During the French Revolution, religion was suppressed. For their own safety, clergy went underground and some left the country.
October 12, in the Catholic Church, marks the Feast of Our Lady of the Pillar. This is a special day for the Marianists because it recalls the inspiration Blessed William Joseph Chaminade drew from Mary during his exile to Zaragoza, Spain during the French Revolution.
It was at the shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar where Blessed Chaminade was inspired to return to France in 1800 to build inclusive and welcoming Christian communities known as sodalities. From those sodalities the Marianist Family was born. The first lay community, the Sodality of the Immaculate Conception, met on December 8, 1800 and members professed their commitment on February 2, 1801. As members sought to deepen their faith and service to the church and world, the Daughters of Mary Immaculate and the Society of Mary took form and were founded in 1816 and 1817, respectively. These lay and religious communities exist throughout the world today.
I can’t imagine what Blessed Chaminade would think today. While we in the US are not in a revolutionary war, we are seeing a vastly divided country: black/white, rich/poor, male/female, national/immigrant, Christian/Muslim, and more. Call it a culture war or a battle for the soul of our country. Civility in politics and interest in the common good have been lost. Something must change.
The Marianist charism is a gift to the Church and world. Let us pray for civic and Church leaders. But let us also pray for ourselves, that we may be builders of a community (world) that honors human dignity and recognizes that we are all made in the image and likeness of God.
October 12 is also celebrated as Marianist World Day of Prayer. Many celebrations in 2016 and 2017 will emphasize the bicentennials of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate and the Society of Mary but for all, it is a time to be united in prayer and mission across the globe.
|Statue of Our Lady of the Pillar|
May the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary. Amen.