There are four aspects to the Marist Vision, all of them centre round Mary as a model for the perfect Christian: — Mary at the Incarnation. — Mary at Nazareth. — Mary at Pentecost. — Mary in the Church today and till the end of time. In the previous chapter our reflection was centred round the mystery of Mary at the Incarnation. giving flesh to the Word. This chapter deals with the mystery and significance of Mary at Nazareth. As the years passed. Father Colin turned more and more to this mystery of Nazareth, because in it he
Saw so many of the truly Marist virtues.
At Nazareth, even before the birth of the Church, the fullness of the Kingdom of God existed in the life of a simple family of ordinary people. Two believers gathered around Christ, and their only thought was the will of the Father. In their prayers and moments of silence they were constantly in tune with what He had willed. By inviting us to go often in spirit to Nazareth. Father Colin reminds us of what is essential. The true value of any action is always to he found only by measuring it in the presence of God. It is in this light that we see our own worth, and the worth of actions . Every Marist — lay or religious — tries to view his existence in that light. Humility, self-forgetfulness, poverty, a taste for and a habit of the interior life are to be found in the mystery of Nazareth.
Marists have always laid stress on the mystery of Nazareth for the positive values contained in that mystery. Nazareth teaches us the value of small beginnings. It reminds us that true values lie so often below the surface and hidden to sight. Nazareth also reminds us that true, unclouded judgement can be made only when personal are stripped away, and a person is alone before God.
In reflecting on this mystery of Nazareth. we are confronted with four realities:
1. The positive value of silence and hiddenness. Silence and hiddenness can of course be escapes from living. But when used positively — as a means of being and of growing — they can bring us to the fullness of life. St. Iranaeus's remark that “The Glory of God is man fully alive'' can only find fulfilment here. It is the law of nature, the law of life, that effective growth takes place only in hiddenness and silence: The mighty oak grows from the tiny acorn seed; convictions grow only in silence and reflection; Gods speaks only in silence Even the commercial world recognises the need for silence. An advertisement for 'Hi-Fi” audio equipment pinpoints a very deep theological truth: silence gives you perfect sound.
We in this restless, noisy age need to learn this lesson.
Two extracts from T. S. Eliot are worth thinking of in this context: Where shall the word be found, where will the word Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence. Not on the sea or on the islands, not On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land. For those who walk in darkness Both in the daytime and in the night time The right time and the right place are not here. No place of grace for those who avoid the face. No time to rejoice for those who walk among the noise and deny, the voice …. (Ash Wednesday)
The endless cycle of idea and action, Endless invention, endless experiment, Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness; Knowledge of speech, but not of silence; Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word
Where is the life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? When is the knowledge we have lost in information?
(Choruses from the Rock.)
2. The value of openness to the Holy Spirit. Nazareth teaches us how often the values of God are at variance with the values of man. For man,who measures success by external achievement, the 30 years of silence were a waste, and out of all proportion to the three years of public ministry. But this was God's will, and the mystery of Nazareth teaches us the importance of being open to the Spirit; building God's kingdom, not our own; doing God's will. not our own. Pope Paul describes Mary as the 'attentive Virgin, who receives the word of God with faith . . It was faith that was for her the cause of blessedness ... It was faith with which she meditated upon these events in her heart . . .and listens, accepts, and proclaims the word of God.- The Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier, and Mary's openness to the Holy Spirit was, according to the Fathers and writers of the Church, the cause of her holiness. And this openness to the Spirit was accomplished in the silence and the waiting of the Nazareth years. Marists learn from this lesson that sometimes we have to be content to remain on the sideline, as it were. Our faith vision tells us that this is not fruitless.
3. The value of waiting. Nazareth teaches us another important lesson, the need sometimes to wait. There are a lot of things that ought to be; there are a number of things that are in themselves necessary; but it's not always the right time for everything. Mary teaches as the value of waiting patiently for God to work in his own time. Because a thing is good and holy in itself doesn't mean it has to be done now. To concentrate our energies on a Few things, the things that are urgent, is the basis of the lesson we learn from Nazareth.
4. The need to be real. To be alone before God means that we have to be real before God. Most of us are masters of deception — deception of others. and worse still, self-deception. Most of us spend time, as Eliot says, 'preparing a face to meet the faces that you meet.' We wear our faces, we wear our masks, constantly hiding ourselves from others. We become so adept at this that we do the same even for God. Prayer is impossible unless we can be real before God. Nazareth teaches us that the real foundation of our lives is not the appearances we make but what we really are in the interior.