The Danger of Collectivist Thinking
Fr. Kentenich watched the rise of Nazism and Communism with great concern. He saw the dangers of what he called the "mass man," where the human person is seen as no more than an easily replaceable machine. This view rejects dual dimension of human beings as both spiritual and natural. This kind of "mechanistic thinking" -- as Fr. Kentenich described it -- results in a blindness to the supernatural reality that leaves the trace of emptiness inside each human soul.
Fr. Kentenich saw this in a particular way as he travelled through South Africa in 1948. He saw how Apartheid reduced the black man to little more than a source of labour, "robbing man of the crown of his dignity and the nobility of his freedom." (Sermon given in South Africa, 1948)
Although the political collectivist systems have largely collapsed, we can still the effects of collectivism in our culture today. The focus on the body and the thousands of products designed to satisfy physical desires ignores the spiritual need of each human person to search for something greater than themselves. Social trends dictate what we should wear, how we should feel and think, and which popular ideas of the day to adopt.
The New Person
According to Fr. Kentenich, the antidote against any form of collectivism is the "new person in the new community." The "new person" is not enslaved to outward pressures, but rather autonomously takes charge of his or her own life, while still recognizing God bears all life in his hand.
Our Lady plays a key role in the formation of firm and inwardly free personalities, because when we accept her as our Mother, we recognize that we are children before God and completely dependent on him for everything. Through self-education the "new person" relies God through practical faith in Divine Providence, that is, seeing God in the everyday events of multi-faceted human life.
This is what Fr. Kentenich described as "organic thinking," where every aspect of our lives -- work, family, social commitment -- form part of the unique purpose that God has for each person.
The New Community
The "new community," therefore, becomes a network of persons and attachments -- an "interwovenness of fates" -- where the unique strengths and the personal ideal of each member contributes to the well-being of society as a whole. This view of community inspires greater solidarity and becomes a way of overcoming the deep chasms -- such economic or racial poles -- that divide people.
The Family as the Seeds for a New Community
In particular, Fr. Kentenich saw the renewal of society through the renewal of family -- an idea that Pope Francis has spoken about repeatedly. During Fr. Kentenich's trip to South Africa in 1948 he noted that "the greatest damage is done to South African religious life by the lack of sound family life…society can only be renewed if the family is renewed…I might almost say: the formation of sound Catholic marriages is a greater revelation of Our Lady's power."
The formation and renewal of families remains one of the main branches of Schoenstatt's work in parishes and in society, through the creation of family groups, family activities and pilgrimages.