Contemplative Marist Living comes to us from Fr Justin Taylor sm: Karl Rahner famously wrote: 'The Christian of tomorrow will either be a mystic or won't be Christian at all.' Perhaps we could adapt Rahner's saying: 'The Marist of tomorrow will either be a mystic or won't be Marist at all.' In case anyone gets frightened off at this stage by the word 'mystic', let us substitute the word 'contemplative', taken in the sense intended by the General Chapter of 2017, when it stated in its Declaration on the Mission of the Society of Mary Today (n. 4): 'As Mary pondered the Word, so are we called to a life of contemplation, centred on the Eucharist, bearing fruit in service within the Church and beyond.'
The same Chapter returned several times to the theme of contemplation. So, in the section on Religious Life Today (n. 30), it describes contemplation as 'the energy source', 'the mystical heart' of Marist mission. We begin to see what could be meant by saying that 'The Marist of tomorrow will either be contemplative or won't be Marist at all.' This is an imperative. The Chapter decided (n. 9 a.) that each unit of the Society should 'search for creative ways to grow constantly in lives of contemplation.' Particular means are recommended, notably 'to spend one hour in private prayer each day' (n. 32). (Incidentally, this recommendation does not go beyond n. 120 of the Constitutions, which specifies that Marists spend 'at least one half-hour a day in private prayer (emphasis mine).' Some communities have taken this up in the form of a contemplative hour spent together before the Blessed Sacrament. 'Pondering the Word' as Mary did could take the form of Lectio divina, again, perhaps, in common.
Members of General Chapter 2017 - Author at back, second from the right.
But beyond any specific act or practice or method, contemplation is a way of looking – at God, at the world, at others, at ourselves. First, however, we have to learn how to look. We see in passing, but do we really see what is there? We need to stop and look, and gradually take in what is before our eyes. Do we notice what is around us? When was the last time I stopped and looked, really looked at a leaf, at an insect, at an object on my desk? It is only when I know how to look, that I can look at God and look with God at the world, at other persons, at myself.
Jesus looked steadily at him, and was filled with love for him - Mark 10:21
"The Eucharist is itself and act of cosmic love" LSi 236