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Marist Bulletin - Number 309

 

Year of Spirituality - Water from the Rock
27/09/2007

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The “Year of Spirituality” will take place from October 7, 2007 to October 2008.

What exactly does ”Year of Spirituality” mean?

Let me answer by quoting the reasons for which the Year of Spirituality was set up.
* To deepen the Marial and apostolic dimensions of Marist spirituality.
* To live Marist spirituality more fervently and to make it better known and loved.
* To follow up on the 20th General Chapter’s appeal which asked of the Brothers and those associated with the Brothers to center their lives upon Jesus Christ.
* To set up spiritual formation structures which could continue beyond the year 2008.
* To provide a structure which facilitates a ready understanding of the document Water from the Rock, so as to make the document efficacious for the Institute.

Such a five-pronged project will constitute an ongoing invitation to deeper self-conversion making us, ever more, men and women of God, in accord with Marist spirituality flowing in the tradition of Marcellin Champagnat (sub-title of Water from the Rock).

We start from the last point, i.e. we must spread knowledge of the document Water from the Rock, especially in its experiential dimension. “Know so as to love,” says the ancient theological maxim. The maxim’s inverse is also true, “Love so as to know.” Here we confront a demanding challenge. The point is not simply to read the document and thereafter consign it to the library. The issue is rather to acquire a loving knowledge of the document and so be inspired to spread its message in the Marist world. Essentially: to live the spirituality of the document and, in turn, to witness to it. Only in such a way will the Marist charisma be fruitful.

Going upwards on the list, the fourth objective speaks of setting up structures of spiritual formation, structures that will go beyond the year 2008. We herewith make an appeal for the taking of initiatives: to gather suggestions, to think creatively of activities, to work up plans, initiating such activities without waiting for all the details to be pondered and given to us by others. On the official web page, a space will be set aside for sharing with others the beneficial results that will arise in this regard.

The third object aims at reanimating the 20th General Chapter’s « old » directive that invited us to center our lives upon Jesus Christ: “to make ourselves Christ” as the Fathers of the Church put it. Such a conception appears slightly anachronistic, yet it is of eminent contemporary importance. The phrase sums up the Gospel invitation: Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect (Mt. 5:48).

This brings us to the second objective: to live Marist spirituality more fervently and to make it better known and loved. If we make the spirituality a part of ourselves, if we are enthusiastic about it, we will also be effective in transmitting it. The weight of years may sometimes make it rather difficult to preserve the joy and enthusiasm we knew when we were younger. Perhaps the Year of Spirituality will help us rediscover the affection we had in our early years for the charism which Marcellin contributed to the Church. The Year of Spirituality might be an outstanding chance to enter once again into intimate relationship with God, as was true in the case of Israel (Hosea 2:16-17), becoming thereby the “light of the nations” (Isaiah 49:6).

And so we arrive at the first point. We can be credible messengers only if we deepen our Marist spirituality, Marial and apostolic as it is. “No one can give what one does not possess.” In a similar way, we cannot bear witness to what we do not live. The Year of Spirituality is an invitation to a coherent way of living. We cannot be Marists in name only, whether as Brother or lay person. We need to renew our Marist way of being in accord with the way Marcellin lived. Saint Paul would speak of putting off the “former person” and becoming a “new person” (Col. 3:5-17). The document Water from the Rock invites us to drink from the fountain, to quench our own thirst and then to give the water of this fountain to others, doing so with the enthusiasm of those who are unable to keep such a treasure only for themselves. In such a way did Mary herself act.

Brother Teofilo Minga
Secretary, Religious Life Commission

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