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Retreat of the Marist Fraternity of Cesano Maderno Albiate

09/04/2008: Italy

The Marist community of Cesano on March 15th 2008 joined a good number of fraternity members along with some teachers from the schools of Cesano and Binzago for a retreat together. All of the participants had previously attended a course on Marcellin offered by the Province. The day’s activities were led by Brothers Teofilo Minga and Pietro Codato.

The session started with a quick presentation of the principles that guided the editorial Commission of Water from the Rock, from the first drafts of the document to the final layout.

Afterwards, we devoted much more time to the general study of the document, delineating the theme in every chapter and underlining the biblical introduction with which each chapter begins.

In this sense, all the retreat participants were encouraged to discover attentively the biblical dimension of Marist spirituality in their lives. As a matter of fact, the document Water from the Rock presents lectio divina (that is, meditation of the Word of God) as the first practice needed to nourish our spiritual life (See WfR nº 80).

However, in the meeting we lingered over the second chapter so as to deepen our understanding of it in a special manner. The chapter is entitled “We Journey in Faith.” We did so by taking Mary as our guide, since the narrative of the Annunciation encompasses the whole chapter.

We reflected personally upon the great questions that appear in nº 48: “Who am I?”, “What is my life for?”... The example of Mary and Marcellin (See nº 51, nº52) tells us that God also intervenes in our life and calls us to say a daily YES to him, a word to be pronounced in a firm manner.

An important moment was the time dedicated to a personal reading of Chapter 2, whose paragraphs had been divided among four smaller groups so as better to deepen its meaning.

The sharing was particularly rich, a thing that surprised all of us, knowing that we were working with a group which, due to shyness perhaps, is normally not very exuberant when it comes to sharing.

• In the groups we discovered that Marist spirituality is an apostolic spirituality, and therefore we can find God in all circumstances of our life. Section 76 textually says: Our prayer comes from life and it returns to life.
• We also discovered the fundamental dimension of our spirituality through nº 1, as the light that illuminates the whole document, beginning with passion for God and compassion for people. Numbers 69 and 70 represent a good development of this basic principle of Marist spirituality.
• We felt the call to discover mystics as an absolutely necessary element of our spirituality. To put it simply, mystical people are those who live in intimate relation with God.
• A moment was provided to thank the Institute for giving us the document Water from the Rock, together with the deep invitation to live this intimacy in a Marist style following the footsteps of Marcellin Champagnat.
• Finally, we found it stimulating to hear about the practical elements suggested by the document to help us to live Marist spirituality day in and day out. All of the elements are important, but we underlined in a very special way the lectio divina and the Eucharist.
• At the same time we also noticed that, among the practices which the Commis-sion has not specifically raised, one is very meaningful for us Marists, that is, praying the Rosary, although we do recognize that the Marian theme is most evident in the document and that devotion to Mary is present all through Marist history. This is an omission that an eventual new edition of Water from the Rock should somehow amend.

Brother Pietro Codato

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