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Our Spirit


"The Society, like the Church, finds its model in Mary the woman of faith. Its spirituality is simple and modest in its expression, close to the lives of ordinary people, apostolic in character, and marked by spontaneity and joy. It tries to make its own the Christian experience lived by Mary." – Constitutions SM 117.

Spirituality deals with a human person's search for the experience of unity, beauty, goodness and harmony with the transcendent, the mystery that is God.  This journey begins when a person realizes that he or she can only find authentic fulfillment and genuine happiness in the experience of the spirit. This call to "wholeness", that takes place at the deepest level of one's being, is also a call to "holiness".

Marist spirituality, namely the insights, the images, the memories, the stories, the symbols, and the richness of the Marist way of life, touch deeply this aspect of the human heart's hunger for authentic living.  It invites a person into an experience of God's dream and hope for all men and women expressed in the incarnate Son of God, Jesus.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the key to this understanding.  Jean Claude Colin, gifted with insight by the Spirit, opened up this treasure for all those who wish to experience it through living the Marist way of life.

Characteristics of the Marist spirit include:

  • Sharing the faith of Mary that God would like to work wonders through us if only we humbly receive God’s gift
  • Carrying out the ministry of evangelization like Mary in a “hidden and unknown” manner, with a listening heart fully engaged in life with others
  • Being “an instrument of Divine Mercy” as Mary, welcoming all people
  • Being a disciple in the manner of Mary, helping to build and renew the Church
  • Praying as Mary did – to intercede for the sake of God’s love for the world, especially for those who are lost or seem far from God
  • Living simply, unselfishly, and compassionately like Mary and to stand against the forces of greed, pride, and violence

 In all, the focus is on the spirit of Mary rather than any particular Marian devotion or practice.

  • Identification with Mary

    The key to understanding a Marist's unique relationship with Mary is not found in any particular devotion or act of piety, even though these are important.  The relationship between Mary and a Marist exists at a much deeper and more profound level.  Marists identify with Mary.  This reality is summed up for Marists by Jean Claude Colin in the following way: "So they must think as Mary, judge as Mary, feel and act as Mary in all things..."

  • Aspects of the Spirit of the Society of Mary

    "Think as Mary, judge as Mary, feel and act as Mary in all things".
    In order to be effective evangelisers, Marists take Mary as their model in their way of living. They gradually think, judge, feel and act in a new way - the way of Mary. It is an approach to life. The emphasis is not on particular devotions to Mary or to giving great honour to her in very public ways but rather living like Mary with the faith and attitudes, which were hers.

    "Hidden and Unknown in the world"
    This phrase has to do with the manner in which Marists live their lives in order to bring the women and men of their time to Christ. Mary was present in the early Christian community at Jerusalem, but her presence was a quiet, unassuming one. Marists try to have the same presence. To pattern oneself on Mary in this way is not to hide away but to be engaged fully in life but in a simple, gentle, humble way. The person who lives by this maxim will appear to be unnoticed while doing a great deal of good for others.

    "Instruments of Divine Mercy"
    The love of God for us in Christ is at the very centre of the Christian message. When Marists are asked to become "instruments of divine mercy" they are being asked to portray this feature of God and they are to help build a Church which is perceived, not in terms of power, planning, control, administration and competitiveness, but rather in terms of community, compassion, simplicity, mercy and fellowship. For this reason Marists are to embrace and be welcoming to all, to the exclusion of no one, and to have an open heart to all. 


  • The Spirit of the Society

    "Finally, let them learn from the first Marists to find in the presence of Mary at Nazareth and Pentecost, in the early Church and at the end of time, the secret of their own presence in the Church and the world of today: a presence attentive to God and vibrant with zeal, so that while doing great things for the Lord, they may seem to be unknown and even hidden in the world. This was Mary’s way; this is Mary’s work. It is expressed for all Marists in the words of Jean-Claude Colin:

    'Let them always bear in mind that they belong by a gracious choice to the family of the blessed Mary, Mother of God, from whose name they are called Marists, and whom they have chosen from the beginning as their model and their first and perpetual superior. If therefore they are and desire to be true sons of this dear Mother, let them try constantly to breathe her spirit: a spirit of humility, self-denial, intimate union with God, and the most ardent love of neighbour. So they must think as Mary, judge as Mary, feel and act as Mary in all things, otherwise they will be unworthy and degenerate sons. Therefore, following in the footsteps of their Mother, let them above all be far removed from any worldly spirit, and from all greed for earthly goods, and completely emptied of all self-interest.'”

    - Constitutions SM 228