Written by: Bro. Brian Poulin
May 1, 2021 – Feast of St. Joseph the Worker; Religious Brothers Day
In the course of my vocation ministry, whenever I introduce myself as a Marist Brother, I prefer to introduce my Marist community at the same time. Brother is a relationship long before it is a title, and while I may hope that people can understand me as a brother by the way I respond to them, that understanding is fundamentally incomplete without an introduction to the men I live with presently, whether in person or via a picture.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to find a group picture that flatters every single person in it. I promise that we’re better looking in person!
These are the men I cast my lot with. Not that I am committed to live any length of time with any particular individual, but it does mean that we are connected by a sacred group bond and that in some way I particularly rely on those with whom I live at any moment.
Being brothers to each other helps us be brothers to others so that we might even be given the grace to truly be a brother to all. As I’ve recently said about Marist family spirit, this doesn’t mean that all is eternally peaceful in the kingdom. We have our share of conflicts and misunderstandings; however, we also share a desire to recognize each other and to be recognized for who we truly are without inflation or deprecation. And who among us is truly anything but first a child of the same God and kin of the same Jesus?
We certainly each have friends outside of the community, and even outside of our Marist world, as is healthy and necessary. We’re not always best friends with each other, for the simple reason that we are all human beings with differing opinions, preferences, personal styles, and other traits. Nonetheless, we are united by a common mission, common motivations, common challenges, and common joys. This allows us to not only co-exist with each other, but to truly be present and care for one another in simple yet meaningful ways.
Yes, brothers “work for a living” (as some like to say), but our respective ministries aren’t what make us brother—they are instead a privileged sphere in which we can live out the Gospel instincts that we have hopefully been nurturing in our prayer and community life. Those are the great sources of strength (when they don’t demand all our strength) that empower us to find the next neighbor in need, just beyond the edge of our respective comfort zones.
So, this Religious Brothers Day, I call to mind my special gratitude for my Marist Brothers, without whom I would not be a brother either. Thank you for counting me in your number.
This week’s “ear candy” is a relatively recent song that describes the desire that true brothers have to care for each other when times are tough. The “brain food” is a short article by a Marist Brother from Spain, who has spent most of his life serving in Central America. This brother, nicknamed Goyo, lived with us for a few months in the Bronx in the fall of 2020 and was the person to discover the dead body of his confrere Bro. Moisés 30 years ago.
Ear Candy: “Brother” by NeedtoBreathe
Brain Food: “Brother Moisés Cisneros: Presence, Encouragement and Affection” by Bro. Gregorio Linacero, fms
Come back on the first Saturday of next month for a new post!