Mary is a person, not a project...
Sr. Laura Leming, FMI
The above quote has been my mantra since arriving in Dayton. If you've been keeping up with my blog posts, you know that I spent most of this past academic year studying the history of American religious life, our foundress Adele de Batz de Trenquelleon, and the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The remainder of my first year of novitiate (May-Aug) is focused on Mary and the Marianist vow of stability.
Stability? Yes. You read correctly. We Marianists have a 4th vow of stability. Hmm... you might be thinking, "How is that possible? They're always moving everywhere..." Believe me, if that's what's going through your mind, you're not alone!! That was the first thing I thought too...
The book Our Gift from God by Emil Neubert, SM has a lot of helpful information about the Marianist vow of stability. I believe the intent in this book was to discuss what makes a Marianist "Marianist" based on the writings of our founders.
There are 3 chapters of this book dedicated to the Marianist stability, which makes sense because stability "stamps a Marian character upon the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and indeed upon every action of the life of a religious." Why or how? The vow is about dedication to Mary and to helping Mary in her mission.
One of my friends who is in formation with the Marianist brothers and priests often says, "Mary had a mission?" The answer for Marianists is an enthusiastic yes! Mary's mission is to bring Jesus into the world... nurture the life of Jesus... teach Jesus how to be a good human being... to pray with and for the disciples of Jesus... to sing God's praises (the Magnificat)... to see the needs in our world and do something about them (as evidenced at Cana)... to stand with those who suffer (at the foot of the cross)... and many more aspects than can be listed here. When a Marianist professes the vow of stability, we profess to aid Mary in this continual mission - in every aspect.
Now... how did we get this in the vow of stability.
Stability first came into religious life with the rule St. Benedict. Before Benedict's rule it seems that monks would travel to different monasteries looking for a good fit (there seems to be more to it than that, but that will suffice for now). Benedict wanted to counter this trend because some were taking advantage of monasteries. So, Benedictine monks and nuns profess stability - to remain in their monastery or convent for life.
After the Council of Trent religious congregations who took "simple vows" also took a vow of stability. But that stability wasn't to a particular monastery, but to the congregation... a vow to persevere in the community. This is the type of stability from which the Marianist vow arose.
For Marianists, stability is "the very essence" of our life. "It can be referred to all that is, and to all that is done. In thus referring to the service of Mary it naturally focuses complete attention on the Marian quality of our service."
"Marian quality" - taking on Mary's way of being in bringing Christ to the world.... This is why my summer is dedicated to learning about and praying with/about Mary, her way of being, her mission... It permeates everything for Marianists.
As I learn and grow, I will definitely share more with you. I thought this would be a good introduction, though.
Before I close, I would like to share some interesting news... I can't believe I didn't write about this earlier. Currently our General Chapter is happening in Rome. It's very exciting... even though I'm not there. Both of my formation directors, Srs. Gretchen and Laura (with whom I work while in Dayton) are there right now along with another American Sister who serves on our General Administration there in Rome. Each day an update is posted on a website. If you'd like to read about our General Chapter, please go to:
Okay. I believe this is long enough for now. :)
Many blessings to all who read this!