Dear Members of the Marist College Ashgrove Family,
Writer Jane Luker wrote about the three violets in terms of Marist spirituality.
Spiritual tradition among the Marist Brothers likened the three virtues of humility, simplicity and modesty to three violets hidden in the garden, giving glory to God in their smallness and hiddenness.
Humility (from the Latin root Humus meaning ground, earth, soil). To be truly humble is to be grounded, to be earthed. What is earth? Earth is just there, trodden on by every creature, taken for granted, yet it is from earth that all life springs, grows, blossoms and bears fruit. To be grounded in God is the only true path to holiness. Just as earth is dependent on rain and sun to make things grow, so it is only through our humility that we come to know our complete dependence on the grace of God, to bring about the spiritual growth needed to produce a rich harvest.
It is clear that God manifests his power and strength through this humility: Christ came down to earth, emptied himself, taking the form of a servant; he washed his disciples’ feet, humbly gave and received love, sat down to eat with everyone, none excluded, and finally was humiliated on a cross for his perfect love to all. Mary’s Magnificat is a hymn of praise to the humility of God. She says: No to pride, to ego, to domination, to injustice; Yes to the poor, the simple, the lowly.
Modesty. Well, we mustn’t be shrinking violets! No, to be truly modest is to rejoice in God’s gifts to us, doing the work entrusted to each one confidently, with enthusiasm and a zest for life and relationships. We live in hope, secure only in God’s love and providential care, but also with a kind of self-forgetfulness (which is hard) not looking for praise or success or recognition. Natural talents are not to be hidden away but used creatively or will be lost. Be faithful in little things, but also risk great things for it’s never too late to plant new seeds, start new ventures, face fresh challenges. How open am I to a sense of adventure? What risks will I take for God, what fears hold me down from growth?
St Marcellin installed the First Brothers to be this way with their mission. Being humble and modest are honourable traits. Do we value them?
Martha Washington (1731-1802) wrote, “The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our disposition and not on our circumstances. We carry the seeds of the one or the other about with us in our minds wherever we go.”
My conclusion here is that by choosing to be modest and humble, this can lead to happiness in life. Being other–focussed can guide us this way.
On Monday February 25, I had the privilege of accompanying three of our Student Leaders to Suncorp Stadium for the unveiling of the statue honouring Old Boy John Eales’ (1987) contribution to rugby. As we drove back to the College after the ceremony, I asked the boys what had struck them about John’s speech. They all replied that he had spoken about everyone else except himself in his speech. Truly humble and modest! At Marist College Ashgrove we congratulate John on this honour and recognize his true sense of selflessness.
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the commencement of Lent. Forty days where we are encouraged to:
- Help others
- Go without
Maybe during Lent 2019, we can all endeavour to act more with modesty and humility? By doing this we can have a positive impact on others and ourselves?!
Yours in Jesus, Mary and St Marcellin.