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A day with Water from the Rock

 

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Novitiate of Matola

08/09/2009: Mozambique

The vision of our spirituality presented in « Water from the Rock » is very beautiful. It is a vision addressed to all Marcellin’s disciples! We had the good fortune of being the first, at the novitiate of Matola, to have a retreat based on this document, in November 2007. The Year of Spirituality provided an opportunity to present this book in the numerous places of the Marist world: retreats and seminars, meetings and discussions with students, teachers, postulants, novices, lay people and Brothers. And we also had the grace of being the last to close this Year of Spirituality, thanks to the goodwill of the Religious Life Commission which, once more, has sent us today (30/07/09) one of its messengers. Thank you very much. We were the very first to drink at this spring of our spirituality, and today we are the last to quench our thirst at it. We regard ourselves almost as a group privileged out of all the Institute!

The animator begins with an example well known to us all, whom he personally admires, to illustrate Marist spirituality: « Brother Basilio was a mystic and a spiritual man». And he continues: « Would we not need more Basilios to give us hope and make us vibrate with the depth and the beauty of our spirituality? And to present to a world in need of it, in a convincing fashion, this extraordinary value which Champagnat and the first Brothers have left us? ». The animator himself gives the answer: « Yes, but on one condition: to become mystics and spiritual men. In this sense, Basilio can show us the way. »

The mystic lives in intimacy with the Lord

We listened and we had exchanges with the animator, and we had the feeling that his words were true; at the same time, they constituted a great challenge. What does it mean « to be a mystic »? What does it mean « to be a spiritual man »? We were able to find out, with the help of some references from « Water from the Rock », that a mystic and a spiritual man is one who « plunges» into Jesus, who nourishes himself with his Word and his Body, who is capable of spending long hours in intimacy with the Lord. It is in this intimacy that our apostolate finds the source of its strength. Because the mystic does not separate himself from the world. On the contrary, he goes out to it with all the transforming power of the Gospel. We understood better, then, the often-repeated affirmation: our spirituality is apostolic. It is apostolic because, like the apostles, full of the Spirit of God (mystics, in fact) and with his power, we make God present in the world and we offer the world to God. This power conducted the apostles to the four corners of the world to proclaim Jesus, to make him known and loved. We are at the heart of our spirituality.

What is interesting is that the Spirit leads us in this double direction: intimacy with Jesus (mysticism) and apostolic work (apostolate). In other words: prayer leads to the apostolate and the apostolate is made fruitful by prayer. Here again, Basilio has been an example for us all: he was a man who deeply loved the Church, a man who dreamed of opening up the Congregation to the modern world in order to better respond to its needs. But if he dreamed thus, it was because of his profound faith, his limitless hope, his faithful love. In short, he was a mystic who knew how to create harmony where there were divisions, tensions, violence and conflicts. The power to do that, he found in God, in the long hours he spent in prayer in His presence.

Mystics in action

Unfortunately, I was not able to pursue this interesting dialogue between the animator and the assembly, with Brother Basilio as back-drop. Some poor people (regular visitors to the novitiate!) were knocking at the door, asking for a little flour and some fish. I lost the thread of the remaining dialogue. But I think I was in train of putting into practice what I had just heard: a spirituality directed towards the poorest. So would that make me a mystic, too? I think so, because I was in the process of living the value of solidarity, so well presented in Chapter 4 of our document.
I thought then that « Water from the Rock » is a challenge for all Brothers and lay Marists. A challenge which goes beyond the Year of Spirituality. Thanks to that year, or inspired by it, we become « mystics in action » or « apostles because mystics».

A word of thanks to Brother Peter Rodney and his Commission for the work achieved in the course of the Year of Spirituality. Our novitiate wishes to gain the maximum profit from all you have given us. And we will not forget the animator’s invitation: « to become mystics like Basilio, for the world of today». And here in Mozambique, we have much need of men of such breadth.
May God, Mary, and Champagnat continue to aid you in your work of formation and in all that you do to make us familiar with our spirituality. May they always keep you in good health.

__________________
Brother Simeon Banda (formator) and Brother Joseph Daka (novice)
Matola, Mozambique, 10 August 2009

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