If the arena for Marists is the world as it is, how will they be able to become “useful instruments” of the mercy of God to an era which Colin described as an age of “indifference, unbelief, pride and madness” to a period of history where “faith is disappearing”, to a world whose “inhabitants are bowed towards the earth, stuck to it, breathing for it alone”? Given his personal background, Colin could be excused for looking somewhat negatively at his times; but his analysis of the age of the Enlightenment is not too far from the mark.
More importantly, he doesn’t leave his followers without spiritual resources for meeting this age in a compassionate way.
Once again, we are led back to the experience of Jesus in his preparation for mission. Between his calling by the Father and his being sent on Mission, Jesus was “led by the Spirit into the desert in order to be tempted there”. In the desert, Jesus struggled against three temptations: the temptation to greed, looking after His own interests (“turn these stones into bread”); the temptation to pride, doing the spectacular thing (“throw yourself from the pinnacle”); and the temptation to impose Himself on others, and control their lives (“I will give you all the kingdoms of the world”).
Jesus struggled against these three temptations, and won the victory through His commitment to live for “God alone”.
He emerged from the desert and began to preach with authenticity and authority.
If we are to speak of a spirituality of Jesus, or a Christian spirituality, its centre is probably somewhere here in this experience of Jesus.
Jesus resisted those self-seeking attitudes which destroy inner freedom and He committed Himself to live for the God who loves and forgives unconditionally.
To be a disciple of Jesus is to absorb these attitudes of Jesus. Mary herself learnt these attitudes, bringing to them her own qualities as woman, as mother, as support of the newly-emerging Church.
To speak of a Marist spirituality, then, is to speak of a way of being a disciple of Jesus, based on Mary’s discipleship of Him.
Again, Colin’s insight is simple and practical. He invites Marists, following in the footsteps of Mary, to keep their eyes fixed on God alone and on the Kingdom, taking a personal stand against the crippling forces of greed, pride and power; and he urges them to approach the people of our times with delicacy and sensitivity, winning others over by putting themselves in their shoes, rather than by imposing – even in the name of truth.