Do we hesitate?

A Certain Way

A Certain Way coverChapter Six: On the fringe (13 MB)

On the fringe (1 MB)

Do we hesitate (1.3 MB)

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When Etienne Terraillon told his story of the meetings of the seminarians who discussed the Marist project at the Major Seminary of Lyon in 1815, he wrote: “We used those meetings to inflame our zeal, at times with the thought that we had the happiness of being the first children of Mary, and at times with the thought of the great needs of the people.”

In his own way, Terraillon was pinpointing the same two striking convictions that other contemporaries had remarked on in the early days of the Marist project.

In the first place, the together by a sense of destiny. Teraillon described it as a conviction that they were “the first children of Mary”.

The pioneer Marists understood that their congregation was the first religious congregation in the history of the Church that bore the name of Mary. For them, this was the momentof destiny,the moment of history when Mary wished a religious congregation to bear her name and to do her work in the Church. The pioneer Marists felt caught up in the energy of this conviction. It was a moment of history for them, who had been called and chosen to be part of something new for their times.

Coupled with that sense of destiny was a sense of urgency, as they thought of “the great needs of the people”. This too was a great source of energy as Marists realized that time could well be running out for the world, and that it was their special and uniquetask to bring the spirit of Mary into a world which lacked it and desperately needed it.

This sense of destiny and sense of urgency are both contained in two major symbols of Marist origins: the missions of Oceania and the missions in the Bugey area. The Bugey and Oceania stand for:

  • the people to whom they should feel instinctively drawn
  • the hardships they should be prepared to accept for the sakeof their mission,
  • the mobility, flexibility and inner freedom which they need in order to act as missionaries.

The archives of the early years of Marist history are full of stories of the heroic lives of pioneer Marists who left everything forever in order to bring the message of peace and reconciliation to others. The very witness of their lives is a silent and powerful question to each Marist today: “Do you hesitate?”

The Mayet Memoirs

Father Colin said: “Look at the apostles: they sold everything. Jesus Christ called them to follow him only to use them in hard work. They did not hesitate. When we know the one who is calling us, when we know¬†I that God is everywhere with us, what then should we fear?

To obtain God’s blessing on our ministry, let us pray the blessed Virgin to guide us in all things. Let us say to her, ‘Blessed Virgin, show me the will of your divine Son.’ Having done that, let us have no more fear, even if we had to die as a witness to our faith.”

– April 1842

Missionary vocation

Mary totally focussed on the coming of God, Jesus going round the towns and villages of Judea and moved with compassion at the sight of the crowds’ who were harried and dejected: these are the images that nourish Colin’s meditation on the missionary vocation of Marists. The missionary experience of Colin and of the first Marists gives this meditation a context which is more concrete, more defined, more rooted in time and place….

If we want to hear Colin clearly when he tells Marists that their vocation is to go from place to place, we have to ensure that this expression evokes for us the sorts of things that it evoked for him: Jesus going through the villages and towns of Judea, Mary focussing all her desires on the coming of God in Jesus, the happiness of the woman who finds the lost coin. It is from that stand point also that we can understand from within how Colin perceived the demands of this missionary vocation….Poor, free from temporal administration, ready to go anywhere: that’s how Colin sees Marists.

– Gaston Lessard, sm

Time to strike camp

The point is that Colin characterises the age not as the age of Satan, but as the age of Mary; not as an age of sin, but as an age of grace. It is not a time to pitch camp in the desert and rue the harshness of the environment, but a time to strike camp and set out for the promised land; not a time to bemoan the loss of faith, but a time to “recreate the faith of the first believers”; not a time to take refuge under Mary’s mantleas though returningto a womb of safety, but a time to assist at a new birth of the Church. Colin’s reading of the signs are positive, creative, Gospel-inspired: where sin is abounding, grace abounds even more.

– Edwin Keel, sm

Time is short

All my experiences and encounters in third world countries fill me with the worrisome conviction that timeisshort.Do we christians not hesitate too much and too long? Do we not plan too far ahead and do we not play it safe too much? Is it not true that too easily we choose the beaten and safe paths and that we lose courage too quickly whenever it is a matter of trying something new and of taking risks? I do not mean here to plead for absurd panicking. But if it is true that Scripture calls us to decipher the signs of the times, then that means also, in my opinion, that today we need to appreciate how little time we have left and be ready to act quickly.

– Pedro Arrupe, sj

Time for action

One thing is certain for me: the day when all this stops being for Marists a wish, a word, or a problem, and becomes a commitment to identify ourselves with the mission of the Church – the day when we are poor and forgotten, making our own the cause of the poor and the abandoned – then we will have discovered the meaning and richness of the Spirit of the Society and of her Mission. On that day we will have torn down the barriers which have been hiding our identity and have been crippling so many efforts.

– Bernard Ryan, sm

Marist Missionary Sisters’ Constitutions

Attentive to the calls of the church and the world, we try to respond creatively in any form of active service, according to the missionary charism of the congregation, concerned only that the Gospel be proclaimed.

– Constitution 18