On March 1 at lunch, Father Colin told us, “Gentlemen, let us remain small. I say that so that no one will ever think of changing our way of doing things.” (By this I think Father meant our way of doing everything in an unassuming way). “This is the only way to do good, being small. The Society is called to do an enormous amount of good. It must be faithful to its vocation. To be small, ‘hidden and unknown’, the times call for that, we must accommodate ourselves to our times.”
– The Mayet Memoirs
But what precisely was Mary’s way of being in the midst of the new-born Church? Hidden and unknown. That is the key formula.
The further I go, the more I am struck by the fact that Colin puts himself, and invites Marists to put themselves, in the shoes, in the skin of the other.
– Gaston Lessard, sm
Painting and canvas
If we look at a painting that has been produced on canvas, it is the painting we look at. The artist signs his name in the corner of the painting. No one knows who made the canvas, yet without the canvas there could be no painting.
Let us suppose that the canvas and the picture were two persons. Someone would come along and speak to the “picture-person” but would not even look at the “canvas-person”.
Suppose the “canvas person” were to speak up and say, “How about me?” The admiring person would probably react this way and say, “Thank you for the picture.” He would realise that the painting and the canvas formed a unit.
– Brother Andrew, sm
The Marist, in a certain sense, is like the man in a prompt box. What matters is the stage. On it you have theactors,thevariousprotagonistsplayingthedrama, and you have also someone that nobody sees, that nobody knows is in the prompt box. The prompt is there only to suggest at the last moment if the actor does not remember, or does not say what he is supposed to say, and he makes the dialogue easier. But nobody will look at him; and if he happened to go onto the stage himself he would spoil the drama. That in a certain sense is the Marist — the Marist in the prompt box only to help others, to help the soul and God to dialogue together.
Jean Coste, sm
One of my most unforgettable lessons about the Marist spirit was given to me by someone whom I thought I was teaching! I was giving a Retreat to some high school girls, and I was trying to explain how Marists model themselves on Mary, and how Mary related to Jesus. I used the image of the oil-burning lamps, and I explained how in the lamp there is the wick which burns the flame, and there is a glass covering to protect the light. The light shines through the glass, and if the glass is clean, people never even notice it is there. They see only the light. If the glass is covered with soot or other impurities, people notice the glass, not the flame. I explained that Mary was like the clean glass round the light. Peoplesaw right through her, as it were, to Christ. A girl put up her hand and asked me, “Is that why you are called Marist?” I didn’t know what she was getting at and could not follow her line of thought. “Well,” she said, “it’s easy. The word ‘Marist’ is composed of the first three letters of Mary’s name, and the last three letters of Christ’s name. You may begin by looking at Mary, but you always end up looking at Christ.” I was reduced to silence.
The place of meeting
The principal concern of Marists is to prepare the meeting place between God and the soul. They do this especially by being sensitive to all obstacles which they themselves place to such a meeting, and also to the obstacles placed by our modern culture. They over-come the obstacle which is themselves by striving for hiddenness, by getting out of the way, and trusting that God will speak to a soul. They become acquainted with the obstacles placed by modern culture because they strive with great sensitivity to understand the deepest longings of modern men and women. They try not to criticise but to encourage, coax, beseech, and take all the means possible to help bring people into contact with their God. Like Mary of the Visitation, at Cana, and at the foot of the Cross, Marists are concerned about the place of meeting.
Albert Di lanni, sm