The Claretian Constitutions – History

THE CLARETIAN CONSTITUTIONS

 

Context, Purpose, History & Sources

Ted Cirone, C.M.F., April, 2005

 

(For a detailed study of the historical background of the constitutions, refer to Our Project of Missionary Life, Commentary on the Constitutions, Vol. I, PP. 27-114)

 

BACKGROUND: OUTLINE OF SOURCES OF CLARETIAN LEGISLATION

A. FOR THE ENTIRE CONGREGATION:

1. Universal Law of the Church: (Canon Law, Decrees. etc.)

2. Proper Law of the Congregation

  1. a)Decrees, prescripts & other administrative acts of the Holy See for the Congregation.
  2. b)Constitutions.
  3. c)Directory.
  4. d)General Decrees emanating from legitimate internal authority e.g., Decrees of the last General Chapter, of General Government, (cf. Annales Congregationis CMF) e.g.: “FORMATION OF MISSIONARIES; General Plan of Formation.” (cf. Directory, n. 1)

Constitutions

“The Constitutions are an expression of the action whereby the Spirit calls some members of the Church

  • to follow and imitate perfectly the evangelical! life of Christ
  • according to the form in which our Father Founder lived and proposed it.

The Constitutions have been officially accepted by the Church for the glory of God and the lasting good of the people. In them:

  • the nature, characteristics and most essential and permanent demands of our mission in the Church are set forth, and our lifestyle and the type of government befitting a missionary Congregation are defined.” (Directory n. 4)

 

Directory

“The Directory is the aggregate of criteria and norms of a general character for the whole Congregation which are set forth in systematic order and constitute the complementation of the Constitutions.” (Directory n. 12)

B. PARALLEL PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL LEGISLATION

1.       Episcopal Conferences and Diocesan Norms. etc.

2.       Major Organisms (Provinces. Vice-Provinces….)

  1. a)Provincial Chapters.
  2. b)Provincial by-laws, directories, etc. (e.g.: formation, vocation).
  3. c)Norms of the current Provincial Government: Directives of Provincial visitations, etc.

3.         Local Communities:

  • Community Plan & Schedule (Directory no. 150).
  • Decisions of the Community Plenary Meeting (Directory 430).

SOME NOTES ON THE CONSTITUTÍONS

  1. 1.The General Chapter is the official interpreter of the Constitutions. Changes in the text must be approved by the Holy See.
  1. 2.The Claretian vocation should not be considered as a calling parallel or superadded to the Christian vocation, but rather as the Christian vocation itself brought to fulfilment through the distinctive modality that the Spirit has inspired in us. In like manner, the Constitutions which moderate this Claretian modality of the Christian life should not be understood as a program of life parallel or superadded to the program of life traced out in the Gospel. The Gospel continues to be our only ideal and our only program of life, a program we strive to give shape to by following the Constitutions. This definitely means that we are following the one and only Gospel that is valid and obligatory for all Christians, but according to the distinctive rereading of the Gospel that St. Anthony Claret carried out by means of a special grace granted him by the Spirit. The Constitutions do not supplant the Gospel; rather, they help us to Uve it by helping us understand its demands in each and every circumstance of our life and mission. (Cf. Commentary on the Constitutions (CoCC) vol. 1, p. 6)
  1. 3.The Constitutions arose from the experience of St. Anthony Claret and his followers, the Claretians, in various times and places. Our Constitutions are not a theological or juridical treatise on the different elements that make up our project of life and mission nor are they merely a set of norms to apply to the concrete reality of our life and mission. Rather, they are altitudes that arouse, orient and guide our spiritual and missionary experience as Claretians. (Cf. CC vol. 1, p. 10). We too must learn to integrate our own experience and inculturate the Constitutions as needed in various times and places. (CoCC vol. 1, pp. 23-26).

II. KEY DIRECTIVES FOR RENEWAL OF THE CONSTITUTIONS (CoCC pp.17f.)

  1. a)Vatican Council II: “Perfectae Caritatis” (“On the Renewal of Religious Life:
  • Gave the order to proceed to the renewal of Constitutions (PC 3) in keeping with the guidelines established for the overall adaptation of Religious Life, marked by a return to origins and an accommodation to changed circumstances affecting the world and the Church.

b) Paul VI: “Ecclesiae Sanctae”:

  • established concrete channels to be followed in renewing Constitutions. They must be shorter, contain the evangelical! and theological principles relating to religious life and its place and role in the mystery of the Church (ES 12a), and to the juridical norms required in order to determine the proper character of each Institute and to guarantee its functioning (ES 12b).

c) The Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1983: According to the new Code, Constitutions must contain:

  • The intentions of the Founders regarding nature, aims, spirit and character of each institute, as well as sound traditions (can. 587);
  • Fundamental norms regarding governance, discipline, incorporation, formation of members, as well as the specific object of the sacred bonds that bind the members (can. 587.1);
  • The spiritual & juridical elements required for the normal development of the institute, but without needless multiplication of norms (can. 587.3);
  • All of the above are to be done with a view to fostering and facilitating the supreme norm of the religious life, which is the following of Christ as set forth in the Gospel and as expressed in the Constitutions of the Institute.

III. A SUMMAARY HISTORY OF THE CLARET1AN CONSTITUTIONS

(Taken mostly from CoCC, vol. 1, pgs 27-113; 381-491)

PART ONE (1849-1967)

 

1849 Constitutions

  • Needed because of Claret’s departure for Cuba
  • No extant copies.

Probably had 11 chapters: on the title and aim of the Congregation; Superior General and local superiors; the General Congregation; admission; means for own sanctification; means to use for salvation of souls; Domestic Regulations; Rule for time of Missions; Exercises of the Missions.

1857 TEXT (“First Constitutions”)

Returned from Cuba, Claret needed to present a written text to Queen for official State approval of the Institute. Revised text has 15 chapters; we can distinguish 5 parts:

  1. Fundamental: title and aim
  2. Juridical part: superiors; General Congregation; admissions
  3. Ascetical Part
  4. Pastoral Part: means of apostolate
  5. Disciplinary part:
  1. oRegulations: domestic; mission time; mission exercises; Rules for brothers: general; specific
  2. oJuridical profile is monarchical; spiritual is strictly missionary. Congregation of “Missionaries”. Government: has minimal’
  3. o“Houses, residences & quasi-residences” aimed at future.
  4. o-“Director General” elected by all for life; almost absolute monarchical authority. Helped/ “balanced” by Sub director.
  5. oAll superiors directed “mission & ministries”.
  6. o“General Congregation” every three years.

Coadjutor Brothers (11 brothers from 1849 to 1859); Mostly domestic duties; chapters written by Clotet.

1862 additions to 1857 Constitutions:

            General Congregation at Gracia, July 7-14.

            Congregation now had 3 houses, and students.

            1862 Chapter added 7 chapters on formation of students.

            Religious Vows were allowed and advised.

            Claret wrote “Act of Consecration” & “Formula for Profession”.

            Special Act of Consecration to IHM.    

1865-1870 Constitutions (“Second Constitutions”)

 

General Chapter of Gracia, July, 1864, gave act of confidence to Claret (with Xifré) to revise & draft Constitutions in dialogue with Holy See.

  1. oText mostly by Claret; Government parts by Xifre; Brothers part by Clotet. Claret revised and approved all.
  2. oClaret was in Rome to intervene on two occasions.
  3. oRoman officials had many objections, made many corrections; Entire project had to be thoroughly revised.
  4. oText approved “ad experimentum” by Pius IX, Dec. 22,1865.
  5. oDefínitive approval by Pius IX February 11,1870.
  6. oCongregation approved as “Institute of Perfection with simple vows.” Not yet considered “Religious” in canonical terms of that time.
  7. oEnded the “constitutive phase” of the Congregation.

Approved text:

  • Now in Latin: 3 parts: Juridical; Spiritual; Brothers.
  • Much of it copied from other sources: J. Petitdidier, S.J.; CSSR:; Rodríguez, etc.
  • Became less “missionary” and more “religious”.
  • Specific element of apostolate is” ministerium verbi”.
  • Spiritual followed order of purgative, illuminative, unitive.
  • Government: Ist part: From higher to lower authorities.
  • Superior General’s term is 12 Years.

 

For other government changes, see CoCC pgs. 410-421.

1924 Modifications to the Constitutions

  1. oChurch required Religious to incorporate changes of new Canon Law, promulgated 1917.
  2. oRenewed CMF Constitutions incorporated also changes adapted in previous General Chapters, especially Chapters of 1912 and 1922.
  3. oReal modifications were mostly in governance & structure. Only minimal or literary changes were made in other sections. For list of government changes see CC pgs. 436-437.

Chapter of 1912 had added “Missionary” to official title of Congregation: “Missionary Sons…” Chapter of 1922 eliminated it. Theory of “missionary” as generic & “Sons of IHM” , as specific.

These were the Constitutions in vogue until the General Chapters of renewal after Vatican II.

PART TWO (1967 -1986) (CoCC vol 1. PP. 70 -115)

 

            As mentioned above, the Congregation set out to implement the Church’s requirements to revise our life and Constitutions.

The various General Chapters made distinctive contributions:

  • 1967: Distinctive CMF charism and identity   
  • 1973: New notion of community embodied in our government
  • 1979: Mission of the Congregation emphasized
  • 1985: Adaptation to new code of Canon Law (1983

1974 Constitutions (Published January 6,1974)

  • Text revised and approved by General Chapter of 1973.
  • 1967 General Chapter had given some indications for revision of the Constitutions, and mandated the appointment of a post-Capitular Committee. The committee sent a draft of a revised Constitutions to the entire Congregation in late 1971. See “Annales” (1971) pp. 389-457.

In applying the criteria given by the Church (see above) the committee noted some specific areas of our Constitutions which needed to be attended to. (For enumeration, see CoCCp.445)

  • The 1973 General Chapter approved a text for the revised Constitutions. This was printed and promulgated. It was understood that this text was now our official Constitutions, even though still only provisional and experimental.

 

Most significant changes in this new text: Structure:

            There is a fundamental constitution.

            Three parts are maintained, but reversed.

  1. 1.Religious-Apostolic Life of the Congregation
  2. 2. Members of the Congregation
  3. 3.Government of the Congregation Chapter one begins with community.
    1. oIn government, the local community is treated first, then the provincial community, and finally the general community.
    2. o“Missionary Brothers” are fully integrated. “Deacons” are accepted as a new category of members.

 

New Principles & Structures of Government: See CoCC pgs. 460-462):

  • Principles: Dialogue & Co-participation;
  • Consultation & Information;
  • Representativeness;
  • Decentralization (Subsidiarity).

New Structures:

  • Possible election of Provincial & Local Governments.
  • Plenary Meeting of Local Community, etc..

            As much as possible, texts of the earlier Constitutions were incorporated; but in reality there was very little that could be salvaged. The Constitutions are basically a new document. Yet they are in full keeping with the requirements of the Church in Vatican II, and with the genuine spirit and authentic tradition of the Congregation. The Claretian identity and mission is clearly articulated and maintained throughout. There is greater unity and coherence. There is biblical and doctrinal enrichment

1982 Constitutions

  • Prior to the 1979 Chapter, a special commission worked well, sent out a detailed draft with comparative texts and suggestions.
  • USA & Philippine provinces presented a proposal for a shorter Constitution of only 2 parts. It almost was accepted.

            Chapter approved new additions & revisions to be presented to the Holy See.

  • More concise: e.g.: 13 chapters of part 2 reduced to 4; 12 of part 3 reduced to 6.
  • Better unity. Better biblical & Claret references.

            The new revision is stronger & clearer on missionary evangelization; our mission in the world; “Missionary” replaces “Apostolic-Religious”. More Christocentric.

The Holy See was laudatory, but presented some corrections and adaptations that would be in the new canon law. The General Government dialogued and eventually accepted most of these, and incorporated them into the text.

The Official Approval of the Holy See carne on February 11,1982

1986 Constítutíons     (Definitive)

            January 25,1983: John Paul II promulgated new code of Canon Law.

With the permission of the Holy See, the General Government prepared new texts adapting our Constitutions to canon law. These were later studied and approved by the 1985 General Chapter.

Most of the changes were technical matters of government & law. For a list see CoCC pgs. 487-488.

 

Definitive text approved by Holy See on May 15,1986.

_____________________

Reflections for Feast of St Claret

St. Anthony Mary Claret: A Contemplative in Action

Though no conflict exists between contemplation and action, their harmonious blending is hard to achieve. Burdened with too many things to do, not a few active religious lament about their lack of time for prayer and contemplation. But bereft of the spiritual backing, action seems to seek personal achievements and glory and lose the divine quality of compassion. If consecrated people are to be, as Pope John Paul II described, “The epiphany of divine love for the world”[i] they need to draw divine compassion from the source itself. It is through contemplation and union with the divine, that consecrated people are impelled and made ‘free to love and free to serve.’ The life and work of St. Anthony Mary Claret is an outstanding model for the harmonious integration of contemplation and action.

Claret was one of the greatest missionaries of all times who brought about great spiritual renewal in Spain, Canary Islands and Cuba in the 19th Century. He stands out as an excellent example for missionary zeal blended with the spiritual intensity of a mystic. Essentially he was a mystic in action. We highlight how he achieved this ideal to show how consecrated people can be both intensively active and contemplative at the same time.

1. A biographical sketch

Claret was born in Sallient near Barcelona in 1807. He was the son of a small-scale textile manufacturer. His father would have liked him to be at his factory but God had a different plan for him. His experiences during his studies in Barcelona led him to realize the futility of worldly possessions and achievements. Having discerned his vocation to priesthood, he joined the diocese of Vic and got ordained as a priest in 1835. From the very beginning he felt that he was called to go beyond the confines of a parish. His heart was going out to the whole world. He writes in his Autobiography, “As the parish was not my final goal, I felt a deep desire to leave it and go to the missions in order to save souls, even if it meant undergoing a thousand labours and even death…. In many passages of the Bible I felt the voice of God calling me to go forth and preach. This same thing happened to me while I was at prayer. Thus it was that I determined to leave the parish and go to Rome, to present myself to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith so that they could send me anywhere in the world.” (Aut 212, 220)

Because of his thrust for mission he undertook a tedious journey to Rome to meet the bishop in charge of Propaganda Fide and present himself to be sent anywhere in the world as a missionary. As the bishop was not in Rome at that time, he joined the Jesuit novitiate as an easy way of becoming a missionary as Jesuits were going to foreign missions. The brief experience with the Jesuits was very enriching for his future apostolate. While in novitiate, “… the flame of zeal for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls took fire in my heart and totally consumed me…” (Aut 153). But God had a different plan for him; he wanted him not as a Jesuit but as an apostolic missionary in Spain.

There was a great need for a prophet of the Lord in Spain. Catalonia was passing through severe crisis: in the aftermath of the civil war, the clergy were greatly reduced in number, and the church was subjected to a great deal of persecution by the new liberal government. Though basically a believing community, Christians were embattled in their beliefs by a number of hostile forces. Claret tells, “The Lord wanted me to preach the word of God to these people, while the devil was hard at work trying to corrupt them with dances, theatres, military manoeuvres, platoons, books, evil magazines, etc…. Everywhere you turned you could see nothing but scandals and outrages, and hear nothing but blasphemies and lies. It seemed as if all hell had broken loose.” (Aut 458-459)

After a process of discernment he returned to Spain and started his itinerant preaching without getting tied down to any one parish. Holy See granted him the official title of the “Apostolic Missionary” in 1841. In 1843 he started his intense apostolic preaching and parish missions through out Catalonia. He made the resolution, “I will spend my total working time hearing confessions, catechizing, and preaching publicly or privately as circumstances permit.”[ii]

As he extended his preaching of mission to Canary Islands and found the quest for the Word of God among the people so intense and the number of preachers so few, he invited other priests to join him in his effort. With five others who shared his vision, he founded the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1849 in order to bring the Good News to the people. It was then that he was made the archbishop of Cuba and though unwilling, he had to leave behind the newly formed Congregation and go to Cuba. There too he worked tirelessly as a missionary and brought about radical changes in the life of the people. He was a great social reformer who fought against the practice of slavery in Cuba and used all available resources for the betterment of the poor people. His tenure of six years saw social, moral and religious renewal of the people of Cuba.

Claret came back to Madrid as Queen Isabel II wanted him to be the spiritual animator for her and the royal family. But before accepting the role of Confessor to the queen, he made sure that he would not be hindered in his mission of preaching the Word whenever it was possible. It was the time of revolutions in Spain. Though he never interfered in the political matters, he was the target of calumnies and persecutions. Finally he had to live in exile in the monastery of Cistercians at Frontfroide in France and died there in 1870 on October 24. Though as he had desired, he did not die a martyr, he died abandoned and hidden away in the infirmary of a monastery. But what the monks witnessed was the death of a saint.

2. As an “Apostolic Missionary”

The title “Apostolic Missionary” was awarded to him by the Holy See and this title captures what he essentially was. He went around the breadth and width of Catalonia in Spain, and Canary Islands preaching the Word of God. He did it always walking, going from one parish to other as an itinerant preacher. He never carried with him money but depended on God’s providence. He writes in his autobiography about the style of his mission and the hardships he had to suffer during his itinerant preaching throughout Catalonia: “During that whole seven years, I was on the go from one town to another. I travelled alone and on foot. I had a canvas-backed map of Catalonia that I always carried with me, and on it I would mark the distances I travelled, as well as any resting places. I would walk for five hours in the morning and another five in the afternoon. Sometimes I had to walk through rain, other times through snow, or under the broiling sun of a summer’s day. … in trying to cross the drifts I would sometimes get buried in snow-filled ditches.” (Aut 460). Demonic powers too arrayed against him and persecuted him terribly and tried to dissuade people from listening to his preaching. But Claret experienced visible protection of the Blessed Virgin, angels and saints, “who guided me through unknown paths, freed me from thieves and murderers, and brought me to a place of safety without ever knowing how.” (Aut 464)

Even when he became an archbishop and later the Confessor of Isabel II, he remained essentially as an apostolic missionary who made use of all occasions to preach the Word. While in Cuba he travelled the length and breadth of the country four times and preached the missions in all parishes. While accompanying the queen in her official journeys, Claret would get into parishes and preach the Word of God.

It is not only by way of direct preaching alone that he communicated the gospel. He made all means possible for the proclamation of the gospel. Amidst the continuous preaching expeditions, he found time for writing many books also. He helped in the foundation of different Congregations to promote the work of the kingdom. Printing, publishing and free distribution of books, pamphlets, medals, etc., were his other ways of service to the Word.

3. Apostolic spirituality and practice of virtues

 

He was supported in his apostolic works by a deep apostolic spirituality. He was a contemplative in action. Amid the activities so absorbing and varied, he lived an intensely contemplative life. In fact, for Claret, life was not divided into two water-tight compartments: one, the apostolate, dedicated to sanctifying others; the other, prayer, mortification, recollection, in a word, asceticism – dedicated to sanctifying oneself. He understood that the apostolic life as a divine vocation demanding total consecration. According to him, apostolate demands, for its very existence, an intense life of prayer and mortification. On the other side, an authentic ministry itself is highly sanctifying because of the harsh asceticism and renunciations involved in the work of the kingdom. Claret shows that action is not a hindrance to personal sanctification but it is the milieu in which an apostle is sanctified. The Claretian Father Paul Vallier wrote, “I regard our Father as a great Saint…. The faithful confidently invoke him as a protector of the interior life, and he will be considered as a model of this interior life by all those who, like their Father, are obliged by their ministry to follow an active life.”[iii]

His aspiration was to be a genuine apostle: a holy apostle. He practiced and advised others to practice those virtues, which he considered essential to any missionary to be truly productive. He says, “The apostolic missionary should be a model of all the virtues; he should, in fact, be virtue personified. Following Christ’s example, he should first practice, then preach.” (Aut 340)

He strived to achieve the various virtues needed for a missionary, starting with humility. He says, “I knew that if I was to acquire the virtues I needed in order to become a truly apostolic missionary, I would have to begin with humility, which I regard as the foundation for all other virtues.” (Aut 341).

He practiced poverty with the same fervour as that of St. Francis of Assisi. He writes, “I had nothing, wanted nothing, refused everything. I was content with the clothes I had on and the food that was set before me. I carried all I had in a bandanna. The contents of my luggage were a full-year breviary, a sheaf of sermons, a pair of socks, and an extra shirt – nothing more.” (Aut 359). He never carried any money with him, even to buy food during his travels – in fact many a time even beggars shared their food with him. He reports, “Once I was travelling from Igualada to Barcelona. As I was passing the King’s Mill Inn, at noon, a poor man took pity on me and asked me into the inn, where he spent four quarters to buy me a plate of beans. I ate them gladly and arrived perfectly well in Barcelona that same afternoon.” (Aut 366)

Other virtues he insisted for the missionary were meekness, modesty, mortification and love of God and neighbour.

4. Springboard of his Mission

Claret was, according to the spirit of the times, motivated by the deep desire for the salvation of the souls. God has instilled in him a thirst for the salvation of the souls from the very early days of his life. He writes in his autobiography

“The first ideas I can remember date back to when I was five years old. When I went to bed, instead of sleeping… I used to think about eternity… Then I would shudder and ask myself if those who were so unhappy as to go to an eternity of pain would ever see an end to their suffering…. This troubled me deeply, for I am by nature very compassionate.” (Aut. 8-9)

In yet another place he writes, “I tell you quite frankly that whenever I see sinners, I grow restless, I cannot quiet down, I cannot be consoled, my heart goes out to them. … Charity urges and impels me; it makes me run from town to town shouting, “sinner, my son, look where you’re heading; you’re about to fall into hell. Stop!” (Aut 211-212)

This fervour for the salvation of human kind made him go to any extent that would prevent a sinner from eternal damnation. Later another thought added to his zest and zeal for the mission viz. the desire that nobody should offend the heavenly Father by sin. He says, “In time I felt a further stimulus for zeal, the thought that sin not only condemns my neighbour but is an offence against God, my Father. This idea breaks my heart with pain and makes me want to run like…. If a son had a very kind father and saw that he was being maltreated for no reason at all, wouldn’t the son defend the father?” (Aut 16-17)

No worldly goals attracted him. About the inspiration for his activities he writes, “Whenever I went to a town, I did so without any worldly goal in mind: my only aim was to glorify God and save souls….You know that men nearly always do whatever it is they do for one or another of the following reasons: 1.   Gain or money 2.   Pleasure 3. Fame. I have not come to preach a mission in this town for any of these reasons. Not for money, because I don’t want a penny from anyone and I won’t take one. Not for pleasure, for what pleasure could I get out of wearing myself out from early in the morning until night? If some of you have to wait your turn for three or four hours to go to confession, you get tired. I must be there all morning and afternoon; and at night, instead of resting, I have to preach – and not for just one day, but day after day, for weeks, months, and years. Just think about that, my brothers and sisters. May be I do it for fame? Hardly. You must be well aware of the calumnies I’m exposed to. One person may praise me, but another makes all sorts of charges against me, as the Jews did against Jesus…” (Aut 199-201)

5. At the service of Jesus and Mary

Claret had a constant awareness of his mission as coming from God and he saw himself as just a steward. He affirms that he was a mere instrument in the hands of the Triune God. He was a servant, a slave of his great Lord Jesus and an arrow poised in the mighty hand of Mary his Mistress to be sent against all the evils. In the resolutions of the spiritual exercises for 1843, Claret considered Jesus Christ as commander in whose army he enrolled himself to collaborate in the warfare with the Blessed Virgin Mary against forces of evil.

He was like a servant; and a servant cannot do what he likes. If he is arbitrary in his actions he is not doing the will of his master. “You know already that I have no proper will; I am the slave of my mistress, Mary most holy, and a slave cannot have other will than that of his mistress whom he serves.”[iv]

Using the example of a dog, Claret defines his apostolic and prophetic duties: “The dog watches by day and redoubles his vigilance by night. He guards the person and property of his master. He barks at and bites all those he knows or suspects are planning to harm his master or his master’s interests. I should strive to be always vigilant, and denounce vices, faults, and cry out against the enemies of the soul.” He again says, “The dog is a so faithful an animal and so constant a companion to his master that neither misery, poverty, hardship, nor anything else can separate him from his master. I should be the same: so faithful and constant in serving and loving God that I might say with the Apostle that neither death nor life nor anything else can ever separate me from Him.”[v]

Mary was a constant companion in his life from the beginning to the end. His relation with Mary becomes explicit when he tells in the beginning of his autobiography, “Later, out of devotion to Mary Most Holy, I added the sweet name of Mary, my mother, my patroness, my mistress, my directress and my all, after Jesus.” (Aut. 5) Lozano observes, “The presence of the Mother of God is manifest in Claret’s mystical life in three ways: as a mediating influence alongside her Son, as the Saint’s spiritual directress, and as the object of mystical contemplation.”[vi] Various notations the Saint has left us describe as many as twenty-six heavenly locutions, thirteen of which came from Christ, eight from the Blessed Virgin, three from both of them together, and two from individual saints. He had the experience of Mary handing him the Infant Jesus. Virgin Mary powerfully made her presence felt in his apostolic vocation through apparitions. Mary guided him with instructions: “More prayer… more mortifications… be patient… spread devotion to the Rosary…” Mary once said to him, “I wish to make use of you.”[vii] No wonder he considers himself to be merely an instrument in the hands of Mary. Even the founding of the Congregation is attributed to her intervention and named it as the Congregation of the sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Hence Claret’s apostolate has a special relationship of dependency on the Immaculate Virgin.

6. Contemplating Jesus and Imitating Him

 

Claret had a burning desire to imitate Jesus to the smallest detail. This became a great obsession for him. He would gather as many data as he could from the Gospels and read between the lines and find out what Jesus would have felt, thought and did on different occasions in order to imitate his attitudes. He says, “I will always keep my gaze fixed on Jesus Christ.… So I constantly thought on Jesus… I meditated on his words, his sermons, his actions. I used to ask myself in every situation, and still do, how Jesus would have done it. I would recall Christ’s teaching on the matter and meditate on it constantly.” [viii] He adds, “I meditated on his words, his sermons, his actions; on the way he ate, dressed, and travelled from town to town.” (Aut 356) According to Lozano, the biographer of the saint, Claret’s entire religious experience stems from a personal, existential contact with the Lord Jesus. It is the love of Christ that impelled him to imitate Christ faithfully: “Jesus Christ loves poverty, insults, and suffering; and so I love them, too.”[ix]

Lozano observes that Claret belongs to the long line of Christological ascetics who extend back, in the West, to St. Bernard, and especially St. Francis. “For him, imitating Christ meant literally not having a penny in his pocket and travelling on foot, like his Lord, without provisions because he had suffered hunger and thirst along the roads of Palestine. It meant having only one change of clothes and refusing even an extra pair of shoes, since Jesus had recommended this and sticking up edifying conversations with passers-by, as Jesus had done with the Samaritan woman. Imitating Christ meant preaching simply and using numerous comparisons, as he had done, and following his example of silence in the face of slander. When Claret was the queen’s Confessor, it meant not buying a house in Madrid because the Son of Man, who was poorer than the foxes and the birds of the air, had nowhere to lay his head.”[x]

In the book Claret has written for young girls, Well-Instructed Schoolgirl, Dorothy, the heroine, explains how from the time she rises until the time she retires, she is continually thinking about Jesus and imitates him in his actions. [xi]

  1. Centrality of the Word of God

In Claret there is a harmonious blending of two fundamental traits of Christian spirituality – the contact with the person of Christ, the Incarnate Word, and contact with the written Word, the Scriptures. At the very core of Claret’s spirituality we find the Word of God. He found his vocation from the contemplation of the Word of God. Everyday he read a number of chapters from the New and Old Testaments; and throughout his life, form his youth till his death, he chose the life and passion of Christ as the regular theme of his meditations. He considered this meditation on the Gospels as the basis of asceticism. He instructed priests, “Every day the priest must study his lesson, that is, read at least one chapter of the Holy gospel, and attend class, that is, meditate. Thus, every day he should make an hour, or at least a half hour, of mediation on the life, death, and passion of Jesus Christ.”[xii] It was his reading the Gospels that gave him his rule of life. It was his Word of God in the Scriptures that continually sculpted and moulded the image of the Lord in his soul. Claret’s imitation of Christ starts in the Gospel and continually reverts to the Gospel.

  1. Prayer

 

“Praying to God and rowing to shore” was Claret’s attitude through out his whole life.

Jesus was the absolute model, especially in the aspect of prayer and apostolate. The contemplation of Jesus revealed to him that “By day He preached, and cured the sick and by night He prayed” (Aut 434, Lk 6.12). The example of his Lord and Master clarified Claret’s apostolic life. He too did the same: praying and working. He was convinced that the apostolate is the prolongation of the mission of Jesus, establishing the Kingdom of God in this world: and an Apostle rooted in prayer and communion with the Lord only could do it.

Prayer became increasingly the first means of the apostolate. It is only logical that an apostle, conscious of being only an instrument in God’s hands, should frequently turn his glance toward the source of grace. He made his environment sacred by means of ejaculatory prayers, following the example of St. Ignatius, and enjoined the practice of making a brief examination of conscience at the stroke of every hour.

Solitude enveloped Claret in the midst of his intensely active life. By disciplining his eyes and tongue he abstained from all unnecessary or useless contacts with the external world.

In the Well-Instructed Seminarian he writes about himself in third person, “This cleric is ever-mindful of the words of St. Paul: in God we live and move and have our being. Thus he is always in the presence of God, whom he fears as a Lord that always beholds him, whom he loves as a Father… .”[xiii] His confessor Carmelo Sala tells, “As regards his sense of the presence of God, I must remark that it was continual; he always seemed as if withdrawn from the things of this world.” Fr. Clotet says, “One day, while he was telling me that this state could be practiced anytime and anywhere, he remarked, ‘I know someone who is at times more recollected in streets and squares than he is at payer.’ As I listened, I had no doubt that he was speaking of himself, although in the third person.” His ecclesiastical vicar in Cuba remarks, “His relationship with God was familiar and continual, and he never lost sight of Him.”[xiv]

To create a harmony between Mary and Martha was indeed a preoccupation throughout his life, especially during the period when he was the Confessor to the queen.

His life at Madrid provided him with more time for inner reflections since he did not any more have a tight schedule like in Cuba. In his resolutions of 1857 he writes, “I will have a chapel fabricated in the centre of my heart, and in that I will adore God day and night with a spiritual worship. I will pray continuously for myself and for others. My soul, like Mary, will be at the feet of Jesus listening to his words and inspiration, and my flesh or body, like Martha, will be going around with humility and solicitude undertaking everything which it knows to be for the greater glory of God and for the good of my neighbours.”[xv]

Experience taught him that silence is most important for advancing in perfection. Claret would speak only out of necessity and then too he used only the minimum words possible. “I will spend the nights in prayer; the mortification will be continual and in everything; the presence of God, permanent.”[xvi] Again it is the example of the Word Incarnate that motivated him in keeping silence.

Continuing the earlier image of the dog and his master in relation to apostolate, he also takes from it a lesson regarding prayer and contemplation, and walking in the presence of the Lord: “The dog’s greatest joy is to be in his master’s presence and walk along beside him. I shall strive always to walk joyfully in the presence of God and my Master.”

Claret received the gift of the habitual presence of God. Though towards the end of his life he experienced more frequent and intense mystical experiences of God’s presence, it did not hinder his active work in any way.

9. Eucharistic Mysticism

 

Eucharist plays a pre-eminent role in the mystical experiences of Claret, both as a source of illumination and as a means of mystical transformation. He was given a number of his mystical graces by way of the Eucharist. The Mass and visiting the Blessed Sacrament were the spiritual high points of his entire day, and it was during these visits that he received many of his inner locutions. After the Holy Mass he had many intense experiences of union with God and he felt himself totally annulled. He says, “When I am before the Blessed Sacrament, I feel such a lively faith that I can’t describe it. Christ in the Eucharist is almost tangible to me. I kiss his wounds continually and embrace Him.”[xvii] Others too record Claret’s ecstasies during Mass, how he was seen surrounded by rays of light, and seeing him transformed. Father Juan Martin Alonso says, “While he was celebrating Mass, his face became glowing and transparent, like that of a child. I noted this a number of times, especially when he was celebrating a Pontifical Mass.”[xviii] As if as a reward for his fervour for the Eucharistic Lord, he was blessed with a great Eucharistic grace to preserve the Lord in his heart continuously. About this experience the saint himself says, “On August 26, 1861, at 7.00 in the evening while I was at prayer in the church of the Rosary at La Granja, the Lord granted me the great grace of keeping the sacramental species intact within me and of having the Blessed Sacrament always present, day and night, in my breast. Because of this I must always be very recollected and inwardly devout. Furthermore I must pray and confront all the evils of Spain, as the Lord has told me….”[xix] More than a personal mystical experience, it had a larger apostolic implication. Claret felt within him, along with the divine life, a surge of apostolic energy drawing him to collaborate in the growth of the whole Mystical body of his Lord by working for his church.

 

  1. Asceticism

We have a long list of the ascetic practices of Claret: Particularly, examination of conscience, practices of piety, strict discipline, external and internal mortification of senses, doing everything with upright and pure intention, meditation on the Last Truths, reading of the scriptures and the lives of saints, mental and vocal prayer, and abstention from meat and wine. He led a rigid life of apostolic asceticism in the style of an ‘oriental ascetic’.

He writes in Autobiography for the edification of his readers, “I followed a regular plan of life. Every year I made a ten-day retreat, a practice I have followed ever since I joined the seminary. Every eight days I received the sacrament of reconciliation. I fasted on Thursdays and Saturdays, took the discipline on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and wore the cilice on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.” (Aut 107)

“I resolved that in my outward bearing I would be modest and recollected; that in my inner being I would be continuously and fervently absorbed with God; that in my work I would be patient, silent, and long-suffering.” (Aut 419)

To work and suffer for Christ was his ambition. In every situation he would look for suffering for the sake of Christ. For example while narrating his journey to Rome to present himself to Propaganda Fide, he says, “Since my voyage to Rome was not intended as a pleasure trip but one in which to work and suffer for Jesus Christ, I felt that I ought to look for the humblest and poorest place aboard so as to have a better chance of suffering. With this in mind, I bought a ticket for standing-room on the deck near the bow, which was the poorest and cheapest passage. After I had gone off by myself to say my rosary and other devotion, I looked for a place where I could rest a bit and could find nothing more suitable than a pile of coiled rope, which I sat on, resting my head on an artillery piece in the battery on one side of the ship. In this position, I meditated on how Jesus might have rested when he set out in the boat with his disciples.” (Aut 130-1)

While all the private and personal acts – his prayers and mortifications- were oriented toward his apostolate, the most intense and joyful apostolate for him was the practice of direct asceticism, like   all those journeys he undertook on foot, the hunger, heat, cold, and fatigue he felt along the roads of Catalonia; having to accept the help of beggars; the endless meekness and patience he showed when the crowds pressed about him or besieged him in the confessional; the mortification in eating that he undertook to edify others; or the sleep he deprived himself of to be able to spend the greater part of the night writing.

  1. Configuration with Christ crucified.

On November 25, 1858, God infused in Claret a love for being persecuted and slandered. He had a dream that night. “I dreamed that I had been jailed on a charge I was innocent of. Because I considered it a gift from heaven to be treated like Jesus I was silent, as he had been. Nearly all my friends had abandoned me, as had the friends of Jesus, too. One of my friends wanted to defend me, as Peter had wanted to defend Jesus, but I said to him, “Don’t you want me to drink the chalice my Father has prepared for me.”[xx]

There was even physical attack on him: In 1852 at Holguin, in Cuba,   a man who was unable to appreciate Claret’s good works attempted to kill him. While Claret was in the midst of the crowd his enemy stepped forward, as if to kiss his ring, and suddenly his arm flew back and he got out the dagger he was hiding and brought it down upon the saint’s head with all his might. As Claret had his head down, instead of slitting his throat as the enemy had intended, the dagger slashed his face across the left cheek, from the ear to the chin. In fact this was the same man who was freed from the prison a year earlier on Claret’s recommendation. The very next year he did him the favour of wounding him! Claret says that it was indeed a favour – a great favour from heaven – which brought him the greatest joy and for which he thanked God and the Blessed Virgin Mary continually. (Cf. Aut 584) For Claret it was a missed chance of martyrdom! He says, “I can’t describe the pleasure, delight, and joy I felt in my soul on realizing that I had reached the long desired goal of shedding my blood for the love of Jesus and Mary and of sealing the truths of the gospel with the very blood of my veins.”[xxi]

Of course, Claret forgave the man who tried to kill him. When he heard that he was sent to jail, he pleaded with the Captain General of Havana for his release and offered to pay the expenses of his deportation to his birthplace, the Canaries.

Claret was persecuted and slandered, especially during his life in the royal court. The newspaper cartoons of those days show how much he was the target of the revolutionaries who were deadly against the Church and priests. Claret silently suffered all those calumnies for the sake of the Lord with the inner joy of participating in the similar experiences of his Master. His death in exile away from his followers, gave a fitting finale for his desire to conform to the Lord. On his tombstone is inscribed the last words of Pope St. Gregory VII, “I have loved justice, and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile”

3. Conclusion

As noted by Fr. Clotet, his companion in founding the Congregation, Claret was a zealous Apostle, lover of evangelical poverty, and above all a passionate “Lover of Jesus Christ”. He is indeed one of the greatest missionary saints of modern times who teaches us how to be a true contemplative in action. Jesus was always the source and inspiration of his works. The slogan that he appropriated was St. Paul’s words, “The love of Christ impels us” (2 Cor 5.14). When our apostolate springs up from the love of Christ there is necessarily the integration of contemplation and action. It is not the acts of mere social concern, but action born out of the love for Christ that makes a person an apostle. St. Anthony Mary Claret shows us how to reach out to humanity while being totally rooted in Christ.



[i] Osservato Romano, Feb, 2, 2003.

[ii] Njayarkulam Cyriac, Work and Suffer for Christ, Claretian Publications, Bangalore, 1984, p. 66

[iii] In Lozano Juan Maria, Mystic and Man of Action, Claretian Publications, Chicago 1977 p.194

[iv] Njayarkulam p.118

[v] Njayarkulam pp.119-120

[vi] Lozano p. 299

[vii] Lozano 299

[viii] Lozano, p.119

[ix] Lozano p. 125

[x] Lozano p. 123-124

[xi] Lozano p.124

[xii] Lozano p. 125

[xiii] In Lozano p. 192

[xiv] Lozano pp. 193

[xv] In Njayarkulam, p.111

[xvi] Njayarkulam p. 118

[xvii] Cf. Lozano p. 289

[xviii] Lozano p 290

[xix] Lozano p. 291

[xx] Quoted in Njayarkulam p. 121

[xxi] Quoted in Njayarkulam p.103

History of the Congregation

       BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CONGREGATION

 

I CHAPTER:

FROM THE FOUNDING

TO THE DEATH OF FR: STEPHEN SALA

(1849 – 1858)

1. The Foundation.

The foundation took place after two main realizations of Claret: lack of evangelical preachers and the eagerness of people to hear the Word of God.

            Before the Foundation Fr. Claret had offered himself to the Propagation of the Faith to be sent to the infidels. Unable to join – people of the Propagation of the Faith were out on summer vocation – he joined to Novitiate of the Jesuits in Rome. Several months later Claret was victim of severe rheumatic pains. He was advised to return to Spain. Back in Spain, he received the title “Apostolic Missionary” from the Holy See. The title and honored he transformed in the definition of his own being: ‘universal preacher at the fashion of the Apostles”.

            After his missionary preaching in the Canary Islands, Claret spoke to the Archbishop of Tarragona, with the bishop of Vich – Nibs Casadevall – with the Rector of the seminary of Vich – Soler -, with canon Pasarell and with the oratorian Fr. Peter Bach. Claret arranged with the bishop of Vich and with the Rector of the seminary the place and date and invited those who were to be the Co-founders: Stephen Sala, Joseph Xifre, James Clotet, Dominic Fabregas and Emmanuel Vilaro.

            On July 16, 1849, they began the Spiritual Exercises during which the Congregation would be founded.

            “At 3:00 P.M. we were gathered together at the seminary”. Before starting the Spiritual Exercises Fr. Claret said: “Today we begin a great enterprise”. Fr. Vilaro smiling said: “What can we do being so young and so few”? – “You will see –replied Claret – if we are few and young the power and mercy of God will shine the more”.

            The rooms were equipped with a wooden bed, table and chair, basin and pitcher, and a lamp.

            The foundation room had a crucifix on the table, oil painting of our Mother of Divine Love, one simple chair for the president and two benches without back for the others. Everything borrowed, pretty humble.

            The topic of the first talk was” “Your rod and your staff give me comfort”. – the rod and staff stand for the Virgin Mary (Mount Carmel feast) and the Holy Cross (Exaltation of the Holy Cross feast).

            At the end of the Spiritual exercises al unanimously agreed to appoint Claret “Director” of the new Congregation.

He wrote down the “plan of life”:

At 4:00 AM rising, Lauds and meditation in common, Mass mutually served. Three daily conferences:

          Moral theology from 9:00 to 10:00 AM

          Sacred oratory one hour in the afternoon

          Mystical theology half an hour at night.

Spiritual reading and examination of conscience, Rosary, visit to the Blessed Sacrament after meals, reading at table, night prayer, examination of conscience, points of mediation.

Weekly confession, on Sundays and holydays half an hour more of mediation followed by a talk. Absolute silence, fast and abstinence, (such that people started becoming sick. A doctor imposed one hour recess in the afternoon).   Monthly recollection, twice yearly spiritual exercises. (This “plan” has been kept almost literally until Vatican II.)

  1. 2)On July 30, 1849, Fr. Bernardo Sala – brother of Stephen – joined the community.
  2. 3)On August 11, 1849, Fr. Claret received the appointment of Archbishop of Cuba. After speaking to the bishop of Vich and to the Rector of the seminary, he sent his renuntiation giving as main reasons:

          Repugnance for honors

          Incapacity to perform the duties

          The fact of abandoning the newly born Congregation.

Not accepted his renuntiation by the Apostolic Nuntiature and encouraged by the bishop not to resist the will of God, claret finally accepted.   The community at first strongly objected, and then they accepted in faith.

  1. 4)On October 9, 1849 the community moved from the seminary of Vich to the convent de la Merced, formerly convent of the Mercedarians Fathers.
  2. 5)At the end 1849 and before sailing for Cuba, Claret wrote down the Constitutions for the missionaries. They were never printed and got lost.
  3. 6)At the end of April 1850, the community of Vich consited of twelve members: the seven mentioned above plus Caixal, Homs, Carbo, Picanol and Tuban.
  4. 7)On October 6, 1850, claret in consecrated Archbishop of Cuba at the Cathedral of Vich..
  5. 8)On December 28, 1850, Claret and Vilaro sail for Cuba, leaving ten members in Vich.
  6. 9)Before leaving, Claret appointed Stephen Sala Director of the Congregation with unanimous consent of the missionaries. Although no substitute was name, in practice Fr. Bernardo Sala took over in his brother Stephens absences.
  7. 10)In 1851 Fr. Homs left due to family situation.
  8. 11)IN 1852, Fr. Carbo died. So, eight are left in Vich.
  9. 12)Meantime around Claret the Congregation grew in Cuba: Sanmarti, Rovira, Currius, Barjau. The two groups were referred to as “congregation”. They were identical in regards to regulations, spirit and life. Cuba considered itself a second community of missionaries, like that of Vich, while Claret remained in Cuba.
  10. 13)In 1854, the Spanish revolution took place. The community of Vich went unmolested, but the ministries were curtailed creating a financial crisis. The community of Vich wrote to claret that sent them Mass stipends.
  11. 14)On May 26, 1857, Queen Elizabeth II appoints Archbishop Claret to be her confessor at Madrid. Claret returns and goes to Madrid as requested by the Queen.
  12. 15)On June 29, 1857, Claret promulgated the first printed Constitutions. The members decided to put all goods in common and each one to be served from the common fund.
  13. 16)On September 8, 1857, the members of the Congregation accepted the constitutions with a personal promise of observing them.
  14. 17)On April 18, 1858, Fr. Stephen Sala died in Barcelona. The congregation then consisted of only one house, 12 priests and three Brothers: Puig, Pla and Vinolas. (Among the members there were an ex-Jesuit, an ex-Trapist, and ex-Benedictine, an ex-Carthusian and an ex-Mercedarian).

II CHAPTER

FROM THE ELECTION OF FR. XIFRE

TO THE FOUNDERS DEATH

1. Election of Fr. Xifre

After the death of Fr.Stephen Sala, his brother, Fr.Bernardo acted as Superior and convoked a general Assembly, which was held on May 1, 1858, with the purpose of electing new Director of the Congregation.

            During the first votation Fr. Xifre was elected Director and Fr. Clotet Sub-Director. Fr. Xifre did not accept.

            A second votation gave the same result. For the second time Fr. Xifre did not accept.

            Without a third ballot, the community insisted that Fr.Xifre accept. Fr. Xifre was refusing to accept on the grounds of his bad temper, the community insisting, he finally accepted, but he made clear: “if you insist, be ready. There are people are who will suffer”. His first act as to call Fr. Picanol (ex-Jesuit) and made his read some passages in the Constitutions asking him if he was ready to fulfill them. Fr. Picanol answered that he would not. So he was sent out of the Institute.

            At first the community became nervous, since Fr.Picanol was a good popular preacher, but then, they approved since Fr. Picanol was a proud person and with disruptive influence.

            Fr. Picanol appealed to the bishop who decided not to interfere. So Fr. Picanol remained out.

Fr. Xifre immediately enforced two rules:

          no food must be taken outside the community and

          no visits outside.

The community approved and became more stable.

2. Immediately vocational propaganda started giving as a result:           

          in 1858, 4 new candidates

          in 1859, 16 candidates

          in 1860, 13 candidates

          in 1861,11 candidates

          in 1862,11 candidates

          in 1863, 17 candidates

          in 1864, 16 candidates

          in 1865, 5 candidates

          in 1866, 14 candidates

          in 1867, 12 candidates

          in 1868, 12 candidates

These new vocations became the backbone of the new congregation, among them were Frs. Brossosa, Crusats, Valier, Serrat, Ramonet, Gavin…

  1. 3) On July 9, 1859, the “Statutes” of the Congregation were approved by theof Spain.
  2. 4)On November 4, 1859, he 2nd house of the Congregation is founded in Gracia, Barcelona.
  3. 5)On January 23, 1860, Fr. Clotet and two Brothers moved to the new house. With this foundation the aspirations of expansion of Fr. Claret and Fr. Xifre started to take place.
  4. 6)On October 9, 1860, the Government of Spain gave the official approval of the congregation.
  5. 7)On October 19, 1860, the Holy See gave to the Congregation the “Decretum Laudis” or “decree of praise” through which the Congregation became Pontifical.
  6. 8)“House – Mission” of Vich was the principal house of the Institute. With the growth of the community the church of La Merced was entrusted to our missionaries. Very soon it turned out to be small and had to be widened.
  7. 9)On November 22, 1861, the foundation of the third house of the Congregationplace in Segovia, in the center of Spain, according to the desire of Fr. Claret. At the petition of the bishop, Claret him self initiated and directed the negotiations of foundation. At first it was established in San Andres. Later on, the missionaries moved to the church-convent of the Alcantarins, one of the “ransom’ Orders. The first community was formed by Frs. Clement Serrat, superior, Francis Crusats, Dominic Fabregas and Brother Jose.
  8. 10)Novitiate and Scholasticate in Vich (not yet canonical novitiate) were established in 1861, for Brothers and Priests. Fr. Hilario Brossosa was the first novice master in the Congregation. At that time there were not yet candidates for priesthood. In 1862 aspirants to priesthood with “advanced career” (already in theology) would be admitted.
  9. 11)II General Chapter on July 7 to 14, 1862, at Gracia, presided over by the Founder.

Important agreements take place:

          chapters on students and Brothers are added to the constitutions

          novitiate is adopted: 15 days aspirancy, spiritual exercises, one full year novitiate, ending with the Act of Consecration to God, to Jesus Christ and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. To God, to Jesus Christ and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Promise of fulfilling the constitutions. Oath of perseverance until death in the congregation.

          The possibility of making private vows is open, although not compulsory.

  1. 12)III General chapter on July 3 to 6, 1864, at Gracia, presided over by the Founder. The main concern is the definitive elaboration of the constitutions.
  2. 13)In 1865, Fr. Claret spent three months in Vich. During is stay he gave the spiritual exercise to the community. Then he went to Gracia. During the spiritual exercises in Gracia he prophesied that the Congregation would soon have a martyr. Also on this occasion stated the “Consoling promise”: “Those who will die in the congregation, will be saved”. This same year, Fr. Claret sent to Fr. Xifre a letter in which he writes the “Definition of the missionary”.   Now, not being able to live with members of the Congregation, Fr. Claret asked some members to live with him in the court in order to observe the Claretian “Plan of life”. The first being with him were Fr. Vilar and several Brothers.
  3. 14)On December 22, 1865, Pope Pius IX approved the newly revised Constitutions for ten years “ad experimentum” and also gave the definitive approval of the Congregation.
  4. 15)On that occasion Vich had 21 priests, 23 Brothers and 15 novices.
  5. 16)On August 1, 1868 the 4th house was founded in La Selva del camp, Tarragona.
  6. 17)In September, 1868, a revolution started “against the crown and against the altar” inOur communities suffered tragic moments.   The community of Vich was scattered. The house of La Selva del camp was assaulted. Fr. Francis Crusats was martyred on Sept. 30, 1868. It was foretold by the founder as a sign of growth of the congregation. “The blood of martyrs is the seed of new Christians.”
  7. 18)On November 23, 1868, Fr. Xifre was persecuted and took refuge in Perpignan, Southern France. He gathered there a small community. On February 22, 1869, the Perpignan community moved to Prades, where the students and novices took refuge. Prades became the center and heart of the Congregation with about 100 members of all kinds. Prades was the 5th house of the Congregation. Funds were limited, maintenance difficult.
  8. 19)On October 23, 1869, the 6th house was opened in Algiers, North Africa. The Claretian missionaries were invited by Charles Cardinal Lavigerie who personally approached Fr. Xifre. He gave his support for a house – mission in his see of Algiers. The main reason was to attend to the spiritual needs of the many immigrants SpanishAlgiers was under French administration, but majority of people were Spanish immigrants. Although the Procurator of the Republic protected our missionaries, the French parish priest, the bishop and the governor made work and life impossible for the missionaries, so in 1888 they abandoned Algiers.  
  9. 20)First foundation in Am Erica: in Santiago de Chile on January 22, 1870 Both Algiers and Chile foundations were made with the approval of the Founder. On Dec. 13, 1869, the first expediction of missionaries left for Chile led by Fr. Pablo Valier. They were 5 piresits and 2 Brothers. Thef rist house was not conducive due to the presence of manifpulative old biddies under a certain Don Santiago. At first the missionaries encountered great hositility among people, and were forced to change residence after one week. They moved to Belen. Being a strong and dynamic group, the Congregation began to spread. The group requested Fr. Xifre to send more missionaries. In May 1872, Fr. Xifre sent a second expedition composed of 6 priests and 4 Brothers. Still a third expedition of 5 priests and 2 Brothers was sent afterwards. Fr.refused to send more, although seeing the extraordinary work of his missionaries; he decided to send 4 more missionaries.
  10. 21)On July 16, 1869, Claret writes to Fr. Xifre recommending the apostolate of Christian education through schools inspired in the good work of the Christian Brothers. Fr. Xifre was not of the idea, so he took no action for the moment until 1884.
  11. 22)On February 11, 1870, Pope Pius IX approved definitely the constitutions of the Congregation and we became a religious Congregation of public simple vows. On July 26, 1870, the Holy See approved the Formula of Profession written by the founder. The simple vows became compulsory for all the missionaries. From 1871, the public Profession was made general after the Novitiate.
  12. 23)Last days and death of Fr. Founder. Fr. Claret persecuted, took refuge in Prades. He enjoyed and took delight with his sons, the missionaries. He was prophetically spread the Congregation throughout the world. From Prades he moved to the Cistercian Abbey of Fontfroide. Seriously sick he made his profession in the hands of Fr. Xifre on October 8, 1870. After several days of agony he died in said monastery on Oct. 24, 1870. Our Founder was the first to die as a vowed
  13. 24)The early ideal of the missionaries was “popular missions” lasting from 10 to 15 days with a very hectic schedule of preaching. It comprised from September to EasterThe life at home was regulated by the Constitutions and Directory, written by the founder, as well as by the Director written by Fr.Clotet for the Coadjutor Brothers.   They studied, had conferences, made spiritual exercises together, and gave them to priests and religious. It comprised the time of harvest, that is, from April to September.
  14. 25)From 1857 to 1865, the government in the Congregation was fully centralized. The Director and Sub director were for life. From 1865 to 1912, there would be a moderate centralization. The general would be for 12 years. Provincials would be elected in Provincial chapters. Local superiors would be elected in Provincial Chapter. In 1870, the houses will be grouped in Provinces. Although the practice would take time.
  15. 26)Three steps in the development of the Congregation:

Diocesan Congregation

July 9, 1859, Spanish government approves the “Statutes” of the Congregation

October 9, 1860, Spanish Government approves the Congregation.

Pontifical Congregation

          October 19, 1860, Holy See gives to the congregation the “Decretum Laudis”.

          December 22, 1865, Pius IX approves the Constitutions for 10 years “ad experiementum”.

Religious Congregation:

          February 11, 1870, Pius IX gives final approval to the constitutions. We became Religious congregation.

          July 26, 1870, Holy See approves the Formula of Profession written by the founder.

III CHAPTER :

FROM THE DEATH OF FR. CLARET TO FR. XIFRE’S DEATH

1870 – 1899.

  1. 1)On May 8, 1871, the foundation in Thuir, France, took place. In Prades the funds were limited, the maintenance difficult. Persecution reached Prades, so the community moved to Thuir. There the scholasticate and novitiate were installed. It became the see of the General Government. Fr. James Clotet became the superior and Fr. Clement Serrat the novice master. The number of students, Brothers and Priests increased considerable. In 10 years, the congregation increased from 100 to 400 members. This was due especially to the great evangelical missionaries who besides preaching were recruiting and sending candidates from Spain to the cenacle of Thuir. Special mention goes to Fr. Gavin, Fr. Genover, etc. and Fr. Bech, the official recruiter. The community of Thuir was dedicated mainly to the formation of our candidates and to preach popular missions.
  2. 2)On September 24, 1875, a royal order authorizes the re-establishment of the Religious Orders and Congregations in Spain. Fr. Xifre sent a copy to the community of Thuir telling his missionaries to return to Spain and occupy our former houses.
  3. 3)On July 9-13, 1876, the IV General Chapter in Gracia. During this chapter Frs. Xifre and Clotet were re-elected Superior General and Sub director respectively. As consultors Frs. Serrat, Fonts and Sola. Visitorships are introduced in the regime of the Congregation. Chile is created Visitorship.
  4. 4)On August 19, 1876, the first house is opened in southern Spain, in Cordoba.
  5. 5) (a) In 1876, the first Minor Seminary of the congregation was established in Barbastro, Huesca. The house of Alagon, Zaragoza, was founded in this year, becoming for a time the Congregations wide seminary. Another Minor Seminary will be established in Segovia.

(b) On September 1, 1877, the first foundation in Madrid, Spain, at Toledo street. The General Government had great interest in founding in the capital of Spain being a strategic center. Ten years later the missionaries would move to Bueb Suceso Street.

  1. 6)On June 19, 1880, the unfortunate, disastrous foundation of Santiago de Cuba took place. It was accepted at the request of the Archbishop of Cuba. The acceptance was motivated by a sort of sentimentalism in order to continue the work of the fonder. Fr. Xifre sent the first expedition of missionaries consisting of 6 priests and 5 Brothers. After a few months in the span of three days 3 members of the expedition died victims of the “yellow fever”. After two seeks, 2 more died. Fr. Sola got discouraged and began to complain requesting Fr. Xifre to allow the remaining survivors to return to Spain. Fr. Xifre issued the order in a letter. In the meantime Fr. Xifre received a telegram: “Sola, Sassoliver, Perez died”. This left 1 sick priest (Xuriach) and 2 recovered Brothers. They wrote again, asking: “now, quid”? Fr. Xifre’s answer was: “Come all first steam”. – Only 2 remained alive.
  2. 7)On October 26, 1880, the General Secretyary of the civil government with some policemen went to the mission-house of Thuir giving the Congregation a few days to get out of Thuir. As a consequence of this expulsion, the novitiate, scholasticate and General Curia was transferred to the mission-house ofHowever, Thuir was not totally closed. Fr. Martin Alsina continued there for several years as superior of the much-reduced community.
  3. 8)In July, 1881, the First General Assembly of the congregation took place at la Selva DelFr. Xifre presided over. 37 agreements were taken.
  4. 9)On November 13, 1883, the congregation accepted the first mission territory entrusted to it: Fernando Poo in Equatorial Guinea, Africa. This mission was taken from the Jesuits. They left in 1872 due to political matters, old age and financial difficulties. In 1880 the Apostolic Nunitiature in Madrid invited Fr. Xife to take care of so difficult mission ofThe first expedition consisted of 6 priests and 5 Bropthers. During the first three years they established in Sta. Isabel. They opened a school of arts and trades, and went to the far island of Annobon. Soon a second expedition followed. Among those sent in the first two expeditions, 6 or 7 died of “malaria”. The expeditions continued. At the end of 1884 the missionaries were 54 working in 8 centers. Traditionally, Fernando Poo has been considered “number 1” mission in terms of volume of work and hardships. It was a British colony; then was put under Spanish administration with the Spain language. The population was divided into three main groups: Cubans, penal colonists with the tradition of cohabitation that Fr. Claret had tried to correct in Cuba; the native Bubis and the Protestant colonists. Maintenance was difficult, so the missionaries began to acquire large cacao lands. The of Fernando Poo became the richest in the congregation and paid the largest amount of money for the international Votive Temple of Rome to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The bishops were always Claretians. The first Apostolic Prefect was Fr. Ciriaco Ramirez.
  5. 10)On August 3, 1884, the first mission-house in Mexico was established at Toluca. There the first school of the Congregation was opened.
  6. 11)On December 30, 1884, the foundation of the mission-house in Rome took place. To found in Rome is the dream of every Congregation with desire for expansion and agility in official affairs. It started holding the direction of the Colegio Espanol of Rome, which would become afterwards Sapnish-roman seminary transferred to Via Giulia.
  7. 12)On July 3, 1885, the foundation of the first of the Major Seminaries of the congregation took place at Sto Domingo de la Calzada. The theologians transferred fromBasis of the foundation were the church and Colegio-University of the Franciscans. Fr. Serrat became the first superior, and Fr. Pablo Valier, back from Chile, Prefect of the students.
  8. 13)On July 1, 1887, the foundation of the second Major Seminary took place at the ex-University of Cervera, Lerida. When Sto. Domingo de la Calzada could no longer handle the numbers, the ex-University of Cervera became the wide seminary of the Congregation, while Sto. Domingo became the theologate of its Province.
  9. 14)On June 8-10, 1888 , the fifth General Chapter took place in Madrid. Fr. Xifre is re-elected Superior General, and Fr. Clement Serrat, Sub-Director. It deals also with the internal regime and expansion of the Congregation. The Congregation had at that moment three Visitorships: Chile, Fernando Poo and Mexico. ( Visitor is one who goes in place of the General bearing his authority). Fr. Clottet embodies the tendency to form Provinces, but the Chapter rejects it.
  10. 15)In 1889, the first issue of “Annales Congregationis” is published, exclusively for the Claretian missionaries. During that year the publication “Iris de Paz” (rainbow of Peace) starts for the relatives and friends of the missionaries.
  11. 16)Besides the above mentioned foundations, 23 more foundations took place up to 1895, in Spain.
  12. 17)On September 3 – 16, 1895, the VI General Chapter is celebrated in Cervera. The topic of forming Provinces is taken again. This time everybody unanimously agreed. The congregation is divided into Provinces. Two Provinces are created:

          Catalonia comprising Catalonia, Visitorship of Mexico and regions of Aragon, Murcia, Valencia and Canary Islands.

          Castile comprising the rest of Spain and Portugal, vistorship of Chile and Visitorship of Brazil.

The Visitorship of Fernando Poo will depend directly from the General Government.

  1. 18)On November 1, 1895, the mission-house of Sao Paulo, Brazil, is founded.
  2. 19)On March 15-28, 1896, celebration of the VII General Chapter in Sto. Domingo de laThe main purpose is to define the boundaries of the Provinces and to clearly define the powers of the Provincials and mutual relations among the Major Superiors. Actually, little was clarified – majority of people were accustomed to the style of Fr. Xifre having all absolute power. One of the two Provincials – Fr. Burgos – began to move for a new Chapter in order to:

          Obtain decentralization of government, and

          Ask Fr. Xifre to resign from office since he was already exhausted due to age.

  1. 20)On May 12, 1898, foundation at Aldeia da Ponte, Portugal.
  2. 21)On November 3, 1899, Fr. Xifre dies in Cervera, Lerida, Spain. He had been Superior General from 1858 to 1899, that is, 41 years. He left the Congregation strong, vibrant and growing.

Statistics:

            1858:

Houses – 1

Members – 9

1876:

            Houses, 14

            Members, 157 ( 90 Priests, 50 Brothers, 15 Students)

            Novices, 60

1899:

Houses – 60

Members – 1368

Provinces – 2 (Catalonia and Castille)

Visitorships – 4 (Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Fernando Poo)

Novices – 108

Countries:

Spain – 1849

France – 1869

Chile – 1869

Algiers – 1869

Cuba – 1880

Equatorial Guinea – 1883

Mexico – 1884

Italy – 1884

Brazil – 1895

Portugal – 1898

IV CHAPTER

GENERALATE OF FR: CLEMENT SERRAT

(1899 – 1906)

  1. 1)On December 19-27, 1899, VIII GENERAL CHAPTER, in Vich. Fr. Clement Serrat was elected Superior General. Fr. Martin Alsina, Sub-Director. The Chapter deals with internal observance. Also, it is decided that each Province will have its own novitiate.
  2. 2)On August 15, 1901, the first Provincial novitiates are inaugurated: Catalonia will have e its own in Cervera. Castile will have its own in Cervera. Castile will have its own in Segovia. This decision was pushed by the Provincials who were opposed to Fr. Xifres centralization perpetuated by Fr. Serrat and later on by Fr. Alsina. The Provincial Chapters of 1901 demanded also to have separate scholasicates, at first denied by the General Government.
  3. 3)On December 4, 1901, the first foundation is made is Argentina, at Buenos Aires.
  4. 4)On September 18, 1902, First Claretian foundation in USA, at San Antonio,It was considered part of the Visitorship of Mexico, which depended from Catalonia.
  5. 5)On April 24 – May 18, 1904, the IX General Chapter is celebrated in La Selva delIt deals with regular observance. The provincials demand again to have separate scholiasticates. The third Province is crated in Spain: Betica which will comprise the regions of Andalucia, Extremadura and Canary Islands. Fr. Candido Catalan became the first Provincial . the four Visitorships: Mexico (including USA), Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Fernando Poo are converted into Independent General vicariates (The old Visitor was completely dependent on the Provincial of the mother Province; the new structure is dependent on the General Government but independent from the Province.) A Pastoral course is demanded for the three Provinces and it is approved.
  6. 6)On May 3, 1904, the Apostolic Prefecture of Fernando Poo is elevated to an Apostolic Vicariate. The first Apostolic Vicar was bishop Armengol Coll, first Claretian bishop after Fr. Founder.
  7. 7)On October 15, 1905, The “Pastoral Year” course for the newly ordained priests was inaugurated at Aranda de Duero. Classes on Pastoral and Moral theology were combined with pastoral work especially during Lenten season. This course in Aranda de Deuero would be held until 1958.
  8. 8)On January 6, 1906, Fr. Clement serrat died in Segovia. He had authorized 19 new foundations. At his death the Congregation had: Houses – 79; Members-1.486; Provinces-3; Vicariates-4

V CHAPTER

GENERALATE OF FR: MARTIN ALSINA

(1906-1922)

  1. 1.On June 5-7, 1906, the X General Chapter is celebrated in Aranda. Fr. Martin Alsina is elected Superior General. Fr. Antonio Naval, Sub-Director.
  2. 2.On September 19, 1906, the third Proncie – Betica – is constituted in fact – decreed in 1904 GeneralThe first Provincial Superior was Fr. Candido Catalan.  
  3. 3.On March 5, 1908, the first foundation in Uruguay takes place at Penarol.
  4. 4.On April 29, 1908, the “German Postulancy” started at Cervera.
  5. 5.On February 14, 1909, the Congregation accepts the 2nd mission territory, the Prefecture of Choco, in western Colombia. Fr. Alisisna accompanied the first expedition to the newly crated Prefecture: Fr. Juan Gil – Apostolic Prefect – with 2 priests and 2 Brothers. In three years, 3 of them died victims of tropical diseases. The other 2 returned to Spain. New expedition composed of 3 priests and 2 Brothers was sent. After three years only one survived.
  6. 6.on June 26, 1909, the first foundation in Peru takes place at the Seminary of Lima.
  7. 7.On November 18, 1909, the first foundation in Bolivia, at Cochabamba.
  8. 8.In 1910, the missionaries are expelled from Portugal during the Portuguese revolution.
  9. 9.On February 22, 1912, the Congregation founds in Trieste. At that time part of Austria, now part of Italy.
  10. 10.April 20, 1912, the first foundation in England takes place, at Harlington (Hayes)
  11. 11.On April 28-May 31, 1912, the XI General Chapter is celebrated in Vich. Fr. Martin Alsina is re-elected Superior General. Fr. Isaac Burgos, sub-Director.

          The Chapter studies the accommodation of the constitutions to the recent norms of the Holy See previous to the promulgation of the new Canon Law.

          The Coat of Arms of the Congregation is changed from “Caritas Christi urget nos” (Claret’s) to “surrexerunt filii ejus and beatissimam praedicaverunt” (Her sons rose up and proclaimed her most blessed”)

          As all Congregations were seeking a distinctive trait, we took the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Even setting up a special Commission to foster devotion to the Immaculate Heart.

          The translation of the Constitutions from Latin to Spanish started.

          “Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary” is abbreviated to “Missionaries”.

          Means of fostering love for the Congregation is discussed.

  1. 12.On June 20, 1912, a rescript from the Holy See is issued demanding that the temporary vows be introduced in the Congregation, (until this time, vows were perpetual after the novitiate).
  2. 13.on December 9, 1912, the first community at Bogota, capital of Colombia is established.
  3. 14.On September 19, 1913, the decision is taken to transfer the General Curia from Aranda to Madrid.
  4. 15.On November 20, 1913, the “Spanish mission” for Spanish immigrants is inaugurated in Paris (“Rue de la Pompe”) France.
  5. 16.On June 21, 1915, Colombia becomes “Quasi-Province”.
  6. 17.in 1914, the Mexican revolution takes place. Brother Mariano Gonzalez becomes the second martyr of the Congregation.
  7. 18.In 1917, the European War and the Russian revolution of 1917 affected the Congregation economically.
  8. 19.On June 26, 1918, the Holy See published a Decree ordering all religious Institutes to adapt the Constitutions to the new Code of Canon Law. The Congregation does this by publishing “Addenda” – attached to the General dispositions.
  9. 20.In 1918, the Claretian missionaries returned to Cuba, founding at Palma Soriano.
  10. 21.On February 27, 1920, the Congregation returns to Portugal and founds at Freineda.
  11. 22.On March 2, 1922, Fr. Martin Alsina died at Zafra, Betica. His mandate was prosperous in religious life and rapid growth especially in America. He was very similar to Fr. Xifre – energetic, strong. He personally visited several times the whole congregation.

He authorized 78 new foundations and 11 suppressions. When he died the Congregation had:

Houses, 154

Members, 1.852

Provinces, 3 (Catalonia, Castille, Betica)

Quasi-Provinces, 7 (Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, USA, Argentina, Fernando Poo)

During Fr. Alsinas mandate new Claretian Publications appeared:

          “Illustration del Clero’ (Enlightenment of the Clergy a forthnight magazine for priestly formation. It survived until the 70’s, which was changed to “Mission Abierta” (open Mission).

          “Commentarium pro Religiosis” – dealing with religious life matters, stressing the canonical aspects.

          “El Misionero” (The Missionary), dealing with missions and missionaries and intended for CMF families and friends

CHAPTER VI

FIRST GENERALATE OF FR: NICOLAS GARCIA

(1922 – 1934)

  1. 1.On August 15 – October 15, 1922, the Congregation celebrates the XII General Chapter at Vich. Fr. Nicolas Garcia is elected Superior General. Fr. Francisco Naval, Sub-Director.

          the constitutions are totally revised and accommodated to the new Code of Canon Law Which will last until Vatican II.

          The Quasi-Provinces of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Fernando Poo, Mexico and USA – Canada are elevated to Provinces.

          Decision is taken to transfer the General Curia from Madrid to Rome.

          Promotion and cult to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is fostered in the whole Congregation.

          Revision of the mission to “fidels’ and “infidels” is taken stressing the mission to “infidels”.

          It is declared that the Quasi-Provinces have their own minor seminary and major as well.

          Special stress is given to the Christian Education – Schools as complementary aspect of our missionary charism.

  1. 2.On December 5, 1923, the first foundation in Venezuela takes palace at San Casimiro.
  2. 3.On March 5, 1923, the Claretian missionaries take charge of the seminary at Sto. Domingo in the Dominican Republic.
  3. 4.On November 21, 1923, the Claretians enter Panama with a foundation in the Capital.
  4. 5.On May 13, 1924, the constitutions accommodated to the new Code of Canon Law receive Pontifical approval.
  5. 6.On July 16, 1924, the first foundation in Germany at Spaichingen takes place.
  6. 7.On July 16, 1924, Pope Pius XI through the Brief “Iinter religiosas familias” gives special total and solemn approval to the Congregation on its 75the Anniversary of Foundation. This was the greatest moment of fame and prestige for the Congregation, especially though Fr. Felipe Maroto.

On the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of the congregation:

          the Constitutions adapted to the new code of Canon Law were promulgated.

          “Codex Juris Addititii” (Code of additional Law) or “CIA” was promulgated.   It was an interpretation of the new Code of Canon Law at the practical level.

          Extraordinary issue of “Iris de Paz”: graphical exhibition of the works of the Congregation: houses, schools, seminaries, churches and missions was presented, with statistics, pictures, maps.

  1. 8.On June 1, 1924, the first stone of the International Votive Temple of Rome to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was blessed. On January 11, 1923, Pius XI sent a document to Fr. Garcia by which the Pope entrusted to the General and his Congregation to build up a monument in Parioli dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
  2. 9.On May 5, 1925, the Quasi-Province of Peru is created.
  3. 10.In 1925, the Apostolic Vicariate of Darien, Panama, was entrusted to the Claretian missionaries by the Propagation of the Faith. It was 3rd mission territory entrusted to the Congregation. Bishop Fr. Juan Maiztegui was the first Apostolic Vicar. The recipient subjects of evangelization would be the Kunas Indians.
  4. 11.On July 11, 1926, The Prelature of San Jose de Tocantins is formed in Brazil and entrusted to the Congregation; 4th missionFr. Francisco Ozamis was the first Apostolic Prefect.
  5. 12.at this time, the Holy See entrusted to the Cognregation two new Bolivian Dioceses:

          Diocese of Oruro bishop of which was Fr. Abel Antezana.

          Diocese of Tarija bishop of which was Fr. Ramon Font.

  1. 13.in 1926, persecution of the Church outbursts in Mexico under President Calles. Fr. Andres Sola was killed. They knew that he was a priest when they saw a picture with the priestly vestments giving the first communion. Four Claretians were sent to exile and some others expelled.
  2. 14.On March 7, 1927, the Claretian missionaries take charge of the diocesan seminary of San Miguel in the Republic of El Salvador.
  3. 15.On August 30, 1927, the 5th mission territory is entrusted to the Congregation at Villa Trinidad, in Sao Tome.
  4. 16.On August 30, 1927, the Visitorship of Panama is created, dependent from the USA.
  5. 17.On March 22, 1929, the Quasi-Province of Choco is erected.
  6. 18.On November 12, 1929, the “Orodo Studiorum Generalis” is promulgated. OSG = General order of Studies. It regulates the studies making them uniform throughout the Congregation: authors, subjects.
  7. 19.On November 2, 1929, the regional seminary of Honam, in Kai-fen, China, is offered and accepted by the Congregation. Thus, the door to China is open.
  8. 20.On October 10, 1930, the Quasi-Province of Italy is elevated to Province.
  9. 21.On May 12, 1932, the foundation in Miedary, Silesia, then under Germany took place. First house in what is today Poland.
  10. 22.On November 30, 1932, the Visitorship of Germany is created.
  11. 23. On May 2, 1933, Fr. Jose Fogued arrives at Tunki, China, and takes charge of the 6th mission territory entrusted to the Congregation.
  12. 24.On October 14, 1933,the first expedition of missionaries arrives in China. Four more expeditions would be sent: 20 priests and 5The Visitorship of China was created. Soon the Apostolic Prefecture of Tunki was separated from Wuhu (under the Jesuits) and given to the Claretians.   In 1937, Fr. Jose Fogued was named Apostolic Prefect with residence in Tunki.   In our Prefecture of Tunki Brother Jose Ma. Torres became well known as a Doctor.
  13. 25.on February 25, 1934, our Founder was proclaimed Blessed by Pope Pius XI.
  14. 26.At the end of the first mandate of Fr. Nicolas Garcia the Congregation had (with the new 82 foundations and 30 suppressions):

Houses, 203

Members, 2.375

Provinces, 11

Quasi-Provinces, 1

Visitorships, 3.

VII CHAPTER

 

GENERALATE OF FR: FELIPE MAROTO (1934-1937)

 

1) March 15-April 30, 1934, the XIII General Chapter is celebrated in Rome.

      Fr. Felipe Maroto is elected Superior General.

      Fr. Nicolas Garcia, Sub-Director.

      Fr. Maroto was considered by the Roman Curia as the greatest canonist.

      The Claretian were known in Rome as “marotini”.

      He was as virtuous and humble as bright.

      During this Chapter he following main topics will be discussed:

          Government in the Congregation.

          Religious observance

          Ministries

          Studies

          Teaching

          Finances.

This will be the pattern for discussions in the coming Chapters up to Vatican II.

            Since the Canon Law made the Claretian missionaries more conventuals than apostolics, religious observance became priority. Special emphasis is given to the missions and popular missions. This chapter decided to transfer the General Curia from Madrid to Rome, at Via Giullia.

2. On July 16, 1936,t he Visitorship of England is formed.

3. from July 18, 1936 – March 31, 1939, the civil war in Spain takes place. 271 Claretian Missionaries were killed by the reds, that is, 111 priests, 90 students in theology and 70 Brothers.

Here it is in detail the numbers, status places:

a)

CATALONIA Province

Priests

Students

Brothers

Barbastro

8

38

5

Barcelona

8

2

7

Berga

2

2

Cervera

19

30

21

Lerida

8

1

Sabadell

4

3

Sallent

3

2

Selva del Camp

5

4

Tarragona (Solsona)

3

1

2

Valencia – Jativa

5

1

Vich

7

1

8

72

72

55

b)

BETICA province

Priests

Students

Brothers

Ciudad Real

5

17

5

Don Benito

5

2

Jaen

4

1

Madrid

11

4

Siguenza

4

1

Ubeda – Almendral

4

33

18

12

c)

CASTILLE Province

Priests

Students

Brothers

Castro Urdiales

4

3

San Vicente Barq.

2

6

3

This was the hardest blow the congregation has ever received.   Aw hole generation of theology students was eliminated – 90 in al.   Philosophers, novices and minor seminarians were sent home. Some of them would rejoin later, but things did not get back to normal until about 1945. The material loss was very great, too. Besides the Claretian missionaries, 13 Bishops and 7.933 priests were victims of the reds.

4. in 1936, the foundation of the first house in Puerto Rico took place at la Carolina.

5. On February 22, 1937, the Apostolic Prefecture of Tunki, China was erected. Fr. Jose Fogued was the Apostolic Prefect.

6. On July 11, 1937, Fr. Felipe Maroto died in Rome of a sudden death. During his short Generalate there were 18 new foundations and 8 suppressions.

VIII CHAPTER:

SECOND GENERALATE OF

FR: NICOLAS GARCIA (193-1949)

  1. 1.On November 20- December 7, 1937, the XIV General Chapter is celebrated in Albano, Italy. Fr. Nicolas Garcia is elected Superior General again. Fr. Ezechiel Villarroya, Sub-Director. The mainly purpose of this Chapter was the lections. During this mandate the Congregation would be still affected by the continuation of the civil war in Spain.
  2. 2.On November 10, 1939, the Visitorship of Antilles (West Indies: Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico) is formed.
  3. 3.In 1939, the Visitorship of Portugal is constituted.
  4. 4.In 1940, the foundation of the “Spanish Mariological Society” takes place.

During 1939, four great maroiologist theologians meet often in Rome. They planned to propagate Marian doctrine and devotion to Mary. The II world war, however, scattered them.

Fr. Roschini continued in Rome publishing his magazine “Marianum”.   Fr. Strater published three volumes of “Mariolgoia Catolica” in Germany.

Fr. Carol returned to USA where he was the soul of the mariological American Society. He yearly published his “Marian Studies” culminating in his “Mariologia”, a “theological Encyclopedia on the Mysteries of the Blessed Virgin Mary”.

Fr. Narciso Garcia Garces, C.M.F., in 1940, invited some Spanish Mariologist theologians and founded “Sociedad Mariologica Espanola” of which he was President for several terms. They published yearly one or two volumes of the collection “Estudios Marianos”

Besides, Fr. Garcia was the fonder of the specialized magazine “Ephemerides Mariologicae”

  1. 5.From 1939 to 1945, five months after the Spanish civil war, the II world war began by Germany’s invasion of Poland. Poland, Italy and Germany were isolated and no communication could be possible with them from 1941 to 1945.
  2. 6.In 1942, the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by Pope Pius XII took place. The first Consecration was on October 8, 1942 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Fatima’s apparitions. The second Consecration took place on December 8, 1942 – Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary – asking God for peace in the world. From that moment an explosion of consecrations went on over the world: countries, archdioceses, dioceses, parishes, Religious congregations were consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Claretian Congregation contributed very efficiently to materialize the marvelous dream in honor of our Mother. From 1944 on to those consecrations, the coronations of images of the Immaculate Heart of Mary followed. The diffusion of Fatima’s message was spread everywhere. The Claretians carried about the Pilgrim Statue of our Lady of Fatima throughout Spain and Latino America, especially, Colombia. The Confraternity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was established wherever the Claretians were. The first Saturday’s devotion and practice were much fostered. The scapular of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was propagated, as well as images of Fatima and Immaculate Heart of Mary, medals, novenas, stampitas. It was the explosion of “Cordimarianism” in the Congregation.
  3. 7.On January 9, 1947, the first foundation in the Philippines took place at Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan by three Claretian missionaries from USA. On December 26, 1946, Fr. Ramon Catalan, Superior, arrived in the Philippines with two companions.
  4. 8. On February 24, 1950 Fr. Nicolas Garcia died in Rome. During his second mandate there were 51 new foundations and 17 suppressions.

CHAPTER IX

A NEW CENTURY STARTS

FOR THE CONGREGATION

GENERALATE OF

FR: PETER SCHWEIGER

1949 – 1967

  1. 1.From April 30 – May 21, 1949, the XV General Chapter takes place in Castelagandolfo, Italy. Fr. Peter Schweiger is elected Superior General. Fr. Candido Bajo, Sub-He was the first non-Spanish Superior General. Highly gifted and master of several languages. His motto was: “Ad majora and ampliora”. During the Chapter Fr., Agustin Lobo, Provincial of Castille, died.
  2. 2.on June 14, 1949, the Visitorship of Germany was elevated to Quasi-Province .
  3. 3.on July 16, 1949, the Congregation commemorated the first Centenary the Congregation celebrated the event with great optimism and hope for the future. Pope Pius XII blessed and exalted the Congregation in its first Centenary with a congreatulatory letter “Auspicato sane”. At that moment the Congregation had:

Houses :

240 (97 Europe; 124 America; 8 Asia; 11 Africa)

Members:

2,621 (1,454 Priests; 676 Students; 501 Brothers.)

Novices

160

Minor seminarians.

1,500

Archbishops

3

Bishops

8

Apostolic Prefects

8

Apostolic Vicar,

1

Provinces

11

Quasi-Provinces

4

Visitorships

5

Counties

27

Missions

6

  1. 4.On August 30, 1949, France-Belgium is formed into a Visitorship.
  2. 5.On May 7, 1950, Canonization of our Founder, ST. Anthony Mary Claret, by Pope Pius XII. This extraordinary event marked the climax of the history of the Congregation. From then on we started to refer to ourselves as “Claretians”.
  3. 6.On May 31, 1950, Portugal is elevated from Visitorship to Quasi-Province.
  4. 7.On July 12, 1950, the fourth Province in Spain is created; Cantabria, cut out from Castille.
  5. 8.On August 28, 1950, the Visitorship of Venezuela is erected.
  6. 9.On January 14, 1951, the Claretians start new foundations in Zamboanga and Basilan, Southern Philippines.
  7. 10.In August 1951, the first foundation in Austria took place at Vienna.
  8. 11.On October 29, 1951, the arrival of the first missionaries in Japan. On January 2, 1952, the foundation of the first house at Imaichi took place.
  9. 12.On November 3, 1951, the foundation in Costa Riva took place at Mercedes de Heredia.
  10. 13.On February 11, 1952, the Independent Visitorship of Panama is created.
  11. 14.On November 14, 1952, Choco is divided into two Vicariates of which the northern one – Quibdo – remained entrusted to the Claretians being Bishop Peter Grau the Apostolic Vicar.
  12. 15.In 1952, the inauguration of the Votive Temple to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Rome took place and completion of the new General Curia beside the Basilica.
  13. 16.In 1952, the Claretian missionaries are definitively expelled from China by the communist revolution. In 1949 and 1950 the Marxist revolution led by Mao-tse-Tung tookSome of our missionaries went to the new foundation in Japan, some went to the Philippines, and some returned to Spain.   In 1953, the Visitorship of China was suppressed.
  14. 17.In 1952, the General Curia is transferred from Via Giulia to Parioli, adjacent to the Votive Temple.
  15. 18.on January 15, 1953, the first foundation in Canada takes place at Victoriaville, Quebec.
  16. 19.On August 17, 1953, the Philippines is constituted into an independent Visitorship.
  17. 20.ON August 22, 1953, the USA Province is divided into two major Organisms:

Western Province with curia in Los Angeles, and

Eastern Quasi-Province with curia in Chicago.

  1. 21.On April 24, 1954, the Brazil Province is divided into two major Organisms:

Meridional Province with curia in Sao Paulo, and

Central Quasi-Province with curia in Rio Janeiro.

  1. 22.On October 11, 1954, Japan is erected in Visitorship.
  2. 23.In 1954, The Independent Visitorship of Central America is formed comprising the houses of the Central American Republics. The curia is in Panama.
  3. 24.In August 1955, the foundation of the first house in Ecuador is established at Guayaquil.
  4. 25.On September 14, 1955, the creation of a house in Holland takes place at Reuver.
  5. 26.On February 8, 1956, the Visitorship of England is elevated to Quasi-Province.
  6. 27.On May 16, 1956, the Quasi-Province of Portugal is elevated to Province.
  7. 28.In September 1956, the second “General Assembly” of the Congregation is held at the General Curia in Rome. It was a meeting of the General Government with all Major Superiors of the congregation.
  8. 29.On November 10, 1956, the Quasi-Province of USA East is elevated to Province.
  9. 30.On December 10, 1956, the Visitorship of Bolivia is created.
  10. 31.On May 20, 1957, the Quasi-Province of Central Brazil is elevated to Province.
  11. 32.On October 1, 1957, the Visitorship of Antilles is elevated to Quasi-Province.
  12. 33.On August 1, 1958, the foundation of the house in Zurich, Switzerland takes place.
  13. 34.On December 14, 1959, Fr. Arcadio Larraona, an expert in Canon Law and Religious Life, is created Cardinal. He is the first Claretian made Cardinal.
  14. 35.On January 13, 1960, the Visitorship of Central America is elevated to Quasi-Province.
  15. 36.On June 21, 1960, the Visitorships of France-Belgium, Venezuela and Philippines are elevated to Quasi-Provinces.
  16. 37.On October 23, 1960 the Province of Mexico accepts the mission of Tlacoapa.
  17. 38.In 1960, the first foundation in Nicaragua, at Jinotepe takes place.
  18. 39.On April 23 – May 16, 1961, the XVI General Chapter is held in Rome. Fr. Peter Schweiger is re-elected Superior General. Fr. Maximo Peinador, Sub-Director.
  19. 40.On June 30, 1961, the Quasi-Province of Germany is elevated to Province.
  20. 41.On April 22, 1962, the Province of Aragon is formed, the 5th in Spain.
  21. 42.On August 3, 1962, a foundation near the university of Louvain, Belgium takes place.
  22. 43.On October 6, 1962, the foundation, mission territory, in Kingandu, Zaire, is entrusted to the German Province.
  23. 44.On October 11, 1962 (Divine Maternity of Mary) to December 8, 1965 (Immaculate Conception) the Vatican Council II takes place. It was convoked and begun by Pope John XXIII and closed by Pope Paul VI. St. Anthony Mary Claret was chosen the Patron Saint, since he was among those who attended Vatican Council I the only canonized. The main purpose of this extraordinary event was the renewal of the Church and of the Religious Life. All the work done is consecration complied in 16 Documents. Some Claretians took part as Fathers-Bishops-, some others as “periti” and Consultors.
  24. 45.On October 12, 1963, the Prelature of Isabela, Basilan, Philippines is created. The first bishop was Fr. Jose Ma. Querexeta.
  25. 46.In 1963, the mission territory of Ibarreta, Argentina, is accepted and entrusted to the Province of Argentina.
  26. 47.On December 10, 1964, The Province of Colombia is divided into two: Oreintal Province with curia in Bogota, and Occidental Province with curia in Medellin.
  27. 48.On January 10, 1965, USA Eastern Province founds the mission territory of Izabal, Guatemala.
  28. 49.On August 9, 1965, the Vicariate of Rio Muni is created, separated from Fernando Poo. Bishop Raphael Nze is named first Apostolic Vicar of Rio Muni, and Administrator of Fernando Poo.
  29. 50.On Septermer 21, 1965, Canada is made Quasi-Province and is separated from USA Easter Province.
  30. 51.A

At the end of August, 1967, Fr. Peter Schweiger would end his second term as Superior General (1949-1967 = 18 years). During his time, 162 foundations took place and 56 suppressions. In 1967, the congregation has:

Houses – 351

Members – 3,607

            Fr. Peter Schweiger would die in Germany, on August 18, 1980.

Other important events during this period:

          in 1957, the Juridic Insitutue called “Juridicum” is founded in Rome.

          In 1958, New Interprovincial Theologate and House of Studies is founded at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D:C.

          In 1959, the International Claretian Theologate is founded in Via Aurelia, Rome – “Claretianum”.

          In 1960, the Inter-provincial Theologate in Salamanca, Spain, is founded, for all Provinces in Spain and Portugal, and other students from other Provinces of the Congregation.

 

 

CHAPTER – X

GENERALATE OF FR.ANTONIO LEGHISA

(1967-1979)

 

  1. 1.On September 1 – November 14, 1967, the XVII General Chapter took place in Rome. Fr. Antonio Leghisa is elected Superior General. Fr. Jose Ma. Vinas, Vicar General. Its main purpose was to accommodate the life and legislation of the Congregation to the Vatoican Council II norms (It was the second time within the 20th Century)

1967 Chapter was one of theologians, setting the norms for the new Superior Generals (to be less canonically and observance oriented).   Fr. Leghisa was the first modern General in this line. The Chapter was divided in two strong blocks: conservative with Fr. Augusto Andres Ortega as candidate, and liberal with Fr. Antonio Leghisa as candidate. Fr. Leghisa won by a narrow margin.

The work of this Chapter is reflected in a collection of “Declarations and Decrees” imitating the Council Texts:

          Declaration on the Charism of St. Anthony Mary Claret as the Founder of the Congregation.

          Declaration of the spiritual Heritage of the congregation.

          Decree on Government

          Decree on the Coadjutor Brothers

          Decree on Religious Life

          Decree on the Apostolate of the Congregation

          Decree on Missions to non-Christians

          Decree on Christian Education

          Decree on Formation

          Decree on Administration.

Another task would be the new working of the constitutions according to the principles given by Vatican II, which would be published in 1971 with a hotchpotch of biblical texts and quotations from our Founder used uncritically.

            The best and newest contribution of 1967 Chapter was the charism of our founder.

  1. 2.On December 3, 1967, the Independent Visitorship of Austria is created.
  2. 3.On January 1, 1968, The Declarations and Decrees of the Extraordinary General Chapter go into effect.
  3. 4.On April 7, 1968, the creation of a new Province in Spain –Leon-takes place, cut out from territory of Castille and Cantabria. It is the 6th Province in Spain.
  4. 5.On June 17, 1968, the Inter-provincial Conferences of Claretian Major Superiors in Latino America are created: Central Region and Cono Sur.
  5. 6.On September 14, 1968, the Inter-provicial conference of Claretian Major Superiors of Spain and Portugal is created.
  6. 7.On October 23, 1968, The mission territory of Humahuaca in North Argentina is accepted and entrusted to Betica Province.
  7. 8.On October 23, 1968, the first foundations in Honduraas takes place at La Ceiba and Tela, entrusted to Castille Province.
  8. 9.In 1968, the mission territory of Sao Felix de Araguaia in Mato Grosso, Brazil is accepted and entrusted to Argon Province. Fr. Peter Casaldaliga is the first bishop.
  9. 10.On April 4, 1969, formal agreement between Castille Province and Central America for mutual assistance takes place. Castile Province takes charge of the missions of San Blass and Colon.
  10. 11.On May 27, 1969, USA Western Province signs a formal agreement with the PrelatureBas8lan, Philippines, to help the Philippine Province.
  11. 12.In 1969, Argentina Province accepts another home mission in Pilcaniyen, Argentina.
  12. 13.In 1969, the first foundation in Angola, Africa, takes place at Luso. It is entrusted to Portugal Province.
  13. 14.On March 4, 1970, the Congregation is established in India though the help of the German Province which takes charge. Minor seminary and Novitiate are opened at Kuravilangad, Kerala.
  14. 15.in 1970, the mission of Juanjui, Peru, is accepted and entrusted to Leon Province.
  15. 16.In 1970, the mission of Akono, Cameroon (West Africa) is founded and entrusted to Canada province.
  16. 17.In 1970, official approval is given by the Holy See of the Claretian Institutes of Religious Life:

          In Rome, as part of the Lateran University, and

          In Madrid, as part of the University of Salamanca.

  1. 18.In 1971, the foundation in Nigeria begins. The first novitiate is organized on November 20, 1973.
  2. 19.On April 27, 1972, the Sacred congregation for Religious approves the new Claretian Formula for Profession, although the definitive approval will take place on December 20,1973.
  3. 20.On September 1 – October 24, 1973, the XVIII General Chapter in Rome.

Fr. Antonio Leghisa is re-elected Superior General.

Fr. Alfredo Esposito, Vicar General. (In 1976, Fr. Theodore Cirone will replace Fr. Esposito)

In 1967 Chapter was one of theologians, this chapter was composed more of practically oriented people.

The Chapter decided to modify the new constitutions promulgated in 1971 “ad experimentum”. The modified Text will be published in 1974. this chapter takes the work of revising also the Directory which will officially be promulgated in 1975.

A Commission was formed to work on the Constitutions.

The General Chapter came out with a series of Documents – lines of Action – eminently practical:

          the govenement in the Congregation.

          The Missionary Borhters

          Religious Life.

          The Apostolate of the congregation.

          Formation

          Economyn

          Associates of the congregation

          Appendix I : Prayer in the congregation

          Appendix II: Norms for Provincial Chapters.

Heading these Documents was an “Open Letter to the congregation’ presenting the present priorities for the congregation . This was first Chapter admitting Brothers as Capitulars.

Appendix I on “Prayer” responded to the general disorientation experienced in the congregation after Vatican II on this aspect, by eliminating practically the traditional prayer in our communities. To meet this general situation, the Chapter, after examining the possible causes and making some clarifications, adopted the following format for the whole congregation:

  1. A.As the required minimum for community prayer:

Supposing daily Mass, as required by the constitutions:

  1. 1.Daily prayer in community: at least 30 minutes (Divine office or any other. Creativity is encouraged)
  2. 2.Each month, if possible, concelebrated mass.
  3. 3.Monthly recollection and yearly retreat.
  4. B.As the required minimum for individual prayer:
  • A daily hour of personal prayer or mediation, and half an hour in exceptional cases.

In order to foster the missionary dimension in the Congregation, the Chapter encouraged each Province to take a mission territory. However, the missionary availability of the Provinces was stressed with the option of a Province to give up members for a Congregation wide vision.

  1. 21.On October 13, 1973, the mission of Humahuaca is elevated to Prelature. Bishop Jose Ma. Marquez is the first Prelate.
  2. 22.on November 20, 1973, the house of Owerrri, Nigeria, if founded.
  3. 23.On December 2, 1974, the three houses of Poland are re-organized to form only one community. Wroclaw is the principal nucleus, house of formation.
  4. 24.On April 1, 1975, the mission of Norte de Potosi, Bolivia, is accepted and entrusted to Cantabria province.
  5. 25.On May 28, 1975, Peru Province in formation is reduced to independent Delegation.
  6. 26.On June 7, 1975, France Province-in-formation is reduced to Independent Delegation.
  7. 27.on August 7, 1975, the mission of Gabon, West Africa, is accepted and entrusted to Italy Province.
  8. 28.on October 15, 1975, Catalonia Province and Central Brazil sign a missionary contact of cooperation.
  9. 29.in 1975, the second Claretian Cardinal is created in the person of Fr. Arturo Tabera, Archbishop of Pamplona, Navarra, expert in Canon Law and Religious Life.
  10. 30.In 1975, Fr. Alfredo Esposito – vicar General – is made bishop of Zarate – Campana, Argentina.
  11. 31.On March 17, 1976, the Philippine province-in formation is reduced to Independent Delegation. In 1979, it will again be elevated to Province-in-formation.
  12. 32.On June 22, 1976, India is made Dependent Delegation of Germany Province.
  13. 33.On November 15 – December , 1976, the III General Assembly of the congregation meets in San Jose de Costa Rica.
  14. 34.On January 11, 1977, the house of Ljubljana is formed in Yugoslavia as General house composed of three sites.
  15. 35.On June 14, 1977, Cuba is made a General house, one community spread out in three locations.
  16. 36. in 1977, the International commission on Justice and Peace is organized in the Congregation.
  17. 37.On September 29, 1978, the Philippine Independent Delegation is elevated to Province-in-formation.
  18. 38.On August 3, 1979, a “coup detat” in Equatorial Guinea ends Macias persecution of the church and expulsion or imprisonment of the Claretians beginning in 1970
  19. 39.In 1979, Fr. Fernando Sebastian, Rector of the Pontifical University of Salamanca is made bishop of the diocese of Leon, Spain.
  20. 40.In April 1979, the first international meeting of Claretian Associated takes place.
  21. 41.During the Generalate of Fr. Antonio Leghisa there were 92 new foundations and 37 suppressions.

On January 1, 1979 the membership in the Congregation was of 2,748 professed Claretians.

CHAPTER XI

Generalate of Fr. Gustavo Alonso (1979 –    )

  1. 1.September 3 – October 13, 1979, the XIX General Chapter is celebrated in Rome.

Fr. Gustavo Alonso is elected Superior General.

Fr. Antonio Vidales, Vicar General.

Fr. Alonso is well prepared and specialized in theology, spirituality and with long experience in formation.

The chapter approves the definitive text of the Constitutions for presentation to the Holy See.

The Chapter prepares the Document “Mission of the Claretian Today” refined and promulgated by the new General Government.

The priority of vocations and their formation is reaffirmed.

The lay missionaries promotion is much encouraged and is   urged the putting up Centers for their training.

  1. 2.in 1979, the foundation of the mission in Paraguay takes place at Yhu which is entrusted to Aragon Province.
  2. 3.On August 25, 1981, Fr. Carlos ma. Ariz, Rector of the Catholic University of panama, is appointed Titular bishop of Negre Maggiori and Apostolic Vicar of Darien, Panama, by Pope John Paul II.
  3. 4.On January 21-24, 1982, the Claretians in Asia, ASCLA, meetin Bangalore, India. Present were Fr. Superior General, Fr. Malony, Fr. Todd, Provincial Superiors, Superiors of Delegations and Delegates.
  4. 5.On February 11, 1982, the Decree of approval of the renewed text of the constitutions by the Holy See is received.
  5. 6.On June 1-30, 1982, a Course on Claretian Spirituality for Claretian Brothers is given at “Claretianum”, in Rome.
  6. 7.On June 23-July 6, 1982, the International Meeting of missionary Claretian Brothers is held at the ‘Claretianum” in Rome.
  7. 8.On June 23, 1982, bishop Fernando Sebastian is elected General Secretary of the bishops conference in Spain.
  8. 9.On September 8, and on September 12, 1982 arrived at Seoul, Korea, Fr. Jose Ma. Marquez and Fr. Manuel Tardio respectively from the Philippines with the purpose of establishing the Congregation in South Korea.
  9. 10.On November 16, 1982, Poland is created Independent Delegation with 4 houses, 18 priests, 17 students, 1 Brother and 10 novices.
  10. 11.On January 8-22, 1983, the General Assembly of the congregation at Los Teques, Venezuela, takes place.

General Assemblies are not decision-making bodies. They are extraordinary occasions for consultation, interchange and expression of co-responsibility among Major Superiors.

The principal object is the evaluation of how the directives of the previous General Chapter have been put into practice.

  1. 12.In May-June, 1983, the Course on Claretian spirituality for members of Provincial Governments takes place at the “Claretianum” in Rome. 12 bis. In 1983, the congregation founds in Australia through the Philippines Province, at Darwin.
  2. 13.On July 3-10, 1983, the second World Congress of Lay Claretians takes place at Villa de Leyva, Colombia. The main objective: to have the definitive elaboration of the “Ideario” (Statutes) of the Lay Claretians and its organization at world level.
  3. 14.In August-September, 1983, the Course on Claretian Spirituality for Formators is held at the “Claretianum” in Rome.
  4. 15.On June 20, 1983, the residence of Surabay, Zamboanga Sur, Philippines is founded.
  5. 16.On June 28, 1983, Fr. Jorge Ivan Castano is named Apostolic Vicar of Quibdo, Colombia. Consecrated on August 6, 1983.
  6. 17.On November 14-18, 1983, International Claretian Encounter in Africa, at Luba, Equatorial Guinea, on the occasion of the first centenary of the arrival of the Claretian missionaries in Africa.
  7. 18.On December 13, 1983, Consecration of Fr. Placido Rodrigue ordained bishop, Auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago. He is the first Chicago Hispanic bishop.
  8. 19.On January 10-12, 1984, first Meeting of Asian Claretian Formators in Osaka, Japan.
  9. 20.On January 29, 1984, Responding to the invitation of bishop Federico Escaler, S.J. to work in the Prelature of Ipil, Zamboanga Sur, Philippines, the Claretian missionaries accept to undertake the formation and pastoral care of the new parish of Sto. Nino comprising the municipalities of Surabay and Tungawan in the western part of Mindanao.
  10. 21.On February 2, 1984, Fathers Anastasio Gutierrez and Xavier Ochoa are appointed by the Pope John Paul II members of the commission for the interpretation of the Code of Canon Law.
  11. 22.On February 2, 1984, The Sacred Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes issue a Decree on the adaptation of Laws proper to Religious Institutes to the new Code of Canon Law.
  12. 23.On February 2, 1984, The Sacred congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes issue a Decree on the adaptation of Laws proper to Religious Institutes to the new Code of Canon Law.
  13. 24.On May 5, 1984, Nigeria is created Independent Delegation.
  14. 25.On May 7, 1984, India is elevated to Province-in-Formation. It takes effect on June 10, 1984. Those of Tamil origins and Sri Lanka will remain under the jurisdiction of the German Province.
  15. 26.On May 8, 1984, the General Government meets to adapt the constitutions to the new Code of Canon Law. On May 9, 1984, it will meet to adapt our Directory to the new Code of canon Law.
  16. 27.On June 5 – July 15, 1984, the Course on Claretian Spirituality for personnel working on vocations and youth pastoral takes place at the “Claretianum” in Rome.
  17. 28.On August 21 – September 29, 1984, the Course on Claretian spirituality for personnel working in mission territories takes place at the “Claretianum” in Rome. There are 34 participants, representing 28 missions.
  18. 29.On October 9-24, 1984, the First world Encounter of the Claretian Family takes place at the “Claretianum”, in Rome. The different branches of the Claretian Family participate: 45 in all from 11

a. The four original born from the initiative of Claret himself:

          Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

          Religious of Mary Immaculate (Claretian Sisters)

          Cordimarian Affiliation (Secular Institute)

          Lay Claretians

b. In addition those institutes in the founding of which some Claretian played a role and which in some was find inspiration in Claret’s spirituality and in his apostolic concerns:

          Cordimarian Missionary Sisters, founded in Mexico City on March 19, 1921 by Fr. Julian Collell and Mother Carmen Serrrano. They are established in Mexico and USA

          Missionary Sisters of the Claretian Institute, founded in Vich, Spain, On May 29, 1951 by Fr. Luis Pujol.

          Missionary Sisters of St. Antony Mary Claret, founded in Londrina, Brazil, on march 19, 1958 by Archbishop Geraldo Established in 10 countries.

  1. 30.On December 23, 1984, the Pope John Paul II names Fr. Jesus Torres Sub secretary of the Sacred Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes.
  2. 31.On January 1, 1985, The Province of Venezuela accepts the mission territory of Imataca, Venezuela.
  3. 32.On January 28-February 2, 1985, the ASCLA Provincials and Superiors of Delegations meet in Osaka, Japan.
  4. 33.On February 26, 1985, the residence of Seoul, South Korea, is constituted as part of Japan Delegation.
  5. 34.On August 26 – September 24, 19085, the XX General Chapter is held in Rome.

Fr. Gustavo Alonso is re-elected Superior General.

Fr. Theodore Cirone, Consultor and Vicar

Fr. Peter Schutz, Consultor

Fr. Joao Megale, Consultor and Prefect General of Apostolate

Fr. Jesus ma. Palacios, Consultor and Prefect of Formation

Fr. Aquilino Bocos, Consultor

Fr. Enrique Arenas, Consultor and General Prefect of Economy

Fr. Santiago Gonzalez, Secretary General.

The objectives of that Chapter besides the Elections:

  1. 1.Examine the state of the Congregation.
  2. 2.Adapt our ligislation (Constitutions and Directory) to the new Code of Canon Law.
  3. 3.To promote the renewal by offering concrete programs: the special theme of the consecration Chapter.
  4. 4.To study the suggestions and proposals that individuals and organisms of the Congregation will have sent to the Chapter.

The Chapter came out with a Document: “The Claretian in the Process of Congregational Renewal”.

Contents of the Document:

            I WHERE WE ARE IN THE RENEWAL PROCESS

1. Lines of thrust that have spurred our renewal

  • Apostolic lifestyle
  • Missionary dimension of community
  • Our missionary activity
  • Formation for mission

2. Lights and shadows in the renewal process

  • Renewal of the Constitutions and Directory
  • Spirituality of the Claretian missionary
  • Missionary community
  • Formation in the renewal process
  • Style of mission and revision of positions
  • Revision of economic structures

3. Validity of the renewal process

4. Principal challenges that face us.

II ANOINTED TO BE SENT – A PROGRAM FOR THE FUTURE

            1. The individual Claretian facing the future

  • Personal spirituality of each Claretian
  • The Claretian in missionary community
  • The Claretian in an ongoing process of formation

2. most urgent mission commitments

  • Reaffirmation of “programming our missionary Action” (MCT 181-239)
  • Revision of our apostolic structures
  • Our collective witness of poverty

At the chapter time the Congregation has:

Communities         -378

Members               -2,931

Bishops   –   14

Priests     -1,931

Students –   472

Brothers –   362

Deacons –     3

Novices   –   149

Countries –     44

 

  1. 35.On February 26, 1986, the house of Seoul, South Korea, so far General house, is made residence and incorporated to the Delegation of East Asia.
  2. 36.on December 18, 1986, Fr. Jose Fernando Tobon is named General Consultor and Prefect of apostolate replacing Fr. Joao Megale.
  3. 37.ON May 15, 1986, the approval of the texts of the Constitutions accommodated to the new Code of Canon Law takes place.
  4. 38.In July 1986, the ASCLA Formators meeting takes place in manila, Philippines.
  5. 39.on September 15 – October 4, 1986, the Course-Encounter of Claretian Major Superiors takes place at the “Claretianum” in Rome.
  6. 40.On April 15, 1987, Fr. Domingo Andres is named Consultor of the congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes.
  7. 41.On May 26, 1988, Fr. Jose Saraliva, is appointed Archbishop of Tibunica and Secretary of the Congregation of Catholic Education.
  8. 42.In July, 1988, Bishop Fernando Sebastian is appointed Archbishop of Granada, Spain.
  9. 43.on September 16 1988, Fr. Luis Gutierrez is appointed auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Madrid – Mcala, SPAIN
  10. 44.October 1988, New mission in Peru, at Paramonga – Geign, by the Delegation of Peru.
  11. 45.September 1-9/1988 The second symposium of the Claretian Family takes place at Vich. 39 participants participated from 10 countries.
  12. 46.December 19, 1988, Fr. Romulo Emiliami, CMF New Apostolic Vicar of Darwin, Panama.

MAJOR ORGANISMS IN THE CONGREGATION

 

Provinces

Provinces in formation

Independent delegations

Aragon

Antilles

Bolivia

Argentina –Uruguay

Cental Brazil

East Asian Delegation

Castille

Canada

France

Catalonia

Central America

Nigeria

Chile

Equatorial Guinea

Peru

Occidental Colombia

India

Poland

Oriental Colombia-Ecuador

United Kingdom – Ireland

Germany

Venezuela

Euskalerria

Philippines

Italy

Leon

Mexico

Portugal

USA East

USA West

Historical Synopsis of the Congregation

Historical synopsis of the Congregation (150 Years)

 

  1. Origin

Antony Mary Claret: 1849 (6 members)

 

 

 

 

Dates & Personnel

Generals

Geographical

Regions

Apostolic Activities

Main issues

1849

(6)

St. Anthony M. Claret

Vic

Popular missions

Spiritual exercises for clergy

Stating is not easy

1849-1858

(13)

Estabal Sala

Vic

As above

Pastoral ministries

“Vida Religiosa”

The founder leaves for Cuba

Not much increase

Financial problems

Lack of funds

1858-1869

(64)

Josè Xifre

Vic, Gracia, Selva, Selva

Segovia

Jaca

Huesca

As above

Approval of Constitutions

Stability and vows

To enlarge

Growing in numbers

Admission of students

1862 & 1864: Gen.Chapter

1868-1875

(151)

Josè Xifre

Prades & Thuir (France)

Algeria

Chile

Barbastro “in secrecy”

As above

Mission with emigrants

Social works in Chile

Formation

Exile and growth

Internal consolidation

First vows (Prades) Religious of simple vows

International institute

1870 Definitive approval of Constituions

1857-1899

(1476)

Josè Xifre

Madrid 1877

Cuba 1879

Equitorial Guinea 1883

Rome 1884

Mexico 1884

Brazil 1895

Portugal 1898

More houses in Spain

As above

Schools

Work in Seminaries

First Parish.Chile

Mass media “Iris de Paz”

Growing in personnel: big seminaries, problems of growth

Diversity of apostolates

Serious financial problems

Division of provinces: Catalunya & Castilla (1895)

Internal legislation: “inventarla”

General Chapters: 1876, 1888, 1895, 1896, 1899

1899-1906

(1591)

Clement Serrat

Argentina

Gibraltar

As above

Consolidation in Schools and parishes: Latin America

Publications

3rd province: Betica 1906

Provincial Chapters 1901

Seminaries in the provinces

3 provinces in formation: Mexico, Chile and Argentina-Brazil

General Chapter 1904

1906-1922

(1943)

Martin Alsina

Choco

USA

Peru

Bolivia

(Vicariates of Baja California, Choco)

UK

Germany

France

Trieste (Italy)

Reinforcing former ones

Apostolic: Bishops

Spanish mission in paris

General Chapter: 1906. 1912

Revision of Constitutions according to the

Code of Canon Law 1917

Our own Code

1922-1934

(2500)

Nicolas Garcìa

Russia (1922)

China (1933)

Venezuela

Darièn and panama

Poland (at that time Germany)

Devotion to the Heart of Mary

(Votive temple-specific end)

Constitution adapted to the Code (1922-1924) “Back to the Origins”

Instability in Mexico and Spain

Claret’s beatification (29th Feb,1934) 85 years of foundation

General Chapter 1934

1834-1937

(2798)

Felipe Maroto

Spanish Civil War,

Claretian Martyrs

1937-1949

(2798)

Nicolàs Garcìa

Nicaragua

Dominican Republic

Phillipines

Sao Tome

Foundations USA -Cuba

Publications-missions-Christian education

Spanish Mariological Society (1940)

Popular Missions

Vocation ministry

2nd word war

Preparing the centenary

Crisis in Spain- Big development in Latin America

1949-1967

(3607)

Peter Schweiger

(The only non-spaniard Cmf in the chapter of 1949

Japan

Costarica

Austria

Belgium

Nederlands

Canada

Switzerland

Guatemala

Congo

Honduras

Ecuador

El Salavador

Grounds for the conciliar Change: Lot of misión assignments

Canonization of Claret (1950)

Studies in Europe: International centers. Rome and Salamanca

“Vida Religiosa”

New organisms

Centralization in formation, decentralization in organization´

Persecution in Cuba, China, Congo

General chapter 1961

1967-1979

(2900)

Antonio Leghisa

Camerun

Nigeria

Angola

Gabon

Slovenia

India

ITVR 1973

New missionary expansion: missions entrusted to the provinces

Lay Claretian movement

Vatican II Renewal Process

Of CC and Director

General Chpaters: 1967, 1973, 1979

Crisis in Religious life

Interprovincial conferences

Persecution in Guinea

1979-1991

(3000)

Gustavo Alonso

South Korea

Indonesia

Srilanka

Ivory Coast

Australia

Belarus

Family Lay people

The poor

inculturation

General Chapter 1985, 1991

The challenge of the new proivnces

1991-2003

(3063)

Aquilino Bocos

Russia

Ghana

Kenya

Tanzania

Uganda

Haiti

Taiwan

Czeck Republic

Slovakia

Word and Mission

Servants of the Word

Beatification of Barbastro Martyres 1992

Congregation moves towards Asia and Africa

General Chpater 1997 “In Prophetic mission”

150 Anniversary

Extraordinary Chapter of 1967

Extraordinary Chapter of 1967: Renewal Chapter after vatican II

Decree on Formation:

Preface:

no.1. Salvation of humanity is bound up with the renewal of the Church, in its sons and through them in the Church’s structures. But this renewal depends on the formation of its priests, or religious and of laity. (OT,preface).

formation has been entrusted to the sense of responsibility of educators and students.

This extraordinary General chapter wishes to pay attention to one o he most serious problems which the congregation has at present: the selection and formation of educators and students.

Chapter 1. General criteria:

  1. A.The over all purpose of formation

No. 2. The responsibility of superiors and educators to organize the entire educative process in the light of the full meaning of missionary sons of the heart of Mary, as it expresses the charism of the congregation within the church.

The apostolic formation should in a certain way guide all aspects of formation

  1. B.Principles of integration

An integral formation embraces the harmonious development of all th facets of the personality of the claretian missionary:

  1. a.Human formation
  2. b.Christian-ecclesial formation
  3. c.Religious-evangelical formation
  4. d.Claretian-apostolic formation
  5. e.Priestly formation, for those called to the priesthood.
  6. C.Spiritual formation.

No. 40. All the above require an intense cultivation of the spiritual life as an irreplaceable source of supernatural vitality.

No.41. Spiritual formation should be given in such a way “that students may learn to live in an intimate and unceasing union with the Father though His son Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit (OT 8).

Means for spiritual formation: Nos. 45-47: Liturgy, Eucharist; 48. Personal prayer, 49-50. Meditation of the Word of God; 51. Examen of conscience, 52. Spiritual reading; 53. Spiritual direction

Chapter II. Criteria of adaptation

A. General principles

54. adaptation in such way that our formation may correspond to the type, mentality, and psychology of those in formation, to cultural differences, and to the needs of our times. It should be flesxible in itself, susceptible to continuous renewal in the dynamic evolutional sense of reality today and keeping in mind that the one in formation today is the apostle of tomorrow.

56. structures be decentralized in character giving merely a fundamental nucleus of ducumets…, leaving to different countries and provinces sufficient liberty to concretise them and apply them as suits their own needs and circumstances..

59. interprovincial and international seminaries, but in a way that formation be most direct and personal possible.. individual attention

60. Let our members cooperate with generous and disinterested lending of our personnel, in the formation or other seminarians and religious.

63. adequate discipline.. neither impose an excessive authoritarianism nor permit an individualistic freedom.

64. disciplinary regulations will be revised in accordance with the positive contributions of psychology, pedagogy and sociology.

66. moving force of discipline should be internal conviction, that of conscience, in virtue of which authority of superiors is accepted.

70 social contact will be extended progressively to spheres outside the seminary: one’s own family, student and worker circles, and society in general, according as the needs of maturation of personality and initiation of those being educated in the ministry dictate it, and character of our religious and missionary apostolic vocation suggests.

D Adaptation of Directors of of formation

71. open mentality and capacity for dialogue

72. team work, commitment to formation, closeness to students

73. stable presence in the formation house by the principal roster of professors

E. Adaptation of Methods of formation

74. competency in every aspect of formation.

Chapter III. Directors and others responsible for formation

76. Suitability and selection of directors of formation

77. qualities and preparation of Directors of Formation: ecclesial sense, missionary sensitivity, refined love for the congregation, proven fidelity to superiors, intense life of prayer, unblemished exemplarity. Emotional maturity, leadership, interior balance.

81. Prefect of students and spiritual direction. Formative direction.

82.2. Among us the prefect fulfills the function of spiritual director on his own right

If any student requests a special confessor or spiritual director and it is seen that he needs one, let the superior readily grant his request. ..Ch. documents not opposed to the normal plurality of spiritual directors.

84. Superiors responsible for formation

Chapter IV. Stages of formation (88-148)

Chapter V. Arrangement of studies (149- 199)

Eucharist and Claretian

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE EUCHARIST IN THE LIFE OF RELIGIOUS

A Claretian Spirituality Perspective

 

Fr Paulson Varkey Veliyannoor, CMF

A paper presented at the ‘Claretian Week’, organized by Claret Nivas, Barrackpore, on October 27, 2005

 

“If we but paused for a moment to consider attentively what takes place in this Sacrament (of Eucharist), I am sure that the thought of Christ’s love for us would transform the coldness of our hearts into a fire of love and gratitude.”                                                                                              (St Angela of Foligno)

  1. 0.INTRODUCTION

It was in May 1998, the year of my ordination, that I happened to run into one of my Philosophy Professors, whom, during our studentship we had admired as a model, holy man and worthy religious. He was a good philosopher too. I was meeting him after almost ten years, and was naturally excited. We walked along the road flanked by series of religious houses on either side, and the sight of the same inspired in him several reflections on religious living. And he made a stinging remark: “Believe me, religious life is already dead. We are merely prolonging the funeral.”

Do you believe this? Did I believe it then? Do I believe it now? My answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no’.

No, because, he was a man who was considered by his students and confreres as a holy, spiritual, religious man, who, I am sure, was happy in his religious life. By all means, he did not find his religious life to be bereft of meaning. Neither did I find my religious life dead and stinking, nor do I think so now. However, when I take an honest look into my life and other religious lives around, I am struck by the gap between the ideal and the actual. I believe and am sure that my professor was definitely calling my attention to the dangers religious life was courting by forgetting the essentials and embracing the accidentals.

“In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets” (Heb 1.1) and continues to raise his prophets according to the needs of the time. I am sure our late Pope John Paul II was one such prophet and his clarion call to ‘put out into the deep’ – ‘Duc in altum’[i] is an invitation for us to dig deep and reconnect to the essentials which alone can bring the fire back into religious life and give it a resuscitation and resurrection.

Did I say, ‘fire’? The Quote from St Angela of Foligno at the beginning of this paper reminds us that the best means to transform the coldness of our hearts into a fire of love and gratitude is by losing ourselves in the mysterium tremendum of the Eucharist. The very definition of a ‘Claretian’ tells us that a Son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a man meant to be on fire with God’s love, spreading it everywhere.[ii] It refers to a passion, a ‘passion for Christ and passion for humanity’[iii] which is the very heart of religious life. As we are celebrating the memory of our founder Claret, and these being the concluding days of the ‘Year of the Eucharist’, it is in the fitness of things that we examine the significance of the Eucharist in our lives as religious, for Eucharist alone is the source and summit of our Christian living, specially so for our religious living as Claretians.

In the first and second sections the paper attempts a brief reflection on the role of Eucharist in the life and teachings of St Claret and the Chapter Documents, with the mention of a few samples. In the third and the fourth parts, drawing upon the Church’s teachings on the Eucharist, Claret’s reflections, directives of the Constitutions, the Directory and the Chapter Documents, we examine the significance of the Eucharist in the life of a religious, with special reference to Claretian spirituality.

  1. 1.EUCHARIST IN THE LIFE OF ST ANTHONY MARY CLARET

 

St Anthony Mary Claret is a man for all seasons and every religious can learn one’s spiritual lessons from his life. He can indeed, be called a “Man of the Eucharist”, literally and figuratively. When we think of the Eucharistic Spirituality of Claret, I am sure what comes to a Claretian mind immediately is the special grace he was bestowed with in his life. He was granted the grace of preservation of the Blessed Sacrament in him day and night. In other words, to be a living tabernacle of the Eucharist. Let us listen to his own words:

On August 26, 1861, at 7.00 in the evening while I was at prayer in the Church of Rosary at La Granja, the Lord granted me the great grace of keeping the sacramental species intact within me and of having the Blessed Sacrament always present, day and night, in my breast. Because of this I must always be very recollected and inwardly devout. Furthermore I must pray and confront all the evils of Spain, as the Lord has told me…. On the morning of May 16, 1862, at 4.15 while I was at prayer, I thought of what I had written down the day before concerning my experience of the Blessed Sacrament the previous August 26. I had been thinking of erasing it and was still thinking of it today, but the Blessed Virgin told me not to erase it. Afterward, while I was saying Mass, Jesus Christ told me that He had indeed granted me this grace of remaining within me

sacramental.”[iv]

 

Now, this is not something that was granted all of a sudden to an unprepared heart. Indeed, the same Grace had prepared him over the years, ever since his childhood, for this beatific adoration of the Eucharist within his heart. In Claret’s own words:

“Ever since I was a small boy I have been attracted to piety and religion. I used to attend Mass on all feasts and holy days and other days too, when I possibly I could…. I cannot remember ever playing, looking around, or talking in Church…. In addition to attending these morning and afternoon services, I used to enter the Church at nightfall, when hardly anyone was there, and talk alone with our Lord. With great faith, trust, and love, I would speak to God, my good Father.”[v]

 

This attachment to the Holy Eucharist became an integral part of his life and hence it was impossible for him to be away from the Eucharistic presence. He wrote about this ‘inability to be otherwise’ in the autobiography: “When I am before the Blessed Sacrament, I feel such a lively faith that I can’t describe it. Christ in the Eucharist is almost tangible to me; I kiss his wounds continually and embrace Him. When it’s time for me to leave, I have to tear myself away from his sacred presence.”[vi]

However, it was not that Claret did not experience a cooling of his fervor and was not distracted. In his youthful days when he was obsessed with his textile work, his mind was full of business projects and plans during the Eucharist. In his own words, “there seemed to be more machines in my head than saints on the altar.” However, the saving grace was that he remained eternally open to the guidance of God and allowed himself to be vulnerable and wounded by the Spirit. And the Word of God in the Eucharist hit him hard. In his own words:

In the midst of this whirling of ideas, while I was at Mass one day, I remembered reading as a small boy those words of the Gospel: “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?” This phrase impressed me deeply and went like an arrow to my heart.[vii]

 

He allowed himself to be touched and converted by the Eucharist. His exhortations through his writings and sermons carried this imprint of his conviction of the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of a Christian, and very specially so in the life of the consecrated. In his ‘Ascetical Letter’, Claret exhorts us to go up on the wings of faith through meditation and presents the mystery of the Holy Eucharist as the fountain-head of divine life and as the guarantee for eternal life:

“ A soul that does not mount up God-wards on the wings of faith through meditation until it reaches the creator of these things, who is fairer than all of them put together…a soul that has never found in prayer (because it never prays) the anticipated enjoyment of heaven’s infinite delights, is defenceless against the lure of earthly beauties. Passing from idol to idol, in the end it adores everything except God…. What has Jesus Christ left undone to free our souls both from lying tongues that kill and from carnal delights that drag us down to the lives of brutes? Against the dark inventions of the genius error, He has counterpoised the sun of Catholic faith, the Blessed Sacrament, which is called the mystery of faith, in which Jesus Christ is really and truly present as the true light which enlightens every man of good will to rise above the vain thoughts of this world and to advance in the knowledge and love of the supreme Good. Over against the degrading drunkenness of flesh and blood, he has set up the delicious banquet of His flesh and blood in the Blessed Sacrament, which lifts us up to the fountain-head of divine life.”[viii]

 

In an address to the Saint Vincent de Paul Society in Madrid in 1858, Claret spoke of the Holy Eucharist as the convoy bearing all the spiritual graces, and warned as to what would happen if one would not receive Holy Communion:

“They grow so weak and emancipated in charity that they barely have strength enough to do anything good, but rather tend to fall at every step…From this it can readily be seen how much it gained by the enemy of the human race, who is interested in seeing to it that Christians become alienated from the Holy Eucharist, so that they become weak and lose their souls, hence he is always roaring and searching for men as to devour them… For this reason, he uses the same strategy with Christians, as an army uses with a place under siege. The first thing the army does is to cut off the food supply, and in this way it so weakens the garrison of the opposing force that it is obliged to surrender of hunger. Thus you, too, who are besieged by the snares of the devil, must strive to be alert and moreover to receive the Holy Eucharist frequently, for it is the convoy bearing all the spiritual graces you need to strengthen your soul, so that it will have no need to fear either Satan’s relentless siege or his many snares and assaults…Realise that the Holy Eucharist is the tree of life, like the one that God planted in the midst of Paradise. He who eats of this tree will enjoy life, indeed, eternal life. The Eucharist is also the manna of the soul.” [ix]

 

Definitely, Claret was a man of the Eucharist. The source of and strength for his missionary and apostolic passion directly emerged from treasuring the Eucharistic Lord within his heart. Surely, he would want his spiritual sons to be devoted to the Eucharist as the epicenter of their spiritual and missionary life.

 

  1. 2.EUCHARIST IN THE GENERAL CHAPTER DOCUMENTS:

Though we do find lengthy and exhaustive discussion of the role of the Eucharist in several General Chapter Documents, I limit myself to the last five Chapter Documents. This section is taken from “The Eucharist and Claretian Missionary Life”, by Charles I Amadi, CMF, Formation Booklet-17, General Prefecture of Formation.

Eucharist in the XIX Claretian General Chapter (MCT)

Father Claret describes his vocation as the result of a complex experiential process that can be traced through his infancy. This process includes, among other elements, an early sense of friendship with Christ (above all, in the sacrament of the Eucharist), in whose deep sense of Sonship Claret gradually came to discover God the Father, who sent Jesus because he loves the world (MCT. 53)

… It comes as no surprise that the Eucharist was his (Claret’s) favorite place for encounter with Christ, first in His Real Presence and then as sacrifice and communion. This encounter with Christ in the Eucharist was, for Claret, a source of his apostolic energy (MCT. 60).

Eucharist in the XX Claretian General Chapter (CPR)

The living of the mystery of the Eucharist throughout the day, as our Father Founder did, will nourish our identification with Christ and with his Spirit, and will empower us to confront the presence of Evil in our history (CPR. 55).

Eucharist in the XXI Claretian General Chapter (SW)

Our missionary service of the Word achieves its aim whenever it raises up or consolidates the kind of faith-communities in which the Eucharist is celebrated and in which each believer feels like a person, lives in solidarity and acts as an evangelizer (cf. CC. 47) (SW. 11).

Let us fraternally share in listening to, living, celebrating and announcing the Word, above all, in the Eucharist (CC 34-35) (SW. 15.1).

Eucharist in the XXII Claretian General Chapter (IPM)

The prophetic character of our missionary service of the Word should drink from “the springs of a solicit and profound spirituality” (VC 93). We want our Congregation to be ever more and more a school of authentic missionary spirituality inspired in Claret and our tradition. Hence:

In the coming years we will highlight much more the Eucharistic dimension of our spirituality as a source of life and apostolic fortitude (IPM 23.1).

… In almost 150 years of life, our Congregation, born in a room of the diocesan seminary of Vic, has been led by the Spirit to many countries of the earth to announce the Gospel. Though our deficiencies may have been many, nevertheless, in our missionaries, the Word has become gesture, service, sermon, class, music, painting, sculpture, book, poem, liturgy, outcry and silence (IPM 40).

Eucharist in the XXIII Claretian General Chapter (TTMHL)

 

The last General chapter deserves special attention. The very theme of the Chapter focused on the culture of death precipitated by the loss of life’s meaning and the disregard for the person in today’s world, and our special calling to be communicators of life, so that the world may have life in its fullness. The Chapter reiterated that communion with the crucified and risen Lord is the impelling factor for us to defend life, and whoever gives up his life for the salvation of the world a la Jesus in the Eucharist will become possessor and provider of eternal life (TTMHL 9). As missionaries, we are authentic ‘servants of life’ that is nourished in the Word and by the Bread and Wine in the Eucharist…. Our Martyrs of Barbastro were also transformed into a Eucharistic community, capable of surrendering its life and of giving life. (TTMHL 16). The Chapter also proposed hat the congregation should intensify its Eucharistic Dimension of its charism to sustain this life-giving dynamism of religious call. (TTMHL 70.2).

 

 

  1. 3.EUCHARIST: THE HEART OF CONSECRATED LIFE
Let us now focus our attention on what is immediately and eternally relevant for our very lives and for developing Eucharistic Spirituality for our religious living. For this, I draw from the Magisterium, a few theological reflections, Claret’s own views, Constitutions and Directory, chapter Documents, and my own personal reflections. While our context is Claretian Spirituality, I believe whatever we discuss here are applicable to all the religious and I invite each and everyone of you to reflect together with me, filtering and adapting the thoughts through the spirituality that is proper to each and every one of you. 
 
a.      The Eucharist provides the essential/existential Myth for Religious Living:

In the mystery of Creation, human being occupies a very central and unique position. The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it beautifully:

Of all visible creatures only man is “able to know and love his creator”. He is “the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake”, and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God’s own life. It was for this end that he was created, and this is the fundamental reason for his dignity.[x]

However, the very gift of consciousness and free will brought with it the painful awareness of one’s duality – the material and the spiritual; the profane and the sacred – and man is often caught up in the tensions between the two.[xi] It is only by acknowledging his creatureliness and the need for the wholly Other – in other words, losing oneself in a leap into the darkness of faith in order to discover oneself in God, the really real - that our lives find its ultimate meaning and realization. For this, we need to constantly connect ourselves to our divine origins and true springs of life. Every religion facilitates these through sacred rituals and myths, to which the people constantly and regularly ‘return’ to draw strength, nourishment and sense of direction. Now, by ‘Myth’ I do not intend the most popular meaning that we associate with it, ie, ‘fiction’ or ‘illusion’, but the scholarly meaning which is, ‘sacred tradition, primordial revelation, exemplary model’.[xii] 
 
For Christians, the Eucharist provides the best Mythical source for growing into the personhood of Christ, by drawing nourishment from his life, death and resurrection. Religious (Consecrated) Life, with its passion for God, is meant to be a passionate and exclusive imitation of the life of Christ. In order to draw strength to break ourselves to be shared for the world, a religious needs to constantly connect oneself to the Eucharist which is essentially the act of Christ breaking himself for the world. Without this regular, constant and passionate return to the Eucharist, or better, the constant carrying of the Eucharistic myth within every fiber of our life, religious life would indeed be dead, stinking and rotting. Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical ‘Ecclesia de Eucharistia’ has referred to this mythical dimension of the Eucharist:
 
The Church was born of the paschal mystery. For this very reason the Eucharist… stands at the center of the Church’s life…. Two thousand years later, we continue to relive that primordial image of the church. At every celebration of the Eucharist, we are spiritually brought back to the paschal Triduum: to the events of the evening of Holy Thursday, to the Last Supper and to what followed it…. Every priest who celebrates Holy Mass, together with the Christian community which takes part in it, is led back in spirit to that place and that hour.[xiii]
 
Hence, if we detach ourselves from the centrality of Eucharist in our lives, we, as Christians, lose our very ‘source and summit of Christian life’[xiv] , and as religious of the Lord, the very heart of our existence. And for us Claretians, imitation of Jesus has been knit into our very definition as an existential necessity. For this imitation to be perfect and fruitful, we need to constantly return to the Eucharistic Lord. 
 
b.      The Eucharist helps the Religious be a People of Spirit and Memory:
 
Christians, especially the religious, are called to be a people of Spirit and Memory. We carry in our lives Spirit, the very signature of Christ, and seeing us, people see Christ, for “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2.20). It is interesting to read the poem by Robert Browning ‘A Death in the Desert’, in which the poet presents apostle John, on his final moments, reflecting on the fact that he, the last of the persons who had seen, touched and felt Christ in person, was about to leave the world. John wonders “how will it be when none more saith, ‘I saw’?”[xv] John didn’t need to worry: for in the Eucharist, we hear, see, touch, taste and love the same Lord. In the Eucharist, Jesus provides us afresh with his words and deeds, thus refreshing our memory, and breathes into us his Spirit. This should enable us to be vehicles of his Memory and Spirit into the lives of others. Our very Constitution demands this of us:
 
By sharing in the death and life of Christ, the Missionaries should awaken in others the remembrance of the Lord’s presence as they are conformed to Christ especially in the celebration of the Eucharist.(CC 83- emphasis added).
 
c.       The Eucharist, the Center and Anchor of Religious Spiritual Heritage
 

Spirituality is a way of being in the world, reflecting the Divine within us. The modern world demands of us, religious, a spirituality that is comprehensive, authentic and responsive to the present day realities. The Claretian Spirituality Congress stated that our spirituality has to have six principal characteristics. They are:

  • biblical: sustained by the continuous reading of the Word of God;
  • liturgical: nourished by the liturgy of the Church;
  • christocentric: its objective is “union with Jesus” in his love relationship with the Father, in his anointing by the Holy Spirit and in his salvific and redeeming love for humankind;
  • ecclesial-communitarian: it develops when it is lived in deep communion with all the members of the Church, open to other believers and to the whole human race;
  • missionary: sent to give witness and to exercise the service of love wherever human beings live, work, suffer and rejoice, dream and are discouraged.
  • incarnated in peoples and cultures and inserted among the poor: authentic spirituality is rooted in the soul of the people which is their culture; Christian life keeps on being configured to the life of the poor—not the bourgeoisie—and in solidarity with the poor of the earth, committed to justice, peace and the wholeness of creation, because it discovers in communion the privileged space in which to experience the Christian God.[xvi]
 
All the above six dimensions/characteristics have their source and summit in the Eucharistic Spirituality. Our missionary spirituality today passes through the sacrifice of the altar. The celebration of the Eucharist and the worship of the Presence of the Lord is the axis on which our spirituality revolves and is the source of our strength for the journey.[xvii] In his apostolic exhortation Vita Consecrata, Pope John Paul II writes: 
 
By its very nature the Eucharist is at the center of the consecrated life, both for individuals and for communities. It is the daily viaticum and source of the spiritual life for the individuals and for the Institute. By means of the Eucharist all consecrated persons are called to live Christ’s Paschal Mystery, uniting themselves to him by offering their own lives to the Father through the Holy Spirit.[xviii]
 
That the Eucharist occupies primacy and centrality in the spiritual heritage is exemplified in the injunctions of our Directory. Our Directory states that our prayer has to express the characteristics of our Claretian spiritual heritage of which the first three elements are Christo-centrism, Eucharistic Piety, Love for the Word of God. (Dir 84)[xix] 
 
The Constitutions exhort us to celebrate the Eucharist everyday, and wholeheartedly. I believe it cannot be otherwise for any religious, for we cannot ‘be’ without the celebration of the Eucharist in our lives: 
 
“In the first place, every day we should whole-heartedly celebrate the mystery of Eucharist, keeping close to Christ our Lord as he proclaims the words of life, offers himself for his brothers and sisters, honors his father and builds up the unity of the Church.”(CC 35).
 
d.      The Eucharist provides us strength for the Four-fold Functions of Religious Life:
 
Let us dwell on CC 35 longer, for it beautifully captures four essential functions of religious life:
The number states that four doings of Jesus in the Eucharist are of great importance to us: he proclaims the words of life, offers himself for his brothers and sisters, honors his father, and builds up the unity of the Church. The Eucharist is memorial, sacrifice and meal. In the Eucharist, we gratefully remember the doings of God and give thanks (the very word ‘Eucharistia’ means ‘thanksgiving’), we remember and re-enact the sacrifice of Christ and join with it our life sacrifice, and we receive his body and blood for our sustenance in holiness. 
 
These doings of Christ are beautifully captured in the Emmaus-Journey Event in the Gospel (Lk 24.13-35). In fact the whole Apostolic Letter Mane Nobiscum Domine which is a reflection on the Eucharist is set on the analogy of the Emmaus Journey.[xx] The disciples are on a journey, and Jesus joins them and proclaims the words of life. Their hearts which were half-dead due to loss of meaning and understanding, begin to burn and glow as the Word of God was poured into them. Jesus then offers himself in the breaking of the bread, which opens the eyes of the disciples to his true nature. And in this process, by opening the minds and hearts of the disciples to the very meaning and purpose of the salvation plan of God, Jesus glorifies the Father. The flock of disciples which was being shattered and scattered, are united back by the fire of the Eucharist – the two disciples who traveled away from Jerusalem, get up and wasting no time, travel back to Jerusalem to be united with other disciples and for a faith sharing. And in the very presence of the unity of the Church, Jesus presents himself again, and celebrates the Eucharist once again, repeating the four-fold actions (Lk 24.36-53).
 
As religious and Claretians, are not these our functions too: to proclaim life-giving word to the world – we have no other Gospel than the Gospel of Christ - and in our every thought, feeling, word and deed. Jesus does it in the Eucharist for us. After having listened, we are invited to break ourselves for the nurturance of humanity, like Jesus does in the Eucharist. And in this process, we grow the Church in unity and quality, and honor our Father in Heaven. 
 
e.       The Eucharist sustains the Holiness and Prayer life of Consecrated Life:
 
Pope John Paul II emphatically affirmed in Novo Millennio Ineunte that all pastoral initiatives must be set in relation to holiness, and what better sacrament than the Eucharist can capture the supreme Holiness and allow us to partake in it! It is the Eucharist which enlighten and gives dynamism to our journey towards sanctity. [xxi]
 

Cristo Rey, a theologian of religious life, states that for the religious, Eucharist is and should become the prayer par excellence. It is the mystery of prayer, of presence and of spousal union between Christ and the Church. Just like the body of the husband belong to the wife, the body of Jesus rightfully and totally belongs to those who have consecrated themselves to him and taken him as their spouse.[xxii] Hence, the highest form of prayer for a religious, is the Eucharist, which leads to a spiritual union with Christ and makes us holy and perfect.

 
It is heartening to note that our Claretian Spirituality has imbibed this dimension of the Eucharist and has demanded regular visits to the Blessed Sacrament (CC35), whenever possible one hour of mental prayer (CC37), and the need for Eucharistic Celebration to be central to the monthly recollections (Dir 91). 
 

The Spirituality Congress of the Congregation has this comment to make:

The Eucharistic celebration shows us that we pray “through Christ, with Him and in Him”. The Church is not the author of her own prayer, but receives the prayer of Jesus and of the Spirit, which she offers back to Him. The Jesus who called the Twelve “to be with Him” (Mk. 3:14) wants to be with us “forever” in a perfect communion of life and prayer. The Jesus who gives his Body and Blood to us as his Bride, the Church, also gives us his prayer, his intercession, his praise and adoration.[xxiii]

 
f.       The Eucharist symbolizes and perfects community living

Fraternal Life is best symbolized and brought to perfection in the Eucharist, which is the sign of unity and the bond of love. (CC 12)
 
The religious are called to witness to the life in the Kingdom by the quality of their community living. In response to a higher call, we transcend our natural family bonds and pledge our kinship to a family which is constituted on the basis of affinity to the Word of God, and we prove to the world that all human beings can live as brothers and sisters, accepting the common fatherhood of God. Jesus made it very clear. When someone in the crowd called his attention to his mother and relatives waiting for him, he declared: “Who are my mother and my brothers?…Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother." (Mk 3.33-35).
 
For us Claretians, fraternal life in the community becomes the first act of mission. General Chapter Document “In Prophetic Mission” has made it amply clear that our personal and community life is our first prophetic act of mission.[xxiv]
 
This community life in fraternity is best symbolized and perfected by the Eucharist. The Apostolic letter Mane Nobiscum Domine calls the Eucharist “the source and manifestation of Communion.”[xxv]What characterizes Community life is the love, listening, sharing, asking pardon and forgiving, dining together, supporting one another and working together. Isn’t the same that we find in the Eucharist, to the perfect degree? We sit around the table of the Lord, confess our sins, give and take mutual forgiveness, listen to the Word of God and its demands, share in the body and blood of Jesus and break the bread of our very lives, thereby pledging our service to one another. Thus Eucharist symbolizes our fraternal life. And it perfects it too, for our community living has its wounds, shortcomings, failures and sins. Our constant resort to the Eucharist gives us the grace that we need to keep perfecting our fraternal life. 
 
Is it not interesting to note that Jesus, with all his status as the Son of God, breaks down during the Eucharist and shares the grief of his heart, fears and pains with his disciples? St John puts it very poignantly, that during the last supper, Jesus was troubled and moved in spirit and confessed to his friends about the upcoming betrayal which was too heavy for him to bear (Jn 13.21). In the privacy of the upper room, in the context of the sharing of his body and blood, Jesus chose to share his inner suffering and pain with his friends. I believe our participation in the daily Eucharist along with our brethren in our community should also make us brave to share our fears, pains and struggles with our members. But how we shudder at such a thought! We easily share our successes, joys and achievements with our community members, and we choose to hide our temptations, sins, failures and fears secretly to ourselves and how we walk about in masks! The Eucharist should give us the courage to open the underside of our lives, share our brokenness, and feel the healing love and support of the community too. How wonderful and healing would be that day when we get this courage! Truly, that would be the day our community life would become definitively closer to perfection. Jesus has shown us the example in the Eucharist, and it is ours to make it our own. 
 
g.      The Eucharist empowers us to live the Prophetic Role with Apostolic Fortitude:
 
The Religious are called to be prophets to the world. We Claretians have it as an essential element of our Charism: we share in the prophetic charism of St Claret. This prophetism demands that we stand up and critique the society: “to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant." (Jer 1.10). This is no easy task, but calls for tremendous courage. And this courage comes directly from the power of the Eucharist. The 20th General Chapter of the Congregation (1985) in its document The Claretian in the Process of Congregational Renewal speaks of the devotion to the Eucharist as a means to confront the present day evils of the world, in the style of St Claret: “The living of the mystery of the Eucharist throughout the day as our Founder did, will nourish our identification with Christ and with his Spirit, and will empower us to confront the presence of evil in our history.”[xxvi] 

The 22nd General Chapter held in the year 1997 reiterates the need for the eucharistic spirituality in sustaining apostolic fortitude, in the following words: “In the coming years we will highlight much more the eucharistic dimension of our spirituality as a source of unity of life and apostolic fortitude.”[xxvii]

This fortitude derived from the Eucharist also sustains us in our sufferings and daily martyrdom. For us, the Eucharist is sacrifice and sacrament. It provides us the strength to live through the little sacrifices and deaths that come our way, in our living the Gospel. This was very evident in the way the Martyrs of Barbastro lived a Eucharistic life during their final days. The former Superior General, Rev Fr Aquilino Bocos Merino referred to this event in his reflections on the missionary testimony of the Martyrs:

They formed a praying community. The joining of suffering and prayer made the gift of final perseverance blossom among them. They found ingenious ways so that each of them could keep reciting the Office of the Martyrs and the Little Office of the Virgin Mary and, above all, so that they could receive Communion, thus making the Eucharistic Bread the center of that imprisoned community and the source of their intensely sturdy spirituality. The Lord, the Eucharistic Bread, became hiddenly present among them, unknown to their jailers. With surprising rapidity they too learn to became bread broken and wine poured out for the life of the world. Those Communions prepared them for the last definitive offering of their body and for withstanding the evils of the world. The sacramental presence and welcoming of the Lord into their midst account for all that we admire in our brother Martyrs.[xxviii]

h.      From Worship to Service: Dining at the Eucharist enables us to Wash the Feet:
 
The celebration of the Eucharist should lead us to commitment to service to our needy brethren. It is easy to take refuge in the cosy and pleasant Chapel and spend time talking to the Lord, but we must remember that John the Apostle places Jesus’ washing of the feet in the very context of the Last Supper where Eucharist was instituted. Without service to fellow human beings, our Eucharistic celebration is not complete. 
 
However, the converse is also true: without Eucharistic celebration, our service to humanity too is incomplete. A couple of years before, I happen to meet a religious nun who was a practicing lawyer. She shared with me that she no longer wore the religious habit, nor used the prefix ‘Sr’ to her name. Her rationale was that it helps her identify with the people a lot better and easier and ‘after all, what I do is service and it has nothing to do with my being sister.’ I felt sorry for her, for I thought we must primarily identify with Christ and our identification with the people comes because of, and not instead of, our primacy to the person of Christ. It is the passion for Christ that leads us to the passion for humanity. We need to drink deep at the well of Christ like the Samaritan woman, before we don the mantle of the good Samaritan who helps the wounded and the vulnerable. In fact, our commitment to service comes directly from our celebration of the Eucharist. Both are two sides of the same coin and we can only reduce either of it by denying the importance of the other. Consecrated life has a passion for Christ at the center, which we nourish at the altar, and from that energy, we live our passion for humanity. And at every possible moment, we return to the well of the altar to drink deep and replenish our energies.   
i.        The Eucharist sows in us an attitude of gratitude: 
 
Anyone who reflects deeply about human life with its paradoxes and subtleties can only be thankful –profusely thankful – to God primarily and to one’s fellow human beings and to the very nature. For what? For everything. We are what we are by the sheer grace of God and the generosity of others including the very universe. Gratitude is the grammar of the Eucharist. Eucharistia means thanksgiving. “On the night he was betrayed, he took bread in his hands and he gave thanks.” Look at it: what moment to give thanks for – sheer night. Darkness around. Within and without. And a night in which he was betrayed by one, disowned by another, deserted by all. A moment when one would go to pieces and curse the day of one’s birth, like Jeremiah. But what does Jesus do? He does not go broken. Even if he broke down, he gathers the pieces of his life into his own cupped hands, and simply thanks the Father for “everything”. Even the betrayal, denial, desertion. He sweats blood, alright, but he continues to thank. This is amazing courage. And amazing gratitude. Only the one with the signature of God in his heart can do this. 
 
Our lives too, with all the wonderful and glorious moments, have their share of betrayals, denials, desertions. Life is not very just always. Job would vouch for that. Thankfully, we too can find the strength to be thankful. For all the beauty, goodness and joy in our lives. For all the wonderful heavenly moments. But also for those wretched moments of inner darkness, personal failures, professional betrayals and injustice. In the Eucharist, like Jesus and like the priest who stands by him, we too take the bread of our life in our hands and give thanks to God. Once we are capable of it, we will be at peace. No more fighting with God, fellow beings and ourselves. Just the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. The Eucharist does it to us. 
 
j.        The Religious need to ‘cling wholeheartedly’ to the Eucharistic Lord: 
 
The Constitutions n 61 states beautifully: “The novices should ‘cling wholeheartedly’ to Christ our Lord, especially in the mystery of the Eucharist.” Now, this is applicable not only to the Novices, but to every religious. The word ‘clinging’ is interesting. When do we cling to somebody or something? When we are scared, we want to be taken care of, when we realize we cannot do without the other and when we love another deeply so much so that we just don’t want to let the other go… I think in our relationship with the Lord, we definitely need to cling to God, for all these reasons mentioned above. Remember Jacob fighting with the angel of the Lord, and the latter touching his hip and unseating the hipbone, and then Jacob, ‘clinging’ to the Lord? He clings to the Lord, for he realized he cannot stand alone by himself – he needed the shoulders of God, and also he clung to God till God blessed him profusely. In our religious living, I think we will only mess up our life if we just rely on ourselves. We will sooner than later run out of steam. We better acknowledge our inadequacies, failures, sins and temptations, and ‘cling’ to God, and just not let him go till he makes our life a blessing unto ourselves and to the whole world.
 
k.      Adoration and Visitation to the Blessed Sacrament to be daily routine for the Religious:
 
The Eucharist being the lifeline of religious life, it is not enough that we limit our interaction with the Lord in the Holy Mass. The preservation of the Holy Eucharist and regular visitation to the Blessed Sacrament and its adoration are essential for us to live our religious life faithfully and fruitfully. “A priest is worth what his Eucharistic life is worth”[xxix] For the Claretians, the Constitutions and the Directory demand it: We should cherish conversation with Christ our Lord by visiting and worshipping him in the Holy Eucharist (CC 35). Community visit to the Blessed Sacrament and individual visits should be fostered (Dir 85).
 
l.        The Eucharist sustains the Religious even after death:
 
What is more comforting for a departing soul to know that the religious community would still connect to him in and through the celebration of the Eucharist and the very Eucharistic celebration would continue to bring him forgiveness of sins, cleansing of his debts and grow in him holiness and worthiness to enter the Kingdom of God! Our very pledge to community living binds us to the responsibility to continue to pray for our departed community brothers, for their remission of sins and admittance to God’s presence. Charity demands it, the essentials of religious living demands it. And what better way to pray for the departed soul than celebrate the Eucharist for him/her! 
 
It delights me to know that the Claretian Spirituality has have enshrined this responsibility as an imperative in the Constitutions (CC 19) and Directory (Dir 54). The following suffrages for the departed souls are demanded by the Directory:
§  60 Masses for each deceased member of the respective community
§  01 Mass on the first anniversary of each deceased member of the respective community
§  04 yearly Masses in every community for the deceased members of the congregation.
§  01 Annual Mass in each community for the deceased parents of its members.
§  03 Masses for the father/mother of a member in his respective community on the former’s death.
§  01 Annual Mass in each community for the deceased benefactors.
 
m.    Eucharistic Spirituality in the School of Mary:
 
If you have watched the movie ‘Jesus’ by Roger Young, the character of Mary would forever be etched in your memory. Mary is presented as a powerful yet tender woman who guides Jesus through his vocation, and plays the spiritual director for many a soul to know the person of Jesus. Who can forget the presentation of the conversion of Mary Magdelene facilitated by the person of Mary! I believe, it might have been so in reality. Mary, indeed, is the school where we learn our spiritual lessons and do the internship. John Paul II calls her “the Woman of the Eucharist”. She lived her Eucharistic faith even before the institution of the Eucharist, by offering her virginal womb for the incarnation of God’s Word – the first tabernacle in history. She made her own the sacrificial dimension of the Eucharist. Jesus said at the Eucharistic table: “Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk 22.19). And Mary stands by us and whispers into our ears: “Do as he tells you.” (Jn 2. 5). The ‘Magnificat’ of Mary is a perfect thanksgiving (Eucharistia) and is a proof of her ‘Eucharistic attitude’. Mary’s ‘fiat’ is equivalent to the ‘amen’ we pronounce in the Eucharist. [xxx]
 
Every consecrated religious is schooled in the Heart of Mary. Mary is the sublime example of perfect consecration and hence, our model.[xxxi] For us Claretians, it is all the more significant by the conviction and mandate of our Founder, Claret. We are called the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and we are formed in the forge of Mary. “Mary, Mother of Jesus, Mother of our Congregation, is for us a memory and an abiding presence…. Our missionary spirituality has an irreplaceable Cordi-Marian imprint”, so says the Document of the Claretian Spirituality Congress.[xxxii] It is imperative for us Claretians and every consecrated person to spend an hour before the Blessed Sacrament together with the motherly presence of Mary who would help us discern His Will and intercede for us to “do whatever he tells” us. And in the celebration of the daily Eucharist, let us be intimately conscious of the loving presence of Mary who stands by the altar and help us prepare the offering of our very lives along with the bread and wine. Yes, she alone can help us to grow the ‘Eucharistic attitude’ in our lives.

 
4.       TOWARDS A EUCHARISTIC ATTITUDE & EUCHARISTIC SPIRITUALITY: A FEW PROPOSALS
 
Based on the above reflections, let me share with you some of the ideas that came to my mind as to the concrete steps that should evolve out of this meditation on the Eucharistic Spirituality. Our celebration of the Claretian Week and the related theological reflections have no meaning if we do not translate them into action. Here are a few suggestions, and I invite your consideration of the same in your personal and community living:
 
 
1.      Mass as Map of the Passion: Suggestions from the Spiritual Practices for Missionaries:

Father José Xifré, Superior General asked Father Vallier to prepare a Document on Spiritual Practices for the use of Claretian Missionaries. In the book, daily acts are well spread out. Of the 33 chapters in it, there are three chapters which dwell on the Eucharist and how to live a Eucharistic life. Chapter 6 talks of “the manner to bear Mass”; chapter 14 treats of “Visit to the Blessed Sacrament” and chapter 25 on “Communion”.[xxxiii]

 
Manner of hearing Mass — Mass has to serve us as a map of the Passion of the Lord. We have to go to Mass and we have be at it as if we were going to Mount Calvary and we were in it having been elevated to Christ, hearing Him speaking, seeing Him breathing, seeing Him the side open seeing Him brought down from the Cross, dies in the hands of his Virgin Mother and seeing Him buried. The most fruitful means to hear Mass is to make memory of the sacred passion. The Missionaries are advised to have good preparation for Mass, asking for pardon for sins committed, to have spiritual communion, thanksgiving, pray and ask for the different needs and promise to do things rightly throughout the whole day. 
 
2.      Meaningful Celebration of the Eucharist, with preparation before and thanksgiving after: 
 
We do celebrate the Eucharist every day. And there is always a danger of familiarity bringing in boredom. A conscious effort at constant reminding of the significance and centrality of the Eucharist should help us celebrate it meaningfully, every day, every time. One of the ways it can be done is by conscious preparation before and period of thanksgiving after the celebration. I have found the traditional prayers of preparation and thanksgiving that are given at the end of the Roman Missal to be very useful in approaching the Eucharist with a recollected attitude and frame of mind. Those prayers given in the Missal are in fact, the prayers of select fathers of the Church and praying them helps us feel connected to the whole Church beyond a time and space. I found them to be so beautiful that I printed them on to a paper, got them laminated and I use it for my Mass. And ever since I did that, I have used such laminated prayer sheet as the Ordination gifts to the new priests. I would strongly suggest that you print out the prayers and use them personally or together in the community. 

3.      Intentions for the Eucharistic Celebration:
 
The priests, indeed, set intentions for every Mass they celebrate. But why don’t we start practicing the same in our seminary days too? One of the best means is to offer the Mass that you participate in, for one member of the community in which you live, for each and every member of your family, for the benefactors, friends, relatives, enemies, and those who have asked for your prayers. Consecrate one Mass per person and his/her intentions. You can do it silently, in the depth of your hearts, at the beginning of the Mass, at the offertory, at the Consecration and post-communion. We have just reflected that the Eucharist builds up our fraternal life. What better way to grow in fraternal love, forgiveness and communion by remembering your community members and offering the Mass for each and every one of them! Surely, most of our interpersonal problems should vanish as an aftermath of the practice.
 
4.      Mindful Wanderings at the Eucharist:
 
I hope I am not being too radical. But often we do violence to ourselves and the people of God by our insistence on total concentration on the Mass. Sometimes total concentration can be too empty, and too narrow. It can deaden the spirit. We refuse to go beyond. We refuse the free wanderings of the spirit, with the Spirit. Of course, we focus on the Mass. But let us listen to the guidings of the Spirit. There may be moments the Spirit makes us focus on the penitential rite, and then leads you to unexpected areas, perhaps to your own life, areas where you need to forgive, ask forgiveness, the events that happened in the past, yesterday, might happen today, and then you think, oh, God, it is offertory time and you were distracted. And the spirit is suppressed. May be it would be good for the soul to remain with the Spirit in the wanderings. It can channel the Eucharist to many gray areas in your life. I am not recommending distractions, but I am only saying that sometimes every distraction is not bad, it could be the Spirit calling you for the ‘wind blows wherever it wishes’ and allow yourselves to be led by the Spirit. 
 
5.      The ‘Eucharistic Hour’ of the Community:
 
An hour of Adoration is a practice that is very, very old and traditional indeed. Countless Christians have knelt in countless churches and shared countless secrets to their Eucharistic Lord. Some time back in Claretian Seminary, Bangalore, we started the practice of ‘Eucharistic Hour’ in the evenings. The Blessed Sacrament would be kept exposed for one hour before the evening prayers, from 06.00 – 07.00 pm, and the members were free to make their personal prayer during that time, demanded by the Constitutions. However, it was not compulsory, and freedom was given to the members to choose to pray then or any other time, but surely, at least one person should be there in adoration. Only that there should be an atmosphere of recollected silence within the house. I thought it was a wonderful practice. We do make our personal prayers and it is good to do it with the Blessed Sacrament exposed, and even those who are not engaged in prayer at that time would surely keep the feeling and awareness of the presence of the Lord and Master in the house, and that definitely brings in a Eucharistic air to the community. “Every inhalation of the human is the exhalation of the divine. God is not a distant reality but as near and intimate as breath.”[xxxiv] It would be a great practice to start off in the community and I am sure that would help us love and heal one another better and become a better faith community. And it is another wonderful time to let your mind take Spirit-led wanderings into the unknown territories of your life. Frightening it could be, but healing, for sure. 
 
6.      Periodic Community and Personal Visits to the Blessed Sacrament during the day:
 
This is a practice in our minor seminaries and novitiate, but I am not sure whether the practice continues to the major seminaries. It is a practice that should become more frequent as we approach our perpetual profession and ordination. This is demanded by the Constitutions and surely to be encouraged in the communities. 
 
7.      Personal Eucharistic Practices:
 
It is good to develop some personal Eucharistic practices. They may appear to be idiosyncratic, but God who loves the intentions of the heart would enjoy it to the hilt, never mind what the world thinks. During my seminary days, I used to enjoy walking up to some churches in the city during daytime, and sit there for an hour or so. Our seminary chapels are usually small, and we do not often feel our littleness and creatureliness within it, as they are not very imposing. It is very different in a parish church. They are mostly huge, vacant and imposing, during non-liturgical hours. Sometimes I just observe the magnificence of the Church and the supernatural it evokes. The Church always represents the cave of our heart where we meet our God. It is fun to just be inside, feel our littleness, and just be in the presence of the One who is the Real. Sometimes I used to watch other people who walk in, spend some time in prayer, or in secret tears – it is so touching to see people just sit there lost in prayer. You can easily do this practice during your lunch out days or whenever you have a free day. 
 
Another personal practice could be keeping a Eucharistic Diary, wherein you jot down several faith-related ideas that pass through your mind during the Mass/personal prayer time, etc. I would recommend that everyday, during the celebration of the Eucharist, you focus and mediate on certain specific parts of the Mass and its relevance in our lives. Such meditation can inspire within us amazing thoughts and ideas which should be recorded in this Diary. These reflections can be a great source of spiritual nourishment, and would be a great support in times of various crises our lives may go through. For priests, it would definitely be a rich mine for homily aids. 
 
I am sure some of you must be already practicing several such innovative acts of faith, and all of you can come up with many more of such Eucharistic practices. I encourage you to share such noble ideas and practices with one another. It would help us build ourselves into a Eucharistic Community. 
 
 
5.      CONCLUSION:
 

Yes, indeed, every consecrated person who has vowed to follow Jesus intimately in one’s thoughts, feelings, words and deeds, need to grow into Christ’s personhood. “Have the mind of Christ” is what St Paul lovingly exhorts us (Phil.2.5). Religious people are to make Jesus present to the world around through their becoming like Him. Passion for Christ, and Passion for Humanity is the sum and substance of the consecrated life, and this passion can be nourished and kept alive only through feeding on Christ. We become what we eat. We eat and drink Christ in the Eucharist, the sacrament par excellence, in which Jesus shares himself totally and absolutely. Someone said so wisely, that when we eat physical food, it becomes us; but when we eat spiritual food, we become it. How true! One of the most beautiful poems that I have ever come across about the Eucharist is a four-line poem whose author is unknown to me. The poet is describing a lady who, after receiving communion, is walking back to the pew. The poet captures the moment poignantly:

She turns from the priest

Potent and humble

Between her teeth,

God breaks and crumbles

Fair enough!

God eats her slowly

God breaks and crumbles between her teeth – apparently, but in the process, it is God eating her.

Didn’t Khalil Gibran say, “when you are in love, do not say, ‘God is in my heart’, but say ‘I am in the heart of God’” ? Something very similar here. Jesus is not in her heart, but she is sucked into her heart, where she lives, moves and has her being. She becomes ‘it’: She becomes “Christ”.

Let us passionately drink deep at the Eucharist, the well of everlasting Life, so that by letting Christ grow in us, we too, like the Samaritan Woman, can passionately evangelize the humanity for and in Christ. It will fill us with unlimited compassion, love and commitment which will help us serve the wounded humanity like the Samaritan Man.

And for us Claretians, it is an existential imperative and we should experience an ‘existential inability to be otherwise’. In formation communities, participation in the Eucharist is “the basic community act.”[xxxv] We cannot move, have or live our being without the Eucharist. The Claretian Spirituality Congress sums it up beautifully:

Thus for us the Eucharist is not merely a devotion, but the generative center of our missionary and community life, where the Body of Christ, which is the Church, is created and recreated, where the Revelation of the Word occurs most intensely and efficaciously. The Word we listen to and proclaim really is, for others, and us a summons to the table of the Eucharist. In the Eucharist the Word takes on its full sacramental force in relationship to the Body of Christ, while at the same time revealing the deeper meaning of the internal Church community, in which the members share in the breaking of the bread, the sacrificial attitude and the solidarity with which they will then go out as servants of the Word to encounter their brothers and sisters.[xxxvi]

Endnotes:



[i] John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, 1.

[ii] Claretian Constitutions, n. 09.

[iii] ‘Passion for Christ, Passion for Humanity’ was the theme of the First International Congress on Consecrated Life, held in November 2004.

[iv] Autobiography of AM Claret, 695, 700.

[v] Autobiography of AM Claret, 36, 40.

[vi] Autobiography of AM Claret., 767.

[vii] Autobiography of AM Claret, 67-68.

[viii] Anthony Claret, ‘Ascetical Letter’ in Works of Saint Anthony Mary Claret,(WSAMC III), J. Bermejo (Prep.), Claretian Publications, Quezon City 1991, Vol. III, pp. 156-157.

[ix] Anthony Claret, ‘Address to the St. Vincent de Paul Society’, on Dec. 8, 1858, in Works of Saint Anthony Mary Claret,(WSAMC III), J. Bermejo (Prep.), Claretian Publications, Quezon City 1991, Vol. III, pp. 575 – 576.

[x] Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed), part I, section II, ch 1, art 1, paragraph 6, no. 356.

[xi] Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death, The Free Press, New York, 1973. The whole book is an elaboration and resolution of the same theme.

[xii] Mathew Pottemparampil, Mythical Concept of Cyclic Time and Its Influence on Moral Life, Pontificia Universitas Lateranensis, Bangalore 2000, p.32.

[xiii] John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 2004, n.3-4.

[xiv] Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, n.11.

[xv] Robert Browning, ‘A Death in the Desert’, as quoted in John Shea, An Experience Named Spirit, Thomas More, Texas, 1996, p.18-19.

[xvi] Our Missionary Spirituality Along the Journey of God’s People, Rome 2002, I.4.

[xvii] Our Missionary Spirituality Along the Journey of God’s People, Rome 2002, III.2.b.

[xviii] Pope John Paul II, Vita Consecrata, n.95.

[xix] The other elements enumerated by the Directory are (in order): Claret’s way of living Cordimarian sonship in close affinity with Missionary vocation, his devotion to the Apostles and his devotion to the saints who had great apostolic zeal.

[xx] John Paul II, Mane Nobiscum Domine, n 1-3.

[xxi] SER Mon Franc Rode, ‘Consecrated Life at the School of the Eucharist in Passion for Christ’, in Passion for Humanity, Pauline Publications, 2005, p.244.

[xxii] Jose Cristo Rey Gracia Paredes, Prayer in Religious Life, Claretian Publications, Bangalore, 2005, p. 28.

[xxiii] Our Missionary Spirituality Along the Journey of God’s People, Rome 2002, III.2 c.

[xxiv] In Prophetic Mission, nn 19, 28.

[xxv] John Paul II, Mane Nobiscum Domine, III. 21. The very chapter title is the same.

[xxvi] Claretian in the Process of Congregational Renewal, 55.

[xxvii] In Prophetic Mission, 23.1.

[xxviii] Charles I Amadi, The Eucharist and Claretian Missionary Life, Formation Booklet 17, General Prefecture of     Formation, Rome, 2001, n. 107.

[xxix] J P Flannery, O P ed in Vatican II, 2, 346.

[xxx] John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 2004. nn 53-58.

[xxxi] Pope John Paul II, Vita Consecrata, n.28.

[xxxii] Our Missionary Spirituality Along the Journey of God’s People, Rome 2002, III.2.e. p.42.

[xxxiii] Charles I Amadi, The Eucharist and Claretian Missionary Life, Formation Booklet 17, General Prefecture of Formation, Rome, 2001, n. 108.

[xxxiv] John Shea, An Experience Named Spirit, Thomas Moore Publications, Texas, 1996, p.35.

[xxxv] General Plan of Formation, n.205.

[xxxvi] Our Missionary Spirituality Along the Journey of God’s People, Rome 2002, III.2.b. p.38.