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18 September

Saint Joseph of Cupertino

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The spirituality of St Marcellin Champagnat



Marist educational community of Athens

16/04/2009: Greece

Could Marist spirituality help us in our mission as Christian educators? That was the question discussed on 7 February 2009 during a day of reflection in Athens organised by the Formation Team of Marist Schools in Greece. Brothers and lay persons, members of the educational communities of our two schools, the high school Léonin in Patissia and the high school of N. Smyrni, 300 participants in round figures, we came together to work on our Marist spirituality, our mission, and our commitments. Divided into groups for reflection, each participant had to present a paragraph or two from the book “Water from the Rock”. Our objective was clear: to reflect, deepen our understanding of the spirituality, give our impressions on the essential ideas and points discovered and share them with others. A preliminary reading of the book was considered necessary. In fact, its content helped us to better appreciate Marist spirituality in our way of life today, in our relations with our colleagues and our pupils and especially in our relationship with our Creator.

The reading and the commentaries of a large number of articles allowed us to reflect about the characteristics of our spiritual life, to experience the love and presence of God which reinforces the conviction that we are seized by God in all our experiences, that our daily prayer has its source in life and leads us back to life, that through prayer we bring our whole being before the Lord. As well, we approached the subject of confidence in God, since our relationship with God is our daily source of spiritual dynamism. We insisted likewise on our concern for making Jesus known and loved by going through Mary. We also reflected on family spirit, for, thanks to this spirit, deep bonds are woven between people and affection and love develop in our mutual relationships. We reflected once more on the meaning and role of simplicity: we must be sincere and open persons in our relationships, so that we respect one another and show interest in one another. Our reflection was also brought to bear on respect for nature. In fact, we must preserve and protect our environment to promote harmony between humanity and nature, so as to arrive at the Creator. We should, however, emphasize that it is especially the “signs of the times” which allow us to discover the real needs of the youth of today, which ought to be our principal concern.

By means of this study, we realized that the Marial and apostolic spirituality inherited from Saint Marcellin and developed by the Brothers is ceaselessly renewed by the action of the Holy Spirit as well as by our personal and community efforts. We all live the charism in common. Our task consists, therefore, in incarnating it in the various situations. Guided always by the Brothers and following their example in the service of the young, especially of the most needy, we are all invited to live and promote the same mission. But in order to be able to put this mission to account, we have to be united and have simple relations among ourselves. This unity and simplicity constitute crucial elements for the vitality of our lives and mission. The Brothers have shown us the way; we lay people have to follow it. First of all, we have to have a good knowledge of ourselves. Then, our hearts should be filled with love for others. We must learn to give ourselves to others, to help people who are in need of help, our students in difficulties, the elderly, the sick, the lonely, and the marginalised. We must also be able to ask for forgiveness and to offer it willingly to all. Love and forgiveness, support and mutual assistance, respect and openness to others are going to provide the driving force of our actions. In this way we will be at peace with ourselves and with others and our image will resemble the image of God. That is when we can transmit Marist spirituality to others. That is when we can open ways for the young and help them to realize their dreams and their vision, assist them to discover the meaning of their lives.

At the end of this day of reflection, all the participants shared a meal together in the family spirit which governs relations among all the members of the Marist educational community.

Antoniou Anastasie-Florence

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