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Newsletter Province Southern Africa


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01/04/2014: Malawi


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1 April 2014
Dear Brothers and friends,

I hope you’ve tried some of the exercises on compassion that I suggested in last month’s Newsletter to help you become an even more compassionate person. If you have not yet done so, there are still a few weeks left before Easter. This month I would like to write about ‘heartburn’ - the good heartburn, the kind you should be looking for, the kind of thing that sets your heart on fire. If you find those things you will be on the road to a healthy spirituality. So what gives you “heartburn”?

Easter is 20 days away we are half-way through Lent. At one of the Easter masses, the reading is from St Luke’s Gospel: the story about the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. As you know, they suffered the good ‘heartburn’. The two men witnessed their leader, who was going to change the world being executed in a most humiliating way. They were in the depths of despair. The dream was over. They are on their way to Emmaus. Actually there is nothing in Emmaus. They just want to get out of town as fast as they can. They want to escape the pain of Jerusalem.

On their way to Emmaus they come across a stranger. Their despair has troubled their minds and they do not recognise the Lord. Jesus listens to their tale of woe and he challenges them to see things differently. He helps them through the Scripture. They only recognise him once he breaks bread with them. Note  their first word were, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road” (Luke 24:32). They had heartburn. The kind of heartburn we all should desire.

So to the question! What gives you ‘heartburn’? What sparks a fire in your heart? If you are able to answer these questions, you’ll know where your spirituality is going. In his book “The Holy Longing”, Ronald Rolheiser writes, “What we do with that fire, how we channel it, is our spirituality.” Spirituality, in other words,  is about the fire we have inside of us.
In our busy lives we can so easily become indifferent to spiritual lives. As Marists one of the pillars for us is ‘hard work’ and at times this pillar dominates our way of thinking and we can forget  spiritual  life,  prayer  and relationships

with our fellow human beings and with creation. We may be very active and busy and yet be spiritually indifferent about issues of mercy and justice. Dorothy Sayers a Christian humanist said of this of indifference. The indifferent person “believes in nothing,  cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, loves nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing and remains alive only because there is nothing to die for.” You can see that in this state there is no heartburn – no fire.

Easter is a time for fire. It is a time to fuel the fire within us to become Marist to the full. In my report to the 6th Provincial Chapter I asked these questions of the capitulants. Questions we all need to keep examining and
look at from time to time. The questions are:

  1. What are you in love with?
  2. What seizes your imagination?
  3. What are you passionate about?
  4. What are you enthusiastic about?
  5. Are we afraid of the challenges we have to face?

When I was visiting Angola I saw a T Shirt with bold writing on it saying “100% Marist and Marist until death” (at least that’s how I translated it) I believe it could be true if you really thought deeply about the 5 questions I have challenged you with.

Pope Francis tells us, “Be missionaries of God’s love and tenderness! Be missionaries of God’s mercy, which always forgives us and loves us dearly.”

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