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A family sanctity

 

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Ten years on from the Canonization (IV)

08/04/2009: General House

John Paul II, evoking the Marist martyrs of the mid-XX century, is right in saying that the way opened by Marcellin in the world and in the Church is a way of sanctity. And when it is a question of a founder, it is often a question of a family sanctity. The first brothers flew at the height set by Marcellin : Stanislas, Laurent, Louis, Jean Pierre, Jean Baptiste, Bonaventure, Antoine, Marie Nizier… and the young Gabriel Rivat, who after Marcellin was going to take over the helm of the Institute. A saint is like a mountain chain with numerous peaks ; it is rare that one peak stands alone. The sanctity which takes its source from Marcellin is renewed down through the generations of brothers. All Provinces have known luminous Brothers who have allowed us to see the identity bestowed on us by the Spirit : friends, educators, and announcers of Christ to young generations and true sons of the Church. We have chosen reference points such as Br. Alfano and Br. Basilio whom we have known and who lived through all our problems in the enthusiasm of faith. But Marist sanctity has flourished especially in martyrdom, in Oceania, in China, in Spain, in Africa: more than 200 martyrs, 47 of them beatified on 28 October 2007. When one becomes acquainted with them, one admires them : they gave their life for Christ when they had every possibility of escaping martyrdom had they valued their lives more than the love of the Lord. On the contrary, in the tempest they organized « a Church of the catacombs », assuring clandestine Masses, the Eucharist for prisoners or for the brothers dispersed, the sacrament of reconciliation in the streets, the accompaniment and brotherhood helping people to stand fast. And the rosary filling their long hours of imprisonment.

Today we are the ones walking this way of Marist sanctity. Marcellin and all the Brothers who have gone before us tell us : « To become a Brother is to commit oneself to becoming a saint. » This Marist sanctity, which the Spirit made germinate in the heart and life of Saint Marcellin, continues today in all the Brothers and lay Marists who remain educators of the young, witnesses of Christ for all who are looking for meaning in life. They are all like Marcellin at Saint Peter’s : « upon their shoulders they carry the young, as fathers do their children ; for educating is a matter of loving. Saint Marcellin is the one who said that. They carry on their shoulders the future which searches the furthest horizons. » A child who learns to smile again is a miracle. In our family it is as common as daisies in spring. Marist sanctity today shows the tip of its iceberg in the Brothers setting out on mission, and they are not all young. These missionaries have had as pioneers, at the beginning, the Fathers, Brothers, and Sisters who left for Oceania, among them Saint Peter Chanel and Br. Marie Nizier. But more recent pioneers have been Brs. Etienne Rwesa, Henri Vergès, Chris Mannion, Servando, Miguel Angel, Fernando, Julio… All departed for the missions at risk, even to the shedding of blood.

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Br. Giovanni Bigotto

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