15 – A CLARETIAN READING OF THE WORD OF GOD Part Two

Booklets on Claretian Formation. 15

General Prefecture of Formation 1994

 

                                             A CLARETIAN READING OF THE WORD OF GOD

 

                                                                    Part Two

 

 

                                                                                                         Jesús María Palacios, CMF

                                                                                      Translated by Joseph C. Daries, CMF

 

 

 

 

                                                           Rome, 15 May 1994

 

 

                                 ABBREVIATIONS FOR WORKS BY CLARET

 

AL       Ascetical Letter, Barcelona 1862, 52 pp. SSW 137‑174.

AP       Advice to a Priest, Vic 1845, 24 pp. SSW 288‑321.

APIApuntes de un Plan para conservar la hermosura de la Iglesia, [Notes of a Plan to Conserve the Beauty of the Church], Madrid 1865, 260 pp.

BPPLas Bibliotecas populares y parroquiales [Popular Parish Lending Libraries]. Madrid 1864, 32 pp.

CCTT  Lozano, J. M., Constituciones y textos, Barcelona 1972.

CIEl Colegial Instruido [The Well‑Instructed Seminarian], Barcelona 1861, vol. 2, 526 pp.

CIaLa Colegiala instruida [The Well‑Instructed Schoolgirl], Barcelona 1863, 64 pp.

COAntídoto contra el contagio protestante [Antidote against the Protestant contagion], Barcelona 1857, 62 pp; Vol. 3 of Colección de Opúsculos, 125 ff.

EA       Escritos Autobiográficos, BAC, Madrid 1981.

EE       Escritos Espirituales, BAC, Madrid 1985. Cf. SSW.

EPDExhortación pastoral a todos sus diocesanos [Pastoral Exhortation to all the members of his diocese], Santiago 1854, 10 pp.

EvMtEl Santo Evangelio de N.S.J.C. según San Mateo [Holy Gospel of O.L.J.C. according to St. Matthew], Barcelona 1856, 230 pp.

LEVL’Egoismo vinto (Selfishness Overcome), Rome 1869, 88 pp. Cf. SSW 443‑508.

LMT    Letter to Missionary Theophilus, Barcelona 1858, SSW 411‑441.

MAMMemoria de la Academia de San Miguel [Memoir of the Academy of St. Michael], Madrid 1862.

PAM   Plan of the Academy of St. Michael, Barcelona 1859, 46 pp. SSW 396‑410.

PBVPrólogo a la Biblia Sacra o Vulgata Latina [Foreword to the Holy Bible or Latin Vulgate], Barcelona 1862.

PClePastoral al Clero [Pastoral Letter to the Clergy], Santiago, Cuba 1852, 84 pp., and Appendix of 1855.

PEEPlan de Estudios de El Escorial, in Miscelánea interesante, Barcelona 1865, 338 pp.

PICPastoral Letter on the Immaculate Conception, Santiago, Cuba 1855, 38 pp. SSW 513‑570.

PSMMonasterio de El Escorial. Plan de estudios para los Seminarios, in Miscelánea interesante.

RFSRegulation for the Aspirants, Novices and Students of our Congregation and their respective Masters, 1862. Cf. Notebooks on Formation, nn. 1‑2.

RSC    Rules for Secular Clergy Living in Community. SSW 379‑384.

SSW    Selected Spiritual Writings. English trans..of EE.

 

 

                                                   A CLARETIAN READING

                                                                    OF THE

                                                             WORD OF GOD

                                                                          

                                                                    Part Two

 

              THE WORD OF GOD IN THE TRADITION OF THE CONGREGATION

 

1. Keys that Claret handed on to the Congregation

 

            Although everything about Claret always has some reference to the Congregation, inasmuch as he is its Founder, Father and Model, there are nevertheless some occasions on which this reference is explicit; in such cases the reference directly challenges us. This is true of the theme of the Word of God. Now we are going to develop those keys for reading the Word of God that Claret explicitly transmitted to the Congregation.

 

            1.1. His example. The Autobiography

 

            One of the first keys that Claret handed on to the Congregation was his own life. As its Founder he is an example to be imitated not only from the outside, but from inside our common charism. The experiential interpretation that Claret made of this charism is not only an example for the Congregation, but a call to imitate it and an assurance of fidelity to it.

 

            Fortunately, the Congregation has this experiential interpretation of the charism of Claret ready‑made for us in his Autobiography, with the added advantage that he wrote it “intentionally,” out of obedience, for the Congregation.[1]

 

            Thus, the vocational key of Claret’s reading of the Word of God is also a key that we must take into account for ourselves. And the Autobiography must be a source of inspiration of the way in which we must carry out that vocational reading.

 

            1.2. Biblical texts proper of the Congregation

 

            In the first part of this study, we said that in Claret, the vocational key of reading the Word of God had two aspects. The first was his overall awareness that the vocation he received had its origin and development above all in the Word of God. The second is made up of an ensemble of concrete biblical texts that were in fact present in the origin of his call, in the forming of his vocation and in the shaping of his life and mission.

 

            Within this ensemble, some texts were strictly personal; others, in contrast, had a community and congregational thrust. These latter, community‑oriented texts will require an adequate discernment in order to grasp and adjudicate their congregational dimension. Sometimes our Fr. Founder himself declares the community connotation of the biblical texts; at others, this dimension is revealed in the impact that they have had on the origin and development of the congregational charism and the continuity they have enjoyed in the tradition of the Congregation.

 

            Among the congregational biblical texts we may highlight the ones that our Father Founder applied explicitly and directly to the Congregation,[2] such as:

            * Psalm 23 [22 Vulgate]. The Founding of the Congregation.[3]

            * Jn 20:21. Spiritual Exercises in Vic, 1850.[4]

            * Rev 14:6, 8:13, 10:1‑2.[5]

            * Texts that undergird the primitive Constitutions.

 

            1.3. Recommendations to the Missionaries

 

            If Claret recommended Bible reading to all persons, clerical and lay, he could hardly fail to have done so expressly to his Missionaries.

 

            1.3.1. To Missionaries in Initial Formation

 

            1) In the Regulation for Students and Prefect, he gives some precise pedagogical guidelines on the place that the Word of God should occupy in the formation of the young Missionaries.

 

            The Missionary Sons of the Imm. Heart of Mary, moved in all things by the glory of God [essential and fundamental vocational motivation in Claret], must have as the objective of their formation to become “fitting minister of His [God’s] Word.”[6]

 

            Expressing his own experience [importance of prayer and the Bible for discovering his mission],[7] he mentions, among others, two special means for attaining the objective of formation: prayer [asking God for it “incessantly”] and the Bible. In this respect he says:

 

“All will have a Holy Bible and in it they will daily read two chapters in the morning and another two in the evening…; and on Friday…a chapter of the Passion of Jesus.”[8]

 

            In the second draft, this guideline is drafted as follows:

 

“To the spiritual reading for each day, they will add those chapters of the Holy Bible that the Superior shall assign.”[9]

 

            In the “Rules to be observed by one who would become a perfect missionary” (written prior to the first CC of the Congregation), he states:

 

            “Every day, he will read a chapter of the New Testament.”[10]

 

            In the First CC of 1857, and in another setting, this guideline is broadened to the whole Bible:

 

            “They shall dine at noon, while a chapter from the Bible is read.”[11]

 

            And the CC of 1871 prescribe:

 

“Moreover, every week they shall have some readings from Sacred Scripture.”[12]

 

2. The Tradition of the Congregation

 

            1) The tradition of the Congregation has recently been collected and especially expressed in the renewed CC and in the latest General Chapters.[13]

 

            In the CC we are offered the framework and central place that the Word of God holds in our missionary life; in the Chapters, the unfolding of the main cores of the CC and methodological applications.

 

            Of the Chapters, that of 1991 has dealt with the theme of the Word in our life and mission in an overall and all‑embracing perspective, in the Declaration SERVANTS OF THE WORD (SW). This is the great “innovation” contributed by the XXI General Chapter to the Congregation and the Church.

 

            The missionary service of the Word in the Church, a core essential of our apostolic charism (cf. CC 6 and 46), is the center and pivot of the Chapter Declaration. It is the light that served as its focus in drafting it and the perspective in which its whole content is set. In the Declaration SW, the missionary service of the Word appears as a dynamism integrating our being and action, and not just as a mere pastoral action or an appendage to our apostolic mission.

 

            Hence the Chapter orients its reflection on our life and action from the standpoint of the Word of God, offering operative proposals aimed at enhancing community life, the proclamation of the Gospel, spirituality, renewal and revision of apostolic structures and means, initial and ongoing formation, and apostolic diversification in the five continents where the Congregation is set up.

 

            2) Love for the Word of God is a family trait in the Congregation. The latest General Chapters have constantly connected the Congregation’s tradition to the life, example, teachings and style of our Fr. Founder. From him, who carried out his “ministry in faith, prayer and love for the Word listened to and assimilated,”[14] have sprung the updated guidelines which the Chapters have offered to the Congregation.[15]

 

            Love for and devotion to the Word of God are so rooted in the life of the Congregation, that the 1991 Chapter defined them as “family traits”:

 

“Our Founder’s practice of the daily and ‘vocational’ reading of the Bible, and our acceptance of it as God’s Word for us today, must be family traits that allow us to give constant proof that we are hearers‑servants of the Word.”[16]

 

            Hence recent Chapters have earnestly exhorted all the members of the Congregation to keep this trait of our Fr. Founder and to read the Word of God “in a charismatic key.”[17]

 

3. Characteristics

 

            The presentation of characteristics which we offer here is neither analytic or linear, but synthetic. Starting out from the core points of the Constitutions, we will develop them with guidelines from the Chapters of Renewal, with clear reference to our Fr. Founder.

 

3.1. Centrality of the Word welcomed by us as by Mary in the reality in which we live

 

            3.1.1. The Word of God as the central core of our life and mission.

 

            1) The Renewed Constitutions

 

            The Word of God is featured as the supreme rule of our life and mission from the period of initial formation, a time of preparation to fulfill our mission:

 

“Therefore the following of Christ as set forth in the gospel is our supreme rule.”[18]

 

“The ministry of the Word…is our special calling among the People of God.”[19]

 

“They should pray God unceasingly to make them fitting ministers of the divine word.”[20]

 

            This “fitness” as our Fr. Founder understands it, is a fitness within a Word that transforms our life, conforming it with Christ’s and equips us, in the process of formation, for proclaiming and preaching that Word.

 

            2) Chapter Documents

           

            In our charism, the Word of God is as essential to community as community is to the Word, so that without the primacy of the Word, the Claretian community loses its reason for being. Hence, the ministry of the Word must be seen as an authentic way of being, acting and signifying.

 

            Welcoming, announcing and witnessing to the Word is the core of our spirituality, that is, of our way of following Jesus. And in formation we must make the Word one of the pivots of the whole formative process. In this way me must be transformed into a sign and expression of God’s Word.

 

            The Claretian community must always have God’s Word as a point of reference; hence studying, meditating and contemplating on the Word will occupy a fundamental place and each Claretian Missionary must give primacy in his life and activity to the service of the Word.[21]

 

            3.1.2. The style of Mary

 

            1) Renewed Constitutions

 

            “Pondering the word of God in their hearts.”[22]

 

            In the footnote to this text, the CC cites the verse of Lk 2:19, which refers to Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother. It sets Mary before us as a model to imitate.

 

            2) Chapter Documents

 

            Mary is, as we know, our Mother, Formator and Director for the work of evangelization, as she was for our Fr. Founder. Mary, by the work of the Spirit, conforms us, like Claret, with the Son, God’s Good News and the Father’s own Evangelizer. Our Fr. Founder presents Mary’s Heart to us as the white‑hot forge in which we are shaped as heralds of the Word.

 

            In the depths of Mary’s Heart we discover the way to listen. She received in her Heart (cf. Lk 2:19, 51) the Word made history amidst the cry of the poor (cf. Lk 1:48‑53). Under the maternal action of Mary, our Mother and Director, we learn to listen, to ponder in our heart and to attentively receive the Word, to embody it in a life‑commitment and to communicate it with the same readiness and generosity as She did.

 

            In his personal life, the Claretian evangelizer should base his overall life‑synthesis on Mary, and in his apostolic life the presence of Mary, Star of Evangelization, will enlighten him and make fruitful the urgent and effective responses that he ought to make as a missionary servant of the Word.[23]

 

            3.1.3. In relation to reality

 

            1) Renewed Constitutions

 

            Although the CC do not have an explicit reference of the Word of God to reality, they nonetheless offer in some texts in which this reference can be read implicitly. Speaking of the ministry of the Word as our special calling among the People of God, they tell us what we should do by sharing the reality of human beings, especially with the poorest of the poor (cf. 46). When they give us the criteria for discerning how to fulfill our mission, they make concrete references to the circumstances of times, place and persons (cf. 48). Finally, in the chapter on prayer, they ask that, guided by faith, we should seek in events the signs of the times, in order to become daily more docile to our mission (cf. 34).

 

            2) Chapter Documents

 

            The reading of God’s Word, which we should do in a charismatic key, must also be done in the light of the challenges that lay claim to our missionary service. Hence, we must listen to the Word of God in personal prayer, in the events of history, in cultures and in the life of people, both in their silences and in their outcries, And during the period of formation, the accompaniment of the formandi, especially in the process of missionary insertion, must have as an objective enabling them to read reality as a word of God and to listen to it with an evangelical attitude.

 

            This way of reading God’s Word, as well as our attitude of sharing our hopes with others, can evangelize us and enrich us as evangelizers. If we are open to others, if we welcome them, listen to their words and allow ourselves to be enriched by their experiences, they can also transmit the Gospel of God to us in unsuspected ways.[24]

 

            3.2. The Word of God converts us and conforms us with Christ

 

            3.2.1. Confronting the Word of God in order to be converted

 

            1) Renewed Constitutions

 

“We should first listen to it…so that we ourselves may be converted to the gospel.”[25]

 

“We should also…examine our fidelity to the gospel.”[26]

 

            Listening to the Word of God, and more concretely to the Gospel, must always involve a personal and community confrontation with it. The Word of God is not neutral or indifferent. It is a constant “vocational call” to respond with every greater fidelity to the original call in which our vocation was manifested. As evangelizers, we must be evangelized by the Word we proclaim.

 

            2) Chapter Documents

 

            By means of the Word, Jesus Christ issues a call to conversion. Hence we must awaken in ourselves an attitude of letting ourselves be challenged by it, listening to it as an invitation to a new life.

 

            We should let ourselves be questioned by the Word of God and make an effort to respond to it, so that we can overcome mediocrity in our lifestyle, which is often lacking in evangelical radicalism.

 

            The Claretian community, like Mary’s heart indwelt by the Word, will not live in division or be set in its comfortable niche. It will never be deaf to the cry of God in others or serve any sort of idols. It will be the good earth that yields much fruit and makes the Word of God believable and winsome.[27]

 

            3.2.2. Through the Word we are conformed with Christ

 

            1) Renewed Constitutions

 

“We should first listen to it…so that we ourselves may…become conformed with Christ.”[28]

 

And so we listen to the Lord’s words, eager to learn from him

as he calls his disciples to be perfect as their Father is perfect,

as he gives them the new commandment of fraternal love,

            as he urges them to pray,

            as he gives them rules for apostolic life, and

            as he proclaims that the poor in spirit, the sorrowing.

            the meek,

            those who hunger and thirst for justice, the merciful,

            the single‑hearted,

            the peacemakers,

            those who suffer persecution for the cause of right

            and endure slander for his sake,

            are all sharers in his own blessedness.”[29]

 

            The Constitutions propose listening to God’s Word as a dynamism for realizing the process of following, imitating and identifying with Christ (a process that will culminate in complete conformity with him and is, at the same time, the aim of the formation process as stated in the General Plan of Formation) and a summing up of the fundamental values of the Gospel which describe Jesus’ plan and must be our rule of missionary life.

 

            2) Chapter Documents

 

            On the one hand, through the Word Jesus calls us not only to conversion, but also to faith in him and to fellowship with him in his life and mission: a faith and fellowship which, motivated by a strong attraction to the figure of Jesus, come to fulfillment in total identification with him and in conformity with his death and resurrection.

 

            On the other hand, our apostolic activity must always spring from a real conformity with Christ the Evangelizer and from a close fellowship and friendship with him, thus avoiding a fall into mere activism.[30]

 

            3.3. Pedagogical dynamics and means

 

            3.3.1. Listening to God’s Word as a fundamental dynamic

 

“And so we listen to the Lord’s words, eager to learn from him as he calls his disciples…”[31]

 

            The centrality of the Word of God in the life, formation and mission of the missionary, is concretely embodied in a fundamental dynamic: the dynamic of “listening eagerly to God’s Word” (cf. CC 4), of being “constantly listening” to the Word (SW 22), which allows the Word itself to become one of the pivots of the whole formative process, so that we can assimilate the values of the Gospel and conformity with the missionary Christ, in order to fulfill our mission.

 

            To be “constantly listening” is not just a temporary attitude. It also means knowing how to read reality as a word of God and to listen to with an evangelical attitude. In the final analysis it means listening to God’s Word in personal prayer, in the events of history, in cultures and in the life of people, in their silences and in their outcries.

 

            Docile listening to the Word of God is, moreover, an efficacious dynamic. Although our power be ever so little, when the Word of God takes hold of us and we are docile to it, it acts mightily in those who hear it and keep it.[32]

 

            3.3.2. Vocational and missionary discernment

 

            1) Renewed Constitutions

 

“With those who feel they have a vocation, we should begin a process of discernment that includes listening to the word of God…”[33]

 

            The Constitutions center the process of vocational discernment in a “biblical key,” along with prayer and fraternal dialogue. Thus the reading of the Word of God becomes a “vocational reading” from the very first moments of one’s call and of the formation process.

 

            2) Chapter Documents

 

            For us, the centrality of the Kingdom in Jesus’ message (contained in the Word) is the fundamental criterion of discernment for our life and mission.

 

            On a vocational level, Holy Scripture is, together with prayer and the Eucharist, one of the keys for acquiring a clear awareness of one’s vocation, and the Word of God is one of the pivot points of the whole formative process.

 

            On an apostolic level, a growing knowledge of the Gospel and of our charism, together with the action of the Holy Spirit, is one of the norms that provide a sound criterion for discerning signs from God among the signs of the times. Even more, the Claretian of what is most opportune or timely also means that the habit of scanning events in the light of God’s Word gives the missionary the insight he needs in every time and place in order to know what is fitting to do or what needs to be avoided for the work of salvation. In difficult junctures for the proclamation of the Word, listening to that Word, together with community discernment, will form a criterion of solidarity before the cross.[34]

 

            3.3.3.   Assiduous and daily reading, meditation and contemplation of the Word of God

 

            1) Renewed Constitutions

 

“Our missionaries should spend some time daily in mental prayer, an hour when possible, pondering the Word of God in their hearts. We should also engage in spiritual reading, especially from the Scriptures…”[35]

 

“We should first listen to the Word of God in attentive meditation.”[36]

 

“We should be diligent in sacred and human studies…”[37]

 

            Besides the Marian nuance, on which we have already commented, the Constitutions quite clearly incorporate the Congregation’s tradition, recommended by our Fr. Founder, of reading, meditating on and contemplating the Scriptures daily. Likewise, the diligently pursued study of Scriptures is proposed as an effective means to keep abreast of the times and be able to minister productively.[38]

 

            2) Chapter Documents

 

            As a point of departure and in keeping with practical orientations, it is important above all to develop love for Sacred Scripture.

 

            The spirit and practice of prayer are the indispensable nourishment of spiritual perfection and apostolic life. Hence, the spirit of prayer and prayer itself should be cultivated by taking the Scriptures in hand every day in such a way that study, meditation and contemplation of the Word will occupy a fundamental place in the life of us, whose vocation among the people of God is the ministry of the Word. Hence, two practical guidelines:

 

* We should read, meditate on and contemplate it every day.

* And we should make Bible‑study one of our central concerns.

            We should likewise foster celebrating the Liturgy without haste and with the reflection due the Word of God.

 

            In every celebration we should highlight the power of the Word and take special care with the homily, keenly aware of the concrete reality of the persons we are addressing.[39]

 

            3.3.4. Sharing the Word

 

            1) Renewed Constitutions

 

            “Let us…also share it [the Lord’s word] with our brothers…”[40]

 

            In the spirit of the Constitutions, we should share the Word of God in community prayer, in vocational discernment (fraternal dialogue and prayer) and in our apostolic mission (CC 13).

 

            2) Chapter Documents

 

            The Chapter insist that we share fraternally in listening to, living, celebrating and announcing the Word, above all in the Eucharist. It is here, above all, that our expression of faith and our community prayer as a community encounter and dialogue with the Lord take shape. And it is through the sharing the Word of God, among other means, that we can favor a more serious commitment to personal prayer and find our mutual moorings in it.

 

            Likewise, the last Chapter asked us to share the Word of God with the laity, to spur ourselves on to share our joint responsibility in the task of evangelizing.[41]

 

            3.3.5. The Superior’s Service of Animation

 

            1) Renewed Constitutions

 

            The Superior, as animator of the community, should provide his service of animation:

 

“…By offering them [his brothers] the ministry of God’s word either personally or with the help of other members or, if it seems opportune, with that of others called to this ministry.”[42]

 

            It is interesting to note that among the other functions of the local Superior, it is explicitly pointed out that he should (either personally or through others, offer his brothers the Word of God. This means that it is a key function in line with the Claretian plan of life, in which the Word of God, as we have been showing, plays a fundamental and central role. In an analogous way, and with greater reason, we can affirm the same of a formator regarding his formandi.

 

 

            2) Chapter Documents

 

            Generally speaking, the Chapters have stressed the responsibility of Superiors in promoting ongoing formation in the Congregation. And within it, they must, logically, favor biblical studies.

 

            The Chapter of 1991 asked that during the next six years initiatives for ongoing formation be promoted, so that all Claretians may be duly prepared for the ministry of the Word, to answer the challenges of today’s world.[43]

 

            3.4. Formation

 

            1) Renewed Constitutions

 

“They should pray God unceasingly to make them fitting ministers of the divine word.”[44]

 

“Our scholastics should be especially diligent in the pursuit of sacred studies.”[45]

 

            Although we are explicitly dealing here with two texts that directly refer to formandi, we must not forget what was said above regarding the process of discernment through listening to the Word of God for those who want to join the Congregation (a process that should last throughout the formation process), and the role that the Word of God plays in the Claretian project, which affects formandi and should thus have an impact on the whole process of formation.

 

            The texts cited refer to prayer and study, both of them essential elements in Claret’s pedagogy for the formation of fitting ministers of the Word of God.

 

            2) Chapter Documents

 

            As a principle orienting formation, the Word of God must be one of the pivots of the whole formation process. To become fitting ministers of the Word, the formandi, as disciples of the Lord, must always be listening attentively, open to the surprises that come from the Word and the Spirit.

 

            Hence the formation of our young missionaries, both students and brothers, must be carried out as a true (theoretical and practical) process of initiation for mission, a core aspect of which is initiation into the ministry of the Word, understood as an authentic process of being, acting and signifying.

 

            The following are singled out as particular aspects of formation in the Word:

 

            * FAITH. The attainment of a living Faith, as a basis for a personal response to one’s vocation and all it implies, can only be achieved if it is nourished in a special way by constant meditation on the Word of God. The formandi should be progressively educated in it and carefully nourished in practicing it, according to the desire of our Founder.

 

            * CONFORMITY WITH CHRIST THE EVANGELIZER. One of the tasks of formation is to help the missionaries in formation to focus on real conformity with Christ the Evangelizer, adopting His attitudes, learning to live in close communion and friendship with Him, and taking Mary as their Mother and Formator, in the style of our Founder.

 

            * MARY, FORMATION GUIDE. Following the example of our Founder and of so many of our brethren, the formandi should learn to be formed by Mary in the forge of her Heart and, in the exercise of the ministry of the Word, to be instruments of her love, so as to be able to prolong the offices of her Spiritual Maternity toward their fellow human beings.

 

            * PERSONAL PRAYER LIFE. The members of our Congregation must progressively be convinced that without an intense prayer life, without continual meditation on the Word of God, and without frequent moments throughout the day in which they see and find personal prayer, they will not be able to give a true response or to hasten to meet Christ who comes to us in the Sacraments and leads us toward Himself in faith.

 

            * COMMUNITY PRAYER. Our students are asked to intensify a community manifestation of faith through listening and reflecting on the Word of God. They are encouraged to use different ways of prayer, such as, among others, community prayer in dialogue about the Scriptures.

 

            * SPIRITUAL READING AND MEDITATION. Along with the increasingly intense, continuing and progressive study of the Word as they advance in the formation process, our formandi, following the example of our Founder, should make the Scriptures their favorite book for spiritual reading. Every day they should devote a set time to this reading, which should be marked by recollection. Thus the Bible can become the basis of their daily meditations, enabling them to live what they believe and one day to teach what they have lived. They are specially counseled to make use of the “lectio divina” and other forms of reading.

 

            * STUDIES. Within a serious academic formation, a relevant place should be assigned to both a savored and exegetical knowledge of the Bible. To intensify and give consistence to spiritual life and formation in our formation centers, studies in spirituality must be based on the Word of God and on theology.

 

            * INTERIOR SILENCE. Formandi should be made aware that the interior life of prayer, which lies open to the action of the Holy Spirit, requires sufficient recollection which, in turn, creates the environment needed for listening to the Word of God and for achieving a faith enlightened by the gifts of understanding and wisdom. Hence there is a need to foster in our young missionaries the development of their capacity for silence, listening, dialogue and discernment, and for the analysis of different societies, cultures and religions.

 

            * COMMUNITY‑MINDEDNESS. The Word of God demands that the formandi be prepared to be community‑minded, which includes our ministry of the Word, so that they may learn to live and work in community and as a team.

 

            * AVAILABILITY. The formation of a Claretian Missionary would not be authentic if the young formandi did not assimilate in their life, in a practical way, the fact that they must have and live a constant attitude of universal openness through availability and a capacity for being sent anywhere in the world to preach the Word of God and the Gospel of Christ.[46]

 

            3.5. Aimed at Proclamation

 

            We are not going to dwell on concrete means of the apostolate, which must always be discerned through the Word of God, but rather on two vital dimensions of apostolic mission that are closely connected with the Word itself.[47]

 

            3.5.1. Unity and continuity between the Word listened to and the Word proclaimed

 

            1) Renewed Constitutions

 

“Before we dutifully proclaim the Lord’s word, we should first listen to it in attentive meditation.”[48]

 

            The Constitutional text reflects a constant tradition of the Church, based on the Word of God (for the apostles and missionaries are living witnesses of the Resurrection of the Lord, an essential mystery of the kerygma announced) and repeated insistently by our Fr. Founder. We could say that his moto was: “Preach the Word in the measure that you read it, meditate on it, contemplate it, listen to it, live it and practice it.”

 

            2) Chapter Documents

 

            In order to perform our apostolic mission perfectly, we should combine contemplation with apostolic love, in order to be at one with the mind and heart of God. As a deeply supernatural activity, a true apostolate is an exercise of the faith, hope and charity that the Holy Spirit pours forth into the hearts of all the Church’s children. In order to faithfully carry out our ministries, it is indispensable that we live in close union with Christ, our Savior and Shepherd. Our apostolic activity must always spring from a real conformity with Christ the Evangelizer and from a close communion and friendship with Him, thus avoiding the danger of falling into mere activism.

 

            The Word of God, together with the Eucharist, is a primary and constant source of our supernatural life and apostolic zeal, and is one of the characteristics of our charism. We contemplate the Master and listen to His Word in order to proclaim the Kingdom, opening the depths of our heart to Him and sharing the anxieties and hopes of our brothers and sisters. In carrying out their mission, Claretians, like their Founder, live the faith and love for the Word they listen to and assimilate, in order better to fulfill their role as prophets, apostles, witnesses and martyrs.

 

            Along with prayer and other means such as the Sacraments, it is important that we develop a love for Scripture, daily taking it in hand, reading and meditating on it as our Father Founder did, in order to achieve the sublime knowledge of Christ which is necessary for grasping the Kingdom that we proclaim and for making our apostolic work effective. We may go still further and say that for all of us the first means of the apostolate should be the use of Sacred Scripture as a personal and community contact with the Word of God, the source of faith and of life.[49]

 

            3.5.2. The Word of God enhances apostolic charity

 

            1) Renewed Constitutions

 

“Let us listen to it…that we may be set afire with His love, the force that should impel us…”[50]

 

            Along the lines traced out for us by our Father Founder in his Autobiography (note on charity), the Word of God is the source and at the same time the power that a missionary needs most in order to carry out his mission, namely, apostolic charity. If listening to the Word of God is a fundamental dynamism, it is because it most forcefully unleashes the fundamental energy of missionary action, namely, apostolic love and charity.

 

            2) Chapter Documents

 

            For the fulfillment of our apostolic mission, the contemplation of the Word and apostolic love must always be jointly present, so that we may be at one with the mind and heart of God, who has associated us in His redeeming work and in the spread of His Kingdom.

 

            Furthermore, as we indicated above, in our charism, the Word of God is stressed, together with the Eucharist, as the primary and constant source of our supernatural life and apostolic zeal. Zeal is a manifestation of apostolic charity. The Word of God awakens zeal insofar as it is the driving force of apostolic charity.

 

            Prayer, nourished by the Word of God, transforms us in Christ, prepares and impels us to announce His Gospel. Our Fr. Founder used to say that “in the fire that burns in meditation, men are melted and fused, and molded in the likeness of Jesus.”[51]

 

            Finally, the Marian thrust of our apostolic charity is very important. Claret presents the Heart of Mary to us as the blazing forge in which we are shaped and molded by apostolic charity, in order to become heralds of the Word.[52]

 

                                                                 CONTENTS

 

              THE WORD OF GOD IN THE TRADITION OF THE CONGREGATION

 

Abbreviations for Works by Claret ………………………………   3

 

1. Keys that Claret handed on to the Congregation ………………. 5

 

   1.1. His example. The Autobiography ……………………….. 5

 

   1.2. Biblical texts proper of the Congregation ……………… 6

 

   1.3. Recommendations to the Missionaries …………………… 7

 

2. The Tradition of the Congregation ………………………….. 8

 

3. Characteristics ………………………………………….. 7

 

   3.1. Centrality of the Word of God, welcomed by us as

         by Mary in the reality in which we live ………………. 10

 

   3.2. The Word of God converts us and conforms us

         with Christ ……………………………………….. 13

 

   3.3. Pedagogical dynamics and means ………………………. 15

 

   3.4. Formation …………………………………………. 20

 

   3.5. Aimed at Proclamation ………………………………. 23

 


    [1] Aut 1.

    [2] For biblical interpretation, see M. Orge, “Biblical Inspiration…” OPML, 21-14.

    [3] Aut 489; EC I, 95, 305.

    [4] EC III, 1776, 588-590.

    [5] Aut 681 ff., 685-687.

    [6] RFS, n. 28b (Text B).

    [7] Aut 113, 120.

    [8] RFS, n. 168 (Text A).

    [9] RFS n. 27 (Text B). This text is included literally in th eCC of 1865: “Quotidie lectioni spirituali illa Sacrae Scripturae capita diungent quae a Superior fuerint designata” (Part I, ch. 25, De Scholasticis, n.94).

    [10] Lozano, CCTT, 106-198.

    [11] LCC 1857, Rule for the Time of Mission, Ch. II, n. 117.

    [12] CC 1871, n.51.

    [13] A more ample and detailed study of the Congregation’s tradition would require an analysis, at least, of all the Congregation’s Documents, Directories, General Chapters and the Circular Letters of the Fathers General. In this work, we will adhere to the renewed post-conciliar tradition contained in the CC and Chapter Documents.

    [14] Cf. MCT 82-85.

    [15] Cf. SH 6,15,135; MCT 52-53; SW 14.1.

    [16] SW 14.

    [17] Cf. SH 15; CPR 54.

    [18]   CC 4.

    [19] CC 46; cf. 4, 6.

    [20] CC 73.

    [21] Cf. MCT 148; CPR 54; SW 7, 8.1, 13, 21, 21.2, 22.

    [22] CC 37.

    [23] Cf. MCT 150, 151, 223; SW 7, 15.

    [24] Cf. CPR 54; SW 16, 16.1 21.5.

    [25] CC 34.

    [26] CC 37.

    [27] Cf. CPR 54; SW 7, 11, 13.1.

    [28] CC 34.

    [29] CC 4.

    [30] Cf. 1RL, 10; SW 6, 11.

    [31] CC 4.

    [32] Cf. SW 10, 14, 21.2, 21.5, 22.

    [33] CC 59.

    [34] Cf. 1 MB 8; 2RL 2c; MCT 165; SW 10, 17.1, 21.1.

    [35] CC 37.

    [36] CC 34.

    [37] CC 56.

    [38] Cf. CC 56.

    [39] Cf. SH 133; 1 RL 10; 1BB 8; 2 RL 33; CPR 54; SW 13.3, 14.1.

    [40] CC 34.

    [41] Cf. 1 RL 15.1, 32; CPR 57; SW 16.2.

    [42] CC 104.

    [43] “During the coming six years, the general government and provincial governments should promote initiatives of ongoing formation, so that all Claretians may be duly prepared for the ministry of the Word, offering a response to the challenges of the present times” (SW 22.1).

    [44] CC 73. Here, our Founder’s thought in n. 27 of the Rule for Students is included literally.

    [45] CC 72.

    [46] Cf. 1 F 49,50,52; 2 F 12b, 13b, 15c; SW 15.2, 15.3, 21.1, 21.2, 21.3, 21.4, 22.

    [47] Cf. SW 19.1, 19.2.

    [48] CC 34.

    [49] Cf. DC 24; SH 31, 133; 1 BB 8; 2 AP 96; MCT 84, 85; SW 6.15.

    [50] CC 34.

    [51] Claret, API, Madrid 1857, p.49.

    [52] “Christ arouses in us His filial love for the Father, a love that is manifested above all in prayer, whether liturgical or private. Moreover, prayer transforms us into Christ, prepares us and imples us to accounce his Gospel: ‘In the fire that burns in meditation, men are melted and fused, and molded in the likeness of Jesus.'” SH 15, citing API, p.38; cf. also DC 24; 1 BB 8; SW 15).