The coronavirus pandemic has been a burden to us for over a year already. No one is unaffected; everyone is somehow impacted. Also me. The continuous extension of current restrictions is a handicap for me in my task of providing inspiration to and cooperation with the “Schoenstatt Movement Women and Mothers” and at the Schoenstatt Center Liebfrauenhöhe. The only in-person gatherings that are permited are prayer meetings. Some types of events can take place online, but the in-person experience is missing. It has been and continues to be difficult for me personally that I cannot meet others in-person, that I cannot to offer help as usual for coping with everyday life and, based on our Schoenstatt Spirituality, to awaken courage, trust and confidence.
However, the time of the pandemic has also had positive outcomes. What has been rewarding for me is the “discovery” in this time that I am not alone in my longing (to do apostolic activities.) I have sat together with others – and continue to do so again and again – to discuss precisely these questions:
“How can we be there for the people now?“
“What can we do, what can we offer, initiate, so that people connect with God in a very natural way?”
“How can we make our Schoenstatt Shrine experiential as a place of grace?“
We are grateful that by working closely together we have been able to carry out a few of our ideas until now. Above all, we are very happy with our most recent initiative “The Easter Trail at Liebfrauenhöhe.”
The Easter trail at Liebfrauenhöhe
Easter, with its rich symbolism, offered a variety of possibilities for an Easter trail: a number of stations … set in the open air on a large field would help visitors, especially families with children, experience Easter. We have learned that we are on the right track when we connect faith-building initiatives with concrete experiences:
- Experiences like coloring Easter eggs,
- Eating homemade Easter-lamb cakes,
- Lighting an Easter candle,
- Using symbols such as Easter water and Easter light,
- Admiring and petting live sheep.
This is what people of today are searching for and need. This is what opens the way for them to the content of our faith which the symbols represent.
At one station the people had the opportunity to write prayer intentions and concerns on an Easter card and to place it in a “mailbox“ – with the promise that one of the Schoenstatt Sisters would include these intentions and people in her prayers.
It was touching—and surprising—to us how many people took advantage of this offer and how many wrote their address on a card so that they would receive a personal response by mail from a Sister of Mary. The live sheep on the Easter trail were naturally the highlight—for adults and children, and also for us sisters. And for me, too. Not until I became a Sister of Mary did I find a deeper connection to my Swabian family name “Lämmle”- and thus to Jesus as Easter Lamb and Good Shepherd.
What excites and inspires me about our Easter Trail and all our initiatives is the collaboration among the team of sisters at our center; these sisters include the sister who ministers to the pilgrims, the sister who ministers to the youth, and me as house administrator. “A spark of inspiration falls into open an heart and ignites all of us,” is how one of the teammates describes the process. She is enthusiastic – as am I – that “there is no must” behind our commitment, but “high motivation” which brings about “effectiveness and creativity.” Each one contributes in an uncomplicated way with her respective talents such as organizating, spiritual insights, creativity, a flare for writing, or practicality – and is happy about the talents of the others. We are always motivated increasingly by the joy and dedication of the many sisters who live at Liebfrauenhöhe. Such initiatives would be absolutely impossible without their cooperation. When the awareness of and a sense of common life develops and when it is expressed with the words “We Sisters of Mary are initiating …,” I am happy and fulfilled. It is motivates me highly for future initiatives–which we began to contemplate soon after the completion of the Easter Trail.