Obviously prayer will have a place at
your meetings. The importantthing to remember is that while vocal
prayers are good and helpful, there is also a need for silence, just
to sit in silence with our loving God. May I recommend that as part of
your prayer at your meetings, you invite everyone to five minutes of
silent prayer and adoration?
Development The main purpose
of your meetings is spiritual development. This is the component that
should occupy the bulk of the time at your meetings. It should be
educational: your members should go away from the meeting feeling they
have learned something. There are many ways to handle this part of the
meeting: guest speakers, the exercises suggested by the formation
leaflets you all have; reading and discussion of something from the
Marist books in your group library (you don't need permission to
photocopy any of the material in those books.) I believe that it is
only if the meetings are interesting, educational, informative, and
spiritually profitable will your membership keep coming. And only if
what you offer at your meetings provides nourishment for people's
spiritual hunger, and shows them how to grow spiritually, will new
members be attracted to join.
Any kind of group activity will require
that some business be discussed from time to time. But it is important
that the business part of your meetings not take up too much time, and
not get bogged down. The business part of the meeting should normally
come after the spiritual development part of the meeting. And it is
best, if whenever possible, your council of officers have discussed
the business beforehand and have clear proposals to make to the group.
The group must be allowed to discuss the proposals freely, and make
decisions freely, but the process must be expedited so that you don't
get bogged down.
There should always be a social
component to your meetings. Spiritual friendship is an important
element of Marist lay life, and this will develop as people get to
know one another. And, most important, guests and new members must be
made to feel at home, made to feel more the center of attention, and
not feel lost on the periphery of the group.
Joy Joy was
the hallmark of Mary's life, a deep spiritual joy underlying even the
dark moments of her life. Joy is the hallmark of being Marist. Joy,
friendliness, hospitality; this is the spirit that should pervade your