Christmas and New Year have provided us with the opportunity to pause, to watch, and to wonder at the event of the Word continuing to be made Flesh in our time. Perhaps we have found ourselves pondering with Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds, and the Magi at the unfolding of a Revelation among us that draws us to wonder, to encounter, to hope, and to be replenished with a new Divine-given energy. With the Divine energy, the gift of Contemplation, we are in union with the One Who is calling us to mission - to heal the wounded world - in the year ahead. When we encounter this One, we are able give from the Source and we are renewed in the giving, [whereas, if we give from ourselves only we are depleted in the giving].
Our General Chapter 2017 named this encounter well:
- As Mary pondered the Word, so are we called to a life of contemplation, centered on the Eucharist, bearing fruit in service within the Church and beyond. [n.4]
- the Society is called to search for creative ways to grow constantly in lives of contemplation and lead others along the path of discipleship and mission rooted in deep prayer. [n.9.a]
- Contemplation as the energy source, the mystical heart of Marist mission, is intimately linked with our identity as Marist religious. To form a communion for mission, we need to deepen the contemplative dimension of our lives. With Jesus at the center we can, like Mary, be missionaries of hope.[n.30]
- The spiritual life is nourished and sustained by contemplation of the word of God. This heightens awareness of the presence of the risen Jesus in our everyday life and work. His presence inspires us to make of our lives an unceasing prayer. [C.118]
- Marists are recommended to spend one hour in private prayer each day. [n.32]
- Leadership at different levels in the Society shall endeavor to support Marists in deepening the quality of their prayer, both individual and communal.[n.33]
- address areas such as personal use of the Internet and other media and how the contemplative aspect of our vocation is maintained. [n.36]
Pope Francis has emphasized the need for a deep Contemplative living to heal our world wounded by Covid-19 [cf: https://www.pcinterreligious.org/francis-covid-speeches for the following quotes ]
"Thus, we must keep our gaze firmly fixed on Jesus (see Heb 12:2): in the midst of this pandemic, our eyes on Jesus; and with this faith embrace the hope of the Kingdom of God that Jesus Himself brings us (see Mk 1:5; Mt 4:17; CCC 2816). A Kingdom of healing and of salvation that is already present in our midst (see Lk 10:11). A Kingdom of justice and of peace that is manifested through works of charity, which in their turn increase hope and strengthen faith (see 1 Cor 13:13). Within the Christian tradition, faith, hope and charity are much more than feelings or attitudes. They are virtues infused in us through the grace of the Holy Spirit (see CCC, 1812, 1813): gifts that heal us and that make us healers, gifts that open us to new horizons, even while we are navigating the difficult waters of our time".
Faith and human dignity
"This renewed awareness of the dignity of every human being has serious social, economic and political implications. Looking at our brother and sister and the whole of creation as a gift received from the love of the Father inspires attentive behavior, care and wonder. In this way the believer, contemplating his or her neighbor as a brother or sister, and not as a stranger, looks at him or her compassionately and empathetically, not contemptuously or with hostility. Contemplating the world in the light of faith, with the help of grace, we strive to develop our creativity and enthusiasm in order to resolve the ordeals of the past. We understand and develop our abilities as responsibilities that arise from this faith as gifts from God to be placed at the service of humanity and of creation".
The preferential option for the poor and the virtue of charity
"Faith, hope and love necessarily push us towards this preference for those most in need, which goes beyond necessary assistance (cf. EG, 198). Indeed it implies walking together, letting ourselves be evangelized by them, who know the suffering Christ well, letting ourselves be "infected" by their experience of salvation, by their wisdom and by their creativity. Sharing with the poor means mutual enrichment. And, if there are unhealthy social structures that prevent them from dreaming of the future, we must work together to heal them, to change them. And we are led to this by the love of Christ, who loved us to the extreme (see Jn 13:1), and reaches the boundaries, the margins, the existential frontiers. Bringing the peripheries to the center means focusing our life on Christ, Who "made Himself poor" for us, to enrich us "by His poverty" (2 Cor 8:9),9 as we have heard".
The universal destination of goods and the virtue of hope
"These symptoms of inequality reveal a social illness; it is a virus that comes from a sick economy. And we must say it simply: the economy is sick. It has become ill. It is sick. It is the fruit of unequal economic growth – this is the illness: the fruit of unequal economic growth – that disregards fundamental human values. In today's world, a few rich people possess more than all the rest of humanity. I will repeat this so that it makes us think: a few rich people, a small group, possess more than all the rest of humanity. This is pure statistics. This is an injustice that cries out to heaven! At the same time, this economic model is indifferent to the damage inflicted on our common home. Care is not being taken of our common home. We are close to exceeding many limits of our wonderful planet, with serious and irreversible consequences: from the loss of biodiversity and climate change to rising sea levels and the destruction of the tropical forests. Social inequality and environmental degradation go together and have the same root (see Encyclical, Laudato Si', 101): the sin of wanting to possess and wanting to dominate one's brothers and sisters, of wanting to possess and dominate nature and God Himself. But this is not the design for creation".
"In fact, the earth "was here before us and it has been given to us", it has been given by God "for the whole human race" (CCC, 2402). And therefore it is our duty to make sure that its fruit reaches everyone, not just a few people. And this is a key element of our relationship with earthly goods. As the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council recalled, they said: "Man should regard the external things that he legitimately possesses not only as his own but also as common in the sense that they should be able to benefit not only him but also others" (Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 69). In fact, "The ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence, with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others" (CCC, 2404). We are administrators of the goods, not masters. Administrators. "Yes, but the good is mine": that is true, it is yours, but to administer it, not to possess it selfishly for yourself".
As we enter 2021 may we continue to combine the lived experience of the Contemplation of Nazareth and the dynamic Action of the New-born Church. Our inspiration and Identity comes from she who 'supported the Church at is birth and will do so at the end of time'. By walking her path, in her presence, and with her virtues, may we do great things for God in a hidden and unknown manner.