October 18, 2019

Covenant of Love – a flame that sets the world on fire

Sr. M. Nilza P. da Silva

∼   October 18  ∼

“I have come to cast fire upon the earth.
How happy I would be if it were already burning

These words of Jesus illuminate the event of October 18, 1914 in the small chapel in Schoenstatt. The Holy Spirit lit the fire of a charism in the heart of Father Joseph Kentenich from an early age to enlighten the whole Church. His fire is the flame of Christ that burns in the heart of Mary.

On that October afternoon, when the cold of autumn began to spread its cloak over Europe, Father Joseph Kentenich opened his heart and passed on to his disciples the fire of his charism that warmed the youthful hearts: “I feel that I have struck the right note.  Your hearts have caught fire. You made my plan yours. I trustingly place it and its execution into your hand…” [2]  Together they sealed a Covenant of Love with Mary and the small chapel became a Shrine in which the Mother Thrice Admirable of Schoenstatt gathered her children and lit the fire of love for Christ in them.

“Faithfulness to tradition means keeping the fire alive” [3]

is what Pope Francis teaches. Those who come to this small chapel in Schoenstatt 105 years after its foundation will encounter that fire whose embers continue to burn brightly and silently, nourishing thousands of other flames on all continents. Everyone who prays there in faith is kindled, his life becomes bright and he goes out like a blazing flame that sets the world on fire in his own environment.

Like a firestorm

The charism of the Sisters of Mary is the fire that burned in the heart of the Founder. It was through them that the charism spread throughout the world. In more than 100 countries the power of the fire of the Covenant of Love really burns in the hearts and enlightens many life stories. Each Sister of Mary is also taken into this Covenant of Love of 1914 and is thus lit by the flame of origin. In small groups, accompanied by the Sisters, thousands of families, youth and children find new motivation to follow the light of Christ. They discover new dimensions of their personal participation in the mission of the Church. In Brazil alone, more than 12 million people participate in the charism of Father Joseph Kentenich by receiving the Mother Thrice Admirable of Schoenstatt in the Pilgrim Shrines, a small replica of the Shrine, in their homes.

Every 18th of the month the fire of the Covenant of Love is renewed.

 Every 18th of the month, in thousands of parishes, this Covenant of Love of 1914 is renewed by the parish priest and the faithful.

Father Francisco Lemes says that he is doing this because “it renews my faith and my love for the Mother and Queen and it is an impulse to make progress in my vocation as a priest“.

The young Monique Vaz da Silva says that the renewal of the Covenant on the 18th of each month strengthens her commitment and awareness of being chosen for a mission. Mark and Cassiane Weizenmann confess: “Every 18th we renew the Covenant of Love because this Covenant carries us, because we need the Mother Thrice Admirable of Schoenstatt as educator and because we love her! She knows us completely- what we do right and what we do wrong, our virtues and sins, and she educates us. It comes from the heart, also from the heart of our children. I cannot understand my life without the Covenant of Love and without Schoenstatt. We are what we are as human beings and as families, because we are in covenant with the MTA and we are Schoenstatters. This is our vocation”.

Thus the fire of October 18, 1914 ignited its sparks and Father Joseph Kentenich’s prayer became a reality:

“Let us glow like brands of life
and joyfully go forth to the nations,
giving witness to redemption
and jubilantly leading all people to the Triune God.”[4]

[1] Lk 12,49
[2] Founding Document, Oct. 18, 1914.
[3] http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/pt/speeches/2015/march/documents/papa-francesco_20150307_comunione-liberazione.html
[4] Heavenwards, 12