Two years after having made our covenant of love, and abandoning ourselves to Divine Providence, we were expecting our fifth child. We had just moved to a new home that was removed from our previous church family and not very close to our Schoenstatt friends either. We longed to dedicate our home shrine but were very much struggling with our mission and our name. Providentially, we attended a family group meeting where the priest expounded on the idea of the Cenacle – a term we were not familiar with. Father explained that the Cenacle was the situation that the Apostles found themselves in after Jesus ascended into Heaven. They felt lost, and uncertain of how to proceed, yet they were gathered around Our Blessed Mother in prayer, imploring help. At the coming of the promised Advocate, they found themselves transformed, filled with zeal and ready to step out to offer their lives for Christ.
We felt the Cenacle situation mirrored exactly where we found ourselves as a family at that point in time. We were isolated, feeling alone, a little uncertain of how we were to navigate the consequences of abandonment to God’s will – a larger family with little income – and we were, through our covenant of love, definitely centered around Mary in prayer. And so, we dedicated our home shrine on February 4, 1998, as the Cenacle Home Shrine. Later, a gift of a prayer from a young friend formulated for us the mission, “Where love is genuine, strong, and conquers all things.” And, many years later, again entrusting our growing children to God, as we re-entered secular schooling after ten years of home schooling, we centered our family around the motto, “Contra Torrentum– Against the Torrent!” We can still hear our adult children refer to this motto as they struggle to form their own families in today’s world. The name, the mission, and the motto have come to fruition as we watch our grown children, transformed through the presence of Mary and Jesus in our home shrine and the genuine love that permeates our family, give them the foundation that strengthens them to be firmly Catholic in a society that rejects God.
It’s hard to put into such a short description what our home shrine has meant for our family. The very presence of our Mother and her Son in our family is tangible and real. Upon hearing that we wanted to move the home shrine into the family room with the TV, our twelve-year-old son said, “No! Then I have to be careful what I watch on TV!” We had to address a couple of issues after that statement. We firmly credit our home shrine, and the living shrine, for our children being such good friends with each other today. We frequently hear that they are spending time together as young families, evidence of a genuine love. Our prayer life is centered in our home shrine where the heart of our Mother reaches out to capture each one in their unique personality to serve her Son. We have been transformed and our children have been formed in the presence of Love – the third person of the Holy Trinity. Strengthened and changed by that Love, together with Mary, we continue to step out of our home shrine to bring Christ into the world.
Brent & Andrea Woolums, Texas Family League, Diocese of Fort Worth