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Second session on Marist spirituality

08/06/2009: General House - Photo gallery

On Friday 29 May, the second meeting on Marist Spirituality took place for the team of lay people working in the General House in Rome. The meeting had as objective to give us a deeper knowledge of the specific features of Marist spirituality, as presented in the document Water from the Rock, authentic guide for the year of spirituality in Marist communities all over the world.

The meeting was introduced with some images from the Course on Marist Spirituality for English- and French-speaking lay people held weeks before at Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux, France. This underlined the importance of lay people for the life of the Marist community, as elements of the same body.

Then we continued with the exposition of the document, accompanied by the explanations of Br. Teofilo on the four chapters. Some fundamental questions introduced each of the chapters. First: What is Marist spirituality? Second: How do I live Marist spirituality? Third: How do we live Marist spirituality? Fourth: Where do I (we) live Marist spirituality?

Speaking of the first chapter, we saw how Marist spirituality is intrinsically connected with the daily life of each one. It is, moreover, an apostolic and Marian spirituality, one of compassion for mankind and passion for God. The characteristics of Marist spirituality are found, in effect, in numbers 16-41: the presence and the love of God; trust in God; the love of Jesus and his Gospel; simplicity; family spirit lived in a Marian way. This first chapter also teaches us that Marists, consecrated and lay, should be the first around the altar, where we celebrate the Eucharist –the presence of God and His Love -; around the cross: in concrete, to be close to the suffering of our brothers and sisters; around the crib: in other words, close to the Child, close to young people of whatever climate or condition.

In the second chapter, we discovered the practices which help us to live this spirituality in everyday life. They are found in numbers 80-87.

After this explanation we had work in groups. We did a thematic reading, looking for some special themes which we come across repeatedly throughout the document and which point us towards a style of life and mission. Some themes are repeated more frequently: spirituality as journey, compassion, tenderness, goodness, welcome, hope, thanksgiving, the balance between action and contemplation.

In particular, we stopped on this last theme –equilibrium between action and contemplation -, considering number 131, where we encounter Mary as the perfect example of equilibrium between these two attitudes: Mary listens to the word (contemplation) and places herself at the service of Elizabeth (action). Annunciation and Visitation constitute a whole.

We passed then to the study of the third chapter, devoted to the relationship with others. We saw the six pillars for journeying in faith as brothers and sisters: 1) the importance of building community; 2) the practice of the little virtues; 3) the eucharist: that is, to make oneself bread for others; 4) to build a Marian Church – welcoming, accepting, loving, on mission-, which shows Mary’s own face; 5) to be brothers and sisters sharing life and mission; 6) the Trinity as example of relationship of love, unity, and communion.

In conclusion, we placed before ourselves chapter IV, with the question: Where to live Marist spirituality in practice? Once more, a list of six instruments served as guide for our action: 1) openness to the calls of the Spirit: mission Ad Gentes and the greater participation of lay men and women will be some of those calls; 2) listening to the cries of the world: What are we hearing? Where are the real situations in which we are called to work? 3) our apostolate as part of God’s project; 4) an apostolate carried out in Mary’s style ; 5) our mission is theological, we are called to be sowers of hope; 6) Mission Ad Gentes: to accept a change of destination and to set out and go where we are more needed, in new contexts.

We saw that the apostolate can develop on various levels, according to the text of Is. 61:1 and Lk. 4:18.

1) To bring good news to the poor: be with them and fight the structures which engender social injustice (social level).
2) To give freedom to the slaves: work for the recognition of the rights of every man and woman (political level).
3) To restore sight to the blind: understand this as an invitation to improve the conditions of life (health, food…) for people (physical level).
4) To heal the broken-hearted: share, console, bear the suffering of the brothers (psychological level).
5) To proclaim the Word of God: announce a God very close who is seeking us, who has delivered himself for us (religious level).

This session, like the one before, was very interesting and there was a good participation. What we want, as laity of the General House, is to share and have a greater understanding of Marist spirituality, so that we feel an integral part of the mission. It will also be a better means of feeling ourselves Marists and expressing ourselves as such in the work we have in the service of the Congregation.

We wish that there may be other meetings of formation in the Marist spiritual tradition and in the mission. These meetings will be able to help us, today and in the future, to draw more living water from the source of Marcellin Champagnat’s tradition. It is worth the effort to continue drinking from “Water from the Rock.”

_______________
Angela, Dorotea and Emanuela.
Rome, 4 June 2009.

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