What is a Movement? 

A movement is a broad current in society inspired by a common cause or charism, usually motivated by the desire to reform, renew or defend some aspect of life.  It can be inspired by a political or secular cause, such as the labor movement or civil rights movement.  Or it can be inspired by a spiritual or religious cause, such as the liturgical movement or biblical movement of the 20th Century Catholic Church, or the revival movement.

When a movement in the Catholic Church develops a distinct community (usually loose-knot and charism-centered), one speaks of an ecclesial movement.  At its heart is generally a specific charism, such as renewal of the faith.  It can focus on personal or community renewal (faith formation, striving for holiness, marriage and family life) or on the great works of the Church. A particular strength of movements is lay involvement.

movement structure

Schoenstatt is both a family and a movement. The most important feature in Schoenstatt is the strength of life that is awakened in its members and communities as the fruit of the covenant of love and at the service of the church, so that the Church may be the soul of a renewed world.

Therefore, the structure and organization in Schoenstatt are neither the most important nor the most decisive elements. But they certainly are integral and necessary in its development. They serve the life which exists in Schoenstatt, offering it an irrigation channel, allowing its expression and also securing and protecting it.

the principle of government

In the structure and organization of Schoenstatt Father Kentenich considered a clear understanding of authority to be of great importance. He thought that the manner of exercising authority decisively influences the development of the life of the community. The absence of authority, or rather its exercise as a wish to dominate, destroys the vitality of the community.

Fr. Kentenich’s formulation of the function of authority is: “In our form of government, we affirm the foundation of authority without hesitation; but, in the application and exercise of authority – the same as with God – there should be the highest consideration with regard to the individual and social needs of human nature”. We can sum this up in the following expression: “Authoritative in principle and democratic in application”. The authority should be clear and firm so as to direct the individual riches towards the common good. But in its application it will act democratically.

Therefore, in the whole structure and organisation of Schoenstatt, authority, whatever it may be, is exercised as a service to life, in permanent living contact with the members of the community, leading by the strength of vigorous currents of life and through models, (persons and communities who especially live out the ideals which they want to achieve), that awaken and enliven life.

From this example of a natural family, Schoenstatt understands authority as true “fatherhood – motherhood”.

The Schoenstatt Family is based fundamentally on two criteria:

a) By the state of life of its members:

By this criterion the Schoenstatt Family expresses its universality. Every baptized person can belong to Schoenstatt. From this point of view the members of Schoenstatt are brought together in four large groupings: men, women, families, and consecrated life.

b) By the type of apostolic commitment:

The Schoenstatt Family, on the basis of this criterion, expresses its eminent apostolic character. Its different levels of groupings are determined by the degree of commitment to the missionary action of Schoenstatt. From the degree of apostolic commitment there also flows corresponding ascetical and community commitments in as much as a greater missionary project necessarily requires a more careful cultivation of the spiritual and community life.