Lead from the Shrine… Cenacle

Two years after having made our Covenant of Love, and abandoning ourselves to Divine Providence, we were expecting our 5th child.  We had just moved to a new home that was removed from our previous church family and not very close to our Schoenstatt friends either.  We longed to dedicate our home shrine but were very much struggling with our mission and our name.  Providentially, we attended a family group meeting where the priest expounded on the idea of the Cenacle – a term we were not familiar with.  Father explained that the Cenacle was the situation that the Apostles found themselves in after Jesus ascended into Heaven. They felt lost, and uncertain of how to proceed, yet they were gathered around Our Blessed Mother in prayer, imploring help.  At the coming of the promised Advocate, they found themselves transformed, filled with zeal and ready to step out to offer their lives for Christ. 

We felt the Cenacle situation mirrored exactly where we found ourselves as a family at that point in time.  We were isolated, feeling alone, a little uncertain of how we were to navigate the consequences of abandonment to God’s will – a larger family with little income- and we were, through our Covenant of Love, definitely centered around Mary in prayer.  And so, we dedicated our home shrine on February 4, 1998, the Cenacle Home Shrine.  Later, a gift of a prayer from a young friend formulated for us the mission, “Where love is genuine, strong, and conquers all things.”  And, many years later, again entrusting our growing children to God, as we re-entered secular schooling after ten years of home schooling, we centered our family around the motto, “Contra Torrentum- Against the Torrent!”  We can still hear our adult children refer to this motto as they struggle to form their own families in today’s world.  The name, the mission and the motto have come to fruition as we watch our grown children, transformed through the presence of Mary and Jesus in our home shrine and the genuine love that permeates our family, give them the foundation that strengthens them to be firmly Catholic in a society that rejects God. 

It’s hard to put into such a short description what our home shrine has meant for our family.  The very presence of Our Mother and her Son in our family is tangible and real.  Upon hearing that we wanted to move the home shrine into the family room with the TV, our 12-year-old son said, “No!  Then I have to be careful what I watch on TV!”  We had to address a couple of issues after that statement. We firmly credit our home shrine, and the living shrine, for our children being such good friends with each other today.  We frequently hear that they are spending time together as young families, evidence of a genuine love.  Our prayer life is centered in our home shrine where the heart of our Mother reaches out to capture each one in their unique personality to serve her Son.  We have been transformed and our children have been formed in the presence of Love – the third person of the Holy Trinity.  Strengthened and changed by that Love, together with Mary, we continue to step out of our home shrine to bring Christ into the world.

Brent & Andrea Woolums, Texas Family League, Diocese of Fort Worth

Lead from the Shrine… Bethlehem

The Blessed Mother came to dwell in our house through the Home Shrine in the year 2005. Although, I was the only one in Schoenstatt at the time (Mother Branch), my family welcomed the Blessed Mother. In a few years everyone was drawn into Schoenstatt! Our daughters grew up in the SGY and my husband and I joined the Family Branch about 10 years ago.

We decided on the name of our home shrine primarily for two reasons:

– Bethlehem is the cradle of sanctity and we strive to be saints formed by the Blessed Mother from this graced filled place.

– Bethlehem is the place where Mary gave birth to the Savior. We discerned that our mission is to “birth” Christ to each person we encounter.

For the first year, our home shrine was placed in the master bedroom. Then during Lent while praying in the home shrine, I was wondering what to give up or sacrifice? I heard the Blessed Mother urging me to move the home shrine downstairs where all the family could easily access her. This I did not want to do! This was my shrine, my place of grace and solitude. Such a sacrifice, I thought…

Our home shrine relocated to the core of our house. From every outside door you can see the MTA as you enter. Just like the dinner table, it has become the area of many family discussions, decisions, prayers, celebrations, and personal reflections. Both front door guests and back door visitors can be greeted by our home shrine. This has brought numerous questions over the years from visitors and given us the opportunity to share a little about our Catholic faith. Moving and sharing the home shrine was such a small sacrifice in return for countless graces and blessings.

Over the past 16 years as the Blessed Mother has dwelled in our home shrine, she has also taken up residence in our hearts. “Mother takes perfect care” … each family member’s heart shrine has developed in its own individual manner and authentic timing.

Kim and Julianne Davis, Diocesan Leaders, Family Branch, NTX

Lead from the Shrine… Cana

We encountered the Blessed Mother in 1996, through some homeschooling friends of ours. However, unbeknownst to us, Schoenstatt really entered our lives a few years before. We were experiencing difficulties in our extended family, and after sharing our concerns with a dear friend, we had been given the Schoenstatt novena to Our Mother Thrice Admirable, without knowing anything of the Schoenstatt Movement. We experienced so many miracles through her intercession, that when we did meet the Schoenstatt Movement through our friends, we were very open and ready to make our covenant of love, with open hearts for the home shrine a year later!

It seems that God’s plans are so perfectly put together. Looking back, we can see how our dedication to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (which we had made with the help of the Schoenstatt Family and the Sisters of Charity) had also prepared a place in our home and in our hearts for all the gifts that God wished to share with our young family. It was as if Jesus said: Here I am, and I bring along my Mother to help you.

As the journey began, and as we were so open to inviting Jesus and his Blessed Mother into our homes and our lives, we truly did not realize the great powerful gifts we were given. But a different world unfolded day by day in our little home and in our hearts. She became more and more present in our daily lives and we now cannot imagine life without her, here in our Cana Home Shrine. We grew up in the Shadow of the Cana Home Shrine, all decisions and all-important family discussions took place here, as well as daily prayers and family routines. Annual liturgical practices were celebrated here. Decorations to match the change of the liturgical seasons were acquired – rituals for Lent, Easter, All Saints, First Communions, Confirmations, May Crowning, Graduations, sending off of children with blessings, important decisions, petitions, thanksgivings, simply daily greetings – all took place in our Cana Home Shrine. Through our MTA’s intercession, her request to our Lord They have no wine we entered into that first miracle each time. She wishes to accompany us in our marriage and family journey and for that we are so ever grateful for our Blessed Mother.
We have seen many miracles in our children, in our lives, and in the lives of those who come to our home and present their hearts to her here. She is real and she has the heart of a very tender loving mother, and she wants to help all her children, all the children of God, so that we may join her forever in his heavenly kingdom. Do not be afraid to experience Our Mother!! What a blessing she is to us all.

With heartfelt love, we thank you Mother dear, with you to guide us we need have no fear, when all around seemed dark and drear and gray, you stood as beacon for a brighter day. Your smile illumined every wakeful hour, you did uphold us with your gentle power. Thanks, a thousand thanks to you, to God shall be now and for all eternity. Amen.

Lisa and Mike Arth, Apostolic Family Federation, Southlake, TX

Lead from the Shrine… Cause of our Joy

Why did we choose “Cause of Our Joy” as the name for our home shine?

Simply said…. this title in the litany of the holy Rosary always settles deep in our hearts. The Blessed Mother says her YES in her fiat and heaven rejoices and earth receives the Savior! The Blessed Mother urges Jesus for his first miracle and the wedding couple receives not only more, but the choicest wine for their celebration! At the foot of the cross, Jesus gave his mother to us and she becomes our mother too! Mary is the purest and most perfect vessel of God’s love and unites her motherly tenderness to that perfection making us, her children, the most blessed benefactors! This is the joy of our lives!!!…. That the sweet Mother of God is our mother too!

On a practical level, it is a blessing to walk by our home shrine, which was dedicated in 1997, and see one of our children sitting there staring at our MTA.  With the onset of the Covid virus, our family was able to experience the extension of the graces that come from the shrine in our home shrine.  Since all of the churches were closed, we were able to livestream and celebrate Holy Mass(es) in our home shrine.  It is our place of comfort and joy, but also the place where we can take our sorrows and struggles to our Blessed Mother.

Elsa and Luis Dominguez, Austin, TX

Apostolic Family Federation

Greetings for October 15th!

Schoenstatters around the world prepare to celebrate the founding day of Schoenstatt on October 18, 1914. Last weekend the leaders of the league branches of the USA gathered at the International Center in Waukesha, WI to discern the course of the new Schoenstatt Year.

The convention took place at a critical time in history. The pandemic, local and international conflicts, growing impact of climate change, migration, forms of injustice, racism, violence, and persecution are just a few of the challenges we all are facing. Four catch words often characterize our reaction to these challenges: Fight, Flight, Freeze, or Fooling around!

For us who have made the covenant of love, the words of the Second Founding Document challenge us to take a different approach. Father Kentenich told us:

“To her [our Mother and Queen of Schoenstatt] we owe the great grace that all the mighty stones which are meant for our destruction become a powerful stairway which lead us safely to God and into the world of our mission and task.”

Indeed, the covenant of love enables us to respond to our needs and sufferings with trust in Divine Providence and charity to all.

Please join us in person or virtually on October 18 for the covenant renewal celebration the Confidentia Shrine. We will begin at 5pm with adoration, followed by holy Mass and the renewal of our covenant of love.

United in the covenant of love and praying for all of your intentions in the Confidentia Shrine!

Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary

Lead from the Shrine… Queen of Courage and Perseverance

My sister Melba and I are the only ones living at home, but our home shrine becomes the liveliest when the immediate family (7 brothers & sisters, 16 nieces & nephews, 20 great nieces & nephews) and friends come to visit.

The most obvious symbol in the shrine is the crown on our MTA on which all 43 members of the Valdez family, as well as deceased grandparents, are represented. The other most important symbol, besides the jar for contributions to the capital of grace, is the scepter that represents our Mother Thrice Admirable reigning as queen of our household & family side by side with our king, Jesus Christ. The Sacred Heart of Jesus was enthroned in my home the same day prior to my home shrine dedication on October 26, 1991. We crowned the Mother Thrice Admirable in thanksgiving as Queen of Courage & Perseverance on February 18, 1989.

Mina Valdez

Women’s League, Corpus Christi, Texas

Greetings for September 15th!

Greetings from the Confidentia Shrine,

Today, on the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, we commemorate the day in 1968 when God called our father and founder, Father Kentenich, into eternity. We truly owe him much! Just imagine if he had not responded to God’s call to the priesthood and to make the covenant of love of the Blessed Mother on our behalf on October 18, 1914. What would have become of you and me without Schoenstatt and therefore Father Kentenich?

This year’s motto summons us to detect Divine Providence in our lives and to trust that, from the shrine, a new initiative of grace for our time permeates the whole world. In gratitude, we are invited to help promote Father Kentenich’s beatification. Among the many possibilities to do so, did you know that there are people around the world who are praying daily for F. Kentenich’s canonization?  If you feel the call to join one of these silent prayer groups or want to know more, please contact Marcia at herasmarcia@gmail.com or 484-347-7575.

These are also the last weeks we spend with our motto Lead from the Shrine with Trust in Divine Providence and Charity to All! The annual delegates convention will take place October 8-10 in Waukesha and our new motto will be discerned. Please pray for this gathering and stay tuned for its results.

With Prayers from the Confidentia Shrine,

Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary

Lead from the Shrine… Veritatem in Caritate

Our Home Shrine was dedicated on May 18, 2018, under the name Veritatem in Caritate (speaking truth in charity).  For at least a year prior my husband, an entrepreneur, kept saying that he felt we should have a business with the name Veritas in the title.  He wasn’t sure what kind of business, but the name kept returning to him strongly.  As we prepared for our Home Shrine dedication, we began to discern the name in earnest.  Reading the Magnificat for the Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Bishop Barron’s reflection jumped out at me.  So much so, that I tore it from the book and have since framed it and placed it on our Shrine.  Bishop Barron quotes Cardinal Francis George saying, “You cannot simply drop the truth on people and then walk away, convinced that you’ve done your duty.  Rather, once you tell your people the truth, you must be committed to helping them integrate that truth into their lives.” 

This simple, yet profound and challenging statement solidified the name for our Home Shrine in our hearts.  I guess you can say we are in the “business” of helping one another integrate truth into our lives. It has been no small challenge to face the truth of our sinfulness and allow Mary to transform us and our relationships.  In our world truth has been distorted and confused by the father of lies. 

As we seek to live out Schoenstatt’s ideal of being new personalities and families for a new world, we take the name of our Shrine to heart as our family mission.  It is not enough to speak truth, to be right about an issue.  We must be willing to go deeper into relationship with others through prayer, edifying words, as well as corporal and spiritual acts of mercy. It begins with self-education and flows out “like ripples in the water” as Fr. Kentenich has said. 

This year’s motto Lead from the Shrine with Trust in Divine Providence and Charity to All   reminds us to look to our Home Shrine first.  Turn to God and Our Blessed Mother first before every decision or action.  What does she tell us?  What is the mission that has been entrusted to us?  Begin there.

Jill and Patrick Mach

Schoenstatt Family League, North Texas