There are already many beautiful movements. To our knowledge there is no other movement in the world that offers all men and women of good will, with their different spiritual or philosophical traditions, to meet each other every month, in prayer – whatever the expression of their prayer – and to join in fasting together to find real solutions to the common challenges that the world must face.
« Maranatha Conversion » offers regular dialogue through beauty & art, with the help of artists who then become vectors of dialogue between all.
« Maranatha Conversion » was born in the heart of Arch-Bishop André Léonard in 2005, but in fact, it is a movement of lay people world-wide, convinced of the importance of discovering or rediscovering the power of prayer.
All that is in the outer world is born in the inner world, in the heart and thoughts of someone. Starting from this observation, we think that we must return to the sources and plunge back into our hearts so that we can see the solutions that God will not fail to inspire. As believers, we also believe in miracles and we are convinced that unimaginable events and solutions for the moment will come are near.
The founders and first participants of « Maranatha Conversion » being Catholics, we will express ourselves as such. Yet, in no case will this be a rejection of other spiritual or philosophical traditions. It will then simply be necessary that everyone can « translate » with his own words what we will try to share with all. We rely on your understanding and kindness.
Syncretism does not bear fruit in the long run. We understand the good will and the desire of the people who, not knowing deeply their own tradition, think that the simplest thing would be to « mix everything » because all the spiritual traditions that have been transmitted by men, all hold a part of the truth. However in fact, most of the faithful think that it is their own tradition that is the true one, or at least it is the one in which they feel most adequate. As Christians, we cannot deny our deep conviction that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and to be in truth is primordial, lest we live in the lie.
It is undeniable, however, that each spiritual tradition has a beauty and peculiarities that can only move hearts and sometimes be a source of inspiration in our own lives. It is important to emphasize that at « Maranatha Conversion » we are not a group that wants to proselytize.
Human relations are often infinitely delicate, even among members of the same family and so much more so in larger communities. For Catholics, for example, we must not forget the beautiful proposals that from time-to-time came from Protestant communities and touched our hearts. These inspired Catholics embraced these proposals and adapted them to their expression of faith, such as Taise, the Charismatic Movement and also the « Alpha Courses », both born in the Protestant world.
Anyone who feels called to act, looking for solutions to the challenges of our time is welcome including the evenings of the 4th of the month which are meetings and friendship evenings, exchanges between all complementary to the “spiritual” themes that are proposed each month. Why deprive yourself? It is important to meet other people because together we can create a new dynamic. Today the most serious danger is the indifference and fatalism into which too many people fall.
Does this mean that we can imagine that soon there will be non-Christian groups who will join the process ?
We hope that very quickly we will see groups of all spiritual or philosophical traditions propose similar approaches. Our hope is that this approach, from 2019, spreads around the world. For that to happen all ideas, initiatives and dynamics are essential. Nobody can expect that the world’s difficulties will resolve themselves! But if a large number of men and women of goodwill decide that it is possible to act, we will be witness to events that will seem to us nothing less than miracles.
It was necessary at one point to decide which days become the days of the « Maranathons ». We thought it was natural to join the ecumenical prayer group which first began this prayer process by offering to pray for two consecutive days the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. So the 5th and 6th of the month were chosen.
The ideal is that we gather together in a sanctuary or a Marian center for Catholics, and for Christians of Protestant tradition or non-Christians, in a symbolic liturgical space. The ideal is also to join, whenever possible, a sanctuary/center that is close to our home.
In the event that you are unable to meet with a group of « Marathoniens », then join us with the heart through the Maranatha Website and meet us on a future occasion !
Why these dialogue days each 4th of the month? And why are these approaches related to art and artists ?
It is not easy to create a regular encounter between men and women of various spiritual or philosophical traditions, while we are all aware not only of this need but also very often of this desire for sharing. What has been called the Spirit of Assisi is still present in so many hearts as well as the beautiful approach of the « Parvis des gentils » [Courtyard of the gentiles]. Art, all artistic creation speaks to hearts. Having the privilege, whenever possible, to have the presence of artists as vectors of beauty and dialogue, will create an unprecedented approach in what some people like to call « living together ».
You say that the 4th of the month are moments that must be festive. Can we suggest a simple snack with herbal tea and cookies ?
Absolutely! The evenings of the 4th are meetings and dialogues in an informal sharing. We are here for the joy it brings us to be together. In all the traditions of the world, sharing a meal or snack is part of a time of friendship. A tea and some cookies, or maybe for those who feel like it, bringing a dish to share (according to the recipe of their choice) is something that can surely please the participants.
All the spiritual traditions of the world embrace fasting as an integral part of any spiritual process. The « Maranathons » propose that those who wish to do so should fast for at least lunch on the 5th and 6th of the month, and if they can and want it too, for the evening meals. We can also fast by only taking bread and water and if we wish, offer the price of what could have cost a « normal meal » to charity in a process of sharing with those who have nothing. « Marathoners » who for health reasons feel they cannot fast (food) can give-up something else if that makes sense to them.
Wanting to save rare butterflies in the Amazon is important but to become aware that we are now all connected to each other, wherever we live, that each of our actions has an impact everywhere in the world, makes us active in the process of integral ecology. The people involved in « Maranathons » are often very aware of the importance of the overall « protection of our common home », as Pope John Paul II said so eloquently .
In an ever-changing world where we have often lost our sense of direction, our inner compass, the very meaning of our lives … Marian shrines / centers are seen as privileged places where we can (and where we will be able to in the future) take refuge in difficult times. In one passage of the Bible, God asks Noah to build a large ark which will hold two of all the animals of the world and the family of Noah. This ark becomes their refuge when the world is submerged by the waves. Many people testify that the sanctuaries, these privileged places, serve them as symbolic places of refuge in times when they have the impression of losing their footing, of drowning in modern culture These are places of deep spiritual roots, where people say they have connected to past and also to future generations. These precious sacred places are all over the world waiting to be discovered or rediscover. It is important to dare to commit to reviving those who may have been forgotten or abandoned. Why not decide to commit to giving them a new lease of life? Why deprive ourselves of this great spiritual wealth ? « Maranathons could be privileged moments to create a new dynamic in the places where they will be held and in this way also to revive our common spiritual heritage.
Each sanctuary has a grace of its own. Are not you afraid that your approach will stifle this uniqueness ?
On the contrary! The « Maranathons » offer to discover or rediscover our rich spiritual heritage. The sanctuaries that will host « Maranathons » can then offer to truly live deeply, during these privileged times, the special grace of their sanctuary and let the people that come there discover, or deepen their understanding of them.
We have organized groups or other informal groups that are now gathering around the world. It would be nice to be able to propose to those who would like to join a « Maranathon » din the sanctuaries where they settle. When we have people who will engage to animate « Maranathons » in given sanctuaries, if they commit themselves to the monthly program and the intentions of « Maranatha Conversion », we will inscribe them. We will also indicate to which Christian denomination or spiritual tradition the group belongs. Our approach being international, ecumenical and inter-religious, all the groups that are in a this walk of life, have their place.
« Maranatha Conversion » has a very special relationship with the Holy Land, especially since our extraordinary pilgrimage of August 2013. We will arrange future events that many groups of « Maranathons » from around the world will want to join in the pilgrimages we plan to offer in the Holy Land.
It is undeniable that it is imperative to engage in some way together to seek and find solutions to the challenges of the world. Those who do not feel called to join our movement may find another group, another movement that will suit them. What matters most is to commit ourselves, not to give up, never to consider ourselves defeated in advance. Our approach may be fruitless in the eyes of some but we are convinced that it is not and that it will bear much good fruit because we have put all our heart into making it happen.
Fortunately, many people already belong to beautiful prayer groups. Our suggestion is that you might consider, when possible, that your next meetings coincide with the dates of the « Maranathons » ? In this way you would have your usual prayer meeting but it could take place on the 5th and 6th of each month so you could pray in union with the « Marathons »around the world. The idea is that we are as many as possible, all united around the prayer proposals / intentions of Pope Francis. And if we are very numerous, then our efforts will be exponentially multiplied. It is essential for us to emphasize that the most important thing is the cadence of the heart and not the name under which the prayer meeting takes place.
Why did you choose Our Lady of Guadalupe as protector of the movement and why do you propose that a reproduction of the image be in all the places where the « Maranathons » take place ?
Few people really know the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but many, once they hear it, have their heart full of gratitude for all that She represents, expresses, proposes and symbolizes. In Mexico City in 1531 the Virgin Mary printed on the mantle/tillma of St Juan Diego her image; as if She had given us her picture! All other representations of the Virgin Mary through time are interpretations of artists but the image of Guadalupe is, along with the Shroud of Turin, an absolute miracle. And besides being the protector of Life since She is represented pregnant, she is the symbol of perfect inculturation. This image is unique in the world. The Virgin is “mixed race”, She is neither Spanish nor Aztec! She prays like Europeans with Her hands joined but we can see that She has her knee raised because She also prays in the Indian way – with a dance movement. We are all Her children, of whatever people we come from, of whatever spiritual tradition we come from … There is not one place that is more important than another place, a people more important than any other people. The idea of proposing a representation of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe meets a wish of Saint John Paul II who dreamed that this image spread throughout the world, becomes the common point between all groups wherever they are though of course it does not replace the image venerated in the sanctuary that welcomes us.
Today more than ever we must train ourselves, not allow anyone to think for us, to decide for us, not to behave like « obedient sheep ». In Medjugorje the Virgin Mary said that « Evil wanted to rule the world and destroy it » (2 August 2011).
It is absurd to remain « spiritually illiterate » because there are many excellent formations in our various parishes or in the spiritual centers to which we belong.
The days of the « Maranathons » are not days of formation or teaching, they are privileged times of prayer, of personal reflections during times of meditation, of prayer, of reading the sacred texts. You do not learn to swim by listening to lessons on swimming or reading books, even by the best swimming champions, you learn to swim by diving in and sometimes floating until you learn that in fact it is the water that carries us, until our body understands it and can then swim. In the same way we learn to pray and experience the strength of prayer that carries us. How to learn if one never takes privileged time for this essential exercise? Sign up and train yourself to the intelligence of the faith during the whole month and then, if you wish, every 4th of the month you will be able to better interact with the people who will join the days of reflections on the spiritual subjects. And then on the 5th and 6th you will be able to put into action everything that you have learned in theory & practice.
Each person with a different tradition will have a prayer expression of his own. Depending on the sensitivity of the participants but also on the places where the « Maranathons », take place, there will be times of vocal prayer and times of meditation and contemplative prayer such as the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Those who are not used to it will be able to choose to read the Bible, or sing. We have a prayer group from South America who, during the two consecutive days, sing and pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in all the languages whose translations they have been able to find, in order to be in prayer union with the peoples who speak these languages.
Each group will find solutions that meet the expectations of participants and especially it will be important to be attentive and listen to various traditions.