Start your meeting with the Sign of the Cross and prayer.
Let us entrust our meeting (this time of grace) to the Mother of God, proclaimed "blessed because she believed"
(cf Lk 1:45). Emeritus Pope Benedict: Porta Fidei.
A reading from the Gospel of Luke 18:1-8
Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.' "For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually come and attack me!'"
And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"
Read the reflection from Fr David Kennerley sm
Hello everyone. This is a new experience for me: speaking into a microphone while sitting down – and not a congregation in sight! It's much more relaxing I'd have to say, and I hope where you're sitting, it's a whole lot more comfortable than the typical hard church pew!
Today, I want to share a few thoughts with you, relating to our Marist Founder, Fr. Jean-Claude Colin, as a man of faith. Even as I say that, I'm left thinking, yes he certainly was someone of great faith, but so too was Jeanne-Marie Chavoin and Marcellin Champagnat, along with Francoise Perretton and the other pioneering Missionary Sisters. Here, I'm just focusing on Jean-Claude, because currently, we are not only in the midst of an entire year dedicated to faith, but also of twelve months focusing on this particular man, Jean-Claude Colin – Marist.
To literally feel called by Mary to "launch out into the deep," and found a new project in the Church, meant that all of our first Marists, lay and religious, really were undertaking a great leap of faith. Even more so, given that many people in France at the time were highly suspicious, even antagonistic, towards religion and the Catholic Church especially. So it was that Colin frequently quoted the passage from Luke's gospel where Jesus himself says, "When the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?" For Colin, the answer was a resounding "Yes, because Marists would be there in the End Times, living lives of faith!"
The combination of the tense times, that question of Jesus, and Colin's desire to address it, also helps explain the simple missionary intention Colin sought all Marists to bring to their daily prayer: first thing in the morning and/or the last thing at night, we pray for the perseverance of the faithful, and for the conversion of those without faith or who have fallen away from it.
It strikes me that this particular focus of Colin's is just as necessary today as in the early years of the nineteenth century. Yes, there is an all too obvious antagonism towards the Church at times, but there's also, a rather all too pervading, deadening indifference to God as well. Rest assured then, that in praying for the perseverance of the faithful, we are praying for ourselves as well!
For Colin, living a life of faith fundamentally required the nurturing of a "spirit of prayer" joined with a "spirit of faith." Let me explain.
One of Fr. Colin's favourite expressions for God was, this "Good Lord." Think about that. By calling God 'good', by consciously nurturing a sense of the rich variety of ways that God displays goodness, one must invariably also grow in a sense of personal limitation and frailty. So it was for Colin, but for him, such an honest and truthful (that is, humble) self-understanding, thereby also prompted a person to pray, indeed to engage ever so freely in a very natural, open relationship with God, turning to God and trusting in God at all times for everything. That, for Colin, was the spirit of prayer he encouraged Marists to develop and it was so much like Mary herself.
Along with a 'spirit of prayer,' however, Colin also sought to have Marists grow in a 'spirit of faith'. Perhaps it's best to let the man speak for himself, "In a tone half-serious, half-joking Fr Colin announced:
'I am going to publish a decree. Article One: Man can do nothing of himself (the spirit of prayer); Article Two: Man can do anything by prayer, because God has promised everything to prayer (the spirit of faith). Then speaking with great conviction, he said 'Oh, let us be people of prayer; without that we shall achieve nothing. I wish I could make myself heard by all the members of the Society'. Yes, the spirit of prayer, the spirit of faith, to act for God. 'Let us die to ourselves. Let us take courage.'" (A FOUNDER SPEAKS, n.132).
In simple terms, Colin's 'spirit of prayer' means acknowledging my need for God, while the 'spirit of faith' means believing that God is so lavish and generous in his grace, that he will always continue to work in me and through me – if I but own my inadequacies.
There you are then, a few thoughts straight from the very heart of Fr. Colin, and encouraging as well I hope! You know, in this Year of Collin, surely the best way to celebrate him is not simply to talk about the man but to put into practice some of the 'pearls' he gleaned about prayer, from a life of contemplation and of action. Personally, I think our Founder has so much to tell us, and share with us still.
Blessings on you all. David Kennerley SM
Questions to Ponder and Share
From the Scripture above what strikes you most about persistence in faith and prayer?
'Fr Colin's "spirit of prayer" means acknowledging my need for God, while the "spirit of faith" means believing God is so lavish and generous in his grace, that he will always continue to work in and through me – if I but own my inadequacies'. What do you think about this? How can being reminded of both my need and the lavish goodness of God help strengthen my faith and prayer ?
Do you find reading biographies or writings of 'good people' helpful in your faith journey?
Many phrases that were once common as 'pious ejaculations' (such as 'Good Lord') have now become debased by inappropriate use. Do you have any favourite sayings? What will your children remember as "my mother always used to say ..."
Do you have a special prayer you use for 'perseverance in faith' and 'return to faith'?
No. 1 From our Charter – for your reflection this month
Motherhood is a gift of God, accepted in faith, lived in hope and fulfilled in love.
"… generations shall call me blessed." Luke 1:48
For your own intentions and other needs
- especially for those who struggle with faith
Conclude the meeting with the following:
We fly to your protection O Holy Mother of God.
Despise not our prayers in our necessities
But deliver us from all dangers,
O Glorious and Blessed Virgin!
oldest known prayer to Mary (3rd Century)
prayed by Marists every day.