Marianist LIFE Team "Sets the Table" for the Class of 2024

Aug 27, 2020

On Thursday, August 26, our Marianist LIFE team welcomed the Class of 2024 with a prayer service. Within that prayer service, we wanted each incoming freshman to understand what it means to be Marianist.

So how do we define what being a Marianist is about? What is so special or unique about Marianist life? We tried to answer these questions by relating to the everyday experience of setting a table for a meal.

The term “family” is frequently used to describe all those who live a Marianist life, either as lay people or as sisters, brothers, or priests. The items we placed on the table are symbols of how this family lives together - on good days and not so good days. Like any family, our communities don’t always live in the ideal state. The things we carry to the table represent who the Marianist family is and who the Marianist family strives to become.

The Table
At a round table, no one is seated in a place of honor simply because of a title or a responsibility they have. All have equal status. The many ways that people choose to divide ourselves have little importance here. All are welcome to share their stories as we share the meal together.

Flowers make us aware of beauty, the beauty of God's creation, our senses. The flowers represent the hospitality which Marianists are known for. Creating a warm and welcoming environment is very important to Marianists. Marianists know that feeling comfortable and experiencing beauty together can allow for open hearts and minds. True hospitality is not just about welcoming, but, it is also about accepting and mixing the individual into the group.

Lighting candles before a special meal is an ancient tradition from the Jewish roots of Christianity; the mother lights the candles before the Seder meal. The act marks the start of the Sabbath, the holy time at the week's end - the time where we set aside our busyness and stresses of life and allow time and space for the sacred. The candles symbolize how important it is to make time and space to reflect on God and to discern God's action in our lives.

Not every family is perfect, people make mistakes. Napkins remind us that we all have moments that need to be wiped away, we need a clean start. Forgiveness is part of family life.

Pieces of silverware represent the people in our community who bring very concrete skills to our Marianist family. These skills come in the form of natural talents, training or education. Although they are different, they are all essential.

The empty plates represent those who come to our family, anticipating the good things that will be served at the table. There are times, however, when we've seen someone come to a community carrying a full plate not yet ready to receive. Sometimes, there’s a plate that's cracked or broken; it won't be able to hold the food until it's put back together.

The water represents Prayer. Just like Water is essential to our physical life Prayer is essential to spiritual life. Every Christian community must be built on a foundation of intentional and meaningful prayer.

In our Catholic faith, bread is a symbol for Christ, and in mass it becomes Christ. We also believe we meet Christ in one another... Some days we eat the Bread in joy; some days we eat in sorrow, in all of these times we act as the body of Christ to one another. The community hopes to become what it has received; the Body of Christ.

Salt & Pepper
Just as salt helps our bodies bear and retain water needed for life, Mary helps us bear and hold Christ in our hearts. The Gospel tells us that if salt loses its flavor, it is not good for anything. The salt on our table reminds us of how vital Mary is to Christian life.

Omission of Chairs
The purposeful omission of chairs is a reminder that we build community, we form the Marianist family not just for ourselves, but for the Church and for the world. Like Mary, we bring God to the world, with a passion for justice and mercy. We don't sit at our table, so we remember not to linger too long. We must go out: other tables must be set.