annual Crib Crawl.
Many of us finish our Christmas celebration on the 25th December. However, it is only the beginning of Christmas! The liturgical season of Christmas begins with the Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve and concludes on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This year, a larger crowd than normal came to spend the afternoon at Schoenstatt. Some were regular visitors for this event, but many were there for the first time.
With a joyful smile, a Sister welcomed the pilgrims at the Shrine. She led them through a short-guided meditation about the crib and the picture of Mother Mary. Before leaving, the visitors could write their Christmas petitions to the Christ Child. The entrance of the Provincial House was the next stop on the crib tour. There two Sisters were waiting for them with gifts from the three kings.
The entrance of every home is a place of meeting and welcome. Jesus welcomed the shepherds and the three kings to the manger in Bethlehem. We know the kings brought gifts for the Baby Jesus; gold, frankincense and myrrh. However, do we know the symbolism of these gifts? The explanation of the symbols was hidden in t gifts at this crib.
A short distance away, in the House Chapel, stood another Crib with a large Christmas tree. Especially important at this crib are the many angels that surround Baby Jesus. The Sister at this Crib was sister explained to the visitors why so many angels surround Baby Jesus. The angels are messengers from God, they brought Mary the news that God had chosen her to be the Mother of Jesus. God blesses each one of us with our own guardian angel. Do we pray to our guardian angel and listen to his soft voice guiding us in our daily decisions? Before leaving this crib, the pilgrims were invited to write down what their gift for Baby Jesus is.
Before reaching the final Crib, there was an invitation to visit the Father Kentenich Documentation room. This room depicts the life and work of Father Kentenich as well as his visit in 1948 to South Africa. Included are many items that he wore, blessed or gave away. One item is a large Christ Child that he blessed. At the final crib, there were different activities for young and old, puzzles, pictures to colour in and Christmas music videos. The Sister at this crib invited volunteers to come and dress up in the various characters that are normally at the nativity scene. People enthusiastically found costumes for Mary and Joseph, angels and shepherds, stars and kings and even a sheep and donkey.
For the final hour at Schoenstatt, the large group of visitors sang Christmas carols, listened to a Christmas story and even were invited to perform actions to the famous carol “The twelve days of Christmas”.
Naturally, the climax of the visit was listening to a nativity story with the volunteers playing the various characters. Afterwards, there was cool drink and Christmas biscuits on the lawn with lots of joyful conversations and children running around. For many, this was a beautiful and meaningful Christmas experience.