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Second European Assembly of the Marist Mission



Day 3, April 15 - The day of Mystic

18/04/2015: France - Photo gallery
Mission Assembly- Nairobi 2014

15 April was a clear day of intense heat in these lands. It was more like a summer day than of spring. In the setting of our Assembly it was also a day of "intense heat". The day was devoted to the theme MYSTICS. Almost everywhere I have heard very simple exclamations. But in their brevity they were saying almost all: "An amazing day!". "What creativity and what depth!" "This is a like dream!." "Daring creativity!" "I never imagined such a thing!". "This is great!" These statements and similar ones I have heard them walking down from La Valla (where we spent the whole afternoon of the day) to L'Hermitage. It seems to be exaggerated, but it is not: they correspond to reality. I would say the same thing: "What a beautiful day, just extraordinary!"

The day being the day devote to mystics, was, from the morning call to love, a call to fall in love of God's love; and from there to fall in love with the people and with the things. A text from Father Pedro Arrupe gave the kick-out in the Morning Prayer: "Nothing is more practical than finding God ... Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." After the core of the prayer curiously was a piece of modeling clay. God himself modeled the human person, made from clay. In the act of modeling us in such way God is expressing his love for us. And our own act of modeling must also be a reflection of that love. What have the groups modeled? They could model only symbols showing God’s love for us, symbols that are pointing out to communion. Three out of the seven groups in their modeling they present a heart, the best well known symbol of love. With some variants: one is a heart of hearts; another one, a heart made with the image of people; another one was designed as a puzzle where the different "pieces" fit perfectly. In any case, we find ourselves in the presence of love which generates communion. An heart open to the infinite possibilities of love.

The other symbols, in different shapes were not away from this symbolism: the dove, the traditional symbol of peace. With so many wars around us we can understand that true peace can only be the fruit of love between individuals and peoples. A love that entails, obviously, justice, freedom, and respect for others: it was what we could hear in the explanation of the group. Another group presented as symbol an anchor: it is the traditional symbol of hope. But it was an anchor attached to a chain made of circular links connected together among them: it is in communion, in love, in the strength coming from community that we are called to witness to God’s love for the world. In a different way, but to say the same, another group built a "casteller" to use the Catalan word to express through the different circles made by people who are superimposed. To tell us once again that the individual searching for God gains a greater strength when it is done in communion. The shape of circles, which we could at the modeled figures, was showing, according to the explanations of the authors the dimension of interiority, of intimacy with God to which we are called by any kind of mystics.

Then, without going into great theoretical reflections both some ideas and some questions appeared in the dialogues and in the reflections.

  • There is a thirst for mysticism: do we feel this thirst? The famous passage of the Samaritan who asks for water helps us in this reflection.
  •  Mystics call for a profound encounter with God. How do I find God? And from this encounter how do I bring God to others, to mankind, also thirsty for God and spirituality, perhaps without knowing it?
  • How will people recognize me as a mystic? There may be several paths of recognition. Mary is a unique example that can and should inspire all Marists. Should we not show to the world the Marian face of the Church?
  • ·What might be some attitudes of we might see in a mystic? Once more Mary can inspire our attitudes; she can be an example for us. There is a prayer-reflection to Mary: "the woman of listening", "the woman of decision", "and the woman of action". However, other attitudes could have been used: "the woman who welcomes the Spirit"; "the woman who exalts and praises God"; "the woman who finds her place in the Church-communion"; "the woman who silently meditates on the Word"; "the woman for whom the ways to be followed are the ways of God"; "the woman attentive to both God and people"; "the Eucharistic woman". For all of these reasons, Mary is a safe path to mysticism. To walk with her is to enter the heart of God. Mysticism  is no other thing than this: to enter  God’s heart and thus become "deified people," in order to be better equipped to "deify" the world.

In the morning before our "tour" at La Valla, where we would spend the whole afternoon (another article  will cover the activities of the afternoon at La Valla), the seven groups, in a dynamic called "THIRST FOR SPIRITUALITY," shared some elements that could well be elements of a "Marist mysticism," if we can express ourselves in this way. There were many common elements in the sharing of the seven groups, which is quite normal: were not the all participants journeying on a common base, which is Marist spirituality and mission?

To summarize the rich sharing I will leave only the words that the groups wrote on ribbons of different colors. These ribbons were then left adjacent to the drawings from morning prayer, completing in this way the frame and the painting. They are the elements of "Marist mysticism" which I spoke about earlier: the experience of God; to live with emotion and depth; to promote the "culture of encounter"; builders of communion; maternal love; bringing into light, which means to "give birth"; incarnated spirituality; to create spaces of prayer; to live with joy, enthusiasm and consistency; a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood; to set out; to dream God's future.

Brigitte Riedmeier, of the Province of West Central Europe, shared with me when we were coming down from La Valla: "This is my first visit to La Valla; all the prayers led me to discover more fully who I am before God; God is a God who welcomes me in love. I sensed here the presence of so many Marist generations who prayed in these places. La Valla is a place of prayer; the whole environment is conducive to live mysticism in a very Marist way".

Thus ended the first part of the day dedicated to mysticism. The second in La Valla would continue with the same creativity and the same richness, now guided by both the experience and the wisdom of the courageous community of L'Hermitage.

Mission Assembly- Nairobi 2014

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