A metaphor for spiritual experience derived from Psalm 34:9, “Taste and see that the Lord is good”, Fr. Colin probably came across the phrase in the writings of the Catholic mystics. It seems to express for him the power of spiritual experiences of God’s grace to transform a person. All of his uses of the term are in contexts like spiritual direction or seminary spiritual formation.
Fr. Colin suggested two situations where we might find the spirit of the Society of Mary: the life of the Holy Family at Nazareth, and Mary and the Apostles in the early Church. Marists sometimes abbreviate these key loci for our spirituality as “Nazareth” and “Pentecost”, although this latter is a bit of a misnomer because Colin was thinking more of the time after Pentecost rather than the events in the Upper Room.
A phrase found in the Constitutions of the Society of Mary in the article on the Spirit of the Society: “...they belong by gracious choice to the family of Mary...” It refers to the belief by Marists that they have been chosen to be Marists. Who does the choosing is not specified. Ultimately it is God, the source of every grace, but the early Marists believed that Mary played a part in choosing who should belong to her Society.
A phrase found in the description of the early community of believers in the Acts of the Apostles 4:32. This text inspired many religious founders to propose it as the ideal to be lived by their communities. Fr. Colin is somewhat unique in that he presented it to Marists not only in reference to our community life, but also as the goal of our ministries: “...that at the end of time as at the beginning, all the faithful may with God’s help be one heart and one mind in the bosom of the Church.”
A phrase used by all the Marist founders to characterize the Marist project. The idea was that it was Mary’s initiative that inspired Jean-Claude Courveille to work toward the establishment of the Society of Mary, and her help that was bringing it about: thus the Society was Mary’s work, her creation, as it were. Marists are called to busy themselves with the work of Mary by working to get the Society established—this was the task for the founding generation—and by maintaining it so that Mary might impact the Church and the world through the Marists. By extension, the ministry of Marists can be characterized as “doing the work of Mary.”
A phrase adapted from an article by Fr. Jean Coste, Marist historian, “Toward a Marian Vision of Church: Jean-Claude Colin”. Fr. Colin saw in certain aspects of the Marist spirit, derived from his meditation on Mary in the early Church, a utopian vision of what the Church could be, and thus an ideal that the Marist approach to ministry might help realize.
The town in Galilee in Israel where Jesus spent the first thirty years of his life before embarking on his public ministry. Thus a place and time of intimacy with Mary and Joseph, and of growth in wisdom and grace. Fr. Colin used it as a symbol for several aspects of Marist life: the time in seminary formation before engaging in ministry; any time taken out from the active ministry to engage in contemplation and spiritual renewal; the life of the contemplative branch of the Society of Mary that he wanted to found, a project he was not able to realize; the act of placing oneself at some distance from one’s active ministry to get a different perspective. Fr. Colin once said “I place myself in Nazareth and from there I see what I must do.”
A phrase that from very early on characterized the Marist approach to ministry. Marists were to carry out their ministries in such a way that they themselves might remain “unknown and as if hidden in the world.” Fr. Jean-Claude Colin is quoted as having said, “When God speaks to a soul He says much in a few words. For instance, that phrase: ‘unknown and hidden in the world.’” In English the phrase is usually stated in reverse order: “hidden and unknown in the world.”
Fr. Colin occasionally told his fellow Marists that there were three fundamental points that should distinguish Marists. They amount to three things that Marists should reject or say “No!” to: the desire for material gain, the lust for dominative power, and the seeking of celebrity and prestige. Fr. Jean Coste, Marist historian, suggests that these “No’s” are the characteristic qualities of Fr. Colin’s utopian vision of a “Marian Church”, the ideal that Marists try to realize through their Mary-inspired approach to ministry.
A phrase that expresses the way Marists characterize themselves in their ministry. When beginning a parish mission, Fr. Jean-Claude Colin and his fellow missioners announced to the people that “God sends us into your parish to be the instruments, all unworthy though we be, of his mercy toward you.” He often spoke of what helps Marists to become instruments of the divine mercies: practice of the virtues, prayer, and study.
Fr. Colin once said “our aim is nothing less than to make the whole world Marist.” He probably had two things in mind: the potential for the Society of Mary to include everyone in its membership through the Lay branch; and the belief that the Gospel virtues and values of the spirit of Mary, which is the spirit of the Society of Mary, ought to be spread throughout the world.
...so they must think as Mary, judge as Mary, feel and act as Mary in all things...