. Filled with missionary spirit we offer the covenant of love, as a way and hope, to all people beyond all boundaries – reaching to those on the periphery of society. In this way we cooperate in developing a comprehensive covenant culture. The prophetical charism of our father and founder urges us towards a new founding of Schoenstatt in the midst of the conditions of the present time (Pentecost Congress Memorandum).” We are united in this new founding of Schoenstatt! What are those missionary dreams you have but that you have never acted on, whether out of fear, or lack of boldness, or lack of time, or just because it did not seem possible? Let us be united in going all out in our mission now. Now is the time of mission and apostolic fruitfulness, and now also is the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy!!
As we enter the Year of Mercy, I believe that the Blessed Mother is calling us to be bolder than ever in our mission, to truly follow her, the Great Missionary into battle. Let us unite in becoming the missionaries of mercy that the Church needs today, and an impulse leading our Movement and Church into this time of mission and evangelization!!
I returned from Portugal very inspired by the experience, especially by the life of the branch and family that you all are. I returned very inspired for our mission here in Austin, Texas, filled with more conviction than ever in our mission to share this great gift of Schoenstatt with the Church and the world. I returned knowing that I am a part of a great international family, with an immense mission for our Times, that continues now, in this second 100 years, as we unite to go out more boldly than ever before to become a true missionary impulse. Thank you so much again for accepting me as family from the minute I arrived in Lisbon!! All of you are always welcome in Austin, and have a home here (and soon in Washington, D.C.!) whenever you’re ready to come on down and have some barbecue and finish perfecting your English!! (Although for many of you, it might already be better than my own.)
United in our love for Mary and Jesus,