Christmas Joy

holly

Christmas can be a paradox of conflicting realities and emotions. The commercial aspect of feasting, gift-buying and decorating magnifies the gap between rich and poor. Season’s joys can be a painful reminder of personal losses. Christmas lights do little for souls suffering in darkness. In Canada, Christmas has become a battle over political correctness. All references to the religious meaning of Christmas are stripped away for fear of offending others. This is especially ironic considering the national pride we have in our diversity and tolerance. Where is the joy?

The joy is found in hearts that do not despair at the needs of our world, but give generously of time, treasure and talents so that justice and peace will exist for all – one small step at a time. The joy is found in Church communities that welcome all with open arms, and do not use Christmas as a time for judgment and guilt trips. The joy is found in homes that focus on the love of family, friends, and strangers rather than material goods. The joy is found in the message of the Incarnation…..God became one of US so that we may share in God’s life and make that same life a reality for all here on earth.

I pray that the gift of true JOY will be with you all during this blessed Christmas season. And may JOY magnify all that we do in the coming year.

May the peace and love of the Holy Family fill all our hearts,

Affectionately,

Isabella

www.clm-mlc.org

Chamis_27Our new web-site for the International Organization of Marianist Lay Communities is now online at www.clm-mlc.org .

The design might be new, but something vital is missing. Bro. Domingo, our team assessor, constantly reminds us of the importance of JOY! We must do our work with joy, and we must reflect and pass on that joy to all. We have a basic structure with this web-site, but the heart and soul of our global community of communities is missing….the JOY! We need your help to breathe life into our web-site. We need to share our presence and our good news with each other, and with the world.

This web-site is only a frame-work. Many pages are empty or have only the basic content from the previous web-site. Yes, www.clm-mlc.org is the site to find all our international documents and bulletins. But, it is also the site to find contacts and information about our Marianist Lay Communities around the world. It is a site for sharing our news, our formation resources, and our social justice projects. Our Regional Responsibles – Ernest, Susan, Félix, and Isabel – will be contacting National Responsibles in the new year to begin developing the pages for each country as well as other content. Stay tuned!

I invite you to take a look at the site. Do you have ideas? Would you like to help develop the web-site? Are you able to help us with translations? Please send an email to webmaster@clm-mlc.org.

International Team – Vision and Objectives

The summary of our meeting in Rome is now available on our home page at www.clm-mlc.org. It’s available in English, Francais, and Español. Thank you to Mary Harvan Gorgette and Ana Blazquez Ubach for their translation help!

The focus of the next four years will be in the areas of Formation and Social Justice/Mission. Our goal, as a team, is not to produce a formation strategy for all to use, or to be founders of a world wide social justice project for our Marianist Lay Communities. We continue to learn of new formation initiatives and resources being produced around the world. We continue to be amazed and humbled by all the good works being done at the grass-roots level. Our goal is to improve the accessibility of formation materials so we may grow in quality as lay Marianists. And we want to promote and find support for our mission works, so these efforts may grow in quantity. This work is going to require collaboration across the miles with all the branches of the Marianist Family, in true family spirit.

Communications and networking are vital for our work. We’re working on a simple new design for our web-site. It will have a web page available for each country with Marianist Lay Communities. This page will include contact information for the National Responsible, names of cities and towns where MLCs are present, and links to newsletters and web-sites. If your country does not have a web-site, this page can provide a simple online presence for sharing news. We will also have new sections for Formation and Mission. The web-site will be very basic at first. We will need the support and help from National Responsibles and others to provide the content.

Isaiah the prophet

Isaiah the prophet

And, of course, money is needed to do our work. We encourage each country to pay their annual dues if they have not already done so. Iñaki Barrio has kindly agreed to continue helping us with our International Team finances. An annual finance report will be available in January or February, 2010.

In these Advent days, I’ve been rejoicing in the Isaiah readings of Advent anticipation and hope. There is a wonderful energy in our Marianist Lay Communities and in our Marianist Family. It is truly a time of being “strong in faith, firm in hope, and constant in love.” It is a time for visions and dreams, trusting that they can become a reality!

FMI Circular

Sr. Marie Jöelle Bec, Superior General of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate, has just published Circular #25 dated for December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Circular is based on a well known Marianist theme,

“As Fr. Chaminade invited others to know, love and serve Mary, I would add that we are invited to know, love and serve the Congregation.”

To KNOW the Congregation, Sr. Marie Jöelle encourages the Sisters to immerse themselves in Marianist history, documents, and traditions. Thanks to the generosity of translators, many are now available in local languages. It is also important to know the history of the local Congregation. And, of course, the Sisters must know each other- locally and globally. International exchanges of Sisters for study and mission work offer opportunities for deeper understanding of cultures and languages.

There is an organic progression to the next step, to LOVE the Congregation,

“The more we interest ourselves in what the Congregation is living, the more we will love it and see to it that it be as alive as possible, and that it will accomplish its mission which the Church has recognized in the best way possible.”

The Sisters are encouraged to “contemplate Mary and learn from her to love. Better yet, let us receive from her love for Christ and for humanity.”

Ernest Kasongo, MLC, Christiane Barbeaux, AM, Marie Joelle Bec, FMI, André Fétis, SM

Ernest Kasongo, MLC, Christiane Barbeaux, AM, Marie Joelle Bec, FMI, André Fétis, SM

To SERVE the Congregation is putting knowing and loving into action. We all have the human tendencies to sometimes under-value our own work, while envying the work of others. We are sometimes critical of others, thinking we could do better if we had the opportunity. Sr. Marie Jöelle describes two aspects to serving,

“On the one hand, we belong to the Congregation, and on the other hand, we own the Congregation…I also have the duty to contribute all that I am to the growth of the Congregation.”

The Circular concludes with a reflection from the FMI Chapter of 2007,

“The Chapter recommends to the Provinces, Region, Unit and communities that we develop solidarity and favor means that will help us feel this sense of unity: gatherings, exchanges of Sisters and experiences of service, news, events, publications, the learning of languages, the internet.” (#25) We have opened a path in this direction, so let us not stop in the middle of the path. In an ever more globalized world, let us remember that “our belonging to an international Congregation calls us to witness that it is possible to be a single family reaching across countries and cultures.” (2007 Chapter Document, #26)

It is easy to take the paradigm of “know, love and serve” and ponder how it relates to our reality as lay Marianists. This is good to do . Yet, it’s important to read this Circular (and all Circulars and documents from the Society of Mary and Alliance Mariale) with the desire to better know our Sisters and Brothers within the Marianist Family. As Sr. Marie Jöelle so wisely says, it is by knowing that we grow in love. And the love will impel us forward to serve together as a Family, acknowledging the uniqueness of each branch and using the gifts of all.

As we celebrate the Feast of her Immaculate Conception, may Mary continue to guide us all in her mission.