Friday, November 7, 2014

postcard from Chile, #2

On our first day in Chile I learned that the month of November is the month of Mary in this country full of mountains and Catholic churches, which makes a lot of sense since November is here the season transitioning from Spring to Summer--the equivalent of the month of May for us.

Everything is blooming in the capital city of Santiago!

At the church near the hotel where I've been going to daily Mass, la Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepción, the statue of Mary was moved in the past couple of days. I first saw it in what must be its regular spot on the side aisle of the church:

but today the statue of Mary holding Jesus was in a prominent place of honor,  to the right of the main altar and surrounded by white lilies that filled the church with an exquisite aroma:

Isn't she beautiful? 

When our daughter Anamaría studied here, she introduced our family to Schoenstatt, a Catholic Marian movement founded 100 years ago in Germany [for more info click here] by taking us to Mass at what was then a tent (a big tent, but a tent nevertheless!) where they were planning to build a large Marian church as part of the Sanctuary.  

Today, in Anamaría's honor, and guided by dear friend Rachel Gardner who is a member of the Schoenstatt community who splits her time between Austin and here--I was able to visit and pray at their beautiful chapel. 

I feel like I'm on a retreat! Although it's a retreat full of good food and daily wine... 

"Everything about my specific reality is part of God’s divine and merciful plan to show me that he is already with me. God is the path itself. Just as something transforms a trip into a pilgrimage and a tourist into a pilgrim, the awareness that God is The Longing transforms my life-quest from mere self-knowledge into a true pilgrimage.  In the words of the German philosopher Meister Eckhart, "No man desires anything so eagerly as God desires to bring  men to the knowledge of Himself.  God is always ready, but we are very unready.  God is near us, but we are far from Him.   God is within, and we are without.  God is friendly--we are estranged,” he said. “Whoever seeks truth seeks God, whether he knows it or not."

This is what it means to have a pilgrim heart. It begins with self-knowledge. It demands a constant awareness that God is already with us. It is nourished by the sacraments and by daily prayer. It is focused on our inner journey home, to the God already living within us. It is a conscious decision to call our daily journey a pilgrimage, whether we never leave our living room or we travel physically across the ocean to a remote destination."