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Marist Bulletin - Number 220


Third Age Course - Manziana - August to October, 2005

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On August 10th 20 of us - 17 Marist and 3 Marianist Brothers - came together in Manziana, Italy to take part in a Third-Age Spirituality Course.
When youve been on a road for a long time and dont sit down to reflect on where youve come from and where you are now, and to check a map to see where youre headed, you risk wavering in your resolve, wondering what the journey is all about, and wasting precious time - all the more invaluable because its slowly running out. Yet youre wary of looking ahead, afraid that maybe rough roads and tough times await you. Quite honestly thats the way several of us felt when we received an invitation to participate in this Third-Age program.
What follows, responses to questions that were given to several of us, will likely show that this was the case, while revealing what we experienced during this time of grace that the Lord and the Congregation bestowed on us.

What did you think of the group, the atmosphere that developed, and the way that everyone related to one another?
Brother 1: The age range in our group was from 63 to 81. Even though we came from 10 different Provinces, I felt the group was very united. Without a doubt the dynamics used at the beginning of the program, and after that the admirable goodwill of all, helped bring this about.
Brother 2: Overall I think this was a good experience, in both what we might call lively small groups and the group as a whole. There were times perhaps when the groups composure was tested a bit by differing opinions (in my view, a peccata minuta). Community outings helped, as well as household tasks done in small groups: cleaning up after meals, preparing liturgical celebrations, etc. I believe we all did our best to live the little virtues so Marist and Marianist. It bothers me that we may have lost a little something from being over-eager to use computers.
Brother 3: I would highlight the value of an extraordinary community, in an atmosphere of creative prayer and brotherly concern for one another. I sum it all up in these brief verses.
An intercongregational COMMUNITY
One composed of MARISTS, a jovial CAPUCHIN, and three MARIANISTS, too.
This Spirituality Course has been a gift from God; an unrivaled blessing for the Third Age.
Two months of peace, concord, conviviality, fraternity, meditation, and humor every day,
plus creative ways of praying.

Do you think the topics discussed were adapted to your needs? Were they well presented? Which one(s) do you think will be most beneficial for you in the future?
Brother 4: The presentations I liked the most were: The future of Religious Life; Spirituality in general, and the interior life; Marist Apostolic Spirituality; and the Psychology and spirituality of the Third Age. They were dealt with in depth, in a lively and interesting way, using good technology; Br. Diamantino Duque put together several of these presentations.
Brother 5: Whats most important is that the topics we looked into came not just from the presenters material but from our personal experiences. I was really impressed, e.g., by the simplicity and depth of Br. Giovanni Bigottos presentation on Mary, by the Psychology and Third Age Spirituality presentation of Br. Onorino Rota, and the presentation given by Br. David Aranda about my personal Salvation History .
Brother 6: Without a doubt the most exciting thing for me and many in our group was our stay at the Hermitage. We felt the presence of our beloved Father/Founder as Br. Alain Délorme guided us on our visit to all the Marist places and gave us interesting talks about them. Marcellin became a giant in my life.

The trips you took to places outside of Manziana - did you see them as being worthwhile? Werent you left with the feeling that they may have been a waste of time?
Brother 7: No, it seems to me they complemented the program; besides, they were very interesting and provided an opportunity for us to enjoy our time together. We went to Shrines in honor of the Blessed Virgin on the outskirts of Rome - the Shrine of Divino Amore, of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Genazzano; within Rome, to the Basilicas of Santa Maria Maggiore, Santa Maria degli Angeli, and others dedicated to her Name.
Brother 8: These helped us develop our spiritual life in so far as we were able to turn them into a prayer. Going on these visits with a heart ready to encounter God, we could feel His presence in these holy places.
Brother 9: Orvieto, Viterbo, Assisi, and Subiaco. Because of their importance in the life of the Church - the early days of Monasticism with Saints Benedict and Scholastica, and later the rise of the Mendicant Orders, including the Order of Friars Minor - these were very interesting places in terms of our spiritual life. I can truly say that we turned these journeys into pilgrimages.

The days that everyone spent at the Marist places - did they make a deep impression on the group?
Brother 10: One of the most powerful times in the course was our stay at the Marist places: Le Rosey, La Valla, the Hermitage, and Fourvière. I experienced the living presence of the Lord in the great work of Champagnat and the first Brothers. I came back filled with enthusiasm. The celebrations at the different places were well prepared and very good. The Lord filled these days with tremendous graces for us - the warm welcome, intimate settings, times for prayer and meditation, and wonderful explanations by Br. Alain Délorme. All that remains is to express our profound thanks to God and those who made possible our trip to that part of France.
Brother 11: When you love and cherish someone, then the places where he lived, the things he touched, and the objects he used move you deeply, especially if he is your father. I think this is what happened in our case because this involved our beloved Father/Founder. For example, praying in his room and offering Mass in the Chapter Hall where he had to deal with so many events, sometimes painful ones, (we remember Courveille, the primer for reading, and the bas de drap, etc.) made us feel very close to Marcellin.

What effect do you think this course will have on your life?
Brother 12: We Third Age Brothers cant become stagnant. We need to keep moving ahead - under no circumstances die before our time, i.e., doom ourselves to a passive life that stifles dreams and ambitions. We are living in a golden age provided we know how to recognize and take advantage of it. Ours are the little things to do: sharing the wisdom of our years, welcoming, accentuating the positive, humbly serving others, anticipating their needs, smiling, applauding, congratulating, and above all, praying for our Brothers.
A final thought to sum up what this Course has meant for you.
Brother 13: I never thought it possible that you could achieve living an intimate and rewarding personal experience in such a short period of time. Drawing encouragement from the same ideal and determined to face a new and exciting future, we have shared our lives as Marists and Marianists, filled with joy and faithful to our charism for loving Mary as Jesus loved her.
Brother 14: This time has been so palatable for all of us that I dont hesitate to urge my brothers to welcome such an opportunity whenever its offered - and if they are 65 or older and havent yet received an invitation, that they apply for one. Its best not to put things off.

To conclude all this, the only thing left for us to do is to THANK God, Mary, and our Congregation that through the mediation of our Superiors shows its concern for our ongoing formation.

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