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“Hermitage” experience - 8 laity 4 Brothers

30/05/2012: General House - Photo gallery

On 16 May, a group of laity and brothers of the General Administration travelled to L’Hermitage with the objective of deepening their knowledge of Saint Marcellin, and better understanding his person and Marist spirituality. Since the experience, the group has felt that walking, touching, smelling, feeling these places is a little like the  experience recorded in Mk 9:2 “on a high mountain, in a place apart, themselves alone”. I have also to mention that in these places one breathes in the presence of Mary in images, memories... The group recognizes that now it is our turn to follow the Marian attitude of: “preserving all these things in her heart”. (Lk 2:51)

The five days of our stay at L’Hermitage were times full of meetings, visits, walks, prayers and, above all, discovering the spirituality which pervades the Marist places. It has been a unique opportunity to touch the Marist charism at its roots, to know where the ideal and dream of Saint Marcellin was born, to see how St Marcellin made a step towards the humanization announced by Jesus of Nazareth (the Kingdom of God). As well, the group found very clear, from the beginning, that there each one encountered what he/she had previously carried in the heart.

I have to say that in the evaluation it was mentioned that there had been no times of strong emotion, but we felt the joy of being together, of savouring each event, each visit, each encounter, each smile… and all under the sign of nature. “How good it is and sweet when brothers live as one” (Psalm 133). In any relationship, there is first the sharing of the normality of life and then a deeper sharing of what one is. Things cannot be forced. A symbol of this the “table” of the house at La Valla,  this table made us feel the simplicity and the being together, as natural as the meal with a friend and feeling that something floods your heart and makes you feel special, different, in communion.

Special mention has to be made of the marvelous welcome on the part of the Communities of L’Hermitage, La Valla and Rosey.

If someone asks what was the most significant experience for the group, I would say personally, listening to the majority, “the walking”. Yes, the walking, as in life itself. During those days we travelled many kilometres on foot, pure and hard tramping:  Marlhes – Le Rosey, La Valla – L’Hermitage, Maisonnettes – L’Hermitage, Le Rosey – L’Hermitage.  The contact with nature, with one’s travelling companion, times of walking alone, help one to encounter oneself, others, and the “the most basic Foundation of reality” (God).

I would like to underline the day of the Champagnat Trail. I bore with them the effort shared to walk the 32 kilometres among the hills. Hope and spirit did not falter throughout the journey. The various personal rhythms combined in the rhythm of the group. A day to connect with the “Champagnat” experience (the journey he made to these places in fulfillment of his priestly ministry…); “nine hours walking” would mean nothing to one who was full of apostolic zeal. Neither effort or time pose any difficulty for the human group looking towards the same horizon and walking with the same hope of arriving. This experience of walking, between stones and water, climbing up and down, was an opportunity to feel the joy of a goal achieved, with the joy being multiplied for having reached the end in company with the others.

Another significant experience, outside the Marist places, was to conclude our pilgrimage with Sunday liturgy at Taizé, a place where many different languages can be heard and the most different cultures combine in welcoming thousands of young people each week. There the creeds become one and the text of Luke in the Acts of the Apostles 2: 17 is fulfilled:

“…I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
And your sons and daughters will prophecy;
your young people will see visions…”

In the simplicity of this Marist pilgrimage, I wish to add that it was a lovely experience of laity and brothers, very much in harmony with the spirit of the new relationship of these times. For a few days we could share the joy of being together, our own faith, the family situation, projects for the future, the problems of work, the food preferred or the use of free time. But the experience introduces into the new ways appearing in our Institute, where it is possible to talk about sharing the Marist charism, of journeying together in the complementarity of vocations, of feeling that we realize with others that a Church of communion is possible.

Br Pedro Sánchez de León - Secretary General

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