The Vision of Marist Laity by Father Colin From The Marist Laity - Finding the way – envisaged by Marist Father Colin By Father Frank McKay sm
1. We believe Colin and his companions were chosen by Mary to have a special relationship with her and to allow her to continue her work through them. 'We are the bearers of a particular grace in the Church and for the Church. We do not hide it under a bushel, we wish to share it.
2. Against the image of a Church perceived as authoritarian, constrictive and irrelevant, Marists aim at showing forth in their communities, their apostolates and their personal lives, a Church with a human face, a Church in the image of Mary, a 'new Church.'
3. To embody this image for the whole world is too big a task for the clerical branch of a small congregation, but that branch is not and was never meant to be the whole Society. (The tree with three branches suggesting unity and diversity. Marist spirituality and mission are one and indivisible, and they are shared equally by all members of the Marist family.
4. The Marist lay movement is not to be seen as a multiplicity of groups, though the group is its basic strategy. It is to be seen as a movement subsuming a wide variety of groups and working through them to enable a new Church to be born. This movement is not something on the fringe of our activity. at the very heart of the Society's mission.
1. The Marist lay movement is a manifestation of the intrinsic dynamism of the Society and co-extensive with it.
2. Our task is to share our spirituality and mission fully with the laity and let them develop and apply it in their own way. The laity are not merely audience, they are called to be actors. There are two phases in the sharing:
i) The handing on.
ii) The handing over.
The Marist lay movement is entrusted to us not for the sake of the Society and its works, but for the sake of the Church. It is part of the Society but is not meant to be con fined to it. Marists are initiators and animators, not controllers.
3. The Marist lay movement is to be seen primarily as evangelizing. To-day it should be directed at the inactive in their faith and at unbelievers. 'The just' will be the evangelizers.
4. The scope of the Marist laity is as wide as the world, so a truly evangelizing movement must be ecumenical.
5. The Marist lay movement is to be seen as an initiative of the whole Marist family.
How can the Colinian intuitions be translated into action? How can they animate the laity's lives and activities? So far in this presentation we have been searching in the Colinian inheritance to find a way. Let us now look at the signs of the times.
1. The Movements (Focolare, Taize, St. Egidio, etc.)
2. The Marian Mothers' groups.
3. A new Franciscan initiative.
Marists also have a movement as significant as any of these. It may yet prove to be as important for the Church as that of Benedict and Francis. For the present we can learn from these movements which are so palpably reaching the minds and hearts of our contemporaries.
Making the Marist Lay Movement Work(A) Pitfalls to be avoided:
i. Thinking there is only one strategy. In an international congregation we cannot say that. Even in each culture there are different levels which need different approaches. Marists have to be able to live with variety ad intra and ad extra.
ii. A laissez-faire attitude.All we have to do is to live as Marists and the laity involvement will work out all right.
(B) We must be fully professional. We must look for the most effective ways. If we are wise (and humble) we will learn for example from the movements. And we must try to be fully Colinian.
First Proposition In some parts of the world we need a new name for the old Third Order. It is best left to each region to decide. The name chosen should allow the movement to travel easily beyond Marist and Catholic boundaries.
Second Proposition Our task is to hand on to the laity the Marist vision, spirit, and conception of mission in their fulness, and to be patient and accepting towards what they make of it. They are moving into undiscovered country.
Third Proposition The movement's basic strategy is a group bonded together by the Marist spirit and the Marist goals. The group has three principles:
1. To become a communion united in mind and heart.
2. To discover the Gospel together and to live it as Mary did.
3. To discover how each member can best serve the Kingdom and to live out that service.
The members of the group learn together how to become effective evangelizers, how to confront the challenges presented by unbelievers or by those inactive in their faith, and the group has a special concern for the marginalized and the neglected.
The group's service is a sharing in the mission of the Church. In discerning what form it should take Evangelii Nuntiandi, No. 70, will give members their bearings:
Their primary and immediate task is not to establish and develop the ecclesial community - this is the specific role of the pastors - but to put to use every Christian and evangelical possibility latent but already present and active in the affairs of the world. Their own field of evangelizing activity is the vast and complicated world of politics, society and economics, but also the world of culture, of the sciences and the arts, of international life, of the mass media.
It also includes other realities which are open to evangelization, such as human love, the family, the education of children and adolescents, professional work, suffering.
Fourth Proposition We need good programmes for a solid and sustained formation of the laity. There is the initial training when a group is getting under way. There is the ongoing training in preparation for each meeting offered by the leaflet (Scripture from the Liturgical Cycle; Marist vision; Doctrine.)
But a deeper training is needed for which perhaps the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, or the Christian Life Communities of the Society of Jesus might serve as models.
Fifth Proposition It is crucial for Provincials to appoint effective animators. The appointee must be fully aware of the currents running in the Church and the Society. If he has not this quality he must have an assistant who has. To be a good organiser or a good pastoral man is not enough.
'Confusion of action because of confusion of thought.' There is a Marist vision of laity which the Society is committed to implement.We also need co-animators in each Province and at the international level who are drawn from the other branches of the Marist family.
Sixth Proposition The state of the Marist lay movement in each Province and its capacity to attract vocations are closely linked. Good vocations come from good Christian homes. Many lay people who live our Marist spirituality and share in our mission will want to be more deeply involved.
Seventh Proposition It would be very useful to set up as soon as possible Regional Assemblies. All branches of the Society would be present (Sisters, Brothers, Laity.) The aim would be to share experiences, to build up a strong sense of a common enterprise; to affirm the unity behind the diversity of forms and structures; to discover strategies for evangelisation and for the long-term formation of the laity.
Eighth Proposition Set in place, as soon as possible, pilot groups whichembody all I have been suggesting.
Note: For those who would like help to make a new start, I have written a paper setting out how a new style group might operate, and the thinking behind it. It has been found helpful in some Provinces and I have used it in a secular University.
ASSOCIATION FOR THE PROMOTION OF A MARIAN PEOPLE
1. To discover the Gospel together and to live it as Mary did.
2. Everyone must have a service.
A. TO DISCOVER THE GOSPEL TOGETHER AND TO LIVE IT AS MARY DID.
1. To discover.
a) To discover the values of the Gospel.
b) To discover how to practise them in our own sphere of living.
2. The Gospel.
a) 'For I am not ashamed of the Gospel. For it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth, to the Jews first and to the Greek. (Rom. I. 16.)b)
b) 'Every scribe who becomes a disciple of the Kingdom of Heaven is like a householder who brings out from his storehouse things both new and old.' Matt.
c) We work together to discover how to bring out the new things needed for a new world and for the new church which is emerging. We accept that the Gospel may challenge us to move beyond the plans we have made for our lives to the plan that God may be revealing to us.
Mary says to us what she said to the stewards at the marriage-feast of Cana: 'Do whatever he tells you.'
a) Like Mary among the apostles we are disciples among the disciples of Jesus, supporting and being supported in following Him.
b) To help each other to be the kind of Marian presence God wants from each of ' us.
c) By sharing and respecting how the Holy Spirit is working in each of us, wefind how this can be done.
4. To live it.
a) A. P. M. P. is not a discussion group. It is not a prayer group. What we discover together must be translated into action in our own lives, and into service for our neighbour. Mary is the one who gave flesh to the Word.
b) It is not those who say to me 'Lord, Lord', who will enter the Kin,1dom ofHeaven, but the person who does the :will of Ill! Father in Heaven.' Matt. 7.
5. As Mary did.
a) Mary was the first and most perfect disciple of Jesus. Her whole life was centred on Him and the spreading of His Kingdom. That is why 'All generations will call me blessed.'
b) We want to have a special relationship with her and to relate to others insuch a way that through us Mary can be present to the world of to-day.
c) The Vatican Council's Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity (No. 4) says: 'Perfect model of this apostolic spiritual life is the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Apostles.'
d) We believe Father Jean-Claude Colin was given by God a special charism to show us what all this might mean and how it can be translated into action. We believe that the charism of Colin is not something static, not something locked into yesterday, but something dynamic that looks towards .to-morrow. Itneeds to be re-interpreted for our times.
B. EVERYONE MUST HAVE A SERVICE
ASSOCIATION FOR THE PROMOTION OF A MARIAN PEOPLE is outward-looking not inward-looking. It wants to carry the Good News into the world through love. Its members will give, according to their resources of time and energy, what they can, to serve their brothers and sisters.
a) The service to which God calls us is to be found within our sphere of living.
It is to be found in our day to day situation. If God wants us to be students, He wants us to be good students, truly part of our environment and contributing to it. My service of the Gospel will be found within that framework.
b) Whatever our service, we need a spirituality to underpin our initiatives. Webelieve such, a Marian spirituality is available. The charism of Colin is part of it, and it is not something static but growing. The experience is new in everymoment.'
c) The basic principle of the apostolate is the apostolate of (like to like-)
d) Whole areas of today's world are closed off to the ordinary ministry of thechurch. Only lay people of faith can enter them.
e) 'Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty. John 15:5 command you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last.'
I. Meetings last one hour. We begin on time. We finish on time.
a) Read and pray over the section of the Gospel designated.
b) Try to live it out as Mary did.
c) Relate the Gospel to your service.
a) The Gospel. Brief input no more than 5 mins. Read the chosen passage distributing the roles of narrator and speakers. Each shares in turn what the Gospel meant to you. Each shares in turn how you tried to live it out. Everyone must feel free. You are not asked to contribute anything unless you wish to initiate the sharing.
b) Service. Each shares what you have been trying to do. Each shares how it has been working out.
i) Gospel response to the sharing. Your experience, your success, your failures, your problems, might enable you to help someone else in the group with something they have shared.
ii) Group discerning of what the Gospel is saying to us at this point as we travel together on our journey of discovery.