The Mayet Memoirs
Father Colin said to us:
“Each century has its sickness. In the past there was faith but the heart was sick; now the malady has risen to the head. We live in a century of pride, of madness. We must cure this spirit by our simplicity, by our humility. In the pulpit let us not seem domineering, or else we shall alienate people. Man is more jealous than ever of his freedom, and his independence.”
“The human race appears to me today to be like an old stump, one whose roots have been eaten into by a worm.”
“It is necessary to instruct, to present the truths of religion, to preach doctrine, but it must be done with great tact. Ours is a difficult age: so, no innuendo or acid remarks. “
“…. In these days we are on top of a volcano, a volcano of all the passions. People have eyes and do not see, ears and do not hear. Themost absurd errors pass for truths. Well, it is in the midst of this century that the blessed Virgin shows herself.”
– Notes taken between 1845 and 1849
Colin could not have sketched the modern world better: it is jealous of its freedom and its independence. Mary’s intervention was to guide the Church through this new crisis, a Society doing what the Jesuits had done, but in the way Mary herself had been present in the apostolic Church: hidden and unknown.This new Church, a Marian-type Church, prepared to strip itself of its rights, its glory and its privileges, for the sake of the Word. A Church, and apostles, so unassuming, so devoid of ambition and thirst for prestige and recognition, that nothing will stand in the way of the Word itself being heard.
Jan Snijders, sm
In 1985 a symposium of the Bishops of Europe was held inRome. Pope John Paul II spoke of the need for a new evangelization of Europe, a new approach to this re-evangelization, and of a special type of missionary who would be needed for this task. Here is part of what he said on that occasion:
“This man (of the modern world) who would like to be so adult, mature and free is also a man who flees from freedom in order to settle down into conformism, a man who suffers from loneliness, is plagued by various disturbances of the soul, seeks to get rid of death, and experiences a frightening loss of hope. This is the Europe and this is the man that we are called to evangelize today. New and immense tasks a wait and solicitus,but at the same time great possibilities and vivid expectations open up before us.
The work of evangelization is called to propose a new creative synthesis between Gospel and life.
The Church is called to give a soul to modern society … and the Church must infuse this soul, not from above and outside, but penetrate within, making herself close to modern man. Thus an active presence and an intense participation in man’s life is essential.
For this sublime mission aimed at the flowering of a new age of evangelization in Europe, evangelizers with a special preparation are required today. There is a need for heralds of the Gospel who are experts in humanity, who have a profound knowledge of the heart of present-day man, participating in his joys and hopes, anguish and sadness, and who are at the same time contemplatives in love with God. For this we need new saints.”
Into the desert
We often use the word “desert” to describe an experience when one’s life is brought into radical question, when things which were normally together seem to come apart. Those who survive these “desert” experiences emerge as more authentic and compassionate people. This was Jesus’ experience as He struggled against the great illusions of greed, pride and power. Marists are invited to make the same journey with Jesus and Mary. Taking a stand against these crippling forces will enable Marists to become free people, “useful instruments” of God’s mercy, and compassionate neighbours to their brothers and sisters.
Later in his life, when Father Colin spoke about the sort of people he was looking for to be Marists, his criteria were clear. From his experience of the early Marist days, he was convinced that what was necessary to become a Marist was not great talent, or learning, or even great sanctity. What he wanted was people who could be “useful instruments”of God’s mercy. And what made people “useful” in the eyes of Colin?
- their interests: “let them seek only the interests of Jesus and Mary.”
- their freedom: “let them be ready to fly anywhere for the salvation of souls.’
- their point of reference: “let us put on Christ’s feelings for sinners.”
- their vision: “like Mary, whose sole thought was the extension and development of the mystery of the Incarnation.”
- their manner: “we must win souls by submitting to them.”