2. Theological Content
This chapter is indeed very rich in theological and spiritual content, and invites us to dwell therein at some length. It will be helpful however to examine first of all a few key points that will help us unpack its theological-spiritual content These key points are: its title, its structure, its frame of reference.
Its title, “Missionary Community,” involves an intentional key, setting it apart from other charismatic forms of understanding community. These underscore, for example, its aspect of religiosity or fraternity, as expressed in expressions such as “religious community” or “community-fraternity.” Not that the Claretian community isn’t a religious and fraternal community; both aspects are essential to it. What does define it in its charismatic makeup and identifies it in the Church, is its condition as “missionary community.” Mission is the substantive element for the theological-charismatic understanding of Claretian community. Just as the mission that comes from God situates those who are sent in an internal setting of apostolic outgoing and dispersion, so the Claretian community must be shaped by a permanent and wise missionary relationship with the world.
Of its very nature, the internal structure of this chapter already transmits a message to which we need to pay special attention. For the reasons given in another section, this chapter embraces both the theme of community and the theme of fraternal charity. The introductory number (n. 10) speaks of communion in its first paragraph and of charity in its second paragraph. Numbers 11-14 deal with community, while numbers 15-19 deal with fraternal charity. The joining of these two themes discloses a second key for understanding the charismatic identity of the Claretian community: the stress on fraternal charity for the comprehension and makeup of the community: the Claretian community must above all be a “fraternal community,” or to phrase it from another point of view, an “apostolic fraternity.”
The frame of reference of this chapter is not just the local community, but the Congregation or the congregational community. The designation “missionary community” applies first and foremost to the “congregational community.” It is the subject par excellence of our charism, and the subject of our mission.
3. The Outline
The outline that follows is designed to provide the reader with an overall view of the contents of the chapter:
No. 10. Evangelical Basis of Community
- The Communion of Christ with the Father and the Spirit
- The Community of Christ with the Apostles
- The Primitive Christian Community
- Charity Up builds Community
No. 11. The Congregation as “Community”
- Universal Dimension
- Missionary Availability
- Local Community
No. 12. Missionary Community “ad infra”
- Internal Dynamisms: Eucharist, Prayer, Family Spirit, Co-responsibility.
- Personal Fulfilment in Community
No. 13. Community of Life in Ministry
- Collaboration in the Ministry of the Word
- Diverse Ways of Participating in Mission
- Community Dimension of Personal Ministry
No. 14. Ecclesial and Socio-cultural Framework of Community
- An Always Updated Service of the Word in the Church
- Insertion in the Particular Church
- Manner of Missionary Life and Action 75. Community of Fraternal Love
- The Precept of the Lord
- The Exercise of All Virtues
No. 16. Charity Up builds Community
- Manifestations of Charity:
- Not Judging
No. 17. Communion in Unity and Diversity
- Diversity of Origin, Culture, Ideas
- Diversity of Gifts and Ministries
- Guests *
No. 18. Privileged Recipients of Brotherly Love
- The Elderly
- The Infirm
No. 19. Eschatological Community
- Last Rites for the Deceased Missionary
- Communion with our Brethren who Have Gone Before Us in the Service of the Gospel
6. Missionary Community before Conciliar Renewal
The Traditional Community
1) The Mission House and Retreat Center. The original missionary community was in the form of a Mission House or Retreat Center. The missionary service of the Word and its demands shaped the community’s style of life. Two periods were clearly distinguished:
- that of preaching, which lasted some seven months
- that of ongoing formation, which lasted the remaining five months.
The Regulations and Timetables were accommodated within these two phases.
2) The Foreign Mission: At the outset it was seen to that the community should be sufficient in numbers with enough stable personnel to carry on the apostolate of the Mission and sustain the “expeditionaries” who used to visit the chapels in their towns. In China -perhaps because we took over from the Jesuits there- the prevailing style was that of solitary missionaries, who maintained contact with the central retreat or mission house.
3) The Formation Community of the Diocesan Seminary and the College Teaching
-Community: Since this community was stable, the full regulation was applied to it throughout the school year.
4) The Parish Community: This type of apostolate met with some resistance because it was not considered to be either religious nor missionary. It began in America, because parishes there were equivalent to mission fields. Before the Council, Claretian communities were characterized by a markedly community-oriented discipline in practices of piety, recreation and meals.
Community acts included rising, morning prayers and meditation; noon prayers and spiritual reading before lunch; lunch, visit to the BI. Sacrament, recreation; visit to the Bt. Sacrament after siesta; afternoon recreation; conference; rosary; supper, recreation; night prayers. For reasons of the apostolate, attendance at practices of piety could be dispensed then, but they had to be made up later in a common place.
Priests had to find their own time to say their Office. Mass was celebrated daily, with each priest going off to his own altar. The Missionary had to attend community prayer in common at least five times a day. Moreover, the apostolate -especially the city apostolate- was increasingly out of harmony with the demands of our timetables. This gave rise to personal tensions in individual consciences and in community. It was not hard to caricature “the observant” -who was able to attend all acts of piety- and “the apostolic…”
Article 3. Plenary Meeting of the Community
Dir. 430. The participation and co-responsibility of all in the full range of the community’s missionary life are mainly expressed in the plenary meeting which must be held in all houses in conformity with our Constitutions (CC 110). When the plenary meeting must act by deliberative vote (No.433), it will proceed in conformity with what is stated in Nos. 323,333-336, and 399.
Dir. 431. Matters to be dealt with at the plenary meeting should be previously announced to the community. One of the most important topics to be dealt with at this meeting is the annual planning of the community’s missionary life, as well as its periodic evaluation throughout the year. This planning should mainly focus on the following points:
- a.The way evangelical commitments are being lived
- b.Prayer life
- c.Community life in its inward and outward expression
- d.Pastoral activity by the community in the Church and in the social context of the place;
- e. The use of the communication media;
- f.Economic concerns.
This planning should be submitted for the approval by the government of the major organism at the beginning of each course of activities’.
432. The plenary meeting of the community is involved in any important matters that have to be dealt with in community, especially in the following cases:
- a.In the examination and control of the implementation of the yearly budgets of the houses and its activities (Nos. 569; 573)
- b.In the approval of official reports sent by the local superior to the major superior, especially the triennial and sexennial reports (No. 378).
- c.In the designation of lesser charges in the community.
433. It belongs to the plenary meeting of the community to decide by deliberative vote:
- a)The prior approval of the annual budgets prepared by the econome (No. 569);
- b)The approval of debts that are going to be contracted in conformity with what is prescribed in the law (No. 530);
- c)The approval of extraordinary expenses, ac-cording to the tenor of No.574 below.
434. In the plenary meeting of the community, the office of tellers will be filled by the acting superior, the eldest and youngest in profession. The office of secretary will be filled by the secretary of the house and, in his absence, by the one elected by a relative majority of those assembled.
435. Specially reserved cases and responsibilities, above all if they affect persons, do not fall within the competency of the plenary meeting of the community (CC 107; Dir. 428).
- oparticipation & co-responsibility.
- ocommunication, dialogue; consensus…
- oaccountability: to each other and to province.
Some practical consequences:
- Community responsible for own life; creative, initiative….
- Means: community meeting and project (“Annual Program”)
- Dynamism: plan; implement; review & revise; report
Tensions to be balanced:
- Needs of apostolate vs. needs of members & community.
- “Personal” vs. community apostolate.
- “Incarnation” (inculturation) vs. “Prophetic” (critique).
- Pastoral structures vs. missionary “freedom”.
- Rooted in local church vs. open to universal church
(Cf. Our Project of Missionary life, commentary to Constitutions, Vol. 2, pp. 171-263)