Ning emailed the following day to say that she and her friends had visited the Schoenstatt shrine in Rockport.
Just in case you’ve never been there, I do suggest that you and Steve go there. It’s a miraculous place from what I’ve heard, and it’s true coz I got my miracle when I went there the first time with Sam. They celebrate a covenant day every 18th of the month.
I’ve known about the Virgin of Schoenstatt ever since mom first told me about the Sisters and the shrine. I have no idea when or how she and my stepfather first learned about the place, but they often stopped to visit and bought prayer booklets for family and friends back home in the Valley.
Then, sometime in the mid-to-late 1980s, mom lit the fire under the other altar society ladies at Christ the King Church when she offered to drive the group to the shrine. The ladies enjoyed themselves so much that they made the trek a regular outing. To hear mom tell the story, the ladies couldn’t stop talking about the beautiful little shrine. It was such a big deal that a photo of the Virgin of Schoenstatt continues to be displayed in the church foyer despite changes in the building over time.
Mom was very devoted to the Virgin of Schoenstatt, but I just couldn’t relate. Although I carried the prayer booklet with me and read the literature daily for a long time, the devotion wasn’t for me. Still, mom insisted that she’d take me to “the little church” one day even if I didn’t want to go!
Two promises, two visits
In the fall 1995, I’d been laid up in bed for six to eight weeks so, of course, mom promised that, as soon as I got better, she and my stepfather would take me to see the Virgin of Schoenstatt.
But why did I have to go when I hadn’t promised anything?
Never mind that I endured serious bouts of carsickness. Mom got her wish anyway— not that she needed an excuse to visit the shrine— and she was quite pleased with herself for having fulfilled the promise.
Then, in the spring 2004, when I was having major cows with the second semester of research ’cause I was working at school way, way, way too much to have time to focus clearly on the semester project, one of my cohort buddies who also felt challenged beyond the breaking point promised the same thing.
“If we make it through Dr. Weber’s course this semester, I’m taking you to the Schoenstatt shrine in Rockport,” Becky insisted.
“But why do I have to go with you?” I asked. “I didn’t make the promise.”
Yet, there we were— Becky, her daughter, and me with my carsickness— on our way to Rockport; and Becky didn’t even know where the shrine was!
Oh, my gosh. The torture of it all. But we found the place, finally, and that was that.
Familiar yet out of sight
Aside from the framed picture of the Virgin of Schoenstatt at mom’s church, I hadn’t seen one displayed elsewhere. Then one morning after Mass at our old St. Joseph Church, I happened to notice the picture (shown here) hung on the back wall in the musicians’ nook.
After our new church was dedicated I saw the picture propped up against a wall in the foyer, as if waiting to be hung, but it isn’t in the public eye anymore.
Maybe the devotion wasn’t popular to begin with?
Still, it’s not uncommon to showcase pictures and/or statues of saints that don’t have an active following within the parish.
In retrospect, I’ve sampled the Schoenstatt experience through mom, Becky, and now Ning; and I still have my prayer booklet even though I haven’t read it in many years.
I think that each person’s devotion to Our Lady is as uniquely different as each person’s relationship with her. For this reason, it’s only natural to embrace the devotions to the Blessed Mother as Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and/or however one’s come to know her best.
For instance, my first recollections of Our Lady stem from when I was just a child of four or five.
Sitting next to mom at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Brownsville, I noticed the very beautiful lady up high for the very first time and started singing about a little red rooster. Mom pinched me hard on the arm— “Ssssh!!!”— so I sat there quietly gazing at the lady in green until mom finished praying.
Of course, I was also taken with Mary in blue at the Catholic school across the street from the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. She was the first person I saw every morning (as I entered the building to walk to my first-grade classroom and then as I opened the side door to church for daily Mass) so blue comes to mind when I string my Franciscan Crowns with Mary’s miraculous medals, even though green is my favorite color.
Looking back, my relationship with Our Lady was influenced not by words and deeds, but by place. There’s something so very special about walking into Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and sensing a strong familial bond. (Mom, dad, and I attended Mass there.) Similarly, I feel very much at home at Immaculate Conception. Yet the cathedral— my “heart of hearts,” my favorite sacred space— is a far greater spiritual connection to the Blessed Mother: I became part of that church community on my own through my Catholic school experience.
Sorting through my stash of prayer cards and more in my Christmas box yesterday I realized something.
Over the years I’ve collected so many keepsakes that, unless I explore my treasure box from time to time, I forget what I have. Yet my spirituality continues to evolve nonetheless as I work, read, pray, and go through the day dialoguing with God.
Sooo… I think that devotional practices can be powerful tools that help us become proactively engaged, just as Ning’s thoughtful gift was a personal invitation to share the Schoenstatt experience with others.
*Covenant day celebration… 10 A.M. Adoration, Shrine… 10:30 A.M. Holy Mass… 11:30 A.M. sack lunch… 1 P.M. Benediction, Shrine…
General events… Daily Masses, Provincial House: Monday – Saturday, 6:45 A.M. & Sunday, 10 A.M…
August 2, 2011
You can make a difference. You can tell people about the love of God. You can even help some of them to become fishers of men, spreading the net of Christianity even farther. There are opportunities everywhere…. All you have to do is tell your story; the Holy Spirit will give you the right words (the Word among us, July/August 2011, p. 49).
July 3, 2013
Lord Jesus, I treasure the faith you have placed in my heart. Though I don’t see you, still, I believe. Help me to tell everyone around me that you are alive. Use my words and my witness to speak to their hearts, just as you have spoken to mine (the Word among us, July/August 2013, p. 22).
July 30, 2013
Thank you, Lord, for loving me! Help me to extend your love to everyone I meet. Today, please send me to at least one person who needs you in their life (the Word among us, July/August 2013, p. 49).
September 13, 2013
Lord, I am amazed that you have called me to share your good news. By your spirit, fill me with confidence and courage to be your ambassador (the Word among us, September 2013, p. 32).
November 30, 2015
“But the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe” (Deuteronomy 30:14).
Schoenstatt Chapel – Lamar, TX
Adoration Chapel – Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church – Corpus Christi, TX
Links of interest… Apostolic movement… Blessed Virgin Mary, untier of knots… Catholic devotions: A spiritual vocabulary… Christ the King Church… Father Joseph Kentenich… Fifteen steps to better evangelization… Good habits… Immaculate Conception Cathedral: diocesan website / parishes online… Marian devotions (five – hope) / moms share… Our Lady of Guadalupe Church… Schoenstatt shrine: founder / jubilee / movement / news / novena (Spanish) / photos / prayers / rosary campaign / shrine (Rockport) … Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary… Understanding what it means to be devout… the Word among us…
WP posts… Angels keeping watch… Building community… Christ’s sacred heart… Faces of Mary… Faith and prayer… Familiar yet new… Guadalupe Church… Heart of hearts… Lady of sorrows… Lourdes novenas… Mary’s miraculous medal… Mary’s seven joys… May flowers… My Franciscan Crown… Our Lady… Our Lady’s Church… Repeated prayers… Seven dwelling places… Soulful
Filed under: Our Lady, prayer, spiritual gifts, thanksgiving and praise | Tagged: building community, Christ the King Church-Brownsville TX, Immaculate Conception Cathedral-Brownsville TX, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church-Brownsville TX, overcoming adversity, Schoenstatt Shrine-Lamar (Rockport) TX |