A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Something Old – Something New

by Fr Ben McKenna SM

A Possible Marist Spiritual Ecology: Part 2 

The first Dimension: Call – Le Puy

Framework 2:
The Marist Story within the Universal Story – Call – Le Puy

In our Introduction we proposed that a paradigm for re-energising our Marist Story is to re-connect it with the Universal Story.

The Marist Story can be seen as having four foundational dimensions:

Call – Le Puy;
Commitment – Fourvière;
Tasting God – Cerdon;
and Mission – Bugey and Oceania.

These four Dimensions are Universal experiences. We can empower each of these dimensions with a new lease of life when we connect Pope Francis’ Laudato Sì to each dimension. This article focuses on the Dimension of Call.

Dimension 1:
Call – Le Puy [France]

The town of Le Puy

“We must give to these events at Le Puy, their rightful place as marking the true origin of the name and idea of our Society, and as setting in motion a work of glorifying God and our Lady, which we hope, is not yet finished.” [2]

In 1809, the seminarian Jean-Claude Courveille was cured of his blindness with the oil of the sanctuary lamp at Le Puy. He returned each year on 15 August to thank Mary for this healing grace. Then, in 1812 on this day, while praying in the presence of Mary, he heard these words in the interior of his heart: “This is what I want…. a Society bearing my name, who will call themselves Marist.” [3]

Meanwhile, the young Jean-Claude Colin, not far away at the seminary in Verrières, also had drawn up his own plans of a Society dedicated to Mary. So, when in Lyons, 1814-15, he met Courveille, he was struck by what had been revealed at Le Puy. Colin set about seeing all those who were later to co-operate with him. [4] The words of Colin in regard to Le Puy have found their way into the Society of Mary Constitutions: “I supported the Church at its birth; I shall do so at the end of time.” [5]

The Call – Le Puy revelation – its relevance for today

Mary said, “here is what I want. I have always imitated my divine son in everything. I followed him to Calvary itself, standing at the foot of the cross when he gave his life for the salvation of humankind. Now in heaven, sharing his glory, I follow his path still, in the work he does for his Church on earth. Of this Church, I am the protectress. I am like a powerful army, defending and saving souls. When a fearful heresy threatened to convulse the whole of Europe, my son raised up his servant Ignatius to form a society under his name, calling itself the Society of Jesus with members called Jesuits, to fight against the hell unleashed against his Church. In the same way, in this last age of impiety and unbelief, it is my wish and the wish of my Son that there be another society to battle against hell, one consecrated to me, one which will have my name, which will call itself the Society of Mary, whose members will call themselves Marists.” [6]

The Call – Laudato Sì 

As Catholics and Marists, in supporting the Church, which is doing Mary’s work, we ponder and act on what the head of the Church isß calling us to do. [7]

Following are but a few -- enough to give us some idea -- of the current Call of Pope Francis to the Universal Church, and to the world, in Laudato Sì: [8]

# 11 [For St Francis], each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection.

# 12 St Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness.

# 14 I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation that includes everyone.

# 16 I will point to the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet, the conviction that everything in the world is connected; and the proposal of a new lifestyle.

# 17 Our present situation is in many ways unprecedented in the history of humanity.

# 19 We see increasing sensitivity to the environment and the need to protect nature, along with a growing concern for what is happening to our planet.

# 143 Together with the patrimony of nature, there is also an historic, artistic, and cultural patrimony which is likewise under threat…

# 202 It is we human beings above all who need to change. We need an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone.

# 240 Everything is interconnected, and this invites us to develop a spirituality of that global solidarity which flows from the mystery of the Trinity.

# 241 Mary, the Mother who cared for Jesus, now cares with maternal affection and pain for this wounded world …

For Reflection and Prayer in relating the Call at Le Puy to Pope Francis’ Call for us today:

1. What does it mean to be at Calvary with Mary and the Crucified Jesus today, battling against hell, in our common home today, as we hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor? [Laudato Sì # 49]

2. In some way do I see the paschal mystery written into the nature of the universe, with the guarantee of resurrection and transfiguration? [Laudato Sì # 221]

3. How are we to respond? What plans are we going to draw up for action? Who are we going to enlist to help us?

[1] Matthew 13:52 – “Every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, … who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”

[2] Jean Coste SM, Lectures on Society of Mary History, Rome, 1965, p. 23
[3] ibid.

[4] ibid, p. 19f
[5] Constitutions of the Society of Mary, Rome, 1988, # 2

[6] The words of the Le Puy revelation, as given by J C Courveille to Claude Mayet in 1852.
[7] SM Constitutions, #s 7 & 10


____________________________________________________[8] The list is not exhaustive and is just the author’s selection in preparing this article. Readers are encouraged to find their own texts in relation to Call in Laudato

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