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Water from the rock

 

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Marist spirituality that springs from the tradition of Marcellin Champagnat

08/06/2007: General House - Photo gallery

The celebration of the Mass of the feast of Saint Marcellin was the solemn moment for making pub-lic the document on Marist Spirituality entitled “Water from the Rock”. The 20th General Chapter (2001) recommended that reflection on our spirituality be encouraged and that it be expressed in concrete terms through a document similar to that of “In the Footsteps of Marcellin Champagnat – A Vision for Marist Education Today” published in 1998.

The title of this document was inspired by Psalm 114, 8: “He changed the rock into a source of living water”. Marcellin lived the Gospel in his own style, a reflection of his character and of his spirituality. He inspired the community of the Hermitage. Around the construction of a material house, he built a spiritual community in which the brothers were recognised as members of one family. The material house, cemented on rock and situated near a river of living water, is a symbol of the spiritual house that invites and receives the men and women of our time to be united in living Marist fraternity. This spiritual house is founded on the firm rock that is the Christ from whom springs streams of living water by which Marcellin and his brothers quench their thirst. From this solidity of the rock and from these fountains of living water come the best energies of the spiritual-ity of Marcellin and his brothers.

The document, 120 pages in length, having passed through the sieve of eight previous projects be-fore being printed, has ten sections in its index. It starts with a presentation by Brother Seán Sammon, Superior General, in which he affirms that “the spirituality of Marcellin Champagnat and our early brothers has been handed on to us as a precious heritage (C 49). Made contemporary by each generation it retains its Marial and apostolic dimensions. Our task is to incarnate this spiritual-ity in the many cultures and situations in which the Institute finds itself at the moment.”

An introduction follows in which a brief history of the pathway taken by this document is given. “At the time of Marcellin’s death in 1840, the spirituality was well developed, but not systematised. Soon after, his disciples began to build up a body of texts to describe the spirituality. Significant among them were: Life of Marcellin Champagnat (1856), Our Models in Religion – Biographies of Some Brothers (1868), Avis, Leçons, Sentences (1869): Chronicles of Br. Avit (1855).” It is also noted in the introduction that “the “Manuel de Piété (1855) was the first text to crystallise an under-standing of the spirituality of Marcellin and of the first generation of Brothers, particularly their way of relating to Jesus and Mary.”

The five large sections, as streams that are born of these Marist sources, develop the fundamental contents of the document. Each section starts with the statement of phrases, read one after the other, bringing the harmonious unity of its contents to the fore. “Drawing from streams of living water, we journey in faith, as brothers and sisters, bringing Good News to the poor; we see new visions, dream new dreams.” The document finishes with three technical sections where there are some questions for reflection, as a guide to the reading, explanatory notes and a glossary of some terms that are used in the body of the text.

In a few lines we can summarise the things that are new about this document. The structure of the whole of the document comes from the Word of God. For the first time, it is addressed jointly to brothers and laypeople. It is specified from the beginning that this spirituality comes from the tradi-tion of Champagnat, because Marist spirituality is also shared by the other branches of the Marist family. In the title, no characteristics of Marist spirituality are given, thus leaving the range of ad-jectives that can be attributed to it open, but without preferring some more than others.

The graphic presentation favours symbolic imagery because it wants to use a language of images that embraces the internationality of this spirituality; thus it tries to avoid the marginalisation of the cultural aspects of some regions or countries. In this way this document will always be marked by a provisional character.

This document is the result of a great deal of work accomplished by a large International Commission. Brother Seán, in his forward, noted this effort and thanked all those who collaborated in this project. “Though many played an important role in shaping this document and its contents, one group in particular—an international body of brothers, laymen and women, and other Marists--shepherded the project throughout. My thanks to all involved and in a special way to the members of that International Commission: Brother Benito Arbues, FMS, Brother Bernard Beaudin, FMS, Brother Nicholas Fernando, FMS, Sister Vivienne Goldstein, SM, Brother Maurice Goutagny, FMS, Brother Lawrence Ndawala, FMS, Brother Spiridion Ndanga, FMS, Brother Graham Neist, FMS, Bernice Reintjens, Agnes Reyes, Vanderlei Soela, Brother Miguel Angel Santos, FMS, Brother Luis Garcia Sobrado, FMS, and particularly Brother Peter Rodney, FMS, a member of our General Council, who oversaw the group’s work.”

This document hopes to be a reference base for the joint formation of brothers and laypeople and to animate the spiritual life of communities and Provinces. The General Council wishes that everyone will receive it warmly and fervently with the proclamation of a “Year of Marist Spirituality” which will start on the 7th October 2007. The slogan that will retain our attention during this year of spiri-tuality will be: “Water from the rock, source of life.”

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