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Meeting of a group of brothers and lay people of Catalonia : week-end at Les Avellanes

15/04/2009: General House

The week-end of 21 and 22 March, eleven lay people and ten brothers from Catalonia found themselves at Les Avellanes (Lérida – Spain), for a sharing in depth on the ways of living their personal vocations as Christians and as Marists.

It is several years now since a group of brothers and lay persons started a process of joint reflection: commission of shared mission, group of co-ordination for lay people meeting on a local level, general meetings, International Marist Mission Assembly, etc. ... In most of these areas the need to further clarify the subject of the laity has become more evident: the specific nature of the latter, the relation with the charism, and many other aspects it is necessary to study more closely, little by little, in communion with what is lived on the level of the Institute.

Apart from these aspects, the aim of the experience of the week-end was above all to live in the joy which is already an evident reality; the charism of Marcellin Champagnat has spread in the hearts of many persons – brothers and laity – as much in Catalonia as in the other parts of the world. For some it is a discovery, for others a becoming aware, indeed a waking up! In the course of this week-end we put aside the projects and reflections about the theme. We shared… life, each one starting from his/her own experience.

The brothers and laity who took part in this week-end live their daily lives in the reality of different missions, in accord with their choices and their personal states of life: teachers, parents of pupils, former students, married, single, brothers… On Saturday we shared – from the heart and face to face – our own Marist history; and on Sunday, each one’s real link – and dream – with the charism. There were long periods of sharing (laity with brothers, laity with laity, brothers with brothers), some personal time for interiorization and spaces for celebration all together.

In brief, it was a privileged time, a true gift for those who had the chance to experience it, a new landmark on the road we are walking together.

We would like to express our gratitude to the people who made this experience possible, to thank those who took part for their availability, without forgetting those who, for whatever reason, were not able to be with us.

Below we offer the testimony of Joan Puig-Pey: a report coming from the heart.

Seduced, I am lost in Miguel’s transparent gaze. In his light I have seen the light reflected. In coming closer to his heart, I have heard the echo of the Voice which called him one day from a little village of Franja and led him as far as Les Avellanes. Miquel speaks and Cecilia moves her lips in silence, thus confessing the truth she is hearing.

I am watching Jaume. With a slow step he has laid down the «Effata» - Open yourself – at Mary’s feet. He walks like a child, still dazzled by the experience of Quito; he communicates the emotion and the steadiness of one who has seen the arrival of new times.

There is life here… Without words, letting the silence speak, without writing any document, without drawing up high-sounding programmes…, we listen to the beatings of our hearts.

What is the colour of Benito’s eyes? What is the cadence of Pilar’s voice when she is singing? How do Núria and Mercè breathe, when they discover, even here, the vital breath of Marcellin?

What a smile and what complicity, Xavi’s and Joan’s, when they realize that behind their daily routine – doing and undoing – there are two hearts loving and in company because they know themselves loved ! How does Joan envisage his future mission, linked with the charism and another type of service?

So many questions and answers taking all their meaning from the closeness, the intimate encounter, heart to heart, of things impossible to explain. «Come and see!»

«Oh! how good it is, how pleasant, when brethren dwell as one!» we say at the end of one of these days. What emotion, though almost imperceptible, in Pep’s voice when he invites us to contemplate and share our Christian and Marist vocation! «Take your shoes off, for you stand on holy ground» The Voice tells Moses. Les Avellanes, holy ground…

Ramon does not sing with his guitar, he prays. Dolors delineates a second youth … Church, People of God. Marcellin’s charism, a gift offered also to lay people.

If a humble flower – the lily of the field – gives glory to God and He clothes it, will He do less for us? The Marist charism is not a dream, it is the action of the Spirit, incarnate and shared with Manel, Rogelio, Pere, Josep Maria, Sergi, Isidoro… A life and words ratified in the «flesh» of Cecilio, the doyen of our gathering.

At a time when one model of Church is dying, or when some would like to see us linked to institutions and to structures more than to the creative and free work of the Spirit, Jordi tries to make a forecast. And he sees only a radiant sun! «A sun which comes from on high», which pushes us towards living our Christianity, our spirituality and our mission in the Marist way. Lay people and brothers searching for and opening common spaces of quality.

Our room is a rosery. Twenty-one silent lives which, in an infinitely tender way, in opening up and projecting round about, stream from their interior spaces towards the light of day. Lives living from a common centre, called to possess nothing, to give themselves generously, petal by petal, all the time keeping their own perfume. A rosery of today, the legacy of the brothers who have gone before us.

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