Bookelets of Formation-8
The Cordimarian Dimension of Our Spirituality in Formation
Jesus Maria Palacios cmf
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- II.Points of reference
- 1.The charismatic presence of Mary in our Founder and in the Congregation
- 2.Present Marian experience of the Congregation
- III.Mary, our Formator: How does Mary form us?
- 1.Mary forms up in the “forge” of her Heart
- 2.Behavioural manifestations in relation to Mary
- IV.Guidelines for formation
- 1.Formative principles
- 2.Formative factors
- 3.Formative means
- V.Looking to the future. Threats and challenges
The present Claretian notebook on “The Cordimarian Dimension of our spirituality in Formation” gathers the material already given to formators in different meetings and encounters (Formation personnel of ASCLA, Karumathur, 1989; Formators of ACLA, MontNgafula, 1989, and Course of Claretian renewal in India, Bangalore, 1990).
As it is said in the Introduction, the reflection on the theme deals exclusively from the formation perspective; other aspects are taken for granted. Therefore, we are interested to offer the centers of formation of the Congregation a brief synthesis of the pedagogical! methodology that will help our personnel in formation to live and grow in the cordimarian dimension of our Claretian vocation.
Thus, this notebook deals with the fundamental aspects of every formation endeavour:
- The values of our cordimarian charism (I),
- The reality of the Congregation and its present cordimarian experience (II, 1),
- Its vocational and formation consequences (II,2),
- the more strictly formation aspects in two ways; the first deals with the action of Mary, our Mother and Formator (III) and, second, it points out the main guidelines, principles, factors and means in promoting the cordimarian dimension (IV)
- Finally, it deals briefly with some challenges that require a special attention for the future.
The text keeps the same essay style used at the time of giving it. Let this simple work of the General Prefecture of Formation be an added stimulus so that our missionaries in formation make theirs the words of our Father Founder: vere nominetur et simus Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Jesus M Palacios, cmf General Prefect of Formation.
February 11, 1991, Anniversary of the approval of the Constitutions.
We are going to deal with the cordimarian dimension of our spirituality from a formation perspective. This will not be a biblical or a theological or an historical reflection although these factors have to be kept in mind for a solid cordimarian formation. In our formators meeting, we are concerning ourselves with analyzing how this dimension of our charism is transmitted to those being formed during the period of initial formation. The objective, therefore will be the following: How and with what formative dynamics do we and should we, as formators, transmit the cordimarian dimension of our spirituality to those who are being formed according to the charism of our Founder and the spirit of the Congregation, in order that they live and experience it as trite Claretian missionaries.
II. POINTS OF REFERENCE
In order to give a framework for the formative orientations which I will offer for your consideration, it is necessary presently to grasp two points of reference. They are two starting-points which have to be present at the time of developing a typically Claretian formation.
1. The charismatic presence of Mary in our Founder and the Congregation
Very simply, I want to bring out some elements which characterize the presence and the role of Mary, both in our Founder as well as in the Congregation. They are key elements which specify the particular quality of the cordimarian dimension of our spirituality. We already know them; but I wish to recall them briefly.
1.1. The cordimarian dimension of our spirituality is an essential dimension of our missionary charism. The Claretian charism cannot be understood without a fundamental reference to Mary, to her presence in the ongm and development of the Congregation, and to her maternal activity in it. Our charism would be mutilated if Mary were absent from it (CC.8; Dir.33,34,35).
1.2. The cordimarian dimension, essential as has already been said, has to be understood within the overall totality of our charism. The missionary charism of the Congregation has several specific characteristics which identify us in the Church and which are interconnected with each other. The charism in its totality involves a spirituality, a style of life and a mission (Dir.33).
1.3. Vere nominemtsr etsimus.
Being Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is not just a title (CC. 1), but an existential dimension of our missionary life (A.488; CC.8). It is a life-experience; a gift of grace to be lived and experienced, it is a bestowal of the Holy Spirit which configures our inner being and energizes it with regard to the apostolic mission. Thus it was in our Founder and in the Congregation (Dir.34,35).
1.4. The presence and experience of Mary in our Founder and in the Congregation is a charismatic and specific experience. Her presence and her activity are not of a generic and undifferentiated sort. Within the mystery of the Church, Mary is the following for Claretians:
* Mary is the Founder of the Congregation (Founder, Spiritual Exercises.1965; P. Clotet, Ann.1885, p.l79). This datum is very important: Mary founds a missionary and apostolic Congregation; she founds a Congregation at the missionary service of the Church; she founds a Congregation for the apostoiic mission in the Church. She wanted us to be in the Church as missionaries.
* Mary is our Mother. We call ourselves and we are Sons of her Immaculate Heart. In the living out of our spirituality Mary acts as Mother and we relate to Her as sons; we have filial relations to her
(A.l,5,154-164; Xifré, Spirit of the Congregation, Int.III; CC.8,36,6 1). Other spiritualities emphasize other elements: servants of Mary, slaves of Mary, legionaries of Mary, etc.
* Mary is our Mother and Formator. Her maternal activity relative to us is also specific: it is to form us into true and authentic missionaries and apostles, as and how She gave birth to Jesus and formed him as the Father’s missionary and as and how she formed Claret, apostolic missionary par excellence. More concretely, by her maternal activity Mary forms us as ministers of the Word, as evangelizers for extending the Kingdom of Jesus throughout the whole world.
2. Present Marian experience of the Congregation
I have already indicated that the cordimarian dimension of our
missionary spirituality is a life-experience with particular and specific traits. It is an experience lived by our Founder and transmitted to the Congregation throughout its history.
Now we ask ourselves: What is the present Marian experience of the Congregation? This can serve not just for knowing the experiential level at which we presently are and its nuances but also for discovering the formative elements which may orient us presently in forming young missionaries.
We can get a qualified answer by analyzing the statements of our brothers who answered the questionnaire presented to the Congregation by Father General in his circular letter of April 19, 1988. Below, I present a brief summary..
2.1. General synthesis
A) An experience
Here are a few elements that emerge from the sharing that we spoke of above.
a) The expression “Heart of Mary”, which represents for us the synthesis of a spiritual tradition, seems to be rather neglected by some confreres today because they find it meaningless or even obsolete. Others, on the contrary, find it valid and pertinent.
b) There are those who, in the symbolic language of the heart, privilege interiority and the contemplative dimension while others apostolic charity and commitment to service. This section contains the exposition made by Fr. General, Gustavo Alonso, during the Superiors General Assembly at Villa Cavalletti (Rome), from May 25 to 28 1988.
c) The approach to the mystery of Mary and her Heart is done with different sensitivities which, in a way, seem to relate to the different theological currents of today. For some, the accent is on the scientific exactness with which all things must be dealt with, on the ecumenical sense, on the cultural messages for our times (see the topic “women”) which should appear in the proposal of the mystery of Mary. For others, what prevails is the contextual reading of popular religiosity and the world of the poor and, identifying with the language of the Magnificat, they find an inspiration for a spirituality and a commitment to liberation. And for still others, the mystery of Mary and her Heart is seen in the light and the reflection of the great religions and cultures of interiority, with a particular manner of binding oneself to God…
We note also the convergences that appear in the lived experience of the Confreres.
a) First of all and especially, they speak of a spirituality that they want to live, and not only of a devotion that is expressed in typically cultural gestures and moments; a spirituality which bases itself on the clearly biblical image of Mary and, at the same time, which wants to benefit from the Founder’s charismatic experience. In practice, certain confreres speak of the presence of the mystery of Mary which has inspired and guided them in the fundamental choices of their life: birth of their vocation, spiritual growth during the formation years, overcoming crises, etc. In short, a well defined maternal presence.
b) It is an apostolic, missionary spirituality especially because, minister of the Word, as the Claretian missionary should be, it is in the school of Mary that we must learn to receive the Word, in that contemplation which is the workshop for communicating the message of life. Mary, the first disciple, is also the mother and formator of the disciple.
e) It is also a missionary spirituality because it seeks to pattern itself on the charity with Mary adheres to Christ’s work and is actively involved for man and the most needy and the least among men. And again, because the missionary makes his the sense of maternity and the language of mercy with which Mary accompanies human vicissitudes and introduces the Kingdom values in them. Without this “cordiality”, it is impossible to evangelize and create evangelical communities.
d) From this point of view it is not strange that Mary becomes an important message to communicate in order to understand the plan of God as shown in Christ.
B) A reminder from the Founder
Claret’s Marian spirituality is based on two elements: the filial condition and the mission. They are two realities that concern Christ especially and, in Him, are inseparable. It is clear that, in Christ, neither has an historical consistency without Mary. The being son and being sent are two dimensions which shape the most Claret’s “sequela Christi” and consequently characterize his relationship with Mary; son sent by the Father, with the Mary’s maternal intervention. The gìft of vocation is understood within this logic of the paternal-maternal and merciful love that presides over the plan of salvation and the mission. This perspective highlights the religious consecration of the missionary of the Congregation which, by the will of the Founder, includes a consecration (“affidamento”) to the Heart of Mary.
From this kernel, important to understand the charism of the Congregation, there should arise the motivations, attitudes, the missionary choices of the son of the Heart of Mary. Consequently, his missionary spirituality cannot be but Marian. Such was the Founder’ s charismatic experience. In a different context, it is to this that the present experience of many confreres tends.
2.2. The presence of Mary in one’s vocation and formation
(This section contains a synthesis of the most significant vocational and formation aspects gathered from the answers to the questionnaire to the Congregation.)
A) Mary in the birth of one’s vocation
The references to Mary in the birth of one’s vocation are very frequent. This is a constant quite clear both in the priests, and in the students and the brothers.
* This presence of Mary in one’s vocational awakening has quite varied expressions; however, the principal factor was the family:
- “The influence of family Marian piety in my vocation”.
- “A very deep family heritage”.
- “Because of a very intense family upbringing I arrived at my vocation”
- “A cordimarian filiation with roots in my home”.
* Without directly indicating their family, others speak of the time of their childhood:
- “A Marian influence on my vocation from childhood”.
- “Since I was a child, I lived Marian and cordimarian piety”.
- “Since I was little, I was very devoted to Mary”.
- “A Marian from childhood because of family influence”.
- “Presence of Mary from my years”.
Other decisive Marian factors in one’s vocational birth were the following:
- “A product of the popular piety, matured by study and prayer”.
- “Acquaintance with Father Claret”.
- “The love of Mary brought me to a Marian Congregation”.
- “A vocation connected with a Marian sanctuary, to reciting the Rosary,…”
B) Mary information. Positive and negative elements.
Initial formation and Mary ‘ s presence in it appears constantly in the majority of replies. Mary has a very important place; not always a positive fashion.
a) Novitiate and Seminary
* From a positive point of view there is the assertion of the communication of a Marian and Claretian formation. That this is a source of Marian devotion and that it helps in living cordimarian spirituality and deepening oneself in it. Very important is the favourable atmosphere of the Seminary. Moreover, the formators are persons devoted to the Heart of Mary, who inculcate il constantly and who transmit to those being formed.
* From a negative point of view, it is reported that the Marian atmosphere of the formation-center is cold and ambiguous; there is little devotion to Mary; often, that which is cordimarian is passed over in silence and formation does not help in reaching higher levels of Marian experience.
As regard the formators, they say nothing about Mary or just form in the Heart of Mary exteriorly, it all being something superficial.
b) Types of Marian beliefs.
* From a positive point of view, Mary appears as mother, first disciple of Jesus, associate, a woman poor, simple, and committed. She is the teacher in the following of Jesus, model of the following of Christ, and the virtues (especially faith) and forge of divine love. She is the victor in attacks against temptations and morals, protector against temptations and vocational crises.
* From a negative point of view, a triumphalistic view of Mary is presented; she seems far off and legendary. Difficulties are met in understanding what “Heart of Mary” means, her titles of Queen and Mediatrix and some dogmas (such as the Immaculate Conception).
c) Attitudes towards Mary
* From a positive point of view, in one’s relation to Mary, there is a trust and a commitment to Her; one loves Her with filial love; one imitates Her in Her virtues; one forms relations of friendship with Her: being with Her, dialoguing with Her, collaborating with Her and living a deep experience of Her presence emerging from closeness and deep silence. Finally, one venerates Her, thanks Her for one’s vocation and speaks of Her.
* From a negative point of view, one loses the Marian experience, the devotions have been deformed, a phobia against the rosary has managed to be created, Mary is far from everyday reality, Marian spirituality is in a crisis not surmounted, and little light is thrown on Marian piety.
d) Mary in community life
C) Causes which explain the positive and negative elements.
We present a synthesis of constants, some of which repeat themselves in the five previous sections and affect the various elements simultaneously.
a) Positive causes
* From the positive point of view, love for Mary increases one’s love for one’s brothers and fosters the performing of services for the community. As son of Mary, one’s fraternal awareness of being a brother to all is developed. In community, one lives cordimarian dimension and one manifests it externally.
* From a negative of point view, the ecclesial dimension does not appear in the Marian dimension and, in devotion to the Virgin, individualistic perspectives predominate.
e) Mary in formation for mission
* From a positive point of view, Mary appears as the formator of apostles – Jesus in the first place and as the first apostle – and then of the disciples of the Lord. She is formator and mould of Claretian missionaries. Mary helps in the fulfilment of our mission: she is forge and source of apostolic love, she prompts and sends one to evangelize, she is always present in our mission. As one statement says: “I want to become an instrument of Holy Spirit like Mary and to evangelize with her”.
* From a negative point of view, it all could be summed up in the following statement: “I do not see the connection between the Heart of Mary and the mission”.
C. Causes which explain the positive and negative elements
We present a synthesis of causes, some of which repeat themselves in the five previous sections and affect the various elements simultaneously.
a) Positive causes
- Theological studies and understanding of documents of Vatican Il, the Popes, and the Congregation (CC., chapter documents, the circular of Fr. A. Leghisa).
- The formators and the Marian and cordimarian atmosphere of the formation-centers.
- Formation-conferences about Mary.
- The witness of Claretians (especially Claretian martyrs).
- Understanding of the reality of “woman of the people” and the example of “simple people”.
- Prayer flowing along two channels: the evangelical contemplation of Mary and Marian communitarian prayer.
- Contact with charismatic movements (such as the Focolare movement).
b) Negative causes
- The post-conciliar crisis. Theological confusion. Disorientation.
- Lack of formation on the part of formators and the formative atmosphere.
- Images and devotions which disfigure Mary. Abandonment of Marian practices
- Unchecked sentimentality and lack of human and Christian maturity.
- Neglect of its reference to Mary in personal and communitarian prayer.
D) Lines of procedure for the future
* The constants which appear are like lines of procedure for achieving the following objectives:
- Overcoming the failures which have existed in the Congregation up fili now in those dimensions indicated in section 11.
- In order to develop the growth of the one being formed in the experience of cordimarian spirituality according to our Claretian charism.
The principal action guidelines are the followings:
- Demythologizing the figure of Mary and presenting her as the “new woman”. In order to do this, developing studies about Mary in her theological and biblical dimension; situating her within Christology and evangelization. Studying Mary from the viewpoint of the poor and the Magnificat, also keeping anthropology in mind.
- Studies, courses, study-days on the role of Mary in the life of our Founder and in our Claretian life.
- Preparing Mariologists, enriching our libraries and developing reading and reflection on the documents of the Church and the Congregation.
- Studying the witness of Claretians who have distinguished themselves in the living of Marian spirituality and setting up studies for interchanging our own Marian experiences.
- Creating a cordimarian atmosphere in the community: in prayer, symbols, feasts, evangelization… communitarian review of the cordimarian way of life.
- Keeping contact with “simple people”.
- Preparing and sharing aids from the General Secretariat concerning Mary in the Founder and in the Congregation… An anthology of cordimarian texts and a Marian song book. All this being integrated with a missionary dimension.
* The lines of procedure above will not be effective in the formative order if the formators are not formed in the cordimarian dimension of our spirituality, if they do not put them into action throughout the formative process, and if an atmosphere of cordimarian spirituality is not created in the formation-community.
III. MARY, OUR FORMATOR: HOW DOES MARY FORM US?
Now it is fitting to ask a question: How does Mary form us? Is this phrase just words without content? Can it not be turned into a set phrase, repeated endlessly, but without influence in our formation? Is it not one of so many clichés which got bounced from one generation to the next?
1. Mary forms up in the “forge” of her Heart
(Cf. FORMED IN THE FORGE OF THE SPIRIT AND OF MARY’S HEART (J.M.Viñas.Rome. 1990).
For our Founder, Mary forms us in the forge of her Heart, “in the forge of her love and mercy” (A.270). What are the formative implications of this experience? It seems to me that they are the followings:
* In her Heart and from her Heart, Mary forms us into the likeness of Jesus, whom she conceived in her Heart before in her womb. She configures us as disciples of Jesus, making the traits of the perfect disciple of Jesus grow in us. Because of this, when the Constitutions speak, for example of poverty, chastity, and obedience, they present us with Mary as the example to imitate who held fast to Jesus being poor, virginal, and obedient (CC,5,8,20,23,28).
* Mary forms us to welcome in our hearts, as she did, the Word of God of which we are ministers. She teaches us to listen to the Word, to turn it into life and to fulfil and to proclaim it to all the world.
* Mary forms us in apostolic charity, the virtue most needed by an apostolic missionary (A.438 ss). li is an apostolic charity which prompts us work tirelessly and without dismay even to spending and wearing ourselves out for the Kingdom. It is an apostolic charity which proclaims a God who is love and mercy and who gave his life for us. It is a charity which makes us proclaims the Gospel with a stamp of humility, meekness, from the heart or from maternal love (Dir.34; cfr. see the prayer asking Mary for love. A.447). And it is a charity which moves to love those whom the Lord preferred: the poorest, the neediest, those who most need salvation and liberation.
* Finally, Mary associates us in the apostolic mission, her maternal office in the Church (CC.8). Our Founder felt himself to be the collaborator of Mary, the victorious Mother, in the fight against Evil and its descendants. He felt himself to be an instrument of Mary, luce “an arrow in the hands of Mary to be launched against Satan and his cohorts” (A.270). “It is the Spirit of your Father and
your Mother who speak in you” (A.687). The missionaries are the “arms of Mary” (Luces. 1870. EA.p.665).
2. Behavioural manifestations in relation to Mary
The conduct and the exterior indications by which the Claretians ought to show our relation to Mary are the following:
- promoting attitudes of filial love, trust, friendship with and welcome of heras Mother, Teacher and Formator (CC.8,36,6 1,73), in the apostolic undertaking;
- arousing ourselves to imitation of Mary in those modes of conduct of hers which are most typically missionary: the way of living of Jesus (CC.5), the evangelical counsels in a missionary dimension (CC.20,23,29), welcome of the Word of God, a sense of the Cross
(“a sword shall pierce your Heart…”);
- living our missionary commitment in fullness; that is, in living out the Claretian model which we already have, we will truly be authentic Sons of Heart of Mary (Definition of the CMF.);
- honouring and venerating Mary, be it by liturgical cult, be it by Marian devotions, especially those in the tradition of the Congregation (CC.35,36; Dir.35,b);
- proclaiming her blessed, that is, in our apostolate we have to proclaim the role of Mary within the mystery of Christ (Dir.35,c). Our charism, impregnated by a clear cordimarian dimension, has to urge us to be proclaimers of Mary, of her personality, of her presence in the Church, and of her maternal activity regarding all human beings.
3. . Mary inspires the vital synthesis of the formator
In the formative stage, Mary, Teacher and Formator (CC.6 1,73), should inspire that vital synthesis which each one in formation should work out throughout the formative process untìl he arrives at full interior unity, the fundamental objective of formation (CC.68;
IV. GUIDELINES FOR FORMATION
As the Mutuae Relationes (n. 11) says, the charism of the Founders is “an experience of the Spirit transmitted to their disciples in order to be continually lived, kept, deepened, and developed by them in continual growth in harmony with the Body of Christ”.
As its fundamental objective, the formation process has the forming of the young missionaries gradually and progressively in the charism and the spirit of the Founder and the Congregation (Dir. 184- 6; 232-4).
We wish to answer the questions previously raised (Cfr. Introduction): How transmit the dynamic experience of our cordimarian reality to those being formed? How form the young missionaries in the cordimarian dimension of our Claretian charism? Here are some suggestions:
1 Formative principles
1.1. The cordimarian dimension is not a dimension which has to be understood by itself, isolated from the totality of the Claretian charism. All our missionary reality has a Marian cast and all our reality as Sons of the Heart of Mary has a missionary outlook.
The Son of the Heart of Mary is a missionary and an apostle; an evangelizer for the whole world as was Jesus, Son of Mary, and as was Claret, our Founder (Definition of the Missionary, CC.9). Commitment to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in special service at profession is “for the sake of achieving the purpose of the Congregation” (Formula. 159; purpose.CC.2). We commit ourselves to Her in order to configure ourselves to Christ and to cooperate with her maternal office in the apostolic mission (CC.8).
1.2. We cannot disconnect the charismatic presence of Mary in the Congregation from the mystery of the Virgin in her relation to Jesus (the Christological dimension) and her maternal actuation in the Church (ecclesiological dimension). It is a dimension which has to be lived in harmony with the “Body of Christ” (M.R. 11).
1.3. Finally, the cordimarian experience of our charism has to have an anthropological dimension. Which involves the followings aspects: respect for the personality of the one being formed (his rhythm, his special charism understood within the charism of the Congregation, his personal way of experiencing it), the inculturation of what is Marian as emergent from popular religiousness and sensibility, etc., and the proposing of Mary as the Woman who lives human values in fullness and shows herself sensitive to the needs of human beings.
2. Formative factors
2.1. The formation community.
The formation community has to be a community which lives, feels, and expresses our reality as Sons of the Heart of Mary. Formation is partly transmitted through “osmosis” and consolidates itself within a lived experience. Through its members, the whole community must offer to those in formation signs, symbols, celebrations, etc., all stimuli and witnesses that it is a community in which Mary is present and acts as Mother and Formator.
2.2. The formators.
As we know, within the formation community the formators have a specific “role” assigned by the Congregation. By their example and their words (CC.77) they have to help those in formation interiorize this dimension. There must be understood, first of all, what Mary means in our Congregation; there must be a concern living out authentically filial and faithful relationships to our Mother. The formators at the time of working out the “local plan of formation”, with the formation community, have to stress the cordimarian dimension in their instructions to those being formed (CC.77), they have to speak of Mary, be it in a systematic way or in conjuncture with other things. At bottom, they have to be effective and living animators of our spirituality.
3. Formative means
3.1. Assimilation of the theological and charismatic material regarding Mary
Our people in formation have to be solidly formed in a relevant Mariology and have to understand the objective elements of our charism in cordimarian dimension.
Regarding the first, there exists a lacuna in the Congregation which can be remedied on an internal level or, presently, even by following the orientations of the Congregation for Catholic Education regarding Seminaries and Centers for Higher Studies (Cfr.THE VIRGIN MARY IN THE INTELLECTUAL AND SPIRITUAL FORMATION. Congregation for Catholic Education. Rome, March 25, 1988)
Regarding the second, I refer to what was previously said regarding formators. Besides systematic instructions and material conjoined with other instructions, there is a totality of books and aids, etc., which can help the interiorizing of the specific contents of our cordimarian spirit (Dir.35.d).
3.2. The liturgy and Mary’s example (CC.36; Dir.88).
In general, the liturgical celebration of the feasts and memorials of the Virgin are veiy strong occasions for praising, venerating and imitating Mary. The liturgical year is filled with Marian feasts. Recently, a Marian missal was published containing votive Masses with great doctrinal and spiritual richness. Moreover, we know that the liturgy leads to life-commitment. The Marian liturgy ought to be an incentive arousing in those being formed the attitudes and modes of conduct which Mary lived in her life and her mission of being Mother of Jesus and the Church.
In a special way, and within the liturgical sphere, we have to keep in mind those feasts which have been celebrated in the Congregation with a special emphasis (Dir.88).
3.3. Lived experience of the traditions o! the Congregation and the example of our Founder and our “witness” brothers
In speaking of the traditions of the Congregation, I refer especially to the traditional devotions of the Congregation in which our cordimarian spirituality expresses itself. The Constitutions (36) and the Directory (87-88) suggest the Rosary, the month of Mary, and the novena to the Heart of Mary and add “other similar things” thus giving place to the creativity of the Congregation; today there are updated prayers which continue to spread throughout the Congregation and which reflect our special relation to Mary and her Immaculate Heart.
Regarding our Founder and our “witness” brothers, their testimony is of the highest influence. They are our “masters” spirituality. In their lives we find the keys of a lived experience which, at times, we do not find in mere theory. They mark out a practical path for us to follow, and they show it to us in the form of life and experience. What should stand out specially is the life of our Founder who, besides being Founder, is also Father of the Congregation.
3.4. Contact with popular Marian religiousness (Dir.35, b).
The C.P.R. (n.53) tells us that we have to foster the living of a spirituality more rooted in the People of God…, leaving it to us to evangelize for the poor and for the cultural and religious values of the people. This criterion can be perfectly applied to Marian spirituality. The People of God has felt and feels a great love and deep devotion to Mary, which they express in manifold forms. Marian popular religiousness can help us rediscover certain Marian values which can enrich our cordimarian spirituality. Likewise, it can orient us in the search for a more inculturated Marian spirituality (a question raised by the Questionnaire Committee). And, finally, the people and his popular religiousness can develop an affective and festive dimension in one’s relationship to Mary which we perhaps forget in our formation, in stressing the more theoretical and objective factors.
3.5. Practice in the apostolic mission during the time of formation.
Here I mean the apostolic mission as it touches the concrete apostolate and apostolic activities which are carried out during formation. There are times of practice and preparation for being “worthy minister” of the Word. To acquire this worthiness, Mary should be present by her example and her activity, since She was Master in welcoming, hearing and proclaiming the Word of the Lord. I think this aspect is little developed in our formation communities. Studying, meditating, contemplating the Word of God, essential formative element of our missionaries, cannot be done without Mary.
Even more, as the one in formation practices his apostolate, he has to feel himself “sent” by Mary, collaborator with Her in her maternal office in the Church. He must keep on sensitizing himself to this reality.
Lastly, since the first days of his apostolic ministry, the young missionary has to announce Mary, proclaim her blessed and preach about her in the catechism lessons, instructions and talks, etc. He has to be a “witness” proclaiming the filial relations of Mary lived in his spirituality. This preaching and proclamation will help the one in formation to interiorize the world of values be announces and proclaims.
3.6. Cultivating a personal relation with Mary in personal prayer
I have left this aspect until last not because it is the least important, but because it is an aspect which includes all the others. Those in formation have to establish, especially in prayer, filial relations to Mary, full of love and trust (CC.8,36,61,73); they have to foster them daily and have to cultivate them conscientiously.
This is an aspect where the action of the Holy Spirit plays a fundamental role, since He is the one who promotes and fosters the dynamism of the spiritual life. Along this line, Father Founder is a perfect teacher; the same can be said about some of our brothers, like Brother Riol, and the student Mardones.
Granting that Mary, as many testify, was present at the birth and origin of their vocation, it is necessary that the one in formation discover her intervention so that it can be developed throughout the formation process. Mary has to be present in the vocational journey of each one. In this task, the formator and the spiritual director have a fundamental role.
V. LOOKING TO THE FUTURE. THREATS AND CHALLENGES
In looking to the future, I believe that formators have three threats and challenges which I would like to underline:
1. The need to prepare especially in Mariology. Although it is the Superiors who have to make the decisions, the formators have an important “role” in the future orientation of those in formation. We have had very good Mariologists in the Congregation; presently, we need a new generation who will help us re-interpret our charism with the new biblical and theological aids.