Among many resources that Marists use in living their spirituality in community and beyond are some prayers which the founder encouraged us to pray. Marist spirituality is more than the recitation of a number of prayers or the following of set formulas, but rather a living out of the gospel, following Jesus as Mary did.
Our early Marist tradition evolved over the first decades of the Institute of the Marist Brothers (Constitutions 70.3). That tradition has included a greeting to Mary, invocations to the saints, a morning offering and more latterly, a prayer for vocations to Marist life in all its forms.
Around 1830, when there was talk of the new congregation being suppressed by the local authorities because it did not yet have approval from Government, Marcellin gathered his men together and assured them not to worry. Keep in mind that what he says is couched in the language and thought of the time:
Don’t be frightened by threats made against you, and put aside all fear for your future; Mary who has gathered us in this house, will not allow us to be driven from it by men’s malice. Let us be more faithful than ever in honouring her, in showing ourselves her genuine children and in imitating her virtues; let us redouble our confidence in her and remind ourselves that she is our Ordinary Resource. To merit her protection and to keep away every danger, we shall sing the Salve Regina of a morning before meditation. (Life, p.342)
Chapter Four of the Constitutions of the Marist Brothers provides the background to understanding and fleshing out this Marist spirituality given us by St Marcellin. Undoubtedly, the Word of God and the liturgy of the Church are the enduring sources of our prayer. The Incarnation means, however, that our work and relationships, the events of the day, the calls made on us by the Church and the world we live in, also form and inform our prayer and move us more and more towards union with God in Christ here and now.
Prayer is for us an absolute necessity. It cannot be thought of only as exercises of piety, nor is it to be identified with apostolic work. Prayer is being present to, and communing with God, who becomes more real to us as we show concern for others. Little by little, it unifies our whole life and tends to become continuous, affecting all that we do and influencing all those around us (Constitutions #77).