*creative fidelity *

by Jane Luker of the Marist Way Council



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)

a bridge

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 community unfold?

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:





  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

August 2008

Anyone wishing to contact Jane should e-mail webmaster@maristway.org 

All correspondence will be forwarded to Jane

Like a Bridge. The People of God and the Work of Mary. Laurence Duffy and Charles Girard

Rome 1994

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