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Carolina Vargas Godoy - Chile, Santiago


Marist Province Santa María de los AndesPersonal experiences

Who has been able to make me passionate about the Marist world that I came to know at the age of 16?

The magic of community experiences of feasts. Singing with five hundred young people at the top of our voices, encouraged by about twenty brothers, enthusiastic, full of gifts, it was impossible that that would leave my heart and that of many others indifferent.

Their paths are never dead ends. Their thoughts have the brilliance of peace.”

In looking at my “experience founded on the Marist character”, I recognise the following elements that are important and attractive for my age:

They gave me:
• The joy of living which is encountered in the common life. Then came the catechesis. The first thing was the first thing, the testimony of happy consecrated people.
• The commitment and the vitality that they showed in what they did. Today it would be called “the commitment in the mission”. They were full of enthusiasm in their task of encouraging us and bringing us closer to Jesus.

They enthused me by:
• The originality and the intensity with which they led us to Jesus. Writing that gives me goose bumps and moves me nearly to tears… they were Marists passionate about the person of Jesus.
• The simplicity and quality of their relationships. They made us feel that we were not strangers and that we were not a bother to them in their places, we were more than a human resource for accomplishing a task, they wanted to live an experience of shared mission with us.

They delighted me by:
• The assurance and the confidence that they put in the group. Above all, everything that I did was received positively, “we were fulfilling the hopes of the mission” and this sensation gave comfort, commitment and enthusiasm to a young and uncertain heart in search of something.

As it is impossible to summarise thirty years of life in two pages, I want to share with you three events which helped to consolidate my relationships with what is Marist, increased my commitment to the work, developed my faith and encouraged my apostolate. It is the concrete encounter with three religious, and the specific teachings that they gave me.

God will provide, Carola

I want to share that in remembering the habit of learning to entrust myself to the Lord. “God will provide, Carola,” the brother in charge of the group of catechists for First Holy Communion used to say to me, all of that in a semi-rural sector where we used to go on Saturday afternoons. I was so often a witness, surprised by this generous presence of God, that the only thing left for me to do was to believe! What was the Lord waiting for? Rich things for our common life! That needs a young heart, that is committed in life… When everything seems to say that we were going to lack… it remained for us to gather several dishes that we were sharing. This Marist sowed by a smile beautiful things that my eyes have seen, nothing less and nothing more than confidence in Providence which gives me freely the goods that my heart desires in order to be happy: peace, love, simplicity and more confidence in his Person and in his ways.

Let me only make my life right and simple, like a reed flute, so that you can fill it with music”

I was also a witness and student of an experience of availability to the Lord and to his plans, of commitment in Mission, unconditional abandonment, of listening to his Voice and his way of following it. I recall that I invited this religious friend to accompany me in my competitions in college. He could not attend but he sent a letter with a thought of R. Tagore with which I started this beautiful chapter of my Marist life and inside the fraternal explanation of his absence… “He had already promised a brother who was travelling and he could not go back on his word.” Nothing more and that was sufficient. From him I learnt something of service, of gift without limits, unquestionable commitment to the Will of God. And in everything he always made me feel that the Lord and his tasks for the Kingdom came first. This brother led me on the small terrain of total gift to the Lord. I thank him for being a voice of God that called me. Listening to him speak of the Lord touched my soul; today, still, it is a fresh and enthusiastic voice.

Christ needs you to love

And there is installed in my heart, in a definitive way, a great Marist religious who had a great effect on me, because he made me feel that Christ needed me.
With him we sing:
No matter the race and the colour of the skin,
Love them all as brothers and do them good.
To the one who suffers and the one who is sad, give them love,
To the one who is humble and to the one who is poor, give them love,
To the one who lives near to you, give him love
To the one who comes from afar, give him love
To the one who speaks another language, give him love,
To the one who thinks differently, give him love
To the friend of always, give him love and to the one who does not greet you, give him love.

This brother is a gift from God and from Marcellin and today I continue to receive from him teachings of fidelity according to his orientation. I appreciate many traits about him and now I am stressing his “corporate” spirit, his are his brothers and the fidelity to work and to the calls that the Lord makes through his superiors. He has passionately taught me to discover “that the universe is a partition where each creature defines its impact with love,” that the Lord is in the streets, in the tumults of the simple, all chosen by God, one to one. Christ was present in the open dining rooms of the Franciscan parish, in Limache, in the difficult times of Chile and Chileans, he is in the one who was cleaning the cars outside his house. Through him, I have been able to recognise God present and happy in the popular feasts. I am careful of seeking the first places for those who have received the least in this life. From this brother I have received a lot of friendship; that has been an experience and a space in which everything is possible for the one who wants to exercise the right to fraternity.

My current life: I am there. I accompany, I try to encourage, I focus on the experience of Apostolic Spirituality. I try to discover the steps of the Lord in what one lives, I wonder, I question myself, I value, I quieten myself, I try to understand. My current purest joys come to me from pastoral animation.

With a lot of emotion I can say that my experience as a lay Marist is a journey without turning back. I do not have the time nor do I want to return to past years, to recognise the gifts received from affection and from formation, to reject the memories left by the brothers and laypeople of enthusiastic and generous heart. I carry all that, without any weight, in my personal backpack.

I think that we laypeople are in the radius of action of the Holy Spirit and that he announces also his pathways by our voices; that was said to me by the simple Brother Benito Arbués, I continue to believe the message.
I hope that Mary continues to do everything for us who love her Son.

Carolina Vargas Godoy, Santiago, Chili
Marist Province Santa María de los Andes