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19/03/2013: Australia


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Dear Brothers, Colleagues and Friends
The gestures have been telling and, I suspect, quite deliberate. But his words even more so. Pope Francis continues to capture and to intrigue the media's interest, as they look eagerly for some visual that will be suitable for the front page of the paper or some ten-second grab for the evening news. Less reported have been his words – or at least the substance of his serious words.

In his very first homily, the day after the election, the Holy Father reminded his scarlet-clad concelebrants of the inconvenient truth that the essence of discipleship of Jesus was to be found in the Cross. Without Jesus, and without the Cross, he told them, the Church becomes little more than a humanitarian NGO.

When we walk without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we confess Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord: we are worldly; we might be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord.

It is interesting to compare this to the spirituality of our early Marists. The writings of Brothers François and JeanBaptiste brim with the same basic spiritual intuition – something that each of them would have no doubt learned from Marcellin. François, for example, challenged his Brothers with these words in describing those who were most authentically Marian: "Where among us are the truly poor in spirit, the truly humble of heart, the true lovers of the Cross of Jesus Christ?" He came back again and again to three favourite verses of Scripture:

Lk.9:23 Then he said to all, "If anyone wishesto come afterme, hemust deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
Mt.10:38 Whoever does nottake up his cross and follow afterme is not worthy ofme
Gal.6:14 We glory in nothing save the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ

The work of art that later this year we will place in the Chapel at the Marist Centre Melbourne is a powerful piece painted by Australian iconograper Michael Galovic. It is on the Stabat Mater theme. Mary stood by the Cross. The words of Pope Francis could well accompany it:

I would like that everyone ... should have the courage, truly the courage, to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the cross of the Lord; to build up the Church upon the blood of the Lord that was shed upon the cross; and to confessthe only glory: Christ crucified.And in thisway the Church will move forward.

As we move into Holy Week next week and the celebration of the Easter Triduum, let us dwell deeply on its mystery, and what that mean for each of us: to take up the Cross.
Nisi Dominus

Brother Michael Green fms

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