CHAPTER 1: CLARETIAN FORMATION: OBJECTIVE AND FRAME OF REFERENCE

(General Plan of Formation)

Introduction

9. This chapter offers a summary presentation of the guiding principles of Claretian formation. It constitutes, so to speak, the foundation of all that is developed at greater length in the following chapters. In the first section it presents a statement of the fundamental objective of our formation and a brief commentary on each of the four affirmations contained in it. In the second section, the fundamental objective is set in a charismatic, pedagogical and situational framework aimed at helping the reader gain a better grasp of its meaning. The whole chapter deals, then, with the same basic questions on three progressive levels of development.

1. Fundamental objective

10. The objective of formation is to promote our growth in union and conformity with Christ, according to the Claretian charism in the Church, by means of a personalizing and transforming process, in each concrete situation and with openness to universality.[1]

1.1. Conformity with Christ the Missionary

11. The fundamental objective consists of following Jesus Christ the Missionary until we become conformed to Him. In our formation, following Christ as set forth in the Gospel is our supreme rule.[2] All other orientations and norms have meaning insofar as they help and guide us to follow Christ in a communion of life and to go out into the world to proclaim the Good News to every creature.[3] Our life and mission and hence the whole formative itinerary is a continuous process that must always spring from a real conformity with Christ the Evangelizer and from a close communion and friendship with Him,[4]so that it will no longer be we who live, but Christ who truly lives in us.[5] In this process, Mary, the Mother of Jesus and of the Church, the Formator of Apostles, plays an essential role. Hence, we commit ourselves to her that we may be conformed to the mystery of Christ and may cooperate with her in her maternal role in our apostolic mission.[6] Only thus will we be able to become truly missionary men who are on fire with charity and spread its flames wherever we go.[7]

1.2.    According to the Claretian charism
in the Church

12. Within the great variety of charisms which the Spirit raises up in the Church, and in fellowship with them, we carry on the gift of grace granted to our Founder. We follow Christ in the likeness of the Apostles,[8]seeking the Glory of God, our sanctification and the salvation of all.[9] The last General Chapters have deepened our missionary identity as servants of the Word (1991) sent in prophetic mission (1997) so that people may have life (2003). We strive to be faithful to our vocation as men on fire with love (2009) being witnesses and messengers of the joy of the Gospel (2015).

13. Thus we form in the Church an Institute which is truly and fully apostolic.[10] In the Regulation our Founder wrote for the students, he pointed out that the missionaries’ formation is oriented toward the glory of God, whom they should ask to make them fitting ministers of the Word, in order to extend his name and spread his Reign throughout the world.[11] In it there already appears the missionary imprint that has characterized Claretian formation from its outset until today, an imprint which the Constitutions clearly capture. Our formation is for mission.[12] Hence mission, lived always in a spirit of communion, is the key to all our formation[13] and the nucleus for promoting new Claretian vocations, as well as the principle of discernment, of pedagogical incentive and of experimentation, throughout the process of incorporation into our Institute.[14]

1.3.    By means of a personalizing and transforming process

14. In our formative itinerary we try to re-create, with the help of the Spirit and as responsible and creative persons, the charism of Claret, persuaded that this will enable us to move forward in missionary community to achieve that personal fullness to which we have been called.[15] Our formation—which is lifelong, embracing all life’s dimensions– is inspired in a vision of the human person as a being open to God, to others, and to creation, who needs to pass through a continuous process of transformation due to personal limitations.[16]

1.4.    In each concrete situation, and open to our universal mission

15. As missionaries, we are immersed in the diverse realities of the peoples and cultures in which we live, while at the same time maintaining our availability for the universal mission of the Congregation. We are aware of the permanent change of local and universal reality and the challenge that this entails for formation. Missionary community constitutes the privileged environment of our formation process. This community, while truly embodying the situation and needs of the particular church and the world around it,
both in its way of living and exercising the ministry
,[17] must keep in relation to the rest of the Congregation, be rooted in the Church and in contact with the world, particularly with the poor, and cultivate awareness of being an integral part of creation.[18]

2.       Frame of reference

16. In order to be able to realize the fundamental objective of formation, we need to take into account our Claretian identity (charismatic reference), the essential characteristics of the formation process (pedagogical reference) and the setting in which we find ourselves (situational reference). These three dimensions, already contained in the very formulation of the objective, are so closely interlinked that reference to them is indispensable in formation.

2.1. Our Claretian identity
(charismatic reference)

17. Our identity, described in an overall way in the documents of the Congregation, is clearly expressed in the Constitutions, which condense and transmit an experience of grace which the Spirit grants us and which begets a distinctive style of life and mission within the Church, with specific charismatic traits. The XXV General Chapter accentuates the following: missionaries with Spirit, hearers and servants of the Word of God, missionaries in community, sent to evangelize the poor, with the whole Church and with those who seek the transformation of the world and open to all in prophetic dialogue.[19]

18. The Constitutions are the immediate reference point of our formation process and the source from which the following pedagogical synthesis of our charism springs.

2.1.1. We are followers of Jesus Christ in the style

of the Apostles

19. We are followers of Jesus Christ, consecrated to the Father through the gift of the Spirit. For us, Jesus is the Christ[20] and the Lord[21] to whom we entrust our life. He is the Son and Envoy of the Father, He is Word made flesh of the Virgin Mary,[22] He is the One Anointed by the Spirit to bring Good News to the poor, the Prophet powerful in works and words,[23] the One who was obedient even to death and is the Risen One who continues living in the world. We have been granted the grace to represent in the Church his prophetic life, his vocation as herald of the Good News for all human beings, especially for the poor, the addressees and privileged subjects of the Kingdom that He lived and proclaimed. Hence, we are called to configure ourselves to Jesus, adopting his attitudes and having his same sentiments[24] with the grace of the Spirit.

20. We follow Jesus Christ in the manner of the apostles.[25] Like them, we have been given the grace to live and to announce the Word,[26] by re-presenting in the Church the virginity, poverty and obedience of Christ,[27] and by sharing the hopes and sorrows of humankind, especially of the poor.

21. Among the elements emphasized in the Gospel, we pay special heed to the call to be perfect as our Father is perfect, to the commandment of love, to prayer, to the rule of apostolic life and to the beatitudes.[28] These emphases entail as their foundation the unconditional acceptance of the person of Jesus and of the new order of values he proposes as the Kingdom.[29] The centrality of the Kingdom in the message of Jesus becomes for us the fundamental criterion of discernment for our life and mission.[30] It presupposes an unshakable faith in the God who calls us,[31] an experience of our sonship in God, of becoming conformed to Christ the Evangelizer, docility to the Holy Spirit,[32] and living our cordimarian sonship.[33] Claretian formation is walking in the Spirit, learning to discern the will of the Father in all situations, as Jesus lived.

2.1.2. Formed by the Spirit in the forge of Mary’s Heart

22. Our experience of apostolic life is possible only through the action of the Spirit. It is he who anointed Jesus,[34] impelled the apostles to bear witness to His resurrection throughout the world,[35] and moves some to adopt Jesus’ own style of life.[36] This Spirit makes us sons of God and cries out “Abba”[37] in our hearts. It is the Spirit who has raised up our Congregation as a gift for the Church,[38] bestows on each of us the gift to follow Christ in apostolic community,[39] anoints us to evangelize[40] by giving us joy and missionary zeal,[41] gathers us together in fraternal community[42] and grants us a diversity of gifts for one common mission.[43]

23. We call ourselves and we are sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.[44] She forms us in her heart, where the grace of the Spirit transforms our heart of stone to a heart of flesh.[45] As she was present in Jesus’ process of growth– she accompanied him in his public life, she was present at the foot of the cross and gathered with the disciples in the cenacle of Pentecost– she also accompanies us in our missionary journey. She is a model of discipleship, who teaches us how to live the following of Christ. By the grace of the Spirit, we are formed in her tender heart, and we are sent to the geographical and existential peripheries in order to promote the revolution of tenderness[46] of the love of God for humanity, especially for the poor.

24. The presence of Mary was fundamental in the life of Fr. Claret for his missionary vocation. All of us can address her in the same terms that Claret used: You are well aware that I am your son and minister, formed by you in the forge of your mercy and love. I am like an arrow poised in your mighty hand.[47] Thus, we feel strengthened to proclaim the Gospel and confront the evil that affects the persons and structures among which we live. Claretian formation is a process of transformation of the heart forged in the tender love of Mary that enables us to “discern and act according to the heart of God”[48] as missionary disciples.

2.1.3. To seek in all things the Glory of God

25. Our Congregation exists to seek in all things the glory of God, the sanctification of its members and the salvation of people throughout the world.[49] The Founder conceived of the son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary as a man who follows and imitates Christ in prayer, in work, in suffering, and in seeking always and only the greater glory of God and the salvation of people.[50] Therefore, our entire formation process is aimed at making our lives a constant search for God announcing that the Gospel of God’s love for man, the Gospel of the dignity of the person and the Gospel of life are a single and indivisible Gospel.[51] Giving glory to God means for us that the human person lives (Irenaeus of Lyons), that the poor live (Oscar Romero), that nature lives (Paul of Tarsus).[52]

26. The search for the glory of God requires cultivating in us an attitude of adoration in the midst of a context in which we run the risk of idolizing other realities such as one’s own self, personal tastes, homeland, pleasure, money or power. We are men called to adore our Father God in spirit and truth,[53] so that, like our Founder, we can say: I want nothing but you yourself, Lord, and in you—and only through and for you—all other things. For you are all I need.[54] Adoration leads us to discover God as the only thing that has no price, that is not negotiated, that is not changed (Pope Francis)[55], the gratuity of grace in a world that tends to judge everything with criteria of efficiency, and the need to allow ourselves to be gazed upon compassionately by God so that we may look upon others with compassion and tenderness.

2.1.4. In missionary community

27. Because we are sons, we are also brothers, convoked to share the same project of evangelical life.[56] Our community is enriched with a diversity of charisms and ministries: We form a Congregation of priests, deacons, brothers and students who share the same vocation. All of us belong to the same community, fulfill the same mission and, in keeping with our own gift of order and the special role we perform in our Congregation, we all share the same rights and duties deriving from our religious profession.[57]

28. However, being a community is a verb and not just a noun. It is action, it is process.[58] A missionary can enjoy life in community when he opens his heart to receive the gift of communion. Formation is the privileged environment to learn to care for this gift and allow it to grow, developing the necessary skills, such as: listening, dialogue, compassionate communication, and conflict resolution.

2.1.5. Called to evangelize through the ministry of the Word

29.In close communion with its diverse ministries and charisms, the ministry of the word, through which we communicate the total mystery of Christ to humanity, is our special calling among the People of God.[59] Collaboration in this ministry pertains to the very origins of our common life.[60] We are a community called together in the Spirit for the announcement of the Gospel. For us, the Word of God is as essential to community, as community is to the Word of God.[61] Hence, one of the core aspects of our formation is initiation and growth in the ministry of the word, understood as an authentic way of being, acting and signifying.[62]

30. Mary lived this mystery in its fullness. We, too, under her maternal action learn to accept the Word, to embody it in a life-commitment and to communicate it with the same readiness and generosity that she did.[63] The listening to, fulfillment, fraternal sharing and announcement of the Word, whether personally or as a community, are basic moments of the dynamics of the Word that must be present in all stages of formation.

2.1.6. In the evangelizing mission of the Church

31. Throughout the ages, the Church, impelled by the Spirit, has endeavored to fulfill the mission charge of Jesus: Go into the world and proclaim the Good News to every creature.[64] Its mission consists of announcing the reign of Christ and of God and establishing it among all people, constituting in itself the seed and beginning of this reign,[65] evangelizing all peoples[66] through witness, word, transformation of reality, and prophetic denunciation. We make this evangelizing mission our own through our distinctive missionary charism, impelled by the Spirit to live it according to the model of our founder. We have been called to communicate the integral mystery of Christ to human beings. We fulfill this charge by raising up and consolidating communities of believers,[67] where it is more urgent, timely and effective, not allowing ourselves to be tied down to our native land, but rather being docile to the Spirit and obedient to mission.[68] The Spirit calls us to live a missionary transformation that implies being, with Jesus, a Congregation going forth that welcomes the call of the Church to pastoral missionary and ecological conversion.[69] Formation for the mission also implies acquiring the ability to leave the comfort zones and with the soul, the heart and the head, to walk, to search, to go to the frontiers of all kinds[70] to announce the joy of the Gospel,[71] while making of the mission a sacred space for encountering God and being formed as a missionary.

2.1.7. According to the calls of God in our time

32. We live in a world where everything is interconnected. The love and care of God protects, sustains and directs all of creation. Our God, with his mysterious presence, speaks to and questions us through his creation, humanity and its diverse peoples, and his Church.[72] As a missionary community we feel challenged by the cry of Mother Earth, the cry of the poor and justice, the dream of peace and reconciliation, the signs of God in the digital world, the concerns of the Church to be credible and the concerns of the Congregation to be faithful to mission. Claretian formation must enable the missionaries to listen to the cries of God and respond with a coherent life committed to the mission.

33. God the Father, whom Jesus revealed, is a God rich in mercy. Jesus, in Himself, manifested this mercy and made it known to us.[73] In our world, wounded by various forms of violence and manipulation, we are called to live each day as the time of mercy marked by the presence of God, who guides our steps with the power of grace that the Spirit infuses into our hearts to mold them and make them capable of loving.[74] This is the time of mercy so that the weak and helpless, those who are far off and alone, feel the presence of brothers and sisters who support them in their needs, so that the poor feel the respect and attention of those who, overcoming indifference, have discovered what is fundamental in life, and so that every sinner never ceases to ask for forgiveness and to feel the hand of the Father who always welcomes and embraces.[75] Claretian formation prepares us to be missionaries of mercy.

2.2.    Formation as a process
(pedagogical reference)

34. On these bases we understand formation as a process whereby we keep assimilating, in a conscious and harmonious manner, the gospel ideal as our Founder lived it, in the daily reality of our missionary life. In this sense, the objective of Claretian formation is to help actualize through a transformative process that which already exists in each one of us as a vocational gift bestowed by God. The discovery and development of our own vocational charism, of the possibilities and capacities we have received from God, generates in each of us an attunement to and progressive acceptance of the Claretian charism and project of life.

35. From these bases, we understand formation as a process through which we consciously and harmoniously integrate the evangelical ideal, as lived by our Founder, into the reality of our missionary life. In this sense, it has as its objective to update, through a process of transformation, what already exists in each one of us as a vocational gift given by God. The discovery and development of our own vocational charism, of the possibilities and capacities received from God, generates in us a progressive harmony and acceptance of the Claretian charism and life project.

36. This process needs to be lived in a constant attitude of discernment. As Pope Francis affirms, the gift of discernment is fundamental for the consecrated person to reach the maturity needed to live fully the vocational gift received.[76] It is not enough to discern in extraordinary moments, we always need to do so in order to be willing to recognize the times of God and his grace, so as not to waste the Lord’s inspirations, so as not to let pass his invitation to grow.[77] While discernment is a grace of the Lord, the missionary must cultivate a docile listening attitude before the Lord, which de-centers him from himself and from his own interests so as to open to the loving mystery of God’s will and to living the mission as a generous giving of his life in favor of his brothers and sisters, according to the logic of the cross.[78] Only in this way will we embody what our Constitutions affirm: With the decision to walk in a new life, orienting the heart towards God, do all things with a right intention and with true fervor of spirit and through Him bear all adversities.[79]To achieve this goal, the formation process must have the following fundamental characteristics:

2.2.1. Personalizing

37. All of us are free and responsible persons, equipped to give a personal response to the call of God. When we contemplate our personal and communal reality from the standpoint of faith, we discover in it the image of God, an unsuspected newness of the Spirit and a missionary vocation that is a grace for the world.[80] Given this, it is essential that in our formative itinerary we should attend to each person in his singular self,[81] that we value him for all that this entails, and that we respect and stimulate his rhythm of growth, aware that this person finds growth and fulfillment by opening himself to communion and by entering into his moment in history.[82]

38. In the formation process, the person must achieve a growing awareness of his own reality, of the gift he has received from God, and assume his own past, in order to develop all his human and spiritual possibilities. Hence, we must appeal tohisconscience and responsibility, as well as to his personalized internalization of the values of Claretian community[83] and we should promote each Claretian’s readiness to play a leading role, while taking care to assure that he has the proper personal and community accompaniment.[84] This accompaniment, with its appropriate interventions by those who participate in the formative process, above all by formators, should help each one to discover and develop the gift he has received from God, so that we may all achieve the personal fulfillment to which we have been called.[85]

2.2.2. Integral and integrating

39. The integral formation of a Claretian Missionary entails the harmoniously balanced development of all facets of his personality[86] within the gift we have received. For us, being Claretians is our concrete way of being men, Christians, religious, priests and apostles.[87] The harmonizing of all these facets will allow us to achieve that unity of missionary life in virtue of which the spirit of union with God and apostolic action are perfectly integrated,[88] thus avoiding any dichotomy between them or going to extremes in either way.[89] This integration, which is the task and outcome of personal maturity, is above all a work of the Spirit.[90] It is achieved when our personal love for Christ becomes the very center of our being.[91]Through it we are able to integrate all dimensions, even those that might seem to be contradictory. Moreover, the humble recognition of our own gifts and limitations will make us open to accepting the complementarity that comes to us from others.

40. Special attention should be given to new contexts and to finding ways to help people on their way to human maturity, integrating especially the moral, affective and sexual aspects.

41. Formation should also pay attention to practical aspects such as leadership and pastoral management, crisis management and economic administration. Above all, emphasis should be placed on announcing the Gospel through the testimony of life.

42. Formation must help the formandi to develop a global vision and a commitment for life. It should lead them to a sense of belonging to the Congregation with their whole being. It should help them to dedicate themselves, participate, and grow in a missionary commitment through the witness of a coherent and balanced life.

2.2.3. Gradual, progressive and articulated

43. The person achieves self-realization through a process of evolving in close inter-relationship with the world and the situations that surround him. Maturity is a day-by-day pursuit of responding to grace. Hence, the following of Christ is also gradual and progressive. This does not mean that we abandon the utopia of the Kingdom, but rather that we strive to incarnate it in the reality of our personhood. We must therefore pay particular attention to the different stages of the formative process, as well as to the different pace and maturity level of each individual,[92] welcoming the processes of transformation that the Spirit inspires.[93] Attention to this gradual and progressive process demands that we learn to distinguish the essential from the accidental, the permanent from the changing, and not to confuse these levels. Only in this way will we be able to face the different situations in our personal and missionary life without falling into either rigidity or relativism.[94] For us, graced as we are with a charism that renders us open to the whole world, it is indispensable that we both grow in creative sensibility and remain firm in fidelity.

44. The ability to make a fundamental option for Christ and to sustain it in the midst of trials and temptations is the central dimension of vocational maturation. The maturity of the formandi will require the promotion of behavior appropriate to age with respect to sincerity, ease of communication with oneself and with others, emotional development, openness to life in community, capacity for fraternal friendship, responsibility in their duties, creativity and initiative, expression of freedom, openness to the path of prayer and encounter with Christ.[95]

45. The gradualness of this process and the need to harmonize its different dimensions necessarily calls for planning and evaluating the objectives and actions of our formative itinerary. In this effort to articulate them, we aspire toward a just balance. Hence, we should avoid not only improvisation and a neglect of advisable tools, but also any vain trust that programming constitutes the center of the formative task and that it will automatically guarantee results.

2.2.4. Attentive to the specific vocation

46. Variation in personality traits, lay, diaconal or priestly condition, age, and consequences deriving from the sociocultural context of each of our members, are the main reasons for which our formation, while maintaining its basically unified character, must also be attentive to specific vocations, taking into account the needs of the mission and the gifts of the person. This distinction, especially the one deriving from one’s ministerial condition, enriches the manifold character of our community and further enables it for its missionary service.[96]

2.2.5. Liberating

47. It was for liberty that Christ freed us.[97] Our formation should be carried out in and for liberty, so that it can help us to become ever freer and prepare us for the liberating and prophetic mission that is proper of our charism. This demands that throughout our formative itinerary we learn to know ourselves better, that we free ourselves from negative unconscious motivations, fears and all other conditionings that hinder us from responsibly assuming the commitments of our missionary life. Above all, it demands that we develop the capacity to discern and make free options that are held up to the values of the Kingdom and are spurred by authentic motivations. A freedom that is lived in this way disposes us to be a sign and a force that liberates human beings from every sort of selfishness, servitude and slavery that would hinder them from achieving personal growth and communion with God, with othersand with creation.[98]

2.2.6. Prophetic

48. Formation must be prophetic. Both St. John Paul II[99] and Pope Francis[100] have highlighted the prophetic meaning of the consecrated life as a form of special participation in the prophetic function of Christ, communicated by the Holy Spirit to all the People of God. It is a prophetism inherent in consecrated life as such, by the radical following of Jesus and the consequent dedication to the mission that characterizes it…True prophecy is born of God, of friendship with Him, of the attentive listening of His Word in the different circumstances of history. The prophet feels the passion for the holiness of God burn in his heart and, after having accepted the word in the dialogue of prayer, he proclaims it with his life, with his lips and with his deeds, becoming spokesman for God against evil and against sin.[101]

49. This means that we must radically live the prophetic Spirit that we received from Baptism and cultivate the prophecy of ordinary life.[102]Likewise, be attentive to the signs of the times, which promote a constant relationship with the Lord and develop in us the audacity proper to men of God Given the conflict-ridden circumstances in which we live this prophetic vocation, we should prepare ourselves to live it with the boldness and confidence of martyrs. We are well aware that transmitting a message of annunciation and of denunciation in conflicting situations of unbelief, injustice, alienation or death is always a dangerous and risky business.[103] Hence we, who follow Jesus, Martyr of the Word that nobody has been able to silence, must passionately love God, Mary and our brothers and sisters, as our Founder and our Blessed Martyrs did. In this way we will be able to conquer the fears and temptations that could paralyze us.[104]

2.2.7. Inculturated, intercultural and universal

50. As missionaries sent to proclaim the joy of the Gospel, we encounter diverse cultures knowing that Jesus Christ and his Gospel transcend all cultures, including those c0mpletely imbued with his risen presence and Spirit.[105] The Gospel, and therefore evangelization, is not identified strictly with any culture, and they are independent with respect to all cultures.[106] This transcendence of the Gospel in relation to cultures makes it possible for it to enter into a dynamic relationship with all cultures so that the light of Christ may reach all the sectors of human existence, and the ferment of salvation may transform societies from within, promoting a culture impregnated with Gospel values.[107] As evangelizers, we become catalysts of inculturation to the extent that we cooperate with the Holy Spirit and share the life of the people to whom we are sent. Unless a missionary allows this transformative process to take place in himself, transcending his own cultural boundaries and entering into creative dialogue with those different from himself, he will remain only a spectator, rather than a collaborator with the Holy Spirit. Formation for the mission must, by necessity, be concerned with the preparation of our missionaries for an authentic dialogue with cultures, for valuing the “seeds of the Word” in them, and for walking together toward the fulness of the Reign of God.

51. We are aware that interculturality is a complex reality that requires openness of mind and heart to be lived as a gift that enriches our personal and communal life and mission. In formation, we need to confront the cultural elements in each formandus that inhibit the assimilation of Gospel values. We need to prepare for the encounter with the diverse as a dialogue of life, intercultural and interreligious, learn to collaborate with people from other cultures and promote the discernment of the authentic values that build the Kingdom.[108]

52. In a Congregation like ours, spread throughout the continents and called to a universal mission, it is crucial that we maintain the necessary balance between our need to be immersed in the culture of each people, and our availability and openness to be sent to any place in the world. This demands that our formation, even as it is carried out and prepares us to live in a specific culture and people, undertaking their way of life and values, should also attend to those aspects that derive from our openness to universality.

2.3.    The present situation (situational reference)

53. While every form of religious life and every formation process must be faithful to the human situation and geared to the demands of the present,[109] in our case, attention to social, ecclesial and congregational challenges is a demand of our missionary charism: our God, with his mysterious presence, speaks to us and challenges us through his creation, humanity, the peoples, and his Church … His Spirit, Lord and Giver of Life, addresses us with inexpressible moans. The Church, the people of God, senses these movements of the Spirit, discerns them and proposes them to us. As a missionary community we feel challenged.[110]

54. Formation is a process which unfolds in concrete circumstances, in the here and now of society and of the Church.[111] The current world offers us both new hopes and hitherto unheard-of challenges that affect our formation.[112] The current sociocultural, ecclesial and congregational context awakens positive drives and new possibilities, but it also presents obstacles that can slow or even set back the formative process. Hence we must become accustomed to an ongoing process of discernment.

2.3.1. The sociocultural situation

55. When we contemplate today’s humanity, we discover a complex and diversified reality[113] that moves with dramatic oscillations between a widespread awareness of the dignity of the person,[114] but also diverse forms of individualism[115] and subjectivism;[116] an assessment of the meaning and defense of life,[117] and, at the same time, expressions of aggression against it (abortion, violation of human rights), which even generate a true culture of death;[118] the hunger for authentic values ​​and a deep spirituality[119] together with a great rise of false roads, highlighted by the overwhelming growth of addictions of various kinds. We also note the struggle for freedom and democracy in contrast to new modes of oppression, exploitation and dependence (manipulation from social media and social networks, arms sales, external debt); an evident sensitivity towards cultural and religious pluralism and a no less evident divorce between faith and culture; a notable increase in humanitarian aid in favor of the progress of the peoples together with a general tendency towards hedonism; a growing concern for solidarity and a parallel loss of the sense of gratuity and responsibility.[120] Finally, there is a notable increase in the evaluation of the gender issue which, although it has helped in many inclusion dynamics, at the same time coexists with the obscuring, distorting and even exploitation of the true meaning of human sexuality;[121] a revaluation of the family as the matrix of the person and, at the same time, such harsh attacks against it that, in not a few cases, destroy it, generating countless new family configurations.[122]

56. With regard to political, social and economic structures, we see the mutual relationship and interdependence among all peoples and a greater awareness of the dignity of ethnic minorities as agents of their own destiny.[123] However, we also find nationalisms closed in on themselves that tear the social fabric, oppress cultural and religious minorities, and do not favor the universality of the human race. The new political and social map of the world is characterized more than ever by an enormous gap between the North and the South, between rich and poor,[124] with the human consequences that derive from it. At the same time that there is a growing sense of international solidarity,[125] we see the consequences of its absence, especially in the enormous migration movements towards the rich countries. The great thirst for justice and peace that characterizes the world today[126] coexists simultaneously with the oppression, marginalization and exploitation generated by unjust economic structures,[127] in addition to the tremendous development of new forms of slavery, such as trafficking in persons.[128]

57. Regarding culture in general, we perceive the enormous development of science and technology[129] and its humanizing achievements, but also excesses of rationalism and pragmatism[130] to which it frequently leads. Also, after the fall of the great ideologies, new forms of expressing thought and art have emerged focusing on the visible and immediate. We note the growing concern for the ecology of the planet, and the papal Magisterium has placed itself in the forefront of inviting us all to ecological conversion[131] alerting us to new forms of pollution and the complexity of the international approach to climate change. We value the dissemination of information and culture as well as the new possibilities for communication across the digital continent.[132] However, we are worried about the contamination of this continent through the proliferation of fake news, pornography, addictive games and applications which damage personal health[133] as well as the invasion of privacy that threatens human dignity. There is a growing rapprochement between religions that creates an atmosphere of coexistence and religious tolerance, allowing a greater appreciation of universal values. Unfortunately, our world is threatened by fundamentalist and violent movements and new forms of religious persecution. Finally, we witness the divorce between faith and life, the difficulty of assuming stable commitments, and the practical consumerism and materialism which characterize believers of all religions.

2.3.2. The ecclesial situation

58. The Church of which we are part is living a situation that challenges us as missionaries. The path opened by the Second Vatican Council is irrepressible and, little by little, it is bearing fruit. On the one hand, the signs of vitality abound: The Spirit is awakening … new Christian communities and movements, new styles of life and spirituality, inculturated theologies, new forms of presence and accompaniment.[134] In the context of an egocentric culture of instant gratification, the Church denounces the idolatry of money and does everything possible to promote the social inclusion of the poor, dialogue, peace, justice and the defense of the integrity of creation. The Church invites us to be messengers of the joy and mercy of the Gospel, to break the barriers of indifference and to accompany and open our hearts without fear to those who live on the peripheries of society.[135] The Church has been the voice of the growing number of excluded and abandoned people: immigrants, refugees, homeless people, threatened people, battered women, children, and the elderly and abandoned and sick people. As disciples of Jesus, we have been designated to enlighten, bless, vivify, lift up, heal, liberate.

59. On the other hand, we perceive signs that concern us such as clericalism and spiritual worldliness, which slow down the necessary reform and pastoral conversion of the Church.[136] The pain caused by economic corruption, sexual scandals, as well as the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults by some of its ministers, have caused a loss of credibility with the world. There is also evidence of a decline in Christians in countries with a long Catholic tradition and the estrangement of some of their faithful, in other contexts, who seek refuge in other churches and spiritualities. In this context, we feel called to strengthen, in the Church, our “going forth” as missionaries according to our evangelizing charism.[137]

2.3.3. The Congregational situation

60. The reality of our Congregation also influences the formative processes. The Claretians have been renewing our missionary conscience during the post-conciliar years.[138] The Constitutions, definitively approved in 1986 (…) area permanent source of inspiration and an obligatory point of reference (…).[139] We are making a great effort to continue deepening with realism our identity, missionary spirit, community life and evangelizing demands and options. We are still being invited to be filled with the fire that burned in the heart of Claret so that we might ignite others in missionary enthusiasm,[140] but we also perceive tensions between the universal needs of the Congregation and local priorities. We remain determined to conduct an ongoing review of our positions and are motivated to be a Congregation going forth; however, we do not always invite with conviction others to embrace our vocation to take up, according to our charism, the proclamation of God’s Reign.[141]


[1] Cf. Dir 156.

[2] CC 4.

[3] Ibid.

[4] SW 6; Dir 138.

[5] CC 39.

[6] CC 8; cf. MS 39.

[7] Aut. 494; CC9; MFL 30-31.

[8] CC 4; SW 3, 5.

[9] CC 2.

[10] CC 5.

[11] RE (B) 28b.

[12] Cf. CC 72.

[13] Cf. 1F 2.

[14] MCT 135; cf. MS 75:4.

[15] CC 12.

[16] MS 31.

[17] CC 14.

[18] Dir 159; cf SW 21:4; MS 45: 3.5; MFL 12; LS 89.

[19] Cf. MS 34-63.

[20] Cf. CC 3-5.

[21] Cf. CC 15-16, 23.

[22] Cf. DC 19.

[23] Lk 24, 19; SW 13.

[24] Cf. Phil 2,5.

[25] Cf. CC 4.

[26] Cf. SW 6.

[27] Cf. CC 5.

[28] Cf. CC 4.

[29] Cf. MCT 143.

[30] SW 7.

[31] Cf. CC 62.

[32] Cf. MS 39.

[33] Cf. MCT 145; SW 15, 21: 1.

[34] Cf. CC 3.

[35] Cf. CC 40.

[36] Cf. CC 3.

[37] Cf. CC 34.

[38] Cf. CC 68, 135.

[39] Cf. CC 4.

[40] Cf. CC 39; cf. MS 39.

[41] Cf. CC 40.

[42] Cf. CC 10, 17.

[43] Cf. CC 72.

[44] CC 8.

[45] Cf. Ez 36:26.

[46] EG 88, 288.

[47] Aut. 270.

[48] Cf. MS 72.

[49] CC 2.

[50] CC 9.

[51] EV 2.

[52] PTV 8.

[53] Cf. Jn 4:23.

[54] Aut 445.

[55]Francis, Spontaneous Words to the XXV General Chapter of the Congregation, Annales Congregationis CMF (Maio-Septembri 2015), p. 263.

[56] MFL 37.

[57] CC 7.

[58] MS 69.

[59] CC 46; SW 3,5.

[60] Cf. CC 13.

[61] Cf. SW 7; 21:4.

[62] SW 21; cf. MS 44

[63] MCT 151; cf. SW 7, 15; MS 42.

[64] Mk 16: 15.

[65] LG 5.

[66] Cf. MS 58-60.

[67] Cf. CC 47.

[68] Cf. CC 48.

[69] MS 65.

[70] Words improvised by Pope Francis in his address to the participants in the XXV General Chapter, September 11, 2015

[71] EG 1.

[72] MS 5.

[73] DiM 1.

[74] MM 21.

[75] Ibid.

[76] Cf. FRANCIS, The Strength of a Vocation: Consecrated Life Today (Claretianas, Madrid, 2018), p. 52.

[77] GE 169.

[78] Cf. GE 174-175.

[79] CC 52.

[80] CPR 49.

[81] Cf. CIC 660 § 1.

[82] CPR 49.

[83] Dir 157.

[84] Cf. SW 13:3.

[85] Cf. CC 12.

[86] Cf. PI 34; 1F 3.

[87] MCT 132.

[88] CC 68.

[89] Dir 157.

[90] Cf. PI 17.

[91] Cf. PI 18.

[92] Dir 157.

[93] MS 65.

[94] Cf. GE 35.

[95] RFIS 20.

[96] Dir 252 c.

[97] Gal 5:1.

[98] 97 MCT 170; cf. MS 7.

[99] Cf. VC 84-95.

[100] Cf. FRANCIS, Apostolic Letter to all Consecrated Persons on the occasion of the Year for Consecrated Life, November 21, 2014, Ch. 2:2.

[101] VC 84.

[102] IPM 24.

[103] Cf. MS 49.

[104] Cf. SW 17; TM 22; IPM 17.

[105] Cf. PI 91.

[106] Cf. EN 20; EG 117.

[107] Cf. VC 98.

[108] Cf. A. BOCOS, The necessary path of interculturality, p. 23; cf. MS 75:3.

[109] Cf. RPH 21; PI 18.

[110] MS 5.

[111] Cf. PDV 5.

[112] Cf. SW 1.

[113] IPM 4.

[114] Cf. PDV 6; SP 1:1.

[115] Cf. SW 1:1.

[116] Cf. PDV 7.

[117] Cf. SW 1.1; EG 66.

[118] Cf. SW 1.2.

[119] Cf. SW 1.1.

[120] Cf. PDV 7; MV 15; MS 14.

[121] Cf. PDV 7; AL 280-286.

[122] Cf. MFL 2. c; EG 67; AL 32-49.

[123] Cf. SW 1.1; EG 62.

[124] Cf. SW 1.2.

[125] Cf. PDV 6; IPM 10.

[126] Cf. PDV 6.

[127] Cf. SW 1.2; MFL 2. d.

[128] Cf. EG 211.

[129] Cf. PDV 6.

[130] Cf. PDV 7; PTV 38.

[131] Cf. LS 216-232; MS 6.

[132] Cf. MS 17; LS 47.

[133] Cf. CV 74, 89.

[134] SW 2; MFL 4.

[135] Cf. MS 6-16.

[136] Cf. EG 93-97, 102.

[137] MS 20.

[138] Cf. SW 3.1; MFL 7.

[139] SW 3.1; Cf. MS29.

[140] Cf. CPR 11; SW 13; MFL 8-11.

[141] Cf. SW 3.2, 3.3; MS 68.4