Formation booklet 2
Prefecture of Formation Rome 1988
The formation of the Missionary Novices
according to our Father Founder Saint Anthony Mary Claret
José Maria Viñas CMF.
Translation by Joseph C. Daries, CMF..
Aut . Autobiography of Saint Anthony Mary Claret.
CCTT. Saint Anthony Mary Claret. Constitucionesy textos sobre la Congregaciòn de
Misioneros, ed. by John M. Lozano CMF. (Barcelona 1972).
EA Escritos autobiogrficos de San Antonio Marfa Claret, ed. José Marfa Viñas, CMF
and Jesús Bermejo, CMF(Madrid 1981).
EC Epistolario Claretiano, ed. José Marfa GlI, CMF (Madrid 1970 and 1987) 3 vols.
EE Escritos Espirituales de San Antonio Marfa Claret, ed. Jesus Bermejo, CMF (Madrid, 1985).
HD Cristòbal Fernández, CMF, EI Beato Padre Claret. Historia documentada de su vida y
empresas, (Madrid 1941) 2vols.
NHD Cristóbal Fernádez, CMF. La Congregación de Misioneros Hijos del Inmaculado
Corazòn de Maria. Noticia e Historia Generai Documentada de sus primeros sesenta y
tres anos de existencia (1849 1912), Madrid 1967.
I. THE REGULATION FOR THE FORMATION OF THE MISSIONARIES
On December 20, 1862, our Father Founder wrote as follows to Father Joseph Xifré, the Director General:
My very esteemed and dear sir:
Let the present letter serve to inform you that, considering how fitting it Is to see to it that the young men God is calling to the Congregation are well formed in learning and virtue, I have chosen to write this Regulation, which I am pleased to enclose herein, so that it may be put into practice in all its parts: for this is the will of God and of Mary Most Holy, our dear Mother.
Keep well and rely on you Most affectionate servant and Chaplain, who sends kindest regards.
Anthony Mary, Archbishop of Trajanopolis
1. What did this Regulation Contain?
It contained the Constitutions relating lo the formation of the Missionary Novices and Students. So testifies Father Clotet: “December 20, 1862. Our Ven. Father Founder sends the Superior General of the Congregation a regulation for the aspirants, novices and students of the Same.”(1)
2. Since the Congregation was founded 1849, why were the Constitutions for the Missionary Novices and Students not published until 1862?
In the beginning, the Congregation only admitted priests, for the apostolic ministry, and laymen, as “Adjutant Brothers.” The Father Founder, on returning from Cuba in 1857 and observing the Spanish Church’s urgent need for evangelizers, began recommending that Father Xifré also admit seminarians who were advanced in their priestly studies(2) In 1862, from the 7th to the l4th of July, the First General Chapter of the Institute was held. This Chapter was decisive in the life al the Congregation. One of its first acts was the decision to introduce Students, as well as Priests and Brothers, as members of the Institute.(3) The Chapter also ordered that all candidates Priests, Students or Brothers should spend fifteen days as Aspirants, after which they would be admitted to the year of probation, “with those formalities which the Superior may deem fitting: which will be repeated at the end of the year, mutatis mutandis, for their definitive admission.”
After the Chapter, the Holy Founder returned to Madrid, accompanied by the two Chapter Members from Segovia, Fathers Serrat and Fàbregas. On July 17th he arrived at Court and left on the 2lst for La Granja, accompanying the royal family. The tranquillity of La Granja gave him more time far prayer and study. On July 28th he left there to visit with his Missionaries in Segovia and on that occasion entrusted Father Serrat with the Rules for Students, to be copied and sent to Father Xifré. We have spoken of these Rules in the Notebooks on Claretian Formation, par.1, p.10.
We should not be surprised that our Father drafted these Rules in such a short time, since he had just published The Well-Instructed Collegian or Seminarian. It is almost certain, however, that on this occasion he did not send the chapters relating to the Aspirants and the Novices. On the contrary, Father Clotet assures us that he sent the latter to Father Xifré a few months later, on December 20, 1862.(4)
Father Larraona writes: “The Venerable Father […] during the last months of this year of 1862, composed an appendix to the Constitutions which he entitled Regulation, (5) enforcing the six chapters running from 21th , De probandorum Magistro to 26th, De Scholasticorum Praefecto, al the First part of the current Constitutions” .
“These six chapters were so perfect that it has been said that they were written with the special help of the Blessed Virgin.(6) Certainly, the Venerable Father had to introduce only a few slight changes in order to harmonize them with his definitive recasting of the Constitutions in 1864. They were not even subjected to the slightest kind al correction in Rome, as we can see from the Original in the Archives of the Sacred Congregation.”(7)
Il. THE ASPIRANTS
Who were the Aspirants?
The Regulation provides for a brief period al fifteen days from entry into the Congregation until the beginning of the novitiate. These were days of orientation towards this new panorama of lif e. The occupations of the Aspirants during this period included the following: reading and becoming acquainted with the Constitutions and practices al the Institute; making the Spiritual Exercises in order to form their spirit; setting their souls at peace through a general confession since the time they had reached the use of reason; and drawing up and writing down their resolutions in keeping with the perfection which their new state required. The Master or Adjutant would initiate them into this new life and ‘if during these days they offer hopes of becoming suitable for the Congregation, after they have finished them, they will begin the year of probation.”
III. THE FORMATIVE CODE OF THE NOVICES
Our Holy Founder chose to entitle this ensemble of rules for formation: Regulation for the Aspirants, Probandi and Students of our Congregation and their Respective Masters. The Regulation is made up of six chapters, the last two of which refer to the professed formandi and the first four of which deal with aspirants and novices:
- Chapter I: On the Master of Probandi;
- Chapter Il: On the Adjutant;
- Chapter III: On the Aspirants;
- Chapter IV: On the Probandi.
1. For the drafting of this Regulation, did our Father Founder rely on his experience in the Jesuit Novitiate in Rome?
Our Father Founder had personally experienced the novitiate during the tour months he had spent as a Jesuit novice in Rome. In his Autobiography he highlighted what he had learned there for the benefit of his neighbour: “There I learned howto give the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, and methods for preaching, catechizing, hearing confessions usefully and effectively.” But he adds: “as well as many other things that have since stood me in good stead”(Aut 152). Among these “other things”
– as the Saint himself remarked on various occasions – were criteria of government and organization, and perhaps others relating to formation and spirituality: “As I had just finished making the Exercises, I was full of fervour. With all eagerness I was bent on aspiring to perfection. And since I saw so many good things in the novitiate, everything attracted my attention. I liked everything and it was engraved on my heart. I had something to learn from everyone, and in truth I learned it, with the help of God’s grace”(Aut 142).
One of the things that remained most deeply engraved on our Founder’s heart was the self -denying obedience he speaks of in numbers 149-151 of his Autobiography, which he also recalled Iaterwhen writingto Father Lobo, who had formerly been his Provisor in Cuba and had since become a novice: “For some time now, the Lord has been bringing me up Jesuit-style, that is, depriving me of whatever I like most and denying me what I desire.”(8) Perhaps the phrase in the Regulation on blind subjection of the Students’ understanding and will in obedience owes something to this experience (cf. Regulation, n.19).
A few other norms may have come from the same source, for example the rule to change companions during recreation (n.6). While preaching the Exercises to the Carmelites of St. Teresa (as one of them tells us), the Saint recalled this practice: “He told us that there in the Jesuits they were so careful about this, that there was one in charge of pairing-off the novices during recreation periods. This person always saw to it that the same ones were never together twice in a row; rather, at noonday recreation tour of them were together and at nighttimes he used to put one group and another in another. They took such great care to see to it that there were no particularfriendships there.”(9)
2. What was the fundamental principle orienting the formation of the Missionary Novices?
The aim was to transform the candidates – whether priests, seminarians or laymen -into Missionaries. Prior to this, the only ones who had been admitted were either diocesan priests, to become Missionaries, or laymen, to become Coadjutor brothers. But our Father Founder saw that the kind of Missionaries the Church needed had to be “evangelical and apostolic.” A missionary continues the mission of Jesus, and Jesus lived the Gospel he proclaimed. Nobody can adequately preach the Gospel of Jesus without living it.
For this very reason:” it is indispensable for one whom God has called to a ministry as sublime and important as the apostolate, to be adorned with the virtues suited to that effect (n. 1). Nothing is so important to the Missionaries, nothing is so essential for them as the adornment of all virtues. Without them their talents would be useless, their voice fruitless, and all their efforts in vain (n. 15). For the Founder, this principle was a conviction based on personal conviction, as is clear from his Autobiography, n. 340: I would say that the apostolic missionary should be a model of all the virtues: he should, in fact, be virtue personified. Following the example of Jesus Christ, he should first practice, then preach. “He began to do and to teach” (Acts 1:1). By his actions, the missionary should be able to say with the Apostle: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). The 1857 Constitutions, of which the Regulation was an appendix, make it clear that a good missionary should lead an entirely apostolic life (cf., for example, nn.57, 68, 71).
3. What is the aim of the novitiate, according to our Father Founder?
In 1862, the Congregation did not as yet have the full structure of religious Order or Congregation. For this reason, the stress in the first Constitutions is on the missionary, evangelical and apostolic, rather than on the religious. They do not state, for example, that the aim of the novitiate is to prepare one for profession. The aim of the novitiate Is to lay the foundation of the apostolic virtues (n.15). Of course, the so-called “apostolic virtues” include the evangelical nucleus of poverty, chastity and obedience, but they also entail other attitudes or dispositions demanded by the missionary charism. The foundations of the whole building are those attitudes the disciple needs in order to accept his call and become an apostle: faith, prayer, obedience (we should say a formative obedience), docility, malleability and active collaboration.
Another aim of the novitiate is to test the novices and discover whether they have resolved and made up their minds to remain in the Congregation and whether they have the qualities befitting a good Missionary (n.24). If they are resolved to remain, the novitiate also prepares them for their commitment to God and the Institute by means of a consecration that has the same content as the vows. The reason for making vows was not to give them a broader or more demanding field of action, but so as “not to deprive them of the twofold merit of their acts” (ibid.).
4. The fundamental apostolic virtues
The Constitutions set before the novice the apostolic virtues with which he must lay a foundation on which to found all other virtues. They are attuned to the dynamism of the attitudes and dispositions necessary for one who has received a vocation to follow Christ and to proclaim the Gospel precisely in a communion of life.
- a)What kind of faith does the missionary need?
He must first of all believe in the God who calls him and in His plan of salvation. The faith of the missionary novice must be like that of the prophets, Apostles, martyrs and apostolic missionaries who have gone before him: a necessary, fundamental, lively, active, witnessing and victorious faith.
b) Why does our Father Founder speak more of humility than of trust?
Faith discloses to the novice the grandeur of his mission of “being called to the most divine state,” the state of a missionary (n.22). Faced with the greatness and responsibility of his state, the novice – like the ancient prophets – might be tempted to shrink away from it in fear. Far this reason, as our Founder puts it, “in the second place, they must have great trust in God, looking to Him for all the graces they need, and especially for the fitness to discharge the sacred ministry well” (n.1 7).
It has sometimes been called to my attention that the theme of trust or confidence is not very common in our Father Founder. He seems to have spoken of it only once in the notes for the Retreats he preached to all classes of people. The reason is that he himself felt much loved and protected by grace. We might even say that he showed an excess of optimism in everything relating to the apostolic ministry. Ordinarily, he felt more in need of humility – on which he made his particular examen for so many years – than of trust. Notwithstanding this, when he was faced by the magnitude of his pastoral responsibilities in the Archdiocese of Cuba, He wrote: “Therefore I trust in God, who will give me the grace that I need.” he based his trust on Providence: “St. Augustine and St. Thomas, commenting on St. Paul’s words: ‘He has made us fit ministers of the new testament,’ (2 Cor 3:6), state that when God chooses someone for a position or office, he gives him the talents required for it. I know that I have not sought this dignity; rather, I refused it. Others have commanded me to accept it and told me that it was God’s will.”(lo) In his frequent dealings with young seminarians and with the novices of various women’s Institutes, he began to observe the occasions that often led beginners to lose heart, and this in turn led him to insist on trust. He told seminarians: “You must be generous with God, trusting that he will give you the helps you need, for He who ‘can raise up children to Abraham out of stones’ is wont to choose the weak, puny and miserable to confound the pride and overweening of men.”(11)
In what sense Is humility fundamental for a missionary?
in the Well-Instructed Seminarian, our Father Founder speaks of the pride and vanity to which young beginners might be tempted. He deals here with the humility befitting a missionary as such, in much the same manner he does in the Autobiography: “My God, if you had not silenced me when I felt like talking about my sermons, etc., I would not only have lost all the good of it, but would also have gained a well-deserved punishment. Far you have said, ‘I will not give my glory to another’ (Is 42:8), and i, by talking about it, would have given your glory to the demon of vanity[…}Only you know whether or not the devil has managed to pilfer something in spite of the powerful help you gave me. Have mercy on me, Lord!”(12)
d) Is the obedience of the novitiate mainly disciplinary?
For Saint Anthony Mary Claret, obedience is so to speak a consequence Ct humility: “Let him [the Seminarian also think of his need to be humble and to subject himself, in order to learn the sciences and virtues. Far example, how could a potter form a useful vessel if the clay did not allow itself to be shaped?”(l3) In other writings he proposes Jesus as an exterior model of obedience; but here, he proposes him as the obedient Son who is sent, and who lives and perpetuates His obedience in the heart of the novice. In the Autobiography, he speaks of obedience in this latter sense, as a living of the mission of Christ. Obedience is constitutive of the missionary: his very being is to be sent.(14)
e) To glorify God, or to please Him?
Since the aim of the Congregation is to seek in all things the glory of God, it is only fitting that the novice should begin lo live this dimension. “Rectitude of intention is the soul of works. Thus, whether they arepreaching, studying, praying, eating or recreating, they must always keep before them the glory of God” (n.20). in his writings, our Founder tells us how he directed everything to the glory of God: “I will strive to be in the presence of God, and I will direct and do everything for God.” (15) “I will do everything for the greater glory of God… I propose to walk always in the presence of God and to direct all things to Him, not seeking in anything my own praise, but only the glory of God.”(16) The Saint also uses another expression which is so to speak less philosophical and more personal, namely. to please or give pleasure to God.” He used to consider what was pleasing to himself and what would be more pleasing to God: “I would joyfully abstain from the pleasure in question, in order to give pleasure to God. This is still the way it is with me in all things: eating, drinking, resting, talking, looking, hearing, going somewhere, etc.”(17)
f) Why did our Father lavish so much attention on the prayer of the missionaries in their year of probation?
The “Missionary Probandi” must devote themselves to prayer both as Missionaries and as persons undergoing probation. Prayer is essential for the Missionary, in keeping with the example of the Lord: “By day He preached and cured the sick, and by night He prayed. Et erat pernoctans in oratione Dei (Lk 6:12).”(18) “You must be a great friend of prayer, in imitation of Jesus, ‘who spent the night praying to God’ (Lk 6:12) and very strongly charged the Apostles to pray. All renowned missionaries have been men of prayer.”(19) Prayer is necessary (or the Probandus, who should bend every effort to initiate himself into it. Moreover, the Regulation charges the Superior General to organize prayer during this year of probation in such a way “that the students may come away from it well equipped”(n.21).
g) What is the source of fidelity to vocation?
The calling to the missionary state Is a special gift from God; It is a calling to a divine state, to which Jesus Christ has promised a hundredfold in this world and life everlasting hereafter” (n.22). But it requires correspondence and perseverance in the midst of temptations, of inordinate family attachments, of dreams of doing better elsewhere, or of discouragement in the face of difficulties. “Ask yourself, then, Theophilus, whether there can be any honour like the one Jesus Christ bestows on us by accepting us into his apostleship, and sharing with us his title of Saviour of the world. We should take great heart, then, in following in his footsteps, working day and night at our mission, shedding our life’s blood and spending our life in its flower, as Jesus did, should that be God’s holy will. What I want to tell you is that you must let nothing daunt you or frighten you, but you must keep pressing onward.”(2o) To help them avoid dangers, n. 23 offers certain cautionary measures, taken in part from the Jesuits, concerning correspondence, leaving the house, and confession.
5. Why do the Regulations speak of consecration rather than profession?
In 1862 the Congregation was not yet recognized as a religious institute, and for this reason the commitment to remain in it was not a religious profession publicity acknowledged as such in the Church. But the recently held Chapter wanted to have some sort of formal and solemn expression of commitment, and therefore commissioned the Founder to find a way in which this might be done. The Saint composed a consecration to God and to the immaculate Heart of Mary” which was published at the end of the Regulation.
6. What were the functions of the Master of Probandi?
The first Chapter of the Regulation is devoted to the Master of those making their year of probation. Our Father Founder had a clear idea of the Master’s functions. He does not confuse them with the functions of a confessor-director, a “prefect” of discipline or a seminary rector. One need only read what he says In the Well-Instructed Seminarian concerning these other functions as compared with those of the Master.( 21) In the diocesan seminary, the seminarian’s heart is also being formed, but in order to prepare him for living alone later on. The seminary is simply a place of formation; its formation community is only transitory. In contrast, the religious community is a definitive situation and entails a permanent communion of life. The function of the Master is to be a guide who teaches and regulates initiation into the missionary life, which entails not only the activity of the apostolic ministry – even when performed in teamwork – but a communion of persons and lif e in the style of the twelve with the Lord. The choice of the person for this charge belongs to the highest responsible authorities in the Congregation: the Director and Sub director General. The qualities with which he should be endowed are:
maturity, kindness, discretion and the knowledge required for his role. He should be a man of God “and most devoted to the Blessed Virgin”; a man of the Superior, “most faithful, working always in dependence of him”; a man of the novices, ‘for whom he must be Father…, a Teacher and a Physician”; he must look after their health and their initiation into piety, detachment, mortification. Beginners should feel free to turn to him in the special temptations they may be undergoing; he should therefore listen to them patiently, even if they should be childish or wearisome; he should encourage and comfort them, giving them salutary and prudent advice, especially when they are sad. It is also one of his functions lo discern whether they are truly called lo missionary life in the Congregation. “Finally, he should be a light, a way, a father, a teacher and an example them all.” Since this charge is a burdensome one, he may have an auxiliary, known as the Adjutant.” This adjutant is dealt with in the second chapter, where the functions assigned him are mainly of a supplementary nature.
IV. ESTEEM IN WHICH THE CONGREGATION HAS HELD THIS REGULATION
Why has the Congregation attached so much importance to this Regulation?
Because of our Father Founder’s own testimony. In commending this Regulation lo Father Xifré, he used some very telling expressions: ‘I have chosen to write this Regulation, which am pleased to enclose herein, so that it may be put into practice in all its parts: for this is the will of God and of Mary Most Holy, our dear Mother.” One can only suppose that this warm commendation also accompanied the presentation of the Regulation to the Bishop of Vic, Dr. John Castarer y Ribas, who would have lo approve it. This he did in terms of high praise: “We have seen the Appendix […) and found its contents to be most orthodox, pious and conducive to the aim it proposes.” Not only did he approve the Regulation, but exhorted its intended recipients to fufill it, and even attached indulgences to it. We have already seen Cardinal Larraona’s testimony on this matter. He repeated it later in his notes on the External History of the Constitutions: “Perhaps with special assistance from the Lord and the Blessed Virgin, as he himself seems to all firm.”(22) Fr. Antonio Naval, commenting on the Constitutions, says: “The spirit of our Father Founder is in the ascetical part, and more than anywhere else, I see this in Chapter XXIV of the first part “De probandis.” (23)
PRIMITIVE TEXT OF THE REGULATION
We do not have our Father Founder’s original draft of this Regulation, and I have been unable to locate the printed copy which Fr. Larraona cites. In our General Archives there is a typescript copy of the 1857 Constitutions together with the Regulation, which has the following note at the end: “N.8. THE APPENDIX TO THE PRECEDING CONSTITUTIONS… (pp. 34 to 43 of this copy) is taken from a separate short work which the Superior of The Mission House of Lérida entrusted to the Very. Rev. Fr. Postius; in the copy I have before me there is no place or date of printing.” The text that follows is a faithful copy of this copy. I have respected its spelling. Biblical quotations do not cite their sources, nor are they written in italics or underlined,
ON THE MASTER OF THOSE IN PROBATION
1. It is indispensable that those whom God has called to such a sublime and important ministry as the apostolate should be adorned with the virtues suited to it. And as this ordinarily requires a guide to teach and regulate it, the Director General with the Sub-director should choose for the fulfilment of this most important charge, a member of. the Congregation who has the combined requisites of maturity, kindness, discretion and knowledge.
2. Obligations : the many obligations that the Master of those in probation should have can be reduced to three. The first regards God and the Blessed Virgin, to whom he must be most devoted in order to obtain those lights he needs to fulfil his duties well.
3. The second regards the Superior, to whom he must be most faithful, working always in dependence on him, and never authorizing anything contrary to his disposition or to his express or presumptive will.
4. The third regards those entrusted to him, for whom he must be a Father, deeply concerned for their health of soul and body; a Teacher, instructing them in the virtues by his word and example; a Physician, diagnosing their ailments and prescribing the remedies best suited each individual’s illness and temperament.
5. For the body: he will see whether they have what they need in the way of clothing and food; whether one of them Is overworking, Is studying with bad physical posture, or is doing so at forbidden times; whether anyone Is given to idleness or lets himself be carried away by laziness; finally, whether anyone is performing mortifications without the Superior’s permission or unauthorized by the Constitutions. He will likewise see to it that no one misses those recreations that are required for reasons of health.
6. For the soul: He will give them spirited ascetical conferences directed toward their advancement, and will learn whether all of them are punctual in making their meditation, spiritual reading, visits to the Blessed Sacrament and examens. During recreations he will always be with them. He will instil in them detachment from their country, parents and relatives, and the spirit of mortification and self denial: he will never allow them to go to the porter’s office alone, nor to have particular friendships. And to avoid these, he will be very vigilant, most exacting on silence, and never gloss over anyone’s entering the room of another. Furthermore he will arrange for them to change companions during recreations every day.
7. Those who are in the year of probation will require a good deal of attention by reason of the temptations they are undergoing. Let him therefore listen to them patiently, even when they may seem childish or burdensome. Let him encourage and comfort them, giving them salutary and prudent advice. When he sees that someone is sad or introverted, let him call him at once, examine the cause, and apply the suitable remedy.
8. lf he observes that someone lacks a vocation or has bad customs (over which he will be most vigilant), he should offer him some opportune reflections and manifest it to the Superior without losing time. Likewise, he will often inform the Superior as to the talent, health and other qualities of each one, for which purpose he will form a list of all of them.
9. Finally, he should be a light, a way, a father, a teacher and an example to them all, assured that he will thus gain great merit before God and the Congregation. But as this charge is a burdensome one, he may have an auxiliary, known as the Adjutant.
ON THE ADJUTANT
10. The Adjutant will be chosen in the same manner, and should have the same spirit and qualities as the Master.
11. His duties consist of substituting for the latter and, in his absence or default, of performing all that was prescribed for him above, afterwards giving him an exact account of all that may have occurred and or have been done, remembering that as both of them will be greatly rewarded for fulfilling their duties well, they will likewise be held gravely responsible for failing lo do so.
ON THE ASPIRANTS
12. This name designates all those who are approved for the Congregation, during the first fifteen days of their stay in it.
13. Their occupations during this short period will be:
- 1° To read and become well informed on the Constitutions and practices of the Institute.
- 2° To form their spirit according to them, making spiritual exercises and during them a general confession since the time they reached the use of reason.
- 3° To form and write down resolutions in keeping with the perfection required by their new state.
- 4° To spend the remaining time in doing whatever the Master may dispose.
14. They will be very obedient and submissive to the latter, while he, either in person or through his Adjutant, will in a kindly way teach them all that befits them as to morality, education and materialities; and if during these days they give hopes of being suitable for the Congregation, when they have finished them they will begin the year of probation.
ON THOSE IN PROBATION
15. Nothing is so important for the Missionaries, nothing is so essential for them, as the adornment of all virtues. Without them their talents would be useless, their voice fruitless and all their efforts in vain. Hence, their desires and their primary attention should be directed toward obtaining them. Since the year of probation has been established far laying the foundation of virtues, all, whether priests, students or adjutant for others, will diligently endeavour to practice the most effective means to this end.
16. Faith: although they have need of all virtues, nevertheless, they should strive above all to acquire a lively faith. For aside from the fact that without faith it is impossible to please God, it is also the foundation of all other virtues. it is faith that inflamed the Prophets, that made the Apostles fervent in the midst of persecution, torments and death itself, that allayed the sufferings of the Martyrs and inspired many preachers to embrace gladly poverty, abnegation and sacrifice, in order to spread and propagate the kingdom of Jesus Christ. This Is why the Missionaries must root faith in their soul and live by it. The Divine Master often preached on faith to those He had chosen as Missionaries, and reproved them strongly whenever He saw them wavering in it. For this reason the Probandi of our Congregation should always act out of faith, ask God for it and have recourse to It whenever they feel assailed by the world, the devil or the flesh.
17. Trust: in the second place, they should have great trust in God, looking to Him for all the graces they need, and especially for the fitness to discharge the sacred ministry well; for discouragement is surely the weapon whereby the devil overthrows most Missionaries. Let them take heart, then, even when they see that they are lacking in virtue, hardiness or talent, remembering that the same God who had the power to raise up children to Abraham out of stones, and to prophesy through the mouths of sinful men and even beasts, is wont to chose the weak and feeble to confound the proud. Accordingly, when they are tempted to distrust, let them have recourse lo God, telling themselves: The Lord who chose me will give me whatever I need; and if I am weak or ignorant, His Providence will shine forth all the more brightly.
18. Humility: the third virtue which the young missionaries should bend every effort to acquire is humility, without which God looks from afar, despises prayer and withholds His grace. A proud preacher is a thief of God’s glory and an idolater of himself. Therefore in the hour of his death he will be called an evildoer and he will be told: Recepisti mercedem tuam. Let them flee, then from all self praise, refer everything to God, and promptly reject any thought tending to foster pride, attention or self complacency. Let them remember that they have nothing which they have not received and of which they will not have to render an account. Therefore they must never despise, disparage or prefer themselves to anyone else.
19. Obedience: the young Missionaries, having left the world behind, should have their own will with it, so that after entering the Congregation each of them may be able to say with the Apostle: Vivo autem, iam non ego, vivit vero in me Christus. Thus they will be perfect in obedience, which they need so much and which is so firmly enjoined by the Constitutions. Consequently, in order to practice this mother virtue’, as St. Augustine calls it, they should blindly submit their understanding and will promptly and joyfully in all things that are commanded of them, even though they may be repugnant to self-love. Accordingly, they should submit themselves willingly, not only in virtuous practices, but also in everything relating either to external occupations or to their studies, whether in reviewing past studies or in acquiring new ones.
20. Rectitude of intention: the new Sons of the immaculate Heart of Mary must always hold the glory of God as their guide and end. This must be the total aim to which they direct all their actions. Rectitude of intention is the soul of works. Therefore, whether they are preaching, studying, praying, eating or recreating, they must always keep before them the glory of God, thus growing in merit and holiness, and rendering themselves worthy of His grace.
21. Prayer: that which the Missionary probandi must never forget, that which must merit their particular attention and care, that which they must practice unceasingly without laziness or lukewarmness, is holy prayer, which will be performed, both by those in the year of probation as well as by the students, will be performed either alone or in common, as the Superior disposes – always, however, following the additions prescribed by the masters of the spiritual life and customarily used in the Congregation. The Superior General will determine what should be done during the year of probation; besides morning prayer, he will also assign devotions, readings and spiritual talks, as well as the times at which they shall be performed, so that the students may turn out well equipped.
22. Fidelity to vocation: finally, those in probation should remember that the calling to the missionary state is a special gift from God; it is a calling to a divine state, to which Jesus Christ has promised a hundredfold in this world and life everlasting hereafter. However, they must also know that salvation depends on vocation, for which reason the Apostle exhorts us to continue in it, saying: ‘Let everyone continue in the calling in which he was called.’ And he says elsewhere: ‘Those he called, he also justified, and those he justified he in turn glorified.’ From this follows the need of remaining faithful to one’s vocation, on which, says Saint Jerome, eternity depends. This is doubtless the reason why the devil tries it in so many ways, availing himself now of a inordinate love of family, now of a fear of sickness, now of a lack of talent or of being able to work better in some other place, etc. Thus the devil, transformed into an angel of light, uproots many, to the detriment of their soul, from the place where God had put them. In order to avoid these in dangers, they should recall what the Divine Master says: ‘He who loves father and mother more that me, is not worthy of me.’ He goes even further:
‘Whoever does not hate father and mother cannot be my disciple.’ Accordingly they shall live a life of detachment from parents, relatives and even from themselves.
They shall not engage in worldly converse and shall avoid as something greatly harmful every particular friendship, especially with those of the same Congregation, never communicating with those who are discontent with it, speak ill of it or give other signs of a doubtful vocation.
23. Consequently, they shall neither write nor receive any letters without the permission of the Superior; nor shall they speak with persons outside the Congregation, especially with women, except in the presence of the Master or his substitute. Whenever they go outside the house, they will be accompanied by a novice or elder assigned to them by the said Master. They shall make their confession every eight days with that Missionary whom the aforementioned Superior assigns them.
24. Finally: if, at the end of the year of probation, they are decided and resolved to remain in the Congregation, and if the qualities befitting a good Missionary have been observed in them, they will fervently make a ten-day retreat which will serve as an immediate preparation for their definitive admission. This will be done by a solemn act of Consecration Io God and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This consecration will entail the oaths of remaining in the Congregation until death and of not accepting any ecclesiastical dignity, without the express mandate of the Superior General or of the Supreme Pontiff, who will also be the only ones who can dispense from the said oaths. And so that nobody may be deprived of the double merit of his acts, the Superior may authorize those who so will, to make simple temporal or perpetual vows.
1. “Notices of the most important events of the Congregation until 1868,” cited by Fr. Fernàndez in NHD, p.568.
2. Letter to Fr. Xìfré, August 4 and November30, 1858: EC I, pp. 1624,1680.
3. Die 8 Juliì mano, Positio secunda, p.l24.
4. Fr. Lozano is of the opinion, based only on internal criticism of the text, that Fr. Xifré redacted the chapters on the aspirants and novices. CI. CCTT, pp.
5. It was printed toward the end of 1862 and the beginning of 1863. It is entitled, Apéndice/a lasi Constifuciones anfecedenteslo seaìreglamento/para los aspirantes y estudiantes de nuestra Congregaci6n y sus respectivos maestros. The approval of the Ordinary of Vic Is dated December 3Oth (Fr. Larraona’s note).
6. The expressions which the Ven. Founder uses in the closing phrases of this letter to Fr. Xifré are so strong that they have given rise to this pious belief. In the Processes of Beatification, several witnesses have claimed this special assistance (Fr. Larraona’s note).
7. Annaìes29 aprii 1916, p. 496.
8. 12 July 1857: EC I, pp. 1375-76.
9. HD I, p. 371.
10. Spiritual Notes, 1850-57: EA, p. 590.
11. EI Colegial Instruido, Il, p. 20.
12. Aut 344.
13. ElColegiallnstruido, I, p.221.
14. Aut 192.
15. Resolutions, 1843, 4.
16. Resolutions, 1 850a, 2; 1 850b, 17.
17. Aut 391.
18. Aut 434.
19. EE p. 349. The first advice given to the Missionary.
20. Letter to the Missionary, Theophilus: EE, p.344.
21. EI Colegial Instruido, I, pp. 362-81.
22. A. Larraona: “Hisforj of the Constifutions’ Iris de Paz, Supplement, n.
15, 1980, p. 81.
23. A. Naval, “Ascetical explanation of the Holy Constitutions”, in Flos campi, Chascomùs, 1940, p. 89.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. THE REGULATION FOR THE FORMATION OF THE MISSIONARIES
1. What did this Regulation contain?
2. Why was it not published earlier
Il. THE ASPIRANTS
Who were the Aspirants?
III. THE FORMATIVE CODE OF THE NOVICES
1. Experience of the Roman Novitiate
2. Fundamental principle orienting formation
3. Aim of the novitiate
4. Fundamental apostolic virtues
5. Consecration rather than profession
6. Functions of the Master of Probandi
IV. ESTEEM OF CONGREGATION FOR THIS REGULATION
Why has the Congregation esteemed it so highly?
PRIMITIVE TEXT CE THE REGULATION
Chapter I. On the Master of Those in Probation
Chapter Il. On the Adjutant
Chapter III. On the Aspirants
Chapter IV. On Those in Probation