How They Love
Bro. Brian Poulin
May 7, 2022 – Saturday of the Third Week of Easter
In the Church calendar, May 1 is normally recognized as the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. It is also becoming ever more known as Religious Brothers Day, both nationally and internationally, as shown by this video from Timor Leste.
Marist Brothers and Lay Marists alike are generally known for our love of work. Our desire to serve runs deep, as expressed by our engagement in teaching and other helping professions. Indeed, the way I desire to serve others was an essential component of my attraction to the Marist Brothers. In that, I am in no way unique. Because the work is so valuable, it can be easy to love, even when it is draining.
Love is central to the Marist experience. This is borne out by two of St. Marcellin Champagnat’s best known and most treasured quotations: “To teach children you must first love them, and love them all equally,” and “Let it be said of the Little Brothers of Mary as it was of the first Christians, ‘See how they love one another.’” We learn that any attempt to do good must either be done in a loving way or suffer internal rot and decay. Hopefully, the love we experience in our places of ministry and the love we experience in our experience of community reenforce and strengthen each other.
I choose to work hard because of the satisfaction I get from a job well done and out of a robust sense of duty. No matter how immersed I get in a given moment’s task however, I can see when I look back with perspective that the greatest value is in the human relationships that were formed, regardless of whether they continue into the present day. The surest proof that I have made a meaningful contribution to this world is when a person I have served or served alongside has learned to place their trust in me because they have discovered me to be a safe person. I was very moved recently when a young adult I hadn’t heard from in nearly two years contacted me out of the blue for some simple moral support while he navigates a tough situation. In a sense, the work serves as an opportunity to establish these relationships, particularly for introverts like me who do not usually go out and meet people without some overlying purpose.
I have had a couple of people remark to me in recent years how apparent my love for my brothers is to them. They see it in how I talk with them or share my concern for them. I don’t doubt these observations; after all, I certainly do care for my brothers. It does surprise me however how obviously this strikes other people, because again, I don’t think I’m doing anything special… If anything, I’m just putting out what I take in.
When I consider the love that so many of us Marist Brothers live, I am reminded of the fish that is having a hard time understanding the concept of water. We lose sensitivity to the things that surround and saturate us. We too easily take the good things—and the good people—in our lives for granted. I might lose sight of a given brother’s goodness through my overfamiliarity with him, including with the quirks that frustrate me. Meanwhile, people who see this same brother less often are rightly awestruck by his example. There is a great beauty in our simple way of being with and for others.
Thus, in these days after Religious Brothers Day I give thanks for this call that I have received, not because of any particular work or program it has allowed me to be involved in but rather because through my experience as a Marist Brother, I have entered into a school of love. The most fundamental call of our brotherhood is simply to be brother in an authentic and loving way, and thereby to help others do the same. When we do that well, whatever job or interaction allows such opportunity is well worthwhile.
This month’s ‘ear candy’ is a song about trusting in the value of our challenging work for the good, even in times of difficulty. In religious ministry, we must look beyond short-term outcomes and have faith that God will use our efforts to his ultimate end. The ‘brain food’ is an article summarizing the Pope’s recent audience with Marist Brothers in Rome. His words encourage us to continue taking up the daunting challenges of our day, even when they seem bigger than we are.
Ear Candy: “Your Labor Is Not in Vain” by Porter’s Gate (feat. Paul Zach & Madison Cunningham)
Brain Food: “Pope to Marist Brothers: ’Look beyond’ to God’s Horizon Like Mary” by Robin Gomes
Come back on the first Saturday of next month for a new post!
Jul 3 – Real Presence