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Time of crisis, time of solidarity – A reflection

25/02/2012: General House

Crisis! There is talk only of crisis! Even the fine projects of a young couple or the expectation of a baby contribute in our days to creating agitation. No one feels prepared, no one is ready to do one thing or another, for no one has trained us to face up to the unpredictable.

We have just celebrated Christmas. Perhaps only a dim memory of it remains, but Christmas had a clear, strong, unpredictable meaning: Today a Saviorborn to you!That is to say, a Hope in the face of our fear: there has to be someone strong enough to take on our lives, to give meaning to our times and help us to catch a glimpse of a light… « The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light », said the prophet Isaiah… Some poor people of the period, the shepherds of Bethlehem, believed in it and set out to discover the mystery of « the child lying in a manger ». How useful it would be for us, today, to learn the shepherd’s calling, we who are town people, of well-being, of consumption; people who have, or had, everything, and who continue to hunger and thirst for more… The task of the shepherd: to watch, guard, go in search, take care… To learn the trade of caring for someone: for the family, the mystery of life, the little ones, for those around us, for those we discover as « neighbor ». The Apostle Paul recommended Christians who held him close to their heart to « increase and abound in love of one another and of others  ». Let us make our own this invitation, even using other words: to decide to be in solidarity, to not become closed in on ourselves; less private egoism and more public courage!

In the story of the Marist Brothers, there is something of this courage. Here are two examples: before 1968 the brothers were nearly 10,000 occupied with some 200,000 children and young people. Then came the crisis… Today, the Brothers are about 3,500, but they have learned to share their mission and educational style with many others: nearly 50,000 people work in Marist structures, thus reaching more than half a   million children and youth in 80 countries. They work professionally, and with passion, especially among the little and most marginalized.

Another example: FMSI (Marist International Solidarity Foundation).

Thanks to this publicly recognized organization, the Institute can establish relations with other non-profit Institutions, present projects, look for new resources for the works serving the most destitute. A central office in Rome is in charge of these relations and attempts to co-ordinate the Marists organizations of solidarity. But there is, above all, an office in Geneva whose mission is to take initiatives for the defense of the rights of children. A new fieldin whichno one wasexpert. However, after a period of apprenticeship with Franciscans International, FMSI has already obtained consultative status with ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council), allowing it to take part in UNO sessions which examine human rights, in particular children’s rights in each of the 193 Member States. The Marist mission does not consist only of being good Christian educators, but also of being engaged in « advocacy » (denunciation – control – promotion) with the competent organs, that is to say, actively participating in civil society which can and should influence State policies.

Crisis is not a synonym for death. When one is courageous, one realizes that new life is being reborn. Let us, then, in

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Mario Meuti, FMS
FMSI - Director- Rome Office
http://www.fmsi-onlus.org/

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