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3 August

Marist Calendar - August

The International Assembly listens to children and young people



The true situation of children, adolescents and young people in the world today

08/09/2007: Brazil

Today, 4 September, was set aside to listen to the children and young people of our world. Dilma Alves, a member of the preparatory commission, linked the presentation of the musical group Lata Viva, who told us of the sadness that afflicts children and young people of our world, with the reality that has been experienced by all of the members of the assembly as educators in touch with children and young people.

Dilma pointed out that the harshness of the life of the young, reflected in the music, ends in festivity when the dancers invited the whole public to be united with them and dance too. But the reality is not so happy. The very children who have taken part in the musical do not have an assured future. And there are many other painful stories that we do not know about. That it why it seemed to us necessary to stop and confront the reality of today’s children and young people, and listen to what God wishes to say to the Marist Institute through their perspective. The atmosphere that has prevailed during this whole day has been one of reflection, contemplation and listening so that we may be touched by God’s message spoken through stifled voices or cries of silence.

This morning’s prayer was an invitation to open the doors of our heart and welcome the sadnesses and joys of life through the faces of boys and girls who remind each one of us of the children and young people of Marist educational works all over the world. By means of quotations taken from the document The Marist Educational Mission the assembly has been urged to express what these faces have meant for them.

Questions for the groups

The groups addressed these questions: What recognitions and feelings were provoked in you by the presentation of the Brazilian boys and girls? Of all that we have heard and seen, what is it that touches me most closely? What is the position of the Marist Institute in the face of this reality? What can we do to change all this?

Responses came in the way of a song: “Open your house. Open your two arms. Open the path to your heart.” Some in the way graffiti slogans: “I need you. I want to listen to you. I need you… I need your life to touch mine. Come with me! I need a model to keep as a reference point. What is my place in this world?”

In groups, the participants shared their own experience with the presentation of the young people as their starting point. For some groups this was a prayer; their ideas brought to mind the experience that each educator recognised among young people: limited possibilities, immigration, drugs, abandonment, lack of affection and guidance, family crises, the absence of God.

That helped us to hear the clamour of the young people who were challenging us. What can we do to heal the hearts of so many children and young people? At this moment we were invited to leave behind our houses and structures to find ourselves among the young.

A reflection from the heart

During the afternoon the members of the assembly revisited the graphic designs and the symbols presented by the groups in the morning, together with the messages of the group Lata viva and reflected personally in this way: Think of a child or a young person who has changed your life. How can you thank God for this gift? Think of a child or a young person who you have mentioned by name this morning in your group. What do you think are God’s plans for him when he is 25 years old? The questions were accompanied by some verses of Kendrike.

There was a time set aside for a long moment listening in silence to what God was saying to each one in his heart.

The day ended in a celebration

The contemplative process helped us to bring a conclusion to the day in the Eucharist. Making use of each phrase, each song, each graphic, and each photo, quotation or bodily expression produced by the groups, a beautiful offering was set in place around the altar, a gift of the whole Assembly.

Images of the day

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