Marist Contemplative Living

The-wedding-feast The Wedding Feast - Cana
In Irish mythology there is a well-known exchange between the mythical king, Fionn Mac Cumhaill, and some of his warriors. Fionn is asking them which is the most beautiful music of all. One speaks of the clashing of spear on shield, another of the baying of the hounds as they move in on a cornered stag. They turn to Fionn, and ask his view. "The music of what happens" is his reply. For me, this could be a key to contemplative living, for Marists, as for anyone else. It came to mind at a recent community reflection on a short text by Simone Pacot, entitled Choisir de vivre le present: "to desire the present is a marvelous way of living God's will". It has echoes of the old monastic adage: agere quod agis – do what it is you are doing – live the present moment.
Living in the Present Moment
In our community sharing a whole series of hindrances in following this simple truth were identified: busy schedules pushing us to "get through" what needs to be done in order to move what else is waiting for our attention; concerns and anxieties about what is coming to meet us; attention flitting back and forth between past and future distracting us from the present – the Martha syndrome…?! Over against this kind of mental and spiritual dispersion is what the Gospels tell us about Mary – she kept all these things, pondering them in her heart … she wondered what the angel's greeting might mean, and did not hesitate to ask the question: how can this come about, since I am a virgin? Finally, the two words that Saint John retains spoken by Mary: they have no wine – she seemed to be the only one really present to the impending crisis – and do whatever he tells you – practical wisdom, facilitating presence, discrete intervention … At the introduction to the Cana episode, John tells us that Jesus and his disciples were invited … but that the Mother of Jesus was there. Yes, very much there – intentionally and contemplatively present …
Martha and Mary

Finally, I would make a connection between the above description of "contemplative living" and the Ignatian principle, so cherished by our Founder: finding God in all things. For Jean-Claude Colin this attitude was rooted in the experience of tasting God, being wounded in the heart in such a way that the Marist will naturally and spontaneously refer all things to God, and see God in all things. The key to Marist contemplative living is simple. Like the hidden and unknown principle, which grows out of such a contemplative stance, it is simple, but far from easy … costing not less than everything, as John Dalrymple wrote so eloquently about several decades ago … I think it was the most important learning that I took out of 2 months' of ashram life in India in 1992, and am still learning it every day. This morning's invitation came in the shape of a flat tyre as I headed off on my bike for an early morning swim. I was tempted to curse my ill-luck, and then felt the gentle call to live in the moment …

Paul Walsh & Albert Kabala with JC Colin

A Synodal Church
Tutu - providing a future
 

Comments 3

Guest - Paul Francis Frechette on Sunday, 11 July 2021 18:40

A wonderful expose of living in the moment! Thank you Paul! And thank you Ben for posting this reflection.

A wonderful expose of living in the moment! Thank you Paul! And thank you Ben for posting this reflection.
Ben sm on Monday, 12 July 2021 07:56

From Justin Taylor: Thank you, Ben, for this and other recent blogs. I think they are an excellent way of keeping in touch, with the Spirit as well as with one another.

From Justin Taylor: Thank you, Ben, for this and other recent blogs. I think they are an excellent way of keeping in touch, with the Spirit as well as with one another.
Guest - Fritz Arnold on Monday, 12 July 2021 17:39

Thank you, dear Paul , for your wonderful reflection on living the present moment. I like this approach very much. your Fritz Arnold

Thank you, dear Paul , for your wonderful reflection on living the present moment. I like this approach very much. your Fritz Arnold
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Tuesday, 26 October 2021

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