May 16, 2022

An Easter Experience

Schwester M. Natalie Stewart

An Easter Trail in Schoenstatt

at the Convention Center Marienland


Experience Easter with all your senses!

“We counted 28 eggs and 11 rabbits!” – beam the children who walked with their parents along the Easter trail at our Marienland Conference Center on Mount Schoenstatt, Germany. And not only their faces beam with Easter joy. The children do not learn whether they have counted correctly or not the wooden eggs and rabbits hidden on our grounds until they come to the shrine and see the answer there. And – whether or not they counted correctly—they can take with them a little rabbit or lamb that they baked themselves!

Proclaiming faith in the resurrection of Jesus anew

The path with the stations relating the story from Palm Sunday to Easter, which we created for the first time on our grounds, glows with inner and outer Easter sunshine. For four weeks of this Easter season the Resurrection path invites little and big visitors to pause, meditate, and participate. The truth about the resurrection of our Lord and the joy that comes to us from his suffering, is tangible; it is perceptible in the many encounters that we sisters are privileged to experieince at the shrine in these weeks.

Easter with QR-Code

Easter EXperience – is how we wrote it on many colorful signs that we lovingly made ourselves during the days before Easter. Precisely this is the message of the Easter trail: Jesus lives. That’s what we wanted the many people who usually simply walk past our shrine to experience. Included in the invitation: The door is open here. Here with God and the Blessed Mother, Easter is a personal experience for everyone. A QR-Code on the stations provides the opportunity to enter the homepage of our convention center and to discover more there about the Easter event through little videos, texts, and pictures.

There blooms joy

In our small Easter garden with the various stations, a pot of daffodils blooms on each tree stump: “Out of the cross and suffering – Easter joys bloom” (from an Easter song). And the wooden donkey we carpentered ourselves is ready at the Palm Sunday station for the children to sit on it and feel royal. His lively glance spontaneously invites people to approach him. He is petted by many and brings a smile to numerous faces, not only those of children.

Deeply Impressed

How heavy Jesus’ cross really was and how inhumane the treatment of those condemned to die on the cross was, deeply impressed a man at this station. Thoughtfully, he told a sister that he didn’t know how Jesus carried the cross, or that Jesus couldn’t support himself when he fell, nor could he protect his face because his hands were tightly bound. It made a huge impression on him which he said he would take home with him from this path.

“The cross blesses the world.” (Joseph Kentenich)

Continuously, a large wooden cross on the side of the road is filled with names written on it by individuals–the names of loved ones, relatives, everyone upon whom someone wishes God’s blessing, or who themselves have a heavy cross to carry. It is touching and makes one think about how such a small invitation is accepted so trustfully. Each time we sisters pass by this cross we can pray for the many people whose names are written on it.

Malek, too, is a disciple who loves Jesus

At the very top of the wooden cross Arabic characters can be read. Malek, a Syrian Muslim, went with a sister along the Easter trail on Holy Saturday, attentively taking in the words and signs. At the image of the Unity Cross, the sister could say to him, who has a deep love for Mary and a great trust in her: He, Malak, is a disciple, too, whom Jesus loves. Mother Mary has been entrusted to him also. And later she said, “The stations were a real help in leading a non-Christian to the content of Holy Week and the day of Easter. With this testimony I felt my first Easter joy.”

Touched by the tranquility and holiness of this place

There is yet the message of the empty tomb which was built in front of the shrine, and there is the offer to take blessed Easter water home in a small bottle or to light an Easter/peace candle. Finally there is the mailbox for concerns, which is used very often. During our Eucharistic Adoration we sisters take  these intentions to our Lord and the Mother of God.

The shrine is always the goal of the Easter trail and many who previously walked past the shrine have discovered it anew. One woman who entered the shrine for the first time one morning was deeply touched by the tranquility and holiness of this place.

A spark of the Easter light

We sisters together with many people on the TRAIL are at the same time the initiators, the benefactors and recipients. Easter EXperienced. It was probably a spark from the Easter light that made us spontaneously go to work. The preparation was also part of this joyful journey. There were no expectations for the preparation such as you must or you should; it was simply a free initiative. And we are already curious about what might develop next year. Surely the Mother of God has more ideas that she would like to realize through us.