I have been reading Like a Bridge by
Frs. Duffy and Girard, and my attention was caught by the idea of 'creative
fidelity'(p.103) in reference to the original vision and spirituality of Fr
Colin. From the same book I was also drawn to reflect on some familiar and
distinctive images associated with the Marist family:
a tree with its branches (pp.62-64)
a barque (small sailing ship)
the Virgin Mary wearing a mantle
The Marist ideal of men and women,
religious and lay, old and young working together in the mission of the
Church for the whole world (cor unum et anima una) inspired me. Somehow that
original vision has connected with a vocation and commitment to follow
Christ as his first disciple did. Devotion to Our Lady and relating to her
example of discipleship would apply to many people. In that sense one could
have the Marist spirit but not be involved in the Society of Mary in any
way. So I would like to pose a general question about Marist vocation: what
is distinctive, attractive, motivating about it? My concern here is more to
do with purpose.
It must be feasible to make links
between the present day and the original Marist communities, their mission
and the first pioneers who went out into the unknown of their own time. More
than that the founders drew on the example of the first Christian
communities which were dynamic, evangelistic, acting on Our Lord's command
to push the boat out into deeper waters. How may this be translated into
contemporary mission? How may the vision of exploring new ways of being in
Both mission and community were
implicit in the theme of the 2007 Swanwick Conference: the role of Marists
in a new Church. In his conclusion Fr Jan Hulshof said "A new Church for
today should be a more true and sincere Church, more communion focussed and
participatory……The way we support each other affects
directly the nature of our Marist mission, the work of Mary."
I imagine the spirituality of these
twin themes could be communicated in three basic and interrelated ways:
consider the intention of living in
an eco- responsible way following the natural cycle of the seasons in
work, prayer and recreation, as the daily liturgical cycle reflects the
supernatural life of the Risen Christ.
be committed to the whole spectrum
of spiritual nurture in the Church's network of relationships, with a
special concern for the poor of the earth.
be a sjgn of faith, hope and love,
"a bridge to souls" in the work of reconciliation, gathering the people
of God together.
A simple sustainable lifestyle goes
hand in hand with authentic compassionate relationships with others, with
all creation: A kind of eco-discipleship? And what we call reconciliation
has very wide implications: personal integrity, family breakdown, Church
unity, interfaith relations, justice and peace, global environmental issues,
equal opportunities... there isn't much that doesn't come under this mantle.
Anyone who attended Marist Day at
Walsingham in July will have heard in the homily a challenge to look afresh
at the Marist project else it will surely decline. How are we then to live
as a new radical community and mission church in the spirit of Mary? A
community doesn't mean every member living in the same household but there
has to be a clear intention to share a meaningful way of life, a common life
in relationship. Living more closely with others isn't easy; to allow
ourselves to be known more intimately calls for deep humility, endless
forgiveness and starting afresh, a willingness to re-negotiate relationships
creatively. This is no less than the work of reconciliation, the interior
growth into freedom of the children of God.
It is an often observed fact that
people in the Marist Way are mostly older! Could the branches of the Marist
family work together on a project with a focus on young adults, particularly
the 20's/30's age range who are often seeking new direction and meaning.
This would be a long-term venture that evolves over time (and may change
significantly) but the more varied the work the more we need a variety of
people of all ages and skills and interests to give support and help. The
idea behind this is not necessarily to develop a young Marist thing, but to
encourage and promote Marist spirituality generally by actively involving
people of any age and status who would like to explore the rich Christian
tradition in different ways .
I would like to find out more and to
hear from anyone who feels motivated to respond with ideas and dialogue.
Communications to Jane Luker, Council for the Marist Way.
Anyone wishing to contact Jane should e-mail
All correspondence will be forwarded to Jane
Like a Bridge. The People