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A Mass of the Marist world

 

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Listening to the word of God incarnate in the Marist regions of the world

10/09/2009: General House

The letters written by each Marist region took centre stage today in the chapter hall. Those organizing the work of the Chapter set aside the whole of the day for the reading and study of the message they contain. The day’s dynamic was conceived like a celebration of the eucharist. It began in the chapter hall in the early morning and finished in the evening at the altar in the main chapel. The first part of the Eucharist is centred on the Word of God. The assembly, likewise, began the morning reflection by listening to the word of God incarnated in the realities of the Marist regions, as expressed in the letters of each region. A text had been chosen from each letter which contained the essence of its contributions and proposals. The four screens in the room displayed the maps of the regions, showing the places of the Marist mission and the presence of brothers and lay Marists.
The Gospel of the Annunciation supplied light and motivation for the capitulants by suggesting Mary’s attitude was what God was proposing to the Institute.

The second phase was one of internal work and prayer in response to the question: “What is the letter from my region saying to me, in the context of the other letters, and the General Council report, about the Institute as a whole?” This time of personal work concluded with the capitulants coming together in new groups, constituted by the seven regions together with the General Council and the lay people, to share the results of their personal reflections.

During the first afternoon session, the capitulants shared around their tables what each had discovered in the letters from the other regions. The arrangement of the tables, occupied by the same persons since the beginning, allowed each one to share his/her feelings after reading the letters from each region in the context of the other regions. In this way, the reflection the whole Chapter was making on the contributions sent from each region was beginning to take on a social character. This dynamic concluded with an open forum, in which those members of the assembly who wished could express, before all, their feelings about what they had reflected on up to the present.

The personal reactions expressed by the capitulants pointed to what is essential, viz. newness of heart. What is needed is to leave behind the old hearts for an old world and make way for new hearts for a new world. This is what the Superior General meant in his circulars when he spoke of a revolution of the heart. It remains open to the invitation to take the risky way of faith in order to respond to the deep calls of the heart.

In the second session, the capitulants had time to make more explicit their personal dispositions faced with the call God is making to the Institute at this time. The dynamic proposed to bring to the surface what was in the heart consisted in writing a personal letter, placing before the Lord the feelings and attitudes moving within. The offertory of the Mass will be the solemn moment for presenting these letters as the offering of the whole chapter community.

The mass continued in the main chapel with the solemn offering prepared during the day. In the centre of the chapel, a lotus blossom slowly opened its petals, sign of opening to the life and light of the new sun, in oriental thinking. On the inside of the petals was visible the Marist logo used for the beatification of the brother martyrs of Spain, and in the centre of the flower the logo of the Chapter. The extended petals formed a large tray on which the capitulants placed the letters written during the day. Marist sanctity, represented by the blood of the martyrs, has watered the seeds of new life in the Institute sown in the hearts of brothers and laity. Thus concluded the Mass of the Marist world.

Today it was announced that the Marist Fathers, also holding a general chapter in Rome, have elected a new Superior General. He is Fr. John Hannan, former Provincial of the Province of Europe. For more information, contact www.smchap2009.org.

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