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Marist Bulletin - Number 258


On the subject of a vocation - Marist Blog

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The section “Marist blogs” of our site www.champagnat.org, set up last May, presents some subjects of reflection that merit the interest of the readers. We thought that they would also merit the attention of the readers of the Bulletin.
Today we gather here three reflections about vocation from Brother Théoneste Kalisa, General Councilor.
In sending these texts we are trying to animate you to join the reflexion by sending your comments through our web page.

A latent controversy exists in our spirituality. Champagnat often invited us to a hidden life. Most of us have been formed in the virtue of the hidden life. But, here, today we are called by the necessity to be visible. I am thinking in particular of the work in vocations ministry.
The history of the Church shows us opposites for which conciliation is proposed as an element of harmony in spirituality. The Fathers of the Church speak of the “sober intoxication”, of the “vigilant sleep”, etc. Perhaps it was because of this that I was not surprised when a member of our Marist family revealed to me that at our common origins the “hidden life” was perceived and even suggested as the surest means of conquering the world. The expression will have known a shift in meaning, that’s the least one can say.
But let’s return to our controversy. To be hidden or to be visible?
Today, we believe that the visibility of a Marist Brother is a necessity for giving witness, for vocations ministry and for evangelisation. We choose thus to be visible. We want to do so without nostalgia, without regret and without timidity. But on the other hand the “hidden life” belongs to our spiritual patrimony. It is certainly one of the fundamental intuitions of our pioneers. It was taught under various forms and the success of the Institute was often attributed to it. To ignore it completely, suddenly, to eradicate it from our texts, our language and our Marist culture would leave an open hole and a point of troubling interrogation.
But what should we do? There is a place to believe that in the image of the Christian faith, that, throughout history, has always been renewed by reformulating itself, we need to retell the intuitions of our origins in the language of today. And here, the language of today signifies and also includes the complement of the sense which gives birth to the spiritual experience of the Institute. This process introduces us concretely and fully in creative fidelity.
It seems to me that the visibility that we want is, above all else, a prophetic sign. We want to be unambiguous indicators of the way towards Jesus. If such visibility is tainted with vanity, exhibition or narcism, it is the ruin of it. We want to identify ourselves with and by a “discreet visibility”. Yes, the hidden life will always be a virtue among us, our virtue. It will be in fact the distinctive mark of our way of being visible; a vigorous, active presence, but without self-seeking, without noise, like Mary!

A spark!
We want to promote a culture of vocation among us in our communities. From the beginning we ask ourselves what are the chances of such an undertaking.
Today the word culture is in current usage. We know what it means. It is often used in a positive and constructive sense.
Besides, we have just concluded a Marist Year of Vocations. The enthusiasm aroused and the creativity used throughout this year are clear signs of the charism of Champagnat. In the run of things, the Superior General has just created a Bureau for Vocations at the level of the Institute.
One would say that all is there for the hatching of the culture of vocation. But in fact, we need something more. But what? Hmm… The obscurity persists before us! We need a bolt of lightning to perceive the space for an instant, the marvellous countryside that extends before us. We need a SPARK, “this nothing by which everything occurs”.
But how will that be? By your ‘Yes!’, by my ‘Yes!’.

On the subject of the culture of a vocation
Speaking of Saint Francis of Assisi, Italians often say quiet enthusiastically, “He is a true Italian saint.” In a biography of Saint Vincent, after a description of the social and religious personality of this saint, the author concludes by saying, “He is a typically French saint.” To these affirmations I would say an understanding and friendly “yes, but …” A saint belongs to the whole Church and is a model for all people of good will.
But what can this have to do with the culture of vocations?
If “the culture of the vocation” is the spearhead of our vocation ministry throughout the next four years, we will need to clarify the language that we use in this domain. And on this subject some confrères have pointed out to me the ambiguity created by the definition “culture is an adaptation to the environment” that I have used in my writings.
I refer once more to the great saints mentioned above to say that adaptation to the environment does not mean taking on the mentality of the time, particularly when this is contrary to the Christian meaning of vocation. Saint Francis and Saint Vincent were men who were well adapted to their environment. It was due to this that each of them challenged his society with a voice that still clearly reverberates these days.
Our culture of the vocation must also be an adaptation to our environment. But, let’s be clear, we are speaking about a prophetic adaptation. We commit ourselves in an adaptation that challenges and awakens those with whom we share the joys and the challenges of our time.

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