Schoenstatt’s origin is inseparable from its unique relationship with Mary. Since the founding Covenant of Love of 1914, love of Mary has been at the heart of the Schoenstatt spirituality. Schoenstatt is deeply and devotedly Marian and has repeatedly experienced how love of Mary opens new avenues to a vibrant relationship with Christ, to the Holy Spirit and to God the Father, and to a renewal of love of neighbor and self.
For many Schoenstatt members, the love of Mary has helped them develop a more personal and committed relationship with the persons of the Trinity. This is not surprising, given the close union of Mary with the mission of her Son. Nor is it surprising that this love has helped many grow into more personal and fruitful relationships with neighbor and self, be it through a greater maturity in one’s vocation, a stronger family life, a more Christian workplace or way of dealing with people. Through her activity in the Shrine, the Blessed Mother has helped many to overcome loneliness, anxiety and low self-esteem or to have the courage to reach out to others and find God-willed solutions to family, social and political problems.
Not least of all is how love of Mary has helped many grow in love for the Church. This is in keeping with something Saint John Paul II pointed out to the Schoenstatt Family in an audience in September 20, 1985: “An authentic Marian spirituality leads to a deep love for the Church”
Covenant of Love
The Covenant of Love is the act of consecration to Mary as the Mother Thrice Admirable of Schoenstatt. It was always understood as a mutual covenant between Mary and those who consecrated themselves to her in the Shrine. The first Covenant of Love was sealed on October 18, 1914 by Fr. Kentenich and the Sodalists in the Shrine.
In 1944 Fr. Kentenich coined the precise term needed to express this covenant of love. “Covenant” was a better word than “contract” for it expresses a more generous spirit and a personal act of self-giving, and “love” made it clear that the foundation was not justice or a false self-righteousness, but truly love. The term “covenant of love” was quickly adopted by Schoenstatt as the official name for its Marian consecration and it has been used as a keyword in Schoenstatt vocabulary ever since.
Capital of Grace
The Church’s teaching on merits and our possibility to cooperate in Christ’s work of salvation (see Col 1,24) encourages us to actively strive for sanctity and make ourselves available for the building up of the Kingdom. In the covenant of love with Mary, we actively bring our prayers, sacrifices and striving for sanctity and make the merits of these good works available to the MTA (Mother Thrice Admirable) for her mission in the service of Christ.
The Blessed Mother needs “capital,” but not of money. She needs “capital” of grace. She needs lots of different people who make a covenant of love with her and say, “Mary, I give you everything I am and say and do, so that you can work the big miracles we need.” The place where all the different capital is collected is the Shrine. This is one of the most important parts of the Founding Document. Father Kentenich and the sodalists decided that they would work on collecting this capital together so the chapel could become a real place of pilgrimage.
We can contribute in many ways: by giving Mary our joys and sorrows, by making little sacrifices, by trying to help others. An extra special form of capital of grace is when we do things “above and beyond the call of duty.” Like if I don’t have to clean my room, but decide to clean it anyway to make mother or father happy—or just to make Mary happy!
It has been a tradition now that every local Schoenstatt Family gathers on the 18th of every month to renew the Covenant of Love with Mary and bring their contributions to the Capital of Grace to the Shrine.