Mary has a special concern and care for those who come under her name and this special grace and gift is available to you. Our goal is to do what Mary wants - namely, gathering people into God's family, helping them know and experience the love and mercy of God whatever their situation, bringing the Gospel message to everyday ordinary life, trying to live for the greater glory of God and the honour of his mother. (AMDG & DGH)In doing this we are not alone, we belong in a family of many branches and we all grow and encourage one another in our Christian journey. All the Marist family share the same three aims:
growing in personal holiness
reaching out to those who don't know God's love
supporting the faith of the Roman Catholic Church and respect for the Pope.
Our frailties are understood. We are in a family of love and mercy and try to do our best, to do what we can to achieve our goal, but not to make a show, not seek attention or notoriety but to act with authenticity. This means putting the attention and interest on the other person, the one who wants to meet Jesus.
An example may help: Once when Arturo Toscanini was preparing his orchestra to play one of Beethoven's symphonies, he said, "Gentlemen, I am nothing; you are nothing; Beethoven is everything." He knew his main task was to sink himself, and his orchestra, and let the music of Beethoven flow through.
Mary always points to Jesus and seeks to make connections between Jesus and those in need as she did at Cana. She does not seek to remain central in the action. That Gospel says a lot about how we are to be and act as Marists not only in humility, but with deep respect, listening to hearts and fears, being sensitive to embarrassments and encouraging others always to listen and respond to Jesus for themselves.
For Fr Colin, the founder of the Society of Mary, being, "hidden and unknown" was the only way for Marists to do good and we are challenged to find how to live that way in our own lives, times and circumstances
Mercy and Compassion
Even in a culture of achievement, productivity and competition, compassion and mercy is appreciated as a deeply human quality. Francois Drouilly SM writes: "In the Latin root of the word mercy (misericordia) we see something of "misery" and something of the "heart." When others are suffering misery, it is mercy that goes out to them. And everyone shares in some kind of misery or other and everyone knows what "heart" is. Anyone among us could be that person who, behind the facade struggles with personal emotional and professional problems and who as a result, bears a heavy burden... Our contemporaries are most often distant from Church. To recall for them the Church's norms, practices, or moral positions will have practically no effect on them, except perhaps to revive awful memories... It is up to each one of us to find the right words and gestures to help the other person hear within him or herself a voice saying, 'You are worth much more than what you do. I am not interested in your sins. I am interested in you and your coming back to me, today.'
Quoting Colin (FA 206:9-10) How I long for this notion of mercy to take root in all of us. How much easier it is to get rid of dangerous elements than to convert them. It is not zeal to send away straight off what stands in the way of good. If so the matter would be quickly settled. Our Lord did not take that line. Such would not be the Spirit of God. We must do all we can, try every means, pray, and it is only a last resort that we lop off the branch.
We read in the Scriptures. "When he had finished washing their feet, he put his outer clothes on again and went back to the table. 'Do you understand' he said 'what I have done to you?'" (John 13.)
Mercy, like love, longs for real expression. It is by our merciful service in compassion that people will see we are Jesus' disciples and experience his love.
Mercy has many expressions: action, word, song. The expressions may vary, but mercy and compassion do not.
In all their works, Marists are to be wholly compassionate and understanding towards human frailty." (Constitution 137.)
Acknowledgement We are grateful for some of the material and thoughts above to Francois Drouilly SM in his book; "15 Days of prayer with Jean Claude Colin". New City Press:USA 2012.