Saturday, July 13, 2024


February 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Maristica

Father Favre succeeded. He did turn the Society of Mary into “a congregation of pious priests, living under a broad and easy rule, organizing home missions, running colleges and available for apostolic works within a limited area and of a commonplace style.” (see Ch. 2) Also, it looks as if this Society of Mary is on the way to extinction. It is not very clear why it should continue. Does it have a real role to play in today’s world, in today’s Church?

Favre’s Society is also Colin’s Society. It is what Colin’s Society became. But is it what Colin and his fellow founders had in mind? To see what Colin had in mind, to hear his call again, we must interpret: we must strip his language from its preachy moralizing style, we must get to its heart: not a way of life, not a set of devotions, but a mission. Not a mission not to whatever turns up. No, it was a very definite mission, the mission to a particular age in which a new world was born, the world of the Enlightenment, in which man came of age and consequently rejected a faith that he felt treated him as a minor, and a Church that he felt refused to respect his adulthood. That world is still the one in which we live; in fact, our world has only drawn the full consequences of the turn it took in the Enlightenment. The mission for which the Society was founded has not come to its end: it is only now showing its full urgency.

After the prophet Jonah had passed through the secular city of Nineveh, he was disgusted: “Please take away my life, for I might as well be dead as go on living.” And he went out of the city and made himself comfortable to see what would happen to the city. So often the sin of Jonah is still rife among us. But God’s mercy was deeply moved by the multitudes in the secular city. And he was not impressed by the superior attitude of the Jewish prophet and the privileged position Israel claimed for itself.

Jean-Claude Colin did not try to escape from the call to evangelize the secular city. He recognized the compassion of God in Mary, the Mother of the Lord, taking a renewed interest in this world. He was led to see new possibilities in a Church shorn of triumphalism, stripped of prestige involving everyone, ready to meet that world on its own terms.

It is up to us, his sons and daughters, to hear his invitation anew, and take up the mission entrusted to our Society.

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