The Right Reverend Brian Thomas McGee. Bishop of Argyll and the Isles

Welcome as we celebrate the Founding Day of Schoenstatt while we also commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of the Schoenstatt Father and Founder, Fr Josef Kentenich.


Today is Mission Sunday. In every Catholic community throughout the entire world we are united in praying for the success of the Missions. Traditionally Missionary activity was at the forefront of the Church’s life. However, in our modern world is missionary zeal necessary anymore?


The world has shrunk, it is now global. We ourselves travel to countries we would never have thought possible in our childhood and marvel at new cultures. Some protest that introducing Christianity undermines pre-existing and flourishing cultures. Likewise, many people have recently migrated to Scotland making it their new home. Many practice different faiths. We know these people as good neighbours, friends and work colleagues, decent human beings. Are they not doing fine without Christianity? Furthermore, we also live in a society that emphasises inclusiveness. How often have we heard it said that all religions are the same? Does it really matter which religion we belong to since it is the same God who hears our prayers? Is it so important to convert people from other Faiths today, especially if God loves everyone equally? How does claiming a prominence for Christianity square with due respect for others? It is easy to see why today some question the Church’s missionary emphasis.


It is important to always remember that Jesus is not just a religious leader like any other one. Jesus Christ is God! As Christians we believe that, at the Incarnation, God took on human flesh. Jesus came to reconcile a fallen humanity with God and with each other. Through his perfect love revealed on the Cross Jesus forgave our sin. Through his glorious Resurrection Jesus reopened heaven for us. Jesus Christ alone is our Redeemer. No other religious leader has redeemed us. Humanity has an absolute need of Christ.


Our Readings at Mass today teach of Christ’s unique importance. In the Gospel Jesus described himself as the humble servant who would give his life to redeem many. The First Reading reflects that God’s desire – our salvation – would be achieved by his Suffering Servant, whom we recognise as Christ. Meanwhile, knowing that we are loved so deeply by Jesus, the Second Reading encourages us, although we are sinners, to confidently approach God since God is Mercy.


There is no doubt that goodness is to be found in other Faiths. Their adherents are sincere people genuinely searching for God. However, it is also true that Jesus Christ is the fullness of God’s revelation. Without Christ there is always incompleteness.


Do not people everywhere have the right to learn that they are loved perfectly by God? To know that I have been created by God precisely to live with him forever gives meaning to my life. Don’t we want to share this with others? Surely it is incumbent on the Church to share this hope with everyone, everywhere. Christ has shown us way to live. We cannot forget that the last words of Jesus on earth were ‘go out to the ends of the earth, baptise people and teach them all my commandments.’


The Church’s very nature is to be missionary. As we know there are many challenges facing the Church today, most of them, self-inflicted. A weakened Church cannot be as effective as it should be. The whole world suffers because of that. I have been convinced for a long time that the Church, and each member within it, needs to deepen spiritually – to be truly holy. By true holiness I don’t mean people who simply say lots of prayers and look sanctimonious. No, authentic holiness comes when we spend time with God discerning his Will and then putting it into practice. At our recent Ad Limina meeting with Pope Francis, he explained that he was going to ask every Catholic to pray the Rosary followed by the prayer to St Michael each day during October. For Pope Francis we are in a spiritual battle and so we need to draw closer to God. Not, of course, that this is a new problem – it has always been so. This is why in 1914 the Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt was founded in Germany to spiritually renew the Catholic Church.


Schoenstatt operates at many levels – for priests, sisters, laity and especially working with families and the youth. Through spiritual formation, especially looking through the eyes of Mary, Schoenstatt encourages people to come closer to Christ – yes, for their own benefit but also that then they will be empowered to witness to Christ thus transforming the world by Christ’s values. In this way the work of Schoenstatt is missionary.


A number of years ago I participated in a Vocations pilgrimage to Krakow. We visited the Divine Mercy Sanctuary as well as many places associated with Saint Pope John Paul II. We also visited Auschwitz and other sites associated with the Nazi and Communist eras. It struck me that between the two World Wars, when such evil was brewing and about to be unleashed in Poland and beyond. There in Krakow God was at work in the lives of Faustina and Karol Wojtyla. Both, in the way God had planned, recalled a broken world to God’s mercy and his ways. Likewise, just as the horror of World War I was beginning, God was inspiring Fr Kentenich to begin Schoenstatt and a spiritual renewal of Catholics. Throughout the Church’s history, in her dark moments, God faithfully raises up great saints of renewal. I have a friend who often remarks that the Church needs another Teresa of Avila. But I now think – why wait for someone else? Is not God calling meto holiness, youto holiness? The deeper we each respond to God’s love, the more the Church will be purified and her sanctity shine out for all to benefit from.


Today I thank the sisters and the wider community here at Schoenstatt in Campsie Glen for your contribution to the renewing of the Church spiritually. This enables Catholics to become more faithful to Christ and so increasingly missionary. I also want to thank all our families and people who are here today and all those who visit the shrine. I pray that by your involvement with Schoenstatt you will come closer to Christ and so continue the Church’s missionary work.