February 19, 2023

God’s Little Beast of Burden

Sister M. Monika Maerz

God’s little beast of burden

Do you by chance have a donkey at home, or in your pasture?
Do you especially like this animal?

Many characteristics—both positive and negative—have been written about the donkey.
Dumb—lazy—stubborn, spontaneously come to mind,
But also, and most of all, calm, unassuming, reliable, and faithful.

Father Kentenich gave this animal something like a title of endearment: God’s little beast of burden!

The donkey is a beast of burden in very special way:

  • Who if not the donkey would have carried the Holy Family—above all, the very pregnant Mother of God, to Bethlehem!
  • How could the Holy Family have mastered the flight to Egypt if the donkey had not taken this burden upon itself and accompanied them on the distant journey?
  • Who if not the donkey was chosen to bear the burden of Jesus, Son of God, during his triumphal entrance to Jerusalem?

We almost could say that the donkey is truly a biblical animal—it was present at very important events.

Our founder has said that we should be like a donkey and consider ourselves donkeys or little donkeys.

“Being God’s little beasts of burden! Isn’t that a beautiful image?”…

“The little beast of burden allows itself to be used by his master when, how, and as the master wants and as long as the master wants. Isn’t that true? … Never does the donkey deliberate this way and that about what it should do and how it should be done …

It doesn’t have the need to think about its effects upon others, about what it can do and how it can be done so that everything works out. It is simply there with the attitude … “I am at the mercy of the eternal, infinite God at every moment.”

How did the Mother of God express it? Ecce ancilla Domini, fiat! I am God’s beast of burden!                (J.K. September 8, 1948)

There is a poem in the Schoenstatt family that describes wonderfully what is meant with the expression God’s little beast of burden:

I am just a little donkey
But nevertheless, on the trail of a secret.
I am at your service, my Father, and
I hope that in spite of my smallness
I am successful.

Tell me, Father, do you love donkeys most of all?
They can’t refuse you any wish
Because they can say but one thing: “Ee-a”.

Yes, little donkey, that’s why I chose you.
You are at my side to carry.
Are you ready, without complaining,
to carry the burdens I lay upon you?

The world outside is starving — and I am rich …
Yes, dear Father, load me down right now.
I gladly offer you my back,
You know how much I can carry!

Two sacks—tell me, little donkey, can you manage this?
Three, four, tell me, are you willing?
Yes, dear Father, how could I say
Anything to you but “Ee-a”!

Look, my hand caresses your fur lovingly,
May I quickly put the fifth sack on your back?
Oh, Father, I love you.  How could I say
Anything to you but “Ee-a”!

Little donkey, here’s a piece of sugar,
I would like to place a sixth sack upon your back.
Oh, Father, I love you.  How could I say
Anything to you but “Ee-a”!

Little donkey, just one more sack,
Can you still and will you–?
My legs are swaying from the burden,
I am longing for peace and rest.
But, Father, I love you.  How could I say
Anything to you but “Ee-a”!

What happened? I have set upon the way, 
But I don’t feel the burden anymore.
Oh, my Father, I am totally amazed.
You took me, with the burden I am carrying, into your arms.
Now you are carrying it all:
Me and all that is mine.