April 5, 2023

How has Schoenstatt inspired my life – Part 02

Sister M. Thomasine Treese
Sydney, Australia

The Schoenstatt Family of Australia gathered this year for the annual leaders meeting at the Shrine in Mulgoa, Sydney. Sr. M. Thomasine Treese gave one of four testimonies on the subject:

How has Schoenstatt inspired my life – Part 02

He listened with great interest.

Soon I had the chance to read him my life’s story, 90 pages in my notebook. He wanted to hear every word of it and this made me feel good. There was truly nothing exciting about my life of 22 years and yet he took it all in with great interest. The moments of my reading page after page with him listening to my stumbling words created a holy atmosphere. When I came to the end he asked me if I wanted to examine my conscience so that he could give me absolution. In his prayer he begged the heavenly Father for wisdom and understanding so that he could lead me there where he wanted me to be.

A simple prayer and yet it overwhelmed me that this great founder of a world-wide movement would humble himself before God and ask him for the grace to understand this young person before him and lead her his ways. This moment sank deeply into my heart. From then on he was not any more only the great founder but the conduit of God, the person whom God would use to communicate his will and wish to me. He was his transparency.

Watch for the signs of God’s love.

Now Fr. Kentenich knew me inside out. That gave me security for I could be myself with him, without pretence. Once I asked him to give me a fitting special resolution for my self-education. I expected him to give me the one that will begin to transform my life.

He said: “Watch every day for the signs of God’s love for you.” I was stunned and politely thanked him. But deep in my heart I was not satisfied. I did not consider it a real resolution. I expected him to give me a few concrete points. Since I could not do anything with such a resolution I brought forth my difficulties at my next visit: It’s much too general, just to watch for God’s love is not really something for me. I need something concrete, practical that I could do and check at night.

Fr. Kentenich simply listened and  repeated what he had said before: “Watch out for the signs of God’s love throughout the day. At night recall at least one of these signs. Then you could add the question: How did I answer his signs of love. How did I prove my love to him during the day.” He realized my dissatisfaction and I felt awful about it but this was how it was.

God wants my heart first.

Then he explained that for the time being God does not want great action but instead it should be God’s love for me that should satisfy me not my own achievements. God wants to take possession of my heart, not of my action. He knows if he would demand some heroic act of me I would gladly do it. But he first wants my heart, the love of a child, of a simple, unassuming and trusting child without wavering, an unconditionally loving child who could do anything, in any circumstance of life.

Later on he added two more questions to the first two:

How did God hurt me – through people, circumstances etc?
How did I offend God and made good again?

This is the root of childlikeness, he said, the conquest of one’s inner world where the child within us meets his/her God, the Father. It is the foundation for a fruitful life.

Why did the great founder give me such a simple advice that at first seemed too simple for me? He wanted to be sure that God becomes alive in me, a person whose love I can touch and whose love I should return. Then action will flow forth in whichever way life will demand it.

To summarize – My Schoenstatt experience is twofold:

First, become a child before God.

The life-long transformation began with slowly becoming a child before God who is Father and whose love and guidance is an ever new experience for me. God continues still today to use Fr. Kentenich to keep the flame of my childlike love alive and make it strong.

Forever I am grateful to our father and founder, for having led me – in spite of my initial obstinacy – into the most profound reality of life: holiness consists in nothing else than in the child’s love to his/her Father. This is my experience – every day.

He himself has become this new image of the child and also that of the Father.

I experienced our founder during the most difficult part of his life in his 13th year of separation from his foundation. My initial curiosity to discover what a great founder is like turned at once into awe, admiration and wonderment about the holy atmosphere that radiated forth from him. One could sense his inner peace and harmony, serenity and above all an absolute trust in God and in his guidance. He himself had become this child of God, who was completely empty of self and totally open for the divine.

Therefore, upon his return from exile he did not tire to present to us the great legacy and fruit of the 14 years exile: the new image of the Father, of the child and the community. He himself has become the epitome of this new image of the child and also that of the Father.

I am grateful forever that I was allowed to experience our father during the most trying time of his life.

Heroic childlikeness was the key

to his peace and joy in the turmoil of these years.

–  Part 01 here –