Importance of a clear identity.
Good self-awareness & legitimate pride vs. triumphalism.
“The Church defends and upholds the distinctive character of the various religious institutes.” (LG 44; MR 11)
“The distinctive character of a religious institute brings with it a particular style of sanctification and apostolate that goes on to create a particular tradition, the objective elements of which can be easily individuated.” (MR 11)
(The following is taken from “Commentary on the Constitutions” Vol. 2, pp. 32-34. Henceforth citations will be abbreviated CoCC and Vol. 2 will be presumed.)
The Church wants the Constitutions to contain the identifying elements of an Institute. The Constitutions -general laws of each Institute- should include, besides an adequate set of norms, it’s evangelical!, theological and ecclesiological principles. Together with “an apt and accurate formulation in which the spirit and aims of the founder should be clearly recognized and faithfully preserved, as indeed should each Institute’s sound traditions, for all of these constitute the patrimony of an Institute (PC 2b) ” (ES 11,12).
Although our distinctive facial features can be discerned throughout the Constitutions, nonetheless they have been put together like a true portrait in the Fundamental Constitution. These features range from the outermost traits to the innermost depths:
- a)historical-canonical traits: An Institute is historically identified by its Founder, and by the place and time of its foundation. These data are found in n. 1. Its canonical identity is recognized through its title, aims and means, and through its approval by the Church. This identity is described in nn. 1 and 2,5 and 7.
- b)charismatic identity: The charism of Founders is revealed as a personal experience of the Spirit, of the Mystery of Christ given to all (cf. ET 11). The same Spirit transmits this experience to the disciples of the Founder so that it can be lived, kept, deepened and constantly developed by them in harmony with the Body of Christ in perennial growth (cf. MR 11). This experience shapes the characteristic features of an Institute.
Common Fundamental Elements
Just as we can divide the human face into common zones so as to catch the characteristic traits that differentiate one from another, so too we can distinguish in Institutes, as it were, common zones of those fundamental elements that allow us to discover in each of them their characteristic trails. We consider the following four traits to be the common fundamental elements:
- 1)The mystery of Christ
- 3)Style of life
a) The Mystery of Christ
“Let religious see well to it that the Church truly show forth Christ through them with ever-increasing clarity to believers and unbelievers alike – Christ in contemplation on the mountain, or proclaiming the kingdom of God to the multitudes, or healing the sick and maimed and convening sinners to a good life, or blessing children and doing good to all human beings, always in obedience to the will of the Father who sent him” (LG. 46).
Numbers 3, 4 and 5 describe the mystery of Christ which we must live and represent in the Church in keeping with the spiritual experience of Claret. They form a unity with n. 8, which -in that same experience- presents Mary to us within the mystery of Christ the Evangelizer.
The mission of religious Institutes depends on the mystery of Christ that they live through the grace of the Spirit. Mission is not a merely human promotional activity; it is the mission of Christ himself continued in the history of the world (cf. MR 15). CC 5 affirms our mission as continuators of the missionary evangelization of Christ, within the mission of the Church.
c) Style of Life
The style of life of Christ in the Gospels has given rise to the variety of specializations of religious life in the Church: contemplative, monastic, conventual, fully apostolic. As stated in CC 5 and earlier in CC 4, our lifestyle belongs to this last-mentioned group.
The spirit of an Institute is, so to speak, ifs soul: its personal manner of possessing and living the objective elements of its charism.
Our Father Founder clearly states that his spirit is apostolic. He recognized this spirit in the co-founders and demanded it without exception in all aspirants to the Congregation. He himself describes its manifestations in the so-called “definition” of the missionary (cf. Aut. 494). Father Schweiger wanted our identity to be expressed, whenever possible, in the very words of our Founder. This has been fully achieved in dealing with our sprit in n. 9.
The title, Fundamental Constitution,” itself gives us a clear idea of its contents: it deals with the fundamental being of the Institute, of its identity in the Church, both in its historical and juridical dimension, and in its charismatic and spiritual dimension. Although for the purposes of drafting, this chapter is divided into subsections, the latter must be read in an inclusive manner, since they all deal with the same reality. The remaining chapters of the Constitutions are no more than a development of what is implicitly contained m this primary cell.
The contents of the Fundamental Constitution can be seen in the following outline:
1. Origin and Title
– Historical! origin: Founder, place and date of the foundation.
– Ecclesiastical approval: Pontiff and date
– Original title, and the officially recognized popular title.
Spelled out in its three aspects According to our missionary charism
3. Evangelical and Charismatic Grounding
– Jesus Christ the Evangelizer
– In communion of life with the disciples
– In communion of mission
– Continuation of this style of life and mission in the Church.
– Our Gift and our Missionary Vocation in the Church
– The mystery of Christ the Evangelizer
– In communion of life in mission.
5. A Truly Apostolic Institute
– A fully apostolic Institute (PC 8).
6. In the missionary service of the Word in the Church
– The missionary service of the Word
– In collaboration with the Supreme Shepherd and with the other Shepherds of the Church
– To extend the Kingdom
– By building up and increasing the Church.
7. All sharing the same vocation
– Diversity of persons and gifts for communion and mission
– One vocation, one mission, equality of rights and obligations
– One Congregation within the Claretian Family.
8. Our being “Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary”
– “Foundress,” Patroness and Mother
– Trusting love ti
– Consecration for conformity with Christ the Evangelizer
– Co-operators in Mary’s maternal role in mission.
9. The form of the missionary
– The apostolic spirit
– Apostolic fortitude
– Following and being conformed with Christ the Evangelizer.
l. ORIGIN AND TITLE
“Our Congregation“…. “We are called….” Style of revised CC signifies personal acceptance and commitment of each member
“Congregation” has come to mean religious Congregation.
At first only a “society” (religious were forbidden in Spain). In 1870 CC require simple vows for all. Canon law of 1917 recognized those with simple vows as full religious. Until then only those with solemn vows were considered to be “religious”.
“of missionaries”: a generic but very important title.
Dir. 26. The word “missionary,” understood in the light of the spiritual experience of St. Anthony Mary Claret, defines our charismatic identity. The title of “Apostolic Missionary” which he received synthesizes his ideal of life according to the style of the apostles. This way of life implies being disciples and to follow the Master, to live the evangelical counsels in a community of life with Jesus and the group of those who are called, to be sent and to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom to the whole world.
The anointing of the Spirit to announce the Good News and the communion with Christ, the prophet par excellence, render us sharers of his prophetic function.”
“Founded by Archbishop Anthony Mary Claret....” Prophetic Vision
“Normally, the birth of religious Institutes is the fruit of the prophetic spirit of their Founders, coupled with the approval of the Church (LG 45).Thus, each Founder has had a prophetic gift which has made him aware of special bestowal of grace conferred on him by God for the common good of the Church. This special outpouring of grace implies a social-supernatural mission within the Church itself.
2. AIM OF THE CONGREGATION
“The aim of our Congregation….”
Historical background: Early in the 20th century and until the period of Vatican II renewal, the so-called “universal” theory of the aim of the Congregation was popular and supported by many superiors. According to this, the three-fold aim stated in the CC were our “generic” aims. They were also universal: We were to save all people everywhere, by all possible means. Our “specific” aim is to honour and spread devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In the pre-Vatican II period this theory had very many practical consequences, many of them not very felicitous, which the General Chapter of 1967 attempted to clarify.
“in keeping with our missionary charism in the Church.” This is not an added element, but one which is imbued in the three-fold aim as an unbreakable unity. This essential element is specified and amplified in subsequent parts of the CC. CoCC has the following theological reflection: (pp. 68-69):
In his founding intention, Anthony Mary Claret was seeking in all things and through all things—as an unbreakable unity—these three aspects. But if any one of them must always come first, serving as a key to his Congregation, it would be the last: the salvation of human beings throughout the world. It is a charism that emerges with a profoundly anthropocentric intentionality. It is a charism passionately committed to the salvation of human beings. If this were interpreted dualistically, one might think that the Congregation had as its objective the affirmation of humankind, rather than the glorification of God -which would be erroneous or a serious deviation. The anthropocentrism of the aim of our Congregation -like that of all apostolic congregations- is deeply theological, that is, it is within the dynamism of the Johannine text that states: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” The aim of the Congregation is to participate in this passion of God for human beings, in the charity-love that leads God to forget Himself, to love His enemies more than Himself, to die for others. It is a prophetic anthropocentrism. Saving humankind is saving God’s image: “Whatever you do for one of these least brethren of mine, you do for me.” The Congregation understands that it has not other available way to glorify God, than to put itself unconditionally at the missionary service of our brothers and sisters. It feels sent to them as the bearer of God’s love. And one’s own sanctification is neither a presupposition nor a result. It is the progressive impact on the person of the missionary of his commitment to people and , his communion with God.
3. THE GROUND OF OUR VOCATION IN GOSPEL AND CHARISM
A synthesis of the Mystery of Christ as it appears in the spiritual experience of our Founder. Expresses charism, spirit and mission of the Founder in and for the Congregation. The Christ of Claret.
Contains key text: “In a very particular way God our Lord made me understand those words: Spiritus Domini super me et evangelizare pauperibus et sanare contritos cor de” (Aut. 118:Lk4:16).
“This text, which Jesus made his own, led Claret to discover, both for himself and for his missionaries (Aut. 687), his prophetic anointing and his call to evangelize the poor. For our Father Founder, Christ was the Servant-Prophet, anointed by the Spirit to preach the Good News. The prophetic mission of Jesus is the very marrow of Claret’s apostolic experience and the source of his inspiration. As the prophets were always attentive to and dependent on God. and human beings, so Claret would live his missionary vocation by lending his efforts to the salvation of others (cf. Aut 238, 448)” (MCT 58).
(CoCC pg. 80)
Essential message: Jesus is the Word, sent by the Father (God’s Envoy, missionary) anointed by the Spirit to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom (to evangelize) the poor, to free those in captivity….
The Church is the missionary of Jesus. (Cf. CoCC p. 86).
“It is important to underscore how this n. 3 of the Fundamental Constitution is nourished on a conception of mission as witness, sign, representation, sacramentalization. Jesus, the Missionary of the Father, is above all the Faithful Witness of the Father’s Love. The pre-and post-resurrection community exercised its mission by means of a decisive and testimonial role: that of being the re-presentation and germination of the New People of the Kingdom of God. The Church is the “universale salutis sacramentum.” And the religious life arises under the inspiration of the Spirit as a style of life re-presenting and witnessing to the Gospel. This key is decisive for adequately understanding the place that we, as Claretians, are to occupy in the Church’s mission.”
4. OUR GIFT AND OUR MISSIONARY VOCATION
Communication of our Founder’s spiritual experience to the Congregation: the Christ of Claret is the Christ of the Claretians. This number considers the gifts of this grace in itself.
“The supreme rule of our Congregation is the following of Christ, as set forth in the Gospel.” All forms of religious life are under this supreme norm (cf. PC 2); but in our following of and identification with Christ we -as missionaries- highlight the missionary dimension of preaching the Gospel.” The second part of this number 4, and the following no. 5, try to spell out what our evangelical! style of following Christ ought to be. (Cf. CoCC pg. 92).
5. A TRULY APOSTOLIC INSTITUTE IN THE CHURCH
This number describes the acceptance of the gift, proposed to us as a vocation, and our response to it as a commitment, as a profession in the Church.
We follow Christ -in answer to an evangelical vocation- in the Church instituted by Him, a Church that is both spiritual and visible, charismatic and structured. Our response to this vocation is made visible and structured in our public profession of vows. Through this we constitute, in the Church, a religious and fully apostolic Institute.
The ecclesial nature of our religious life is not defined so much as a state of perfection, as a re-presentation of Jesús1 style of life.
The Chapters of Renewal made a considerable effort to stress the “fully apostolic” nature of our Institute, so as to distinguish it from the “conventual.”
The new awareness of our apostolic identity was expressed in the renewal of the Constitutions by doing everything possible to avoid any dichotomy between the religious life and the apostolate: we live the Gospel by preaching it, and we preach the Gospel by living it.
6. FOR THE MISSIONARY SERVICE OF THE WORD
“In the ministry of the Word”
If, according to our constitutional text, the charismatic service that characterizes us in the Church consists of our being steadfast helpers of its Shepherds in the ministry of the Word, it should be obvious that we must understand, in full depth and breadth, what this ministry of Bishops consists of. The Second Vatican Council offers us the characteristics of this ministry within the Episcopal ministry. Here are its principal statements:
a) Jesus Christ preaches the Word of God to all nations in the person of the bishops, whom the priests assist.
b) One of the principal duties of bishops is the preaching of the Gospel, setting forth the integral mystery of Christ and the way that has been revealed by God to glorify Him and attain eternal blessedness. They are the ones responsible for the announcement of the Good News throughout the world.
c) They must accommodate the announcement of the Gospel to the condition of people today, striving to respond to the difficulties and problems that worry and afflict them (cf. Vat. II, CD 12-13). Hence they must show how earthly things and human institutions are ordered to salvation by the design of the Creator (cf. CD 12); they must proclaim the Church’s teaching on the human person, on freedom, on life and on the family; they must illumine human realities (civil society, work and relaxation, arts, technology, the distribution of material goods, war and peace, fraternal coexistence among peoples) with the teaching of the faith.
d) “They should be especially solicitous for the poor and weaker brethren whom the
Lord has commissioned them to evangelize” (CD 13).
The ministry of the Word must be carried out by the now-decisive means of dialogue: “Bishops should make it their special care to approach men and to initiate and promote dialogue with them. These discussions should be marked by charity of expression as well as by humility and courtesy, so that truth should always be combined with charity, and understanding with love…likewise by due prudence allied, however, with sincerity which by promoting friend-ship is conducive to a union of minds” (cf. CD 13).f) Among the methods for proclaiming the Gospel, bishops should endeavour to use, first of all, preaching and catechetical instruction, but also “teaching in schools, universities, conferences and meetings of every kind. Finally, there are public statements made by way of comment on events, as well as the press and other media of public communication, all of which should be employed for the promulgation of the gospel of Christ” (CD 13). Bishops should pay very special care to catechesis and should re-establish or improve the adult catechumenate (cf. CD 14).
In principle, then, the charismatic mission of the Congregation consists in this: in being steadfast helpers of our Shepherds in the ministry of the Word, that is, in the preaching and announcement of the Gospel, accommodating it to the problems and questions that trouble people today; in proclaiming the Good News to the poor; in evangelizing all peoples, making privileged use of such means as dialogue, teaching and instruction, and the catechumenate. CoCC pp. 117-125
By reason of our Claretian characteristic of being steadfast helpers of the bishops in the ministry of the Word, we must first of all acknowledge their personal authority and the responsibility incumbent on them as shepherds of the people of God in their particular Churches. Consequently, we should second their norms and directives, collaborating creatively and prophetically in any over-all pastoral planning.” – Dir. 27.
7. ALL SHARING THE SAME VOCATION
This number describes the Congregation as a communion of diverse persons. This communion is based on their vocation or rather their co-vocation in common life and in the same mission. Their diversity is considered from the canonical dimension of their diaconal or priestly ordination. -C o CC p.113
In the Congregation we all share the same missionary vocation, and hence our fundamental definition, in which there is no sort of differentiation, is that of “missionaries.” So true is this that the constitutional text calls even the novices “iuvenes missionarü” (CC 65), and the students, “missionaries quid in periodo formations versantur” (CC 72). Hence we are all congregated in the same community, carry out the same mission and share in the same rights and duties.
The substantive element here is to be missionaries; subordinate to this are the different modes of being missionary, according to each one’s charismatic and ministerial gift. This congregational self-understanding makes questionable the canonical definition of our Congregation as a clerical Institute. In fact, the Fundamental Constitution makes no reference to this classification, which appears only in Part III of the Constitutions “Congregatio nostra…communitas est charismatica et institutionalis; ac praeterea in clericalibus adnumeratur” (CC 86. Note: The last phrase was unwittingly omitted in the English translation.). Our Congregation of missionaries is made up of priests, deacons, brothers and students. Each of them fulfils his missionary vocation according to his ministerial condition within the People of God: as a consecrated layperson or an ordained minister. The understanding of the ministerial and charismatic perspective of the different members is developed in Part II of the Constitutions.
There are also other men and women, and other priestly and lay institutions which, though not belonging juridically to our Institute, have also received our missionary gift. This means that our own charismatic and institutional community does not have a monopoly on the Claretian charism, but that we share it with other institutes, groups or persons. 137 We ought to establish adequate “mutual relations” with them, allowing for our mutual enrichment and a closer collaboration in missionary actions, in which we may all be authentic bearers of our mission. -Co CC pp, 139-140
“Our missionary service of the Word will be more credible if our community, made up of priests, deacons, brothers and students, over-comes the inequalities that militate against fraternal communion, and if it integrates our different charisms in a creative way” (IPM.30). Therefore we will reflect in our communities on our common vocation as consecrated missionaries (IPM 30.1)
(cf. Vita Consecrata and the Circular on The Missionary Brothers…”, 1997). We will revise all usages that still denote clericalism: titles, practices and customs.
“We will do more to foster the ministries of Brothers that are directly related to the missionary service of the Word”.( IPM 30.2)
We will study the nature of our Institute and the possibility of having it recognized as a “mixed” institute. (IPM 30.3.)
We “know that building communion in the Church and in society is a complex and arduous task. As missionaries, we desire to contribute with our efforts to build communion in the Church and peace in the world” (IPM 33)
We will care for our belonging to particular churches and for communion with their shepherds, opening ourselves to the wealth of their diverse charisms and contributing our own to them. (IPM 33.1)
“We will search for new ways to share our life and missionary commitment with the laity. We will undertake common apostolic initiatives in a co-responsible way” (IPM 33.2)
“We will collaborate in spreading and strengthening the Lay Claretian Movement. We will offer them the support they need for growing deeper hi their identity and formation. We will follow through with them by providing the service of religious assessor-ship and will seek with them new ways of communion and of joint apostolic works” ( IPM 33.3)
“We will endeavour to work together with those men and women, institutions and groups engaged in prophetic witness to the Kingdom of God: particular churches, religious life, basic ecclesial communities, ecclesial movements, non-governmental organizations, groups that promote justice and peace and the safeguarding of creation, associations of solidarity, think tanks, etc…” (IPM 33.4.)
8. CORDIMARIAN DIMENSION OF OUR CHARISM
Our Founder categorically affirmed, in the Retreat of 1865, that the Virgin Mary had founded the Congregation. We still have the handwritten outlines of this Retreat, and in the talk on Zeal, when Claret speaks of atheistic humanism as one of the evils that were threatening humanity, we can read:
“The Most Blessed Virgin has founded her sacred Congregation in order that her Heart might be the Noah’s Ark, the Tower of David, the city of refuge and the sacred propitiatory.” 138
Father Clotet attended this Retreat and he relates the words our Founder spoke in the following way:
“The Congregation is Yours, You founded it. Do you not remember, Lady? Do you not remember? lie said this with such an accent and such naturalness, that it could easily be seen that he was remembering in a very lively way at that moment the precept, the words and the presence of the Mother of God.”139
The Chapter of 1973 clearly expressed its feelings on the relationship of the Congregation with the Blessed Virgin Mary:
“Given the intensity with which the image of Mary figured in the mystical ufe of our Founder, it is evident that the Marian (Cordimarian) aspect forms an essential part of our charism and constitutes an indispensable trail of our spirituality. The Virgin is, consequently, much more than simply the principal Patroness of the Congregation. The living of our cordimarian sonship provides us with a special dynamism to fulfil the kind of being and mission that define the Claretian religious” (2 RL 7f).
Mary, Mother of the Congregation, will be for each one of us what she was for our Father
Founder: “We are and are called Sons of Her Heart”
We have already called attention in n. 1 to the title of Sons, which corresponds to our vocational being: sonship. The attitude that corresponds to this is filial love and trust, as is spelled out inn. 36. Pope John Paul II reminded us:
“I do not want to end this encounter without recalling another distinctive trail of your sprit, which constantly appears in your Holy Founder with singular forcefulness and which should continue to be your own way of being and feeling. I refer to his clear awareness of being a Son of the Heart of Mary and of being an instrument of salvation in Her hands. You know perfectly well the point to which this awareness of Marian filiation lies at the base not only of the apostolic activity of your Holy Founder, but also and in a specific manner, is the cement of the very foundation of your Institute. Throughout your history, this character of motion filiation has always remained as an important element of your spirituality and evangelizing action. Never let it be weakened. In the doctrine of the Second Vatican Council on Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, you have a doctrinal foundation for this motion spirit which your theologians and spiritual teachers should deepen and develop still more.” ( L’Osservatore Romano, 23 rd September l985: XX Gen. Chap., Rome 1985, p.73.)
“We commit ourselves to Her to be conformed to the mystery of Christ”
In Jesus’ entrustment of his Mother to the Beloved Disciple on Calvary, Saint Anthony Mary Claret recognized the Virgin’s maternal role in his own life as a disciple and apostle. He acknowledged this in repeated acts of accepting her spiritual maternity -Mother, behold your son- and of committing himself to her love and service.1 The Congregation felt this same desire to acknowledge what the Mother of Jesus meant to it, and manifested this with its own act of commitment and consecration. The official public practice of this act began in 1863.144 In the beginning the Congregation consecrated itself to the special service of God and Heart of Mary in order better to achieve its aim: the glory of God, personal sanctification, the salvation of the world and collaboration m the ministry of the Word.
In the renewed Constitutions, this consecration is made with a view to accepting Mary’s spiritual maternity as she conforms us with Christ according to the mystery of our charism, namely, with Jesus Christ the Evangelizer, who seeks the glory of the Father and sanctifies himself for the salvation of all. This is a better way of spelling out the awareness of a reality that we have lived from the earliest tunes: our spiritual filiation or sonship.
“To cooperate with her maternal role in our apostolic mission”
Our Father Founder felt that he was in some way a collaborator in the spiritual maternity of Mary through his prayer, evangelization, suffering and zeal. From the very outset of his preaching, he regarded himself as an instrument of Mary, a prophetic arrow poised in her mighty hand (Aut 270). Toward the end of his life he felt the inner presence of Mary and considered himself intimately united with Her. He also felt that this grace was for the Congregation: the Congregation, through its apostolic action, should make visible the maternal action of Mary in the Church.”” CoCC pp. 143-146
Our prophetic lifestyle receives a distinctive imprint from the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of the Congregation. She teaches us that without heart, without tenderness, without ¡ove, there is no credible prophecy. Mary uttered the Word (cf. Lk 1:38) because she had first conceived it in her heart; she proclaimed her prophetic Magnificat (cf. Lk 1:46-55) because she had first believed; she stood near the Cross and was present at Pentecost because she was the good earth that welcomed the Word with a glad heart, made it bear fruit a hundred fold (cf. Lk 8:8,15,21) and asked others to do whatever the Word told them (Jn. 2:5). IPM 20.
Dir 32: The consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which our Father Founder proposed as the first formula for joining our Institute, is addressed to the overall aim of the Congregation. For this reason, the effort to attain that aim by means of the Immaculate Heart of Mary must be considered as a characteristic note of our missionary life.
Dir. 33: This consecration also expresses the spiritual experience of our Founder, who acknowledged that he was formed as a disciple and apostle of Christ thanks to a special maternal intervention of Mary. Our spirituality takes on a filial character since, through Mary the Spirit conforms us to the Missionary Son of the Father. The presence of the Heart of Mary in our spirituality gives a mark of humility, meekness, tenderness and motherly love to our apostolate.
Dir: 34.As missionary sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, she forms us in the forge of her mercy and love, and makes its instruments of her maternal love for humanity in the exercise of our apostolic service. Since being Sons of the Heart of Mary pertains to the charism of the Congregation;
- a)we must especially integrate this reality into our vocation;
- b)we must be concerned about Mary in liturgical! worship and popular Marian piety,
- c)in our apostolate, as we proclaim the integral mystery of Christ, we must call attention to the role played by Mary, His Mother and ours,
- d)to do this, we most deepen our theological understanding, either through personal study or though specialized courses, and intensify our personal and community Marian living, with days of reflection, meditations, readings and shared prayer.
9. THE “MODEL” OF THE MISSIONARY
Dir. 35. Our Founder has left us the spiritual and charismatic portrait which describes his own experience of the missionary life by means of the short texts contained in the Autobiography (494) and which we call indistinctly “definition,” “form,” or “memorial” of a missionary. He has handed it over to the Congregation so that each missionary may carry it with him and have it as the guide-line for his life.
The Fundamental Constitution ends with the definition of the missionary or “forma Missionarii.” It is doubtless the most expressive summary and permanent memorial of our missionary vocation.
- “A son of the Immaculate heart of Mary is a man on fire with charity,
- who spreads its flames wherever he goes.
- He desires mightily and strives by all means possible to set everyone on fire with God’s love.
- Nothing daunts him:
- he delights in privations,
- welcomes work embraces sacrifices, smiles al slander,
- rejoices in all the torments and sorrows he suffers,
- and glories in the cross of Jesus Christ.
- His only concern is how he may follow Christ and imitate him in praying, working, enduring,
- and striving constantly and solely for the greater glory of God and the salvation of humankind.”
In this memorial of what a missionary son of the Immaculate Heart is, our Founder presents three fundamental traits: the missionary as a man of God’s holy fire, a man who glories in the cross of Christ, and a man who follows and imitates Jesus.
The Man Undaunted
Our Father Founder sets the Missionary, the Son of the Immaculate Heat’ of Mary, within the scenario of eschatology, of the last and definitive times. Claret was graced with a powerful eschatological awareness, which he nourished through his living identification with the Jesus of the Gospels, and with the prophets and the Apostles. He understood mission as a participation in the battle of the end time, as an all out war against the power of the Evil One. This eschatological awareness – so essential to Christianity- is usually (though not always) lacking in many First-world settings, where believers have so accommodated themselves to the present world that they do not feel the apocalyptic goad, or the need to extricate themselves from their own, sometimes diabolic, labyrinthine ways.
An apocalyptic awareness -as a fundamental inspiration for mission- situates the missionary in the thick of (he battle between Christ and the Evil One. For this reason, the missionary has to count on being met with contradiction, suffering, slander and even death. In fact, the definition of the missionary makes reference to privations, works, sacrifices, slanders, torments, sorrows and the cross. These are the hallmarks of authentic prophecy, of missionary authenticity. It is only logical that all of this should happen when the missionary, answering the call of God – and not running off in the opposite direction like Jonah- exposes himself to risk in the front tanks where the battle is at its thickest:
“Jesus, my Life, I know and fully realize that suffering, Sorrow and work are the badge of (he apostolate. Will, the help of your grace, my Lord and Father, I will embrace them and declare that I am ready to drink the cup of inner torment and resolved to receive the baptism of outer pain. And so I say, ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross on which you were nailed for me and on which I, too, would be nailed for you. So be it.” (Aut 427).
This risk-taking and courageous style of mission should shape the Son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In the chapter on Conformity with Christ, the Constitutions spell out the way in which we should make each aspect of the definition of the missionary into a reality: he delights in privations, gladly tackles works, embraces sacrifices, is glad amid slanders, rejoices in all the torments and sorrows he suffers, and glories in the cross of Jesus Christ.
Dir: CMF Directory
LG: Vat. II, Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic constitution on the Church.
CD: Vat. II, Christus Dominus, Decree on the Pastoral Office of the Bishops.
PC: Vat II, Perfectae Caritatis, Decree on Renewal of Religious Life
ET: Paul VI, Evangelica Testificatio, 1971, Apostolic Exhortation on Renewal of Religious Life.
ES: Pope Paul VI, Ecclesiae Sanctae, Apostolic Letter on implementation of Vat. Documents, 1966.
MR: Mutuae Relationes, Directives of the Congregation for Religious & Secular Institutes, 1978.
IPM: In prophetic Mission, Document of XXII General Chapter, 1997.
MCT: Mission of Claretians Today, Document of XIX General Chapter, 1979.
CoCC: Our Project of Missionary Life, commentary of constitutions, Vol. 2, by Jose Maria Viñas and Josè Cristo Rey Garcia Paredes