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Mary, the Support of the Church


Jean-Claude Colin often spoke of Mary as the support of the Church at the beginning and at the end. This seems to be his way of referring to the inspiration Courveille experienced at Le Puy. Presented here is the dossier of texts gathered by J. Coste, S.M., in Acta Societatis Mariae, vol. 5, pp. 264-271. In several cases a wider context is offered than was needed for Coste’s purposes. These are marked with a (+) in the apparatus. At the end of the dossier is added a text of Fr. Peter Julian Eymard that also speaks of Mary as the support of the Church.

The support of the newborn Church and at the end of time

Text 12

January 31, 1849. Colin. Part of an outburst in the refectory occasioned by a young Marist speaking against teaching. [Coste text K = Mayet 7, 651f = OM 690 = FS 172, 23]:

“Messieurs, 15 centuries after the preaching of the Gospel, there appears all of a sudden a body of apostolic men. The name of Jesus has been reserved for them, and accordingly they imitate Him. Like Him, they prepare themselves in retirement; like Jesus, who only initiated His ministry at the age of thirty, they are ordained priests only at the age of thirty. It is the society which has done most good in the Church. And I dare say that their superiority comes from the fact that they oriented themselves towards teaching; that is the source of all the good which the Jesuits have done. In its turn also, 19 centuries after the founding of the Church, there comes a small society. The name of Mary has been held in store for it, as it were, and given to it by God. The blessed Virgin has said to it: ‘I was the support of the newborn Church; I shall be the support of the Church at the end of time.’ We must also follow the path of the Jesuits. My greatest ambition, one of the first ideas in establishing the Society, its first aim, is teaching. I have no hope in its future, I consider it as lost, if it does no teaching.”

Text 13

May-October 1853. Maîtrepierre. Notes on the beginnings of the Society. [Coste text L (+) = Maîtrepierre notebook p. 36 = Mayet ND 1, 98 = OM 752, 43]:

[Colin’s] modesty was born of supernatural sentiments that penetrated to the depths of his soul; it was strengthened in the many trials that he did not cease to meet in these enterprises. He was and is always so persuaded that his work is the work of God and of the blessed Virgin that the idea and the name of founder really makes him indignant. Ah! yes, founders, ah! wonderful founders! God leads us, sometimes we obey, often we resist, we put up obstacles, and that’s all. Thus, persuaded that it is the work of God, his modest simplicity has never stopped him from believing that the Society of Mary was called to do great things in the Church of God. “Mary,” he said, “was the protectress of the Church in the cradle; she is to be so in a very special way at the end of time.”

Text 14

July 1863. Colin. Declaration of Colin to Fr. David. [Coste text M = Mayet 1, 3m = OM 802, 1]:

“Mary was the support of the Church in the first times; she will be so as well at the end.” I asked him, Fr. David writes, whether he had any particular motive for believing that it would be so. He told me: “Mary herself has revealed it, and it was in reference to the future of our little Society.”

Text 15

June 20, 1866. Colin. Remarks at the end of the Chapter session, before taking leave of the capitulants. [Coste text N = Minutes of the chapter = OM 807, 4]:

“The more I think of it, the more I congratulate myself that I did not undertake to finish the Rule any sooner. The matter was not yet ripe. I needed the time to clarify my thought. And that is what makes me hope that our little Society will live and that it will live until the end. I have always thought that the Society is called to fight until the end of time. Mary was the support of the newborn Church; she will be so as well at the end, and she will be so through you. We must therefore fill ourselves with her spirit, and this spirit we must draw from her heart. The Apostles never did anything without consulting her, because she had the new law written in her heart and had been taught by the Holy Spirit even before the Incarnation.”

Text 16

September 1868. Colin. Thoughts on the S.M. and its destiny, recorded by Fr. Gautheron. [Coste text O (+) = Mayet B3, 2197-2199 = OM 811]:

“I have always had the idea that the Society was destined to work for the salvation of souls in the last times.”
“The blessed Virgin sustained the Church at its cradle; she is to assist it in a special way at the end of the world.”
“The Society of Mary as it is conceived in the rules ought to live in the Church; God wants it; were it destroyed at some time, it would revive. To be called to the Society of Mary is a special mark of predestination. I do not believe that any religious who dies in the Society will not be saved; I speak of the salvation of those who die Marist, but I fear very much for those who leave the Society.”
“I would like each Marist to set aside in a special way one day every year to thank God for the grace He has accorded him in calling him into the Society of Mary.”
“The Society will only accomplish its mission by taking the apostles as models; to return to the conduct of the apostles is the only way to do good today; one will not change the present age by seeking to captivate it by the wealth of the churches.”
“We ought to live united to Mary, to consult her, to love her in a particular way. We ought to become as nothing, to let God act, God alone. We spoil everything in wishing to act ourselves and in believing that we are something.”
“You will see what the Society will be like when it is as old as the Society of Jesus is today. A particular devotion towards the blessed Virgin is a necessary mark of vocation.”

Text 17

September 1868. Colin. Words recorded by Fr. Jeantin. [Coste text P = Note of Fr. Jeantin during his retreat in 1868 = OM 812, 4]:

“The blessed Virgin said, referring to the Society: ‘I was the support of the Church in the first times. I shall be so again at the end of time.’”

Text 18

February 6, 1872. Colin. Words of encouragement at the Chapter. [Coste text Q (+) = Minutes of the chapter = OM 846, 32]:

“See how the protection of the blessed Virgin on our behalf has been evident in these unhappy times. How many other societies have been put to the test and ours spared. This is a proof that we have nothing to fear for the future. It is true that the future does not belong to us. But, as the blessed Virgin supported the newborn Church, so she will be the support of the Church at the end of time. Let us cling to her spirit, and she will be with us always; let us hold her by the hand. To think as Mary, judge as Mary, act as Mary. By imitating the blessed Virgin, we imitate her Son, of whom she is the most perfect image. We are her beloved children. We want to be present to the Son through the Mother. The more wretched we are, the more we ought to have confidence.”

The support of the Church at all times

Text 19

February 8, 1846. Eymard. Extract from a letter to M. Frédéric Salvioni, professor at the major seminary of Milan. [Archivio Istituto Missioni Estere, t. 28, Corrispondenza, Religiosi, pp. 747-750, § 15f; for another extract from this letter, see OM 908]:

The blessed Virgin has been at all times the support and the protectress of the Church, but one might be tempted to say that perhaps never have her maternal feelings been more in favor of men than in the 19th century. What works of zeal and of salvation have appeared everywhere under her auspices! Not to mention many others, is it not a new proof of her tenderness, I dare say, toward the men of our unfortunate times that there appears in our days a society of Marist priests, that is, a society under the name of Mary, and of a third order of the same society that counts already more than 800 lay brothers who take vows approved by the bishops, have their own government, live in community and devote themselves, like the Brothers of Christian Schools, to the education of children, especially in rural parishes.
And there is also a Marist third order for people who live in the world, and this third order itself has been enriched with indulgences by the Sovereign Pontiff.

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