Schoenstatt’s Spirituality and the Formation of the Whole Person
During February, the Schoenstatt Girls’ Youth organized a fundraiser to raise money for an outreach project at a nearby parish with fewer resources. The girls gave up their Sunday to hold a Pamper Day, where they gave manicures and pedicures to ladies who support the Girls’ Youth – mostly their parents, family and Movement members. One customer commented that it was a real mark of “character” and “moral values” that these teenagers, who could have spent their weekend doing anything else, chose to selflessly do something for others to raise money to offer a service to the community. But this day was about so much more than that! In the true spirituality of the Schoenstatt Movement, spiritual formation and growth does not happen in isolation. The process of self-education, as envisioned by our founder Fr. Joseph Kentenich, has to have a holistic approach if it is to be life giving and fruitful.
In order to prepare for their outreach programme, the girls met several weeks earlier to work out what kind of outreach they would like to do, the amount of money they would need to raise and the kind of fundraiser they wanted to do. After working out their objectives and settling on the Pamper Day, they did a cost construct of what their materials would cost, what they would need to contribute to the venue for the use of water and electricity, and how much they should charge. On their own initiative, they prepared the advertising and set about collecting the materials they would need.
The day before the event, the girls arrived at Schoenstatt to clean out their meeting room and transform it into a beauty salon. A professional reflexologist came through to teach them about hand and foot care, taught them about hygiene, and showed them some other handy tips. That evening, they practiced all they had learned on each other, to make sure that they would be ready to perform manicures and pedicures on their customers, who had already booked their time slots in advance.
True to Schoenstatt tradition no stayover can ever end without an evening prayer and the singing of some favourite Girls’ Youth hymns, praise and worship and some time for quiet prayer.
Beginning with Holy Mass
On the day, the day started with Mass, where they entrusted all of their fundraising activities to God. Once the pampering started, the girls welcomed the customers professionally, led them to the salon and chatted to them while giving them the treatments. The little makeshift salon became a sacred space for women that has an age old tradition. The customers, many of them parents, aunties and members of the Schoenstatt Movement who at one time or another may have been Schoenstatt Girls themselves, shared their experiences of youth, growing up and the journey of their lives. The girls spoke about school, their dreams for the future, their experiences in the Schoenstatt Girls. They asked questions and listened, offered their opinion.
So what does all this have to do with Schoenstatt spirituality? In Schoenstatt we speak about organic thinking, living and loving. We cannot separate our spiritual lives from the other aspects of our lives. We cannot separate God and life. Because God is life.
Love for God and our love for neighbor
If we are to infuse our faith into everything we do, then our love for God and our love for neighbour needs to be at the centre of all of our activities. Similarly, we cannot be so wrapped up in our piety that we forsake our life in the world. There has to be a synergy and a balance.
In the same way too, our thinking needs to be in tune with the way we live and love. The way we live should match our thoughts and our relationships. The way we love is more than words or a feeling, but rather, is reflected in our thinking and the way in which we demonstrate that love.
I was entirely inspired by the Schoenstatt Girls’ Youth Pamper Day, because they exemplified this organic thinking, living, and loving in a very practical way.
They thought about their goal – to serve the community by offering their talents and what they have learned about their faith with others. They were thinking in love.
The girls realized that they needed to raise some money, so they found an activity that was way more than asking people for money. They chose something that also builds relationship. The event became a bridge between generations. It was space for memory and reflection by the ‘old’ Schoenstatt Girls who came to support those who now carry the RTA banner.
But it was also practical. The girls learnt new skills which they can use in their lives. They learned about hygiene and how to care for their bodies. They learnt and put into practice business skills. They built confidence by learning how to talk to a stranger and engaging them in conversation, while at the same time transforming tired feet and hands. Who knows where these new skills will take these girls in their future…
Trust in the Blessed Mother
None of this is done on our strength alone. The girls recognized that prayer needs to infuse everything they do and they entrusted the day to the Blessed Mother, whom we in Schoenstatt, take to be our mother and our guide. We give all our best efforts and she takes these to Jesus, her son and they are converted into grace and blessing for others. This is the heart of our Schoenstatt spirituality, which we call the covenant of love.
In this way, Mary from her Shrine, helps to educate us to love God and man more fully, to build a deep personal relationship with the Trinity, and shows us to take this faith and live it in a practical and holistic way in every moment of our lives.
Thank you to the Schoenstatt Girls who have set the example for all of us.