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Closing of the of the Year of Spirituality

26/11/2008: General House

On November 7, the staff of the Generalate gathered to bring the Year of Spirituality to an official conclusion with a prayer service and dinner. The service was led by Brother Teófilo Minga and unfolded in three stages. The first stage took place in the main chapel; the second, at the main lobby before the statue of Mary; the third, in the Sala Champagnat. Along with the Brothers, the lay people who work at the Generalate also took part. Below you will find some of the texts which were used for the prayer. They might be helpful for your reflection upon the topic of spirituality.




Reflection based on the first Chapter of Water from the Rock
Three kinds of fullness


On Friday, November 7th, the Year of Spirituality came to its conclusion in the presence of the Brothers and laity of the Generalate. The prayer was substantial in length, taking into account as it did each of the chapters, rich in insight, of “Water from the Rock.” From each chapter a symbol was selected and upon the symbol were developed reflection and prayer. The overall theme of the prayer was the commentary of Spanish theologian José Luis Martin upon a phrase of Saint Albert the Great.

Saint Albert, the Great, speaks of three kinds of fullness: the fullness of the glass that retains and does not give; the fullness of the channel that gives and does not retain, and the fullness of the spring that creates, retains and gives. This is a tremendous truth!

Indeed, I have known many receptacle-men. They are people that are devoted to collecting virtues or knowledge: they read everything, they collect titles, they know as much as can be known, but they believe that their task is finished when they have stored up all their goods. They share neither wisdom nor happiness. They have, but they do not share. They retain, but they do not give. They are magnificent, but magnificently sterile. They are simple servants of their selfishness.

I have known channel-men, as well: people who are ever uttering words and more words; people who spend their lives making and re-making the same things; they never reflect upon their knowledge; what enters into them through the ears goes out of them through their mouths without leaving a wellspring of know-ledge within them. They suffer from neurosis of action. They have to make many things and make them very quickly. They believe they are serving others, but sometimes their service is a way of calming their unrestful souls. We find channel-men among journalists, certain apostles, some priests or lay people. They give but they dont retain. And, after giving, they feel empty.

How difficult it is, on the other hand, to find wellspring-men, people that give what belongs to their souls’ very sub-stance, which they share as a bright flame, casting light upon their neighbour without diminishing their own, because they re-create all that they are living and they share all that they have re-created. They give without emptying themselves; they irrigate without fail, and they moisten around themselves without becoming arid. Christ - I think – must have been such a person. He was the unquenchable spring, the water that assuages the thirst for eternal life.

And we, ah!- maybe for us it would be enough, to be just one of those tiny streams descending from the heights of the great mountain the life.

What kind of man/woman am I: receptacle, channel or wellspring?

______________________

Reflection based in the their Chapter
TO BECOME BREAD


Based upon chapter three, the reflection focused on the invitation to both communion and service, an invitation given and exemplified by Jesus. The symbol of TABLE, drawn from the same chapter of WATER FROM THE ROCK, became in our prayer the symbol of BREAD. This call is sounded in an extraordinary way in WATER FROM THE ROCK, especially in chapter three (see 91, 92, 95, 97, 99: the Little Virtues, 101, 102, 104, 107 ...).

John the Evangelist’s account of how Jesus washed the disciples’ feet corresponds, as we know, to the Eucharistic texts of the Synoptics. This means that in Christian life, it is impossible to separate the experience of the Eucharist, (relationship with the Lord) from fraternal service (relationship with people). WATER FROM THE ROCK seizes upon this relationship very correctly in three numbers (see 23, 86, 104): we cannot live the Eucharist if we do not serve our brothers and sisters. In other words, we are invited to live in a Eucharistic way, meaning, in essence, to participate in the sacrifice of Christ and to offer ourselves to the Father for the salvation of the world. In concrete terms such a disposition finds expression when we put into practice in our lives what is stated in number 107, which is an explanation of number 104:

“Based on a common trust in God, we offer our lives in service. In ministry we find ourselves, like Jesus broken open for our brothers and sisters. Truly, we are bread of life for others as Jesus has been for us.

What does ‘to become bread for others’ mean?

It may sound very beautiful, but surely to BECOME BREAD is not at all an easy thing. It means that you can live no longer for yourself alone, but you must live for others as well. It means that no longer can you possess anything as exclusive: not things, nor time, nor talents, nor freedom, nor health. All that is yours is no longer yours alone; it is also of and for others.

It means that we must be entirely available, available “full time.” You can no longer, in any way, object to anything. You cannot gripe if they require some-thing of you, if they bother you, or they call upon you at any time for any thing. It means that you are to show patience and meekness... like the BREAD that allows itself to be kneaded, baked and shared.

It means that, like BREAD you are to be humble, like bread which does not appear on the gourmet plate, but is always present, ready at hand.

It means that you should cultivate tenderness and kindness, because such are the qualities of bread: SOFT to the touch and GOOD. It means that you should always be prepared for sacrifice, like bread that permits itself to be ground.

It means that you must always live with the greatest love, capable of dying in order to give life, as bread does. Allow yourself to be worn down for those who are close to you, allow yourself to be kneaded... for works and service on behalf of your brothers and sisters.

Allow yourself to be baked in the fire of love, the fire of the spirit. In such a way shall you be able to offer yourself to those who are hungry.

Help us, O Lord, TO BE BREAD FOR OTHERS

As You were.

______________________

Reflection based on the fourth Chapter and final part
Called and sent by the Spirit


This chapter is introduced by the well-known biblical text: Lk 4, 18-19 quoting Is 61, 1-2, a text of extraordinary weight when we think of it in apostolic terms. Its contents are, in fact, “apostolic”. The text speaks of the vocation of the prophet, sent by God to proclaim His Kingdom.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord”. (Lk 4, 18-19, cf. Isaiah 61, 1-2).

Isaiah also mentions a kind of psychological element that Luke does not mention so explicitly. The prophet is sent to heal the broken-hearted… and to comfort all who mourn; to place on those who mourn … a diadem instead of ashes”(Isaiah 61, 2-3).

What is, therefore, the apostolate that all Marist people (Brothers and Lay people) are called to do and to which each one is sent by the Spirit of God? Taking into account the element of Isaiah that Luke did not cite explicitly, we can say that the apostolate of Marist people covers ALL dimensions of the human being: from social to religious dimensions, while cutting across as well the political, physical and psychological dimensions.

The different dimensions could be presented in the following way:
1. We are sent to announce the Good News to the poor (social level);
2. We are sent to proclaim liberty to the captives (political level);
3. We are sent to give sight to the blind (physical level);
4. We are sent to comfort all who mourn and to soothe the broken-hearted (psychological level);
5. We are sent to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord (religious level).

It is clear that we will not be able to respond to all these dimensions and to realize all these dreams without the presence of the Spirit of God in us, in the Community and in the Congregation. We started the Year of Spirituality on October 7, 2007, singing the traditional sequence to the Holy Spirit and asking the Spirit’s blessings upon the Year of Spirituality to come.

We are finishing the Year today, November 7, 2008, asking the same Spirit to help us and to conserve within us a growing “spirituality”, e.g., conserving us in God’s love. In fact we may say, “The Year of Spirituality is over; the Year of Spirituality continues in a different way”. In fact, one of the objectives of the Year of Spirituality states clearly: To set in motion formative processes which will continue beyond the actual Year. The Year of Spirituality continues, not so much as a fixed time, but as a grace to welcome and to keep welcoming in our hearts at all times. The Sacred Fire of God opens us to the future.

Let us welcome God’s fire into our lives. I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already! says Jesus (Lk 12, 49). Let us not forget that the baptism of Spirit and fire inaugurated on the first Pentecost day brings two effects. On the one hand it purifies the apostles; and, on the other hand, it extends their apostolate far beyond the borders of Palestine. The Spirit of God always leads us to new horizons of mission, further than we can imagine (cf. Lk 3, 10; at. 2,3-4).

O Sacred Fire, come and blaze. Using my clay mould your new creation.
O Sacred Fire, come and blaze. Bring the world the power of resurrection.
O Sacred Fire, come and blaze. You have the power to create anew.
Dearest Guest, come and blaze, you are Light, Strength, and Salvation.
Out of the depths, O Sacred Fire, come. O Divine Light, come,
Bring our world the power of resurrection.

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