Words from Father Joseph Kentenich (1885-968), founder of Schoenstatt, about the home shrine and its contribution to the life of the Church in the newest times, Germany, October 2, 1966.
… the home shrine, that special place in your home given over to the Blessed Mother. From that place the Blessed Mother is to, and, of course, will fulfill her task of forming and shaping your family into an ideal family, into a Nazareth family. But, the end of your prayer indicates that you would like to go further; on the occasion of your pilgrimage you would also like to have your heart shrine blessed.
Suddenly, the great goal of our family stands before us. What is it then that constantly urges us to visit our shrines? What is it that constantly draws us like a magnet? It is the great mission the Blessed Mother wants to fulfill from her shrines for our times. You know how much confusion there is in the world today; how everything which formerly was considered absolutely certain, has been shaken. We no longer know what is true and what is not. And at this time of upheaval, at this time of total revolution, the eternal Father executes His eternal plan to give the Blessed Mother the mission to take her abode in a special manner in our Schoenstatt shrines: there to form the new person, the human person envisioned by God for the coming times. You must not forget we live in times of complete change – times sometimes called the newest times. All our life we have been used to dividing the history of the world and of salvation into three periods. We called them Antiquity, the Middle Ages and Modern Times. The unifying bond between these three periods was a calm, slow, and organic development from one period into the other. What we are experiencing today has never before taken place in history; there is such a tremendous interruption of development, a total revolution that just does not seem to have any connection with the past at all. What has been is suddenly cut off like a thread, and what is to be is something so new that our times and the world are not at all prepared for it. That is the reason why people commonly speak of the newest times. These are times as yet without a name. Should they be called “The Industrial Era” or “The Atomic Age?” You notice in what kind of situation we find ourselves, and you also sense that, if we can speak of the newest times, we should then also speak of the newest Church, i.e. of a totally new incision in Church history.
What is Mary’s mission for these newest times? I would express it this way: (1) Mary’s task for the Church of our modern times is the same task she had for the old Church. The old Church did not come into existence without the fiat of the Blessed Mother. The same holds true also for our present times: she must say her fiat also to this newest way of existence for the Church which is in the process of coming, and whose members we are. What is meant by this? If we look at the situation prevailing today, if we analyze the sermons we hear, if we listen to the discussions at our places of employment, we notice that there are tendencies aiming at practically dethroning the Blessed Mother in the newest times… And, we in Schoenstatt say that the Blessed Mother has erected her throne in our shrines. What does she want to accomplish in these Shrines? She wants to speak her fiat there for the Church at the newest shores. (2) Here in our shrines, unlike other places of pilgrimage, Mary does not want to perform physical miracles. She considers it her task to give birth to Christ again, as she gave birth to Him at the beginning of the Church. She wants to give birth to Him again in us, i.e. in the members of the Church and wants to do it in such a fashion as to bring about the new Christian and the new Christian society for the days and years to come.
What, therefore, is the task of the Blessed Mother? Approaching the whole life process from a different view we could say: it is her task to glorify herself in the Church at the newest shores, particularly by obtaining the grace of transformation for anyone who surrenders himself to her with confidence. She wants to bring about this new person who is capable of mastering the new times. It is she who wants to do it and thus, at the same time, call attention to herself. If it is her mission to give birth to Christ for the Church on the newest shores of our times, yet men push her in the background everywhere and fail to refer to her, what is more, natural but that she helps herself – that she glorifies herself?
We have come here and have made a pact with the Blessed Mother. We are willing to be formed and to be trained by her. Mary considers it her obligation to accept this willingness and to transform us – to perform miracles of grace. From the outset we were told: we do not expect to witness in our shrines miracles in the physical order, but miracles of change of heart. And we are convinced that Mary’s effectiveness, as emanating from the Original Shrine and the branch shrines, extends also to the home shrines. Therefore, in making our house into a home shrine we need not look with fear at all the great crises still awaiting us. Of course, by and large, we live undisturbed at present; however, we must not assume that the Church has passed its most difficult times. That is not so; we may witness a new explosion any day; in fact, we may count on still another great World War breaking out. We can be certain, therefore, that we are not at all near the end of the crisis of our modern times. But for these times also the Blessed Mother wants to work from her shrines. Let me repeat: it makes no difference whether we speak of the Original Shrine or the branch shrines. Therefore, if we make the intentions of the Blessed Mother our own, we are well-advised. Naturally, what is at stake is not just to have a corner crucifix or a Schoenstatt corner in our house; we must not just be content with having offered a little place to the Blessed Mother; no, we must rather permit the Blessed Mother from this home shrine to see to it that a religious atmosphere penetrates also the heart of every child and grandchild. The greatest task, however, the Blessed Mother wishes to accomplish in the home shrine is the gradual building of the heart shrine and penetrating life in its entirety from the heart shrine.
Seeing that God has led us together here and that we all come from the same territory, let us take care that we grow closer in understanding and love. But, we also want to prepare a place for the Blessed Mother, thereby to proclaim (1) that Schoenstatt is a proof for the educational power of the Blessed Mother in the world, and (2) that Mary reveals her glory also in this way that we ourselves grow deeper and deeper into her heart and permit her to lead us into the supernatural world.
In looking back at all that has grown in Schoenstatt during the last 25 years, we must acknowledge that the whole Schoenstatt family has experienced a very deep and elementary inbreak of the divine and that the family has moved in an unusually strong manner toward the supernatural. We have been told on occasion that our Modern Times have canceled out the entire supernatural world and have replaced it by new strata of humanity. The Blessed Mother has to see to it that we will grow deeper and deeper into the supernatural world and that the Triune God will reign more and more overall that is material – that is purely natural.
Let us utilize, then, the little celebration, the pilgrimage to Schoenstatt, to renew at least our willingness to walk with the Blessed Mother toward the supernatural world, toward our heart shrine where we adore the Triune God, toward that heart shrine were also the cross, and Mary beneath the cross, have a place.
Recently the father of a family returned from Schoenstatt and died suddenly. He offered his life for Schoenstatt. Our desire too should not only be that we ourselves become detached, changed and drawn into the supernatural world, but that we also guarantee through our hidden life of sacrifice that more and more graces – streams of graces – flow from our shrines; that in the course of time, heart shrines – family shrines – will spring up in all those places where there are Schoenstatt children; “that the world through you made new, pay to your Son his homage due.” In this spirit, I will give you now my priestly blessing.