Joseph Jeyaseelan, CMF
We call ourselves as servants of the Word. Since servant-hood in the common secular use of the term bears nuances to lack of dignity and freedom, the expression servant may give the impression that we are people without dignity and freedom. Fortunately and truly it is not the case. The word servant in no way implies servitude, slavery or subservience. We are servants in the sense that we are called to be at the service of the Word of God in the world as missionaries. Being servants is our response to the missionary call we have received in the Congregation and it is not the core element of our being.
Nevertheless, our true identity is: WE ARE SONS. As Christians we are sons of the same Father. And as Claretians we are SONS too. A Claretian is a SON of the Heart of Mary. When Father Claret founded our Congregation on July 16, 1849 he did not have to choose between many names the best name to give to the beloved institute that was blossoming with the collaboration of five other like-minded men. Just as he had only one mission—spreading the Kingdom of God—so also, he had only one name for the Congregation in his mind.
Saint Claret had already discussed the plan to found a congregation with some his friends as he tells us in the autobiography: “Toward the middle of May I arrived in Barcelona and returned to Vic where I discussed with Canons Jaime Soler and Jaime Passarell my plan to form a congregation of priests who would both be, and be called, Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We are not sure if Father Claret discussed with them about the name he intended to give to the new institute. However, one thing is clear: he had had no second thought about the name with which he baptized the Congregation. The definition of a Claretian missionary written by our Founder begins asserting the basic identity of the missionary as a son: “… A Son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a man on fire…” (Aut 494). And our Fundamental Constitutions begin by affirming it: “… We are called Sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary…” (CC 1).
Father Claret not only gave the members of the Institute the designation “SONS” but he truly loved them as his sons too. When he was the archbishop of Cuba, the confessor to the Queen Isabella II, and later in exile, he showed immense love for his missionary sons by encouraging them through his letters and by visiting them whenever it was possible. We may recall an experience our Founder recounts. Once he was writing a letter thinking of his missionary sons, and the love he felt for them was too strong and affectionate that he had to put his pen aside in order to wipe the tears of affection and tenderness coming from the deep fountains of his loving heart.
Are you truly a son?
The realization of being a son with all the dignity, affection and closeness such a blessed state involves is very much necessary to be a man on fire with love. Jesus called his disciples as friends: “… I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends…” (Jn 15:15). So we are at the same time companions of the missionary par excellence Jesus Christ and sons of the Heart of Mary and sons of a tireless charismatic father who was full of love for God and neighbor. That is a unique and incredible identity indeed.
Hence it is good to remember that we are missionaries with dignity formed in the experience of companionship and sonship and as Father Claret tells us, in the forge of the Heart of Mary. We are not mere workers. We are not people doing a job. We are not managers of an office and we are not administrators of a project no matter what missionary label we put on such endeavors. Even if we had been servants, we have been called to be sons in the Congregation.
Only a higher level consciousness of being disciples (of Jesus) and sons (of God, Heart of Mary and Father Claret) will make us authentic missionaries whose fire of love will warm others with whom we live and minister to. Those who are mere servants, that is, those who have not been touched by the experience of discipleship and sonship, no doubt, become burnt out people whose misguided messianic zeal oftentimes burns, injures and wounds people instead of warming and soothing them with the compassionate message and love of the Gospel. Now comes the important question:
ARE YOU A SON?
OR ARE YOU A SERVANT?
Let us pray with our Founder:
My God, may you be blessed for condescending to choose your humble servants to be Sons of the Immaculate Heart of your Mother!
Most Blessed Mother, may the courtesy of your Immaculate Heart, in accepting us as your Sons, be praised a thousand times! Mother, make us cooperate with such kindness by becoming more humble, fervent, and zealous for the salvation of souls.