Chapter 2 : Period Between the Years 1871-1899

Chapter 2: Period Between the years 1871-1899

This period corresponds to the incumbency of Fr. Xifré as General. He was the great promoter of the spreading of the Congregation and the person responsible for its consistency and stability in the fields of vocations and formation.

I. Fr. Joseph Xifre (1858-1899)

1. Fidelity to one’s vocation

One of Fr. Xifré’s great concerns was stimulating fidelity to one’s vocation. In his circular on “Ser fieles a la vocación[1]  and in the Espíritu de la Congregación[2]  he exhorts to fidelity and gives orientations to help the brothers overcome some vocational difficulties:[3]

“It is fitting that you be always faithful and grateful to the grace of vocation you have received from God, as St. Paul tells you…. Hence you must infer how grateful you should be for the grace of vocation, how faithful to it and how perfect in the fulfillment of your high ministry.”[4]

1.1. Jesus Christ is the model we are to follow if we want to be faithful to our vocation, overcome the difficulties against it, and obtain true apostolic zeal.[5]

The Apostles and the disciples of Jesus Christ also give us an example we should follow.[6]  They were called by God, like us, to work for the salvation of souls throughout the world. They faithfully responded to their call, by carefully complying with the prescriptions of their Divine Master. Undeterred by difficulties, undaunted by threats or sacrifices, or even death, they made their voice resound throughout the world. And having complied with the demands of their vocation, they received the eternal reward that had been promised them.

1.2. Fidelity to one’s vocation transcends the idea of mere permanence in it till death. Being faithful is not just a concept of time, but of quality of life. Fidelity implies that the missionary lead a holy life, that he conform himself with it in accord with its most radical demands and be adorned with the virtues suitable to his vocation.[7]  Furthermore, the mission itself to which he has been called demands that he give witness of gospel life. The missionary, who should be light to the world and salt of the earth for all people, must be a saint. In his life he must be mirror and model of virtues, if he is to represent Christ, give witness to Him and be an instrument of salvation for the whole world.[8]

1.3. The indispensable means to attain fidelity and holiness of life are the exercise of virtues, assiduous prayer and frequency of the Sacraments, fidelity to the vows and observance of the rules. All this will imply “doing violence” upon oneself[9]  and even undergoing persecutions. If this should happen, the best thing is to manifest the situation, without delay, both to the Superior General and to the Prefect, in order to do what seems best.[10]

In a special way, religious obedience is to be placed within the frame of fidelity to vocation. As Fr. Xifré says, the Apostles were faithful to their vocation when, despite the difficulties, they kept the commandments of the Lord.[11]  Once vocation is discerned, the religious must remain faithful to it by being faithful to the congregational project. This implies, among many other things, acts of adhesion and obedience to persons, norms, structures, situations, etc… that are included or presupposed in the project itself. To this end, God, who calls and gives the grace of vocation, grants also to the person called the graces he needs to live in constant fidelity and to carry out the vocational demands, especially in matters of obedience.[12]

2. Vocational Temptations

Many and varied are the temptations that a missionary may experience throughout his life.[13]  However, there is a group of them that spin around the possibilities for a person to realise the vocational project, or its capacity to give a fitting response to God’s call. Taking into consideration, on the one hand, the greatness of the missionary vocation and the radicalism of its commitment and demands and, on the other, the limitations of all kinds that every person finds in itself, it is but normal that doubts, questions, discouragement, lukewarmness, etc… should arise, to call into question one’s fidelity. To these should be added the snares of the enemy who would not cease in his effort to ruin the greatest possible number of vocations.

2.1. One of the main temptations is sadness. It is the source of many evils for the person and, in a special way, for the missionary. In some cases it incapacitates for the ministry, since the Good News cannot be preached with a sad disposition; and in others it causes many to abandon their vocation. Hence the importance of making a serious discernment when the missionary is affected by this temptation.[14]

Sadness is the greatest enemy of the missionary.[15]  And this is so not only because it makes him personally unfit, but also because it hinders his ministry. A sad missionary is a sorry missionary.[16]  This is one of the great temptations, which appears with many faces.[17]

2.2. Another grievous temptation is lukewarmness. Fr. Xifré describes it as “a truly regrettable and highly detrimental evil” and, aware of it, he calls the attention of all the missionaries of the Congregation.[18]

Lukewarmness consists in a languor, negligence, disdain and boredom in the performance of prayer and other spiritual works or practices, easily postponing or omitting them.”[19]  The lukewarm person does not know or live the radicalism of his vocation, and is satisfied with the minimum in the fulfilment of his missionary commitments. He lives entrenched in his mediocre, comfortable and imperfect life. He goes through prayer and the reception of the sacraments reluctantly, out of routine, with no intention of improving or being converted; developing an egocentric tendency, he seeks in his acts only vanity, flattery, prestige, etc.[20]

The lukewarm person lacks a fundamental element for the apostolic mission – apostolic love. For this reason, he “lacks the unction, which is so indispensable for a missionary to move and to convert;” he may be able to please, but will not convince or convert.”[21]

2.3. Pride too, the lack of humility, may endanger vocation, particularly for lack of love for the Congregation and for Superiors. The proud person may lose it because of his lack of affection for the brethren. There are conceited, self-important persons, who despise others and want to become the centre of every one. These persons disdain the orientations of the Congregation[22]  and of the Superiors.[23]  In the long run, they will leave the Congregation, one way or the other.[24]

3. How to Overcome Vocational Temptations

In general, Fr. Xifré exhorts the missionaries to live their vocation with joy, following the advises of the Lord and the example of the Apostles, the first Missionaries; they came out happy because they were able to suffer for the sake of the Gospel.[25]  And he gives the missionaries some concrete, practical orientations to overcome the temptations that assail their vocation. Those orientations may be regrouped in motives for trust and in means.

3.1. Motives for trust

1st. The first is God’s mercy and faithfulness toward us. Even though temptations may be very strong, there is no reason to be discouraged. If we place our trust in God and not in ourselves, we will overcome temptation. God, who is almighty and merciful, is also faithful.[26]

2nd. The second is God’s providence, his way of dealing with humans. God who made prophets strong and victorious will also take care of the missionaries if they live in humility and trust. Just as He promised his disciples when he sent them to preach throughout the world, God has a very special providence over the missionaries and apostolic men.[27]

3.2. Advisable means:

1st. Vocational prayer. Following the orientations given to the persons in probation,[28]  the missionaries should ask the Lord for what they need in health, knowledge and virtue in order to be faithful.[29]

2nd. Renewal of vocational consciousness. In temptations against vocation, when fidelity to it is in crisis, we must turn to God’s call.[30]

3rd. Personal collaboration. The missionaries should do all they can to overcome vocational obstacles; they will have to struggle. They should prudently take care of their health as far as they can. They should make the best use of their intelligence by assiduous and constant application, along with an appropriate methodology.[31]

4th. According to Fr. Xifré, humility is the first means to persevere in one’s vocation.[32]  Humility “is the root and foundation of the other virtues” and, consequently, “it is what you should study and learn before all else.”[33]  Jesus Christ taught it, in word and in deeds, to his disciples. He wanted them to be humble ministers of the Gospel and rebuked them when they boasted of the fruit of their missionary works.

Humility consists in having the right knowledge of oneself. It is being aware of how little we have of our own, and how much, all indeed, we have received from God. It is knowing that all the gifts that God has given to us have been given to be well administered for our welfare and that of others. It is being aware that we have to render an account of them all to Him at the proper time.[34]

Vanity and vainglory are two ridiculous and not at all elegant vices contrary to humility. Sacred Scriptures and the history of the Church confirm that God rejects those who attribute to themselves the glory that belongs only to Him. On the other hand there is no reason to boast about oneself. All the missionary’s good qualities – voice, figure, poise, talent, capacity for work, missionary appeal, etc…, are all God’s gifts. We have received everything from Him, to bear fruit. We have to render an account of everything, as good administrators.[35]

Fr. Xifré proposes several means to obtain humility and overcome the vices that derive from the lack of it (vanity and vainglory). Among these means are: watchfulness over one’s feelings, meditating on the humility of Jesus Christ, asking God for it with confidence, upright intention and offering our actions to God, and the daily examen with repentance and penance for our faults.[36]


II.  Vocational and Formative Documents

1. Vocations

In the same line of the Instrucción importantísima, of which we have already spoken, and with very similar contents, although organised in a different way, the following were published later:

1.1. The Relación interesante del origen y objeto de la Congre­gación de Misioneros Hijos del Inmaculado Corazon de María. Estímulos y requisitos para ingresar en ella, published in 1883.[37]

1.2. And the various editions of the Relación sumaria del Instituto Religioso de los Misioneros Hijos del Inmaculado Corazón de María.[38]

In these vocational documents, initially written by Fr. Xifré and continued by the subsequent Superiors General ,[39]  the requirements for the admission of “minor postulants” and “postulants” are already explicitly and very clearly mentioned.

2. Postulants

2.1. By the year 1876, some children and teenage candidates had already been admitted in the house of Barbastro. Taking this fact into account, and following the suggestion of our Fr. Founder, Fr. Xifré wrote that same year a first Reglamento especial para la admisión de individuos en clase de aspirantes en las Residencias de nuestra Congregación.[40]In this Reglamento Superiors are authorised to admit for a time in their respective houses postulants who possess the qualities and requirements prescribed by the Constitutions in conformity with some concrete instructions.[41]

In this first Reglamento, in addition to authorising the Superiors to admit children in their respective houses, he develops a Rule of Life for the candidates, which constitutes a small formation code: time for rest, prayer and spiritual life, study, and community and domestic services. A Priest from the community, appointed by the Superior and possessing “qualities that are commensurate” to his function, will take charge of the group of postulants. Two pedagogical elements are borne in mind:

1st. Gradualness: “They will be given half an hour guided meditation, suited to their age….”

2nd. And the knowledge of the Congregation, both practical (community life) and theoretical: “There will also be in the evening another conference on the second part of the Constitutions. The postulants should memorise them, and the person-in-charge should give some explanation of the same.”[42]

Once Fr. Xifré opened the Congregation to children and adolescents, he continued systematising this formative stage by means of various Regulations gradually improved and updated.

2.2. Later on, following the orientations of the V General Chapter, as we shall see later, he drafted a Reglamento para los Colegios de nuestra Congregación, which he included in the 1892 edition of the Espíritu de la Congregación.[43]

This Reglamento is a compilation of formative regulations, with a Plan of Studies for the entire career.[44]  It is addressed to all formation centres, not only to the schools of postulants, although the greater part of it is addressed to the latter. Some criteria are given for the admission of postulants and novices and for the expulsion of the former. Regarding age, the postulants must be “below 15 years of age” in order to be admitted. Regarding the novices, they must have a “proven vocation for the religious state and apostolic spirit.”[45]  Emphasis is made on the way of giving the instructions, which should be “totally suitable to their condition and age,” and on fostering piety, respect and love for the Congregation.[46]There is no section or chapter devoted to the superior or formator, but his functions are mentioned throughout the book.

The plan of studies, with its corresponding timetable, prescribes for the postulants four years: two of Latin and two of Humanities; for the students of Philosophy, three; and for those of Theology, four: two of Dogmatic and two of Moral Theology. And following the tradition pioneered by our Fr. Founder,[47]  the study of foreign languages: French, English, Italian and German, is established.[48]

2.3. Lastly, in 1894, he drafted a new Reglamento para los Colegios de Postulantes del Instituto de Misioneros Hijos del Inmaculado Corazón de María.[49]This compilation gathers, amplifies and develops the previous compilations of regulations, although it does not include any plan of studies.[50]  It is a veritable treatise on pedagogy for this formative stage, the fruit of the congregational experience.[51]  These Regulations will be the basis for subsequent regulations.

This is a moment of congregational growth. These regulations aim at giving “uniformity, harmony, order” to the formation of our postulants by means of practical, precise and at times very meticulous norms and very detailed timetables for the various aspects of seminary life.[52] All this, together with the other formative objectives that are indicated, is gradually providing an education towards the acquisition of a quality formation for the apostolic mission.[53]  Therefore, formators must aim all their efforts at helping postulants achieve the formative objective of this stage in the physical, intellectual and spiritual order.[54]

1st. In this line, in addition to physical, moral and intellectual formation, postulants must acquire the spirit of piety and recollection by means of some common forms of prayer (specified in the Claretian “Directory”) and other particular ones (the traditional “particular devotions”). Piety, in keeping with the tradition of the Congregation, should specifically cultivate the love for the Eucharist, the Heart of Mary (fondly called “our Mother”) and the Saints, through typically Claretian means (Mass, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary, novenas, etc.) The postulants, in their prayer, should pray for the superiors of the Congregation, for their fellow seminarians and for the increase of vocations.

2nd. There are references to the duties of the Superior and articles especially dedicated to the formators (Prefects, Professors and Auxiliaries), all aimed at clearly describing their respective functions and competencies. And, in order to co-ordinate, renew and stimulate, there is mention also of the “monthly Assemblies” which should be held, as their name indicates, once a month, after the local chapter.

a)  The Prefect has several functions: In order adequately to discharge them, besides faithfully keeping the regulations, he must pray much, particularly to the Heart of Mary.[55]  It is he who gives orientation toward the integral formation of the postulants.[56]  He must care for the physical health of his charges and especially “he must be more solicitous toward them if any should fall ill.” Together with the other formators, he must watch over the study and academic proficiency of the postulants. With great care he must see to it that they are formed, from the time of their admission to the Seminary, in the spirit of a true and solid piety. He must instruct them in Christian doctrine, in moral and sacramental life, in the religious vocation and the demands it entails, as well as in good manners. He must also watch, personally or through others, over the progress of the formation centre and the behaviour of the candidates in the different stages of their life. However, the most important function of the Prefect of postulants is “forming their heart well” toward the practice of virtues.[57]

The pedagogy should be gradual. The act of the meditation and homily on Sundays and holy days should be suitable to their needs and capacity. Furthermore, the Prefect should develop a personalised pedagogy, adapted to each one of the postulants. He should urge them always to act according to their conscience, out of love and fear of the Lord, and never out of fear or human respect. He should periodically dialogue with each one of them: in addition to the instructions he must give to the group about some specific matters, he should offer them personal instructions according to the needs and conditions of each one.[58]

b)  The Coadjutor or Auxiliary Priests should form a team with the Prefect, by working together in concert of feelings and action. Thus they should live in “harmony” with him, share “with him the same feeling and will as regards the functioning of the seminary” and must have “in everything one and the same vision with the Rev. Fr. Prefect, in order to obtain concert of action and complete harmony.”[59]

c)  Professors, over and above their academic qualification and preparation, must be “very spiritual.” Always and in everything they must foster “the spirit of piety, the respect and love for the Congregation” and should be extremely understanding towards those most in need, and help them with true “zeal and patience.”

3. Novices

3.1. Organisation of the First Novitiates

The first noviciates of the Congregation went through several changes in their installation and organisation as well as in their formation program. Until the year 1888,when the noviciate was established in Cervera, there were noviciates mainly in Vich, Prades, Thuir and Gracia, and again in Vich. There were two types of noviciate in two separate sections: one for priests and students and another one for adjutant brothers. From the formation point of view, the novice brothers, with their master, lived together with the professed brothers; and the novice priests and students constituted only one section with the professed students, under one formator, who was at the same time novicemaster and prefect of students. Furthermore, the novice students, during the period of their noviciate, took up the ecclesiastical studies simultaneously with the activities proper for the year of probation.[60]  On several occasions there were attempts to modify this latter situation, which was not completely and not always acceptable.[61]

The scarcity of personnel on one hand, and the uncertainties of installation due to the forced changes of location on the other, precluded a more adequate formative organisation. However, with the reorganisation of the formation centres and the transfer of the noviciate for students and that for brothers to Cervera in 1888, the situation changed.[62]

3.2. Pedagogical Treatise for the Novices

In 1888 the pedagogical treatise Prácticas Espirituales para uso de los novicios de la Congregación was published.[63] Although it does not appear in the edition, it is a work written by Fr. Vallier, by order of Fr. Xifré. It follows very closely the one written by Fr. Idiáquez, SJ., for the Jesuit novices, although it is adapted in keeping with the spirit of the Congregation.[64]

This work, as Fr. Raymond Ribera says, has yielded much fruit for the Congregation and has been, after the Constitutions, “the mould in which the majority of the Missionaries that today make up the Congregation have been formed.”[65]

On the other hand, even though the source was a treatise for the Jesuit novices, however, it is reoriented and enriched with Claretian sources and references taken from the Constitutions, Fr. Xifré’s The Spirit of the Congregation and the congregational tradition. It is also worth underscoring the broad and intense Marian character that permeates the book, because of the many references it makes to the Blessed Virgin, perfectly in consonance with the Claretian spirit.

The aim of the book is to draft and present a compendium of the practices from which abundant fruits of formation and vocational perseverance are to be expected, provided that the Novices form “a holy habit.” It attempts to arouse in them a habit of thinking and doing that will allow them to centre their life on the straight path of religious life, train themselves with ease in the virtues proper of their state, act with reflection and depth, and overcome the difficulties of life. Above all, the book aims at helping the novices do everything in union with Christ, until they reach a perfect imitation of Him, of his works and of his manner and style of doing and behaving.[66] The treatise, although abounding in practical, very detailed and meticulous suggestions, it has the great value of taking the Word of the God of the Gospel and the example of Jesus as reference points for the acquisition of the religious customs and habits.

1st. The aim of the Noviciate is that the novice may embody the definition of the Claretian Missionary, as a Son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This is why the definition is placed at the beginning of the work, so that the novice may see where he is going and what he is after. Therefore, he should read and meditate it in order to assimilate it and keep it always in sight when he performs all the other practices of the Noviciate.[67]  In this way, the definition of the Missionary, Son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, should, as it were, give shape to the entire formative process of the novices. In the final analysis, the novice should have from the start a clear idea of the fact that his is a missionary vocation and he must be formed in a missionary and apostolic key.[68]

2nd. Formation must be personalised. One of the aims of the treatise is helping the novices act and behave always and habitually from their own innermost personality, reflectively assimilating the formative values they receive and overcoming routine and banality.[69]  Every practice of obedience and all help, whether personal[70]  or in community, that the novice may receive from outside should not be prejudicial to his personal formation. On the contrary, the novice must get used to act “with presence of spirit, pondering what he is doing” and doing “everything for God and according to God.”[71]

3rd. The instructions to the novices should occupy a relevant place. As a typical “community act” they should have the so-called “Memory lesson,” the object of which was to foster piety and exercise memory during the year of probation.[72]  Also important are the attitudes and dispositions that had to be developed in study with a missionary outlook, since “all these things, if they are well explained and understood, will be useful in time for the ministry of the salvation of souls.”[73]

4th. Among the attitudes and virtues, a few may be highlighted:

a)  Humility, which is a virtue inherent to the life of the novice and should last for life.[74]  Prayer, services rendered to others and manual tasks should be done with a humble spirit; with humility temptations can be easily overcome, etc…[75]  The final goal is to identify oneself with the definition of the Missionary, the contents of which describe the third degree of humility, the highest degree one can aspire to.[76]

b)  The zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of souls should be a continuous goal of any missionary and, therefore, “as early as the noviciate he should direct his prayers to this end.”[77]  In effect, from the very first moment of the day, by offering all his works to God, by praying and participating in the Eucharist,[78]  the novice must think that he is performing the most important act of the whole day.[79]

c)  The spirit of prayer, like the search for the glory of God, is present throughout all the Prácticas Espirituales. The gospel text that is proposed as reference for the concrete activities, creates in the novices a climate of faith and union with God by means of intentions, affections, desires and resolutions. And in order to revise and strengthen this climate, particular examinations on God’s presence[80] and inner recollection[81] are prescribed.

4. Professed Brothers

In general, the Constitutions and the Directory were, as we already said in the previous chapter, the basic book used for the instruction and technical formation of the brothers in the first years.[82]

Fr. Clotet wrote a more complete and organised program in 1886 with the title Conferencias de los hermanos ayudantes.[83]  It was divided in three sections: 1st. reading, writing, arithmetic and orthography; 2nd. catechism, practice of virtues, pious exercises and practice of the sacraments of confession and communion; 3rd. good performance of domestic offices. The Fr. Minister or another priest assigned by the Superior for this purpose were to give the conferences, following a quarterly distribution.[84]

5. Professed Students and Professors

5.1. The formative aspects of the professed students were regulated at the beginning in the Reglamentos for postulants and in the Prácticas Espirituales of the novices. These Regulations served also as formative guidelines in their fundamental points, together with the Constitutions (which had included Fr. Founder’s Regulations), the Chapter Dispositions in their corresponding parts, the orientations of Fr. General and the traditions of the formation centres.[85]

5.2. Fr. Clotet, with the approval of Fr. General, published in 1886 a Reglamento para los estudios eclesiásticos de los Hijos de Inmaculado Corazón de María.[86] In order to succeed in studies, says Fr. Clotet, we need a set of Regulations that may foster uniformity in teaching and the advancement of the students. Hence it is proper to fix the subject matters, authors, calendar, schedule and methodology, both in teaching and in learning.[87]

5.3. Fr. Xifré, on 3 November 1889, wrote for our formation centres a booklet entitled Avisos importantes a los profesores de los colegios.[88]  Although, as he himself says, “we have not pretended to write a pedagogical treatise,” nevertheless, the advices constitute a body of very practical, useful and pedagogical instructions to discharge the very important office of Professor.”[89]  These instructions are very much in line with our Claretian spirit, with our apostolic mission and with the guidelines of the Constitutions. There are two types of instructions: some are general, for any professor who acts as such; others are special, specifically related to the priestly studies. We will focus our attention on some points of the first group.

1st. Being a professor is a “very important task” and should be valued as such. More than a task, “it is an office and a very meritorious ministry,” “rather than angelical, it is most divine,” since it shapes the intelligence and the heart of the youth. A Son of the Heart of Mary should not forget that he is a “religious” professor and consequently he must act animated by a religious and missionary spirit.[90]  For this reason, in the exercise of his mission the professor must be humble, should always act with an upright intention and follow the directives of the Superiors.[91]0

2nd. To be a worthy professor, with a view to forming the intelligence, he should have a scientific and pedagogical preparation:

a)  a scientific preparation implies “a serious and profound study” and the actualisation of the subject matters, previous to the classes he is to impart.[92]

b)  a pedagogical preparation presupposes motivation in the professor (“teaching with concern”), making himself intelligible to the student (“bringing teaching down to earth” for better understanding), promoting interest for the subject matter (“making instruction pleasant”) and using an adequate methodology (“teaching with method”).[93]

3rd. In order to be a professor-educator, with a view to forming the hearts of the youth, he should:

a)  “moralise,” that is, season his teaching and the subject matters with the salt of devotion and love of God. There are many ways to do it fittingly, but “the first and the main means of moralisation is the example of the Teacher,” that is to say, the witness of life.[94]

b)  have a “courteous manner,” that is, be an educated person in his relationships with all, students, professors, prefects and parents both in the classroom and out of it. In this way he will be an example to imitate for his students and a missionary for the laity, drawing them to faith.[95]

c)  “correct” the students sensibly, that is taking into consideration “the quality of the person corrected, the issue of the correction, the time and the manner of the same.”[96]

5.4. In order to complete the pedagogical guidelines given to the professors, Fr. Xifré wrote, on 20 December 1889, the Avisos importantes a los Estudiantes Profesos de la Congregación de Misioneros Hijos del Corazón de María.[97] The advices aim at urging the students to devote themselves to study intensely and competently. First, it speaks about the obligation of the student to study and then it tells him how to do it.[98]

1st. The obligation to study is based on obedience, on justice, on holiness (religious perfection), on the apostolic mission (apostolic ministry) and the good of the Congregation and of the Church.[99]

a)  In fulfilling the obligation of studying, the student finds fulfilment as a perfect religious achieving the holiness to which he has committed himself. Studying is a fundamental dimension of his life. Without study, the student will not prepare himself adequately for the apostolic ministry, and this will bring disastrous consequences in the future.

b)  Through study, the students must seek the good of the Congregation, “toward whom we must profess a love like that of a son for his mother.” Now then, this good, fruit of one’s love for the Congregation, will not be attained if the student becomes inept for lack of knowledge and for lack of application to the study that his missionary vocation demands from him.[100]

c)  Ignorant priests and missionaries are extremely pre­judicial to the Church. They hurt it much in the ministry, encourage its enemies and foster the expansion of pernicious doctrines.

d)  Fr. Xifré dedicates also some reflections to “dispel pretexts and sophisms born of amour propre” about study. These were common ideas in the ambient of the time, which could do much harm to the students.[101]

2nd. It is not enough to study. One must know how to do it.[102]  Paraphrasing Seneca’s saying about the lazy person, “nihil agendo, aliud agendo, male agendo” [doing nothing, doing something else, doing it badly], the student should study “because God wants it, what God wants and in the way God wants[103] Therefore:

a)  One must study with upright intention. This intention must be frequently examined and straightened.

b)  One must study with motivation (“with interest”), with good methodology (“with a good distribution and approach”) and making good use of all the available time.

c)  One should not study things that are useless, beyond one’s strength, or against obedience.

d)  When health or talent are lacking, in principle, one should not be discouraged. It is necessary to keep on fighting and to put one’s trust in God and in the Congregation.

Finally, an interesting reference to profane sciences. The missionary heart of Fr. Xifré, undoubtedly influenced by Fr. Founder’s ample vision in this field, understood that, although the sacred sciences deserve a preferential attention, the profane sciences should not be neglected.[104]

Besides the fact that sacred sciences are better understood in connection with the profane ones, faith and the light of the Gospel can be more adequately transmitted when one knows the person who is to be evangelised, its ideas, its culture, its way of life. This tradition has been present in the Church since St. Paul and the church fathers.[105]


III. General Chapters[106]

1. IV General Chapter. Gracia 1876[107]

The Chapter did not deal with any important matter related to the vocational and formative theme. Interpreting n. 28 of the Constitutions, there is a small indication on how to awaken in the morning the members of large communities, such as Noviciates and Seminaries, and this is left to the criterion of the Superior.[108]

2. V General Chapter. Madrid 1888[109]

Among the various themes related to vocations and formation, one may emphasise:

2.1. Postulants

The Chapter asks[110]  that the postulants be diligently examined before they enter the Congregation, in order to ascertain if they possess the qualities prescribed by our Constitutions.[111]  The formative regime of the postulants should be different from that of the novices and professed even though, for special reasons they may have to live together with them;[112]  for this reason it is deemed necessary to begin the reform of the regulations for postulants.[113]  It is very important to discern well the “character and behaviour” of the candidates in such a way as not to approve the entrance to the noviciate of those who do not give signs of “vocation and good spirit.”[114]

2.2. Novices

Once the building of the ex-University of Cervera is acquired, the Noviciate will be finally separated from the scholasticate and the postulancy. In this way it will be able to have the independence required by Church law.[115]  Emphasis is made on the need of exerting “utmost care and effort” in the discernment and vocational screening of the novices. To this end, the Superior and the Novicemaster are required:

1st. To observe the temperament and inclinations of the novices; their submission, piety and perseverance; their reactions in humiliations and in the recreations, etc…

2nd. To correct the defects they observe. If no favourable changes take place, they should “kindly and with good manners” persuade the novices to abandon the Congregation.

3rd. Lastly, to apply the questionnaire prescribed in the Congregation, which is based on what the Constitutions say about the qualities that the novices should have.[116]

2.3. Coadjutor Brothers

Among other things, the Chapter speaks on the formation of brothers. In principle, the conferences prescribed in the Constitutions[117]  should be given normally.

However, in the houses and residences where there are few brothers, they will be given only “conferences on Christian doctrine, how to make the spiritual exercises well and receive the holy Sacraments fruitfully, and on the observance of the Rules.” It is left to the Superior, in agreement with the General Government, to determine the number and the duration of the conferences.[118]

2.4. Teaching Apostolate

After asserting the convenience and the necessity to have always in the Congregation persons prepared for the ministry of teaching, the Chapter decreed:

1st. That this preparation be fostered by all possible means.

2nd. That classes of Pedagogy be organised and personnel be selected among Students and Brothers to enrol in them.

3rd. That, if the need arises, the appropriate titles or degrees be given them at the proper time, as well as the most reputable and recommended authors.

4th. In the last analysis, “that efforts should be painstakingly made so that the education given in our seminaries and the noviciate, as well as in our primary schools, be as perfect as possible.”[119]

2.5. Some Formative Criteria

1st. On the Visits to our Formation Centres

During the year of noviciate, the novices should not receive visits of any type. The postulants, students and brothers, outside exceptional cases, only once a week, concretely, on Thursdays in the morning.[120]

2nd. On the Works of the Professors

Normally, the professors of our boarding and non-boarding schools, are “completely excused from preaching and hearing confessions,” since they should dedicate themselves full time to prepare themselves well for the classes.”[121]

3rd. On Provincialism

Taking into consideration the great evils caused to religious life by both provincialism and nationalism, the Chapter laments the fact that “this darnel has been sown into our field” and calls the attention so that this evil, “source of many others,” may be eradicated. Concretely, it charges the Novicemasters and all Superiors to exert “extreme care” in the following:

a)  By word and by example, promoting among the brothers, “the spirit of humility and detachment, of self-denial and apostolic charity.

b)  Zealously and prudently watching and correcting them so that “such a calamity” may not spread among us.

c)  Lastly, without consideration of any kind, denouncing to the General Government those who promote this evil.[122]

3. VI Extraordinary General Chapter. Cervera 1895[123]

3.1. Admission of Candidates

In the future no novice should be admitted to the profession if his parents are poor and are in need of his help.[124]  Regarding health, the postulants, upon entering the Congregation, should present a certificate of health. Moreover, it is especially recommended that they be “examined again before entering the Noviciate,” in order to discover any hereditary sicknesses that have at times been fatal.[125]

3.2. Formation of Students

The Chapter strongly requests that the Superiors of our centres “continue watching so that in every place there may be the befitting cleanliness and ventilation.”[126]  In the same way, because of the death of several students, the Chapter urges the Superiors and, more immediately, the Prefects:

1st. Not to allow the students to go to extremes like studying during rest time, writing for longer periods than what is proper, etc…[127]

2nd. To strive to prevent in the students excesses in running, making violent movements, drinking “something cold when they are perspiring,” humidity and draughts, etc….[128]

3.3. Criteria for Admission and Formation of Brother[129]

1st. As a general rule, those who have not reached the age of 15 should not be admitted as aspirant brothers.

2nd. The aspirants, before being accepted, should have been tried “in the virtues more essential to the Religious state.”

3rd. It is necessary to ascertain very well their health condition. Therefore, in addition to the certificate of good health that they should bring upon entering the Congregation, they must again be examined by another physician.

4th. In case of doubt at the time of profession, the noviciate of the novice brothers may be extended for a period of six more months. At the end of this period, they are to be either accepted, or “irrevocably dismissed.”

5th. Both the Fr. Minister and the Novicemaster of the Brothers should “painstakingly avoid” the relationships between the professed and the novices. If a professed brother need be assigned to guide the novice brothers in mechanical works, then some observant persons should be chosen for the task, who could “be for the novices a source of edification and not of spiritual ruin.”

3.4. Formators

1st. Prefect of Students

The Chapter interprets the text of the Constitutions that says that the prefects should not assign excessively long lessons to the students.[130]  Although this is the professors’ responsibility, the prefects should dialogue with them about this matter so as not to harm the health of the young missionaries.[131]

2nd. Professors

Attention is called to the professors of our seminaries and of our communities (lecturers of on-going formation) so that they may perform the function entrusted to them with “utmost care”.[132]

3rd. Local Ministers

It belongs to the Priest Ministers, as true formators and persons-in-charge of the brothers, to grant the permissions to go out of the house or have an outing.[133]

3.5. Some Formative Criteria

1st. On Prayer According to the Constitutions

N. 88 of the Constitutions[134]  is adequately interpreted by affirming that the Superior of the formation centres must see to it that all, Professed and Novices, “get abundant fruit from the spiritual practices.” To this effect, the practices designated should be the most suitable to the different sections.[135]

2nd. On the Monthly Account of Conscience

According to the Constitutions,[136]  the monthly account that should be sponte [voluntarily] given to the superior and the confessor “is not binding but directive.” Nevertheless, taking into account its importance for one’s spiritual and vocational life, the Chapter “cannot help strongly recommending this blessed practice. At the same time it encourages the preachers of our Communities to extol its excellence befittingly, and gently to exhort to the practice of this important Rule.”[137]

3rd. On Studies

The textbooks for our centres, even against what some professor or superior might think, should be those published by our Congregation, keeping in mind the economy, the uniformity and the interest of the Congregation.[138]  The Chapter also calls the attention of the students for the criticisms against the professors or the authors of the text designated by the Congregation, and asks them to be “very respectful and humble” in this matter.[139]

As regards the teaching of languages, instead of doing it during the Grammar years, it should be done during the Philosophy studies. In this way the postulants will be able to study more Latin, which is “the basis of the ecclesiastical sciences.”[140]

4th. On the Ministries of the Local Ministers.

In a manner similar to what was established for the professors in the previous General Chapter, the local Ministers, who are the persons-in-charge of the brothers, will normally abstain from hearing confessions of outsiders, so that they can adequately dedicate themselves to their formation.[141]

3.6. Causes for the Expulsion of Novices

The Chapter makes explicit and explains in detail the authentic meaning of the causes for dismissal of the novices,[142]  as they appear in our Constitutions.[143]

In cases when the novices, while not included in any of the causes for expulsion, live in the service of God in a lukewarm, remiss or apathetic manner, the Novicemaster should help them by all possible means to get out of this doubtful situation. As a general criterion, “no novice should come to the end of the noviciate while remaining in this state of doubt or indifference;” he should come out clear before the end of the probation year.[144]

Regarding the expulsions of the novices, the Novicemaster should periodically inform the immediate superiors, as well as during the visitation.[145]

3.7. Causes for the Expulsion of the Professed

The Chapter also amply lingered[146]  in the clarification of some causes for expulsion of the professed. In the same way it dealt on the process to be followed, according to the Constitutions[147]  and according to the Decree Auctis admodum, promulgated by the Congregation for Bishops and Regulars in 1892 regarding the expulsion of the professed ordained in sacris.[148]

4. VII Extraordinary General Chapter. Santo Domingo


4.1. Admission and Expulsion of Postulants

The local superiors, delegated by the provincial superiors, will be responsible for the admission and expulsion of the postulants, following the prevailing norm until the present moment.[150]

4.2. Hygiene Norms

The Chapter ratifies and again recommends what was said and discussed in the previous Chapter and encourages the Superiors, Ministers, Prefects and Novicemasters to continue observing the hygiene norms that were given to this effect.[151]

4.3. Responsibilities of the Local Ministers

The Chapter recommends to the ministers, persons-in-charge of the formation of the brothers, to acquaint themselves with their duties, as they are presented in the Constitutions and other dispositions; also that, regarding the prescribed conferences, they should follow what was prescribed in the General Chapter of Madrid.[152]


IV. General Dispositions

In the year 1897 the aforementioned summary of the “dispositions, orders and advises” emanated from the General Chapters and from the circulars of Fr. Xifré in alphabetical order was published.[153]  The book presents, in a synthetic and systematic manner, the pastoral and formative guidelines and the juridical directives of the life of the Congregation “from the beginning of our canonical existence,” which were widely scattered in various publications. It is a very practical and pedagogical book, since it helps find easily whatever is needed about matters one is dealing with. It would become the seed of the General Dispositions of subsequent years and of the C.I.A., and the basis of our congregational law.

1. J. XIFRÉ, circular on Ser fieles a la vocación [Being faithful to one’s vocation]: Anales, 3 (1891), pp. 245-255. It is also found in COLECCIÓN DE CIRCULARES, Madrid 1941, pp. 866, in pp. 209-220. In this and in subsequent cases, the quotations will be made according to this book, under the abbreviation ColCC.

[2] J. XIFRÉ, Espíritu de la Congregación de Misioneros Hijos del Inmaculado Corazón de María (E.C.) [Spirit of the Congregation of Missionaries, Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary], Madrid 1892, pp. 235.

[3] J. XIFRÉ, Ib., ColCC., p. 209; also in E.C., pp. 35-36.

[4] J. XIFRÉ, E.C., PP. 35-36.

“The word vocation is not a vague or fantastic word. It entails duties, means and promises or threats, in accordance with our correspondence” (Ib., ColCC., p. 209).

[5] “Jesus Christ our Lord, who is the way, the truth and the life; Jesus Christ our Lord, who called and sends us, as the Father sent Him; Jesus Christ our Lord must be our model, our teacher, our physician, our Father, friend and refuge. Let us imitate him. Let us follow his advice, his counsels, his examples. Let us give faithful witness to him, by fervently and faithfully preaching his doctrines. Like true disciples of his, let us bravely embrace his cross, living only with him, and dying to the world, to our families, to our country and to ourselves” (J. XIFRÉ, Ib., ColCC., p. 219).

“My dear Brothers, accept the cup that so many others have drunk, especially Jesus Christ, our divine Master; rejoice when you are persecuted” (J. XIFRÉ, E.C., P. 36).

[6] “(…) Remember that you should not pretend to be better than the prophets, the Apostles and Jesus Christ himself. All of them suffered, endured and lovingly embraced hunger, thirst, scourges, torments, death, (…)” (J. XIFRÉ, E.C., p. 36).

[7] “But, my very dear Brothers, remaining in one’s vocation is not enough; we must live it well (…). The name of Missionary is of no avail if one is not endowed with the virtues proper of a good Missionary” (J. XIFRÉ, ColCC., p. 213).

[8] “By virtue of our ministry we must be light of the world and salt of the earth. Unless we corroborate these qualities by our holiness, we will be good for nothing except to be rejected and trampled on by others (…)” (FR. XIFRÉ, Ib., ColCC., p. 213).

“Now then, by reason of his profession, of his lofty ministry and very high office, the Missionary is bound to give witness to Christ, to represent Him fittingly and to seek the salvation and sanctification of all. He should be a mirror and a model of virtues according to the aforementioned Council (Trent); he should be irreproachable and a paragon of perfection, otherwise he will not attain or fulfil the aim of his vocation. He will lose himself and will cause a like detriment to others” (Ib., ColCC., p. 214).

[9] “Beloved Brothers: it is essential for the Missionary to be an exemplar and a model of all virtues. But to attain this, one must use violence upon oneself; it is necessary to subject one’s inclinations, even the good ones. It is very important to subordinate our will and to submit our judgement to those who take the place of God. You know it and you preach it” (Ib., ColCC., p. 218).

[10] J. XIFRÉ, E.C., p. 36.

[11] “The apostles faithfully co-operated with their vocation by accurately following the prescriptions of their Divine Master” (J. XIFRE, Ib., ColCC., p. 210).

“Undeterred by difficulties, undaunted by threats or sacrifices, or even death, they made their voice resound throughout the world. And having complied with the demands of their vocation, they received the eternal reward that had been promised them” (Ib.).

[12] “We then, my dear brothers, have been blessed with the divine vocation, the object of which is here expressed. The means to attain it are already indicated; and although, according to the theologians and Church Fathers, vocation is not directly obligatory, indirectly it is so. According to the same, God gives to each one the spirit of the state for which he is chosen, and prepares for him the helps and graces needed for the discharge of the duties inherent to it” (J. XIFRÉ, ColCC., p. 210).

[13] “My dear Brothers: you know very well that life in this world is a continuous war; that in the state of fallen nature, it is not possible to live without temptations (…). Jesus Christ suffered them, the saints had them (…). Jesus Christ permits them in order to purify us (…)” (J. XIFRÉ, E.C., p. 37).

[14] Cf. J. XIFRÉ, E.C., pp. 71-74.

[15] “The greatest enemy a Missionary can have is sadness” (J. XIFRÉ, E.C., p. 74.

[16] “A sad person makes virtue annoying, makes itself unfit for everything and exposes itself to all dangers and sins (…). (Sadness) is dangerous (…), intolerable in a missionary: you must preach virtue with its characteristic aspects of kindliness, appeal and joy; and this would not be possible if you are sad” (J. XIFRÉ, E.C., p. 71).

[17] “(Sadness is) the weapon that Lucifer will use to tempt you and make you turn back (…). If you should ever be assailed by sadness, remember that sadness with anxiety, depression or mistrust never comes from God” (J. XIFRÉ, E.C., p. 72). About the faces of sadness, cf. pp. 72-74.

[18] “We feel obliged to strongly call your attention over this matter, because it is so easy to fall into it and because of the sad effects it could have in the Missionary” (J. XIFRÉ, E.C., p. 39).

[19] J. XIFRÉ, E.C., p. 40.

[20] Cf. J. XIFRÉ, E.C., p. 40.

[21] Cf. J. XIFRÉ, E.C., p. 40.

[22] “Conceited because of their alleged knowledge, and humility being unknown to them, they despise others and pretend to be acclaimed by all as if they were oracles. Hence they look with disdain upon counsels, sermons and even the Constitutions. Such improper behaviour is more than enough evidence that such a person lives in the Congregation only in his bodi, but his heart is somewhere else, he is possessed by the enemy of his soul. As a fitting punishment for such pernicious conduct, he will soon leave or will be expelled from the Institute in which he should have been saved” (J. XIFRÉ, ColCC., p. 216).

[23] “The bottom line is these persons are only imbued with pride, disaffection, antipathy and antagonism towards authority. They cannot tolerate subjection or being inferior to anyone” (J. XIFRÉ, ColCC., p. 216).

“O pride, to what extremes you can lead! Moved by it, they keep on complaining, always under guise of zeal, and bemoaning the conduct or behaviour of Superiors, making use of any pretext to make them hateful. And what pains us most is that criticisms have been made about important matters even in Superiors who, by their behaviour and good qualities, have deserved the trust of the General Government” (Ib., ColCC., p. 217).

[24] The V General Chapter, celebrated in Madrid in 1888, dealt with the expulsions and apostasies of recent years. Among the several causes that may have originated them, the Chapter presents gossips and criticisms against Superiors and their dispositions, and the lack of true humility manifested in the lack of detachment regarding tasks and assignments. Recommended remedies are the exercise of indifference and the spirit of humility and detachment (Cf. V GENERAL CHAPTER, session 3, 10 June, AG CMF: AD, 1, 22).

[25] You should do the same, dearest Brothers; rejoice always in the Lord: in slanders, in calumnies and affronts, in persecutions, in works and sufferings, in sickness and in death itself. Be filled with joy because Jesus makes you partakers of his chalice, and worthy to suffer something for his sake. This, dearest Brothers, is one of the counsels I give you, which I wish you would never forget. Be joyful…, with a joy that emanates from virtue” (J. XIFRÉ, E.C., pp. 70-71).

[26] “But someone might say that they (the temptations) are very strong, most dangerous, and one is bound to consent. Brothers, the fact that they are strong and dangerous is no reason to lose heart. Otherwise, tell me: do you trust in God or in yourselves to overcome? If the first, I will tell you that God is all powerful to deliver you (…); understand that God is faithful not to allow you to be tempted beyond the grace and strength He wants to give you. If you trust in yourselves, I will tell you that, even should the temptation be less serious, you would fall into it” (J. XIFRÉ, E.C. p. 38).

[27] “The work to which you are called is indeed great (…) but you should not lose heart. God made Moses and Joshua so strong and always victorious, He made Gideon so powerful (…), his Providence always watches over those who fight for his cause, as do the Missionaries whom God has never abandoned when they lived in humility and trust. This same God will be with us, will help us in our enterprises, will judge our cause” (J. XIFRÉ, E.C., p. 67).

“God our Lord has always rebuked distrust, to such an extent that he could not tolerate it even in his disciples; thus he always strongly condemned it. This should not surprise us, because distrust wounds God’s providence and goodness, and therefore the offence we give by it is greater” (Ib., p. 68).

Regarding health, “The God who gives them (second causes) direction and movement, has a very particular providence over the Missionaries. We can see it by the promises he made to his disciples when he sent them to preach, and by what we read in the history of great apostolic men” (Ib., p. 73).

[28] Cr. our Chap. 1, Xifré, 2.2.

[29] Therefore, Brothers, trust in God and be strengthened. Do not worry about your lack of knowledge. Study as much as you can. Ask God for it, and be sure that it will be granted to you, as He has promised: Si quis indiget sapientia, postulet a Deo, qui dat omnibus affluenter” [Should anyone lack knowledge, let him ask for it from God, who gives to all abundantly] (J. XIFRÉ, E.C., p. 67).

[30] “Therefore, if temptation ever assails you; if the enemy attracts and entices you to give up in the enterprise (…) do not be dismayed, (…) remember then the grace of vocation (…)” (J. XIFRÉ, E.C., p. 36).

[31] “Therefore, Brothers, trust in God and be strengthened. Do not worry about your lack of knowledge. Study as much as you can, (…)” (J. XIFRÉ, E.C., p. 67).

[32] To the question: Which are the efficacious means to persevere in it (in one’s vocation)?, Fr. Xifré answers: “1st. Profound humility, making frequent acts of this virtue” (Cf. J. XIFRÉ, E.C., Part II, p. 164).

[33] J. XIFRÉ, E.C., p. 74.

[34] “They do not belong to us, but to God, so that we can carry out our salvation and that of others, and we will have to render strict account of the use we have made of them” (J. XIFRÉ, E.C., p. 76).

[35] Cf. J. XIFRÉ, E.C., pp. 76-77.

[36] Cf. J. XIFRÉ, E.C., pp. 76-77.

In view of the importance that Fr. Xifré attaches to humility, root of all virtues and safeguard of vocation, it is not surprising to note that, directly or indirectly, he speaks of it on many occasions (Cf. circulars in E.C., Part II, pp. 37, 92, 94, 98, 99, 107, 112, 113, 127, 133, 137, 139, 164).

[37] J. XIFRÉ, Relación interesante del origen y objeto de la Congregación de Misioneros Hijos del Inmaculado Corazon de María. Estímulos y requisitos para ingresar en ella [Interesting Account of the origin and aim of the Congregation of Missionaries, Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Stimuli and requirements to enter into it], Barcelona (Gracia) 1883, pp. 4; AG CMF: BE, 13, 1, 1.

[38] J. XIFRÉ, Relación sumaria del Instituto Religioso de los Misioneros Hijos del Inmaculado Corazón de María [Summary Account of the Religious Institute of the Missionaries Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary], Madrid 1891, AG CMF: BA, 2, 28, 1; Madrid 1895, AG CMF: BA, 2, 28, 22.

[39] Cf. M. ALSINA, Aranda de Duero 1908, AG CMF: BE, 13, 1,5; Madrid 1920, AG CMF: BE, 13, 1,4.

[40] J. XIFRÉ, Reglamento especial para la admisión de individuos en clase de aspirantes en las Residencias de nuestra Congregación [Special Regulations for the Admission of Candidates as Aspirants in the Houses of our Congregation] Thuir, 17 January 1876: manuscript in AG CMF: CF, 8, 1, 15b. It was also published by Fr. John Postíus in the magazine Iris de Paz, n. 1645, January 1929, pp. 7-8.

[41] “2nd. The admission of 12-year old boys is authorised if they can read and write well, show good character, and are healthy and talented: boys below that age will not be admitted, unless they have, in addition, some extraordinary talent (…). 3rd. Those who at age 15 would have to begin Latin will only be accepted as Coadjutor Brothers, unless they have extraordinary virtue and talent” (J. XIFRÉ, Reglamento especial…, 1876, pp. 1-2).

The house of Barbastro had earlier organised Latin courses for some children and teenagers. The first Postulant schools of Barbastro, Alagón and Segovia were formally established in 1876 (Cf. M. AGUILAR, Historia de la Congregación de Misioneros Hijos del I. Corazón de María, I, Barcelona 1901, ch. XVI, p. 583; C. FERNÁNDEZ, La Congregación de los Hijos del Inmaculado Corazón de María, Compendio Histórico, I, Madrid 1967, ch. XXVI, pp. 862 ff).

[42] Cf. J. XIFRÉ, Reglamento especial…. 1876, pp 2-3.

[43] “(…) in conformity with what was established in the General Chapter celebrated in Madrid in 1888, and after consultation with the General Consultors, the Prefects, Masters and Professors of the aforesaid schools, we have decided to present to you the attached Regulations and Plan of Studies, hoping that, with your well known zeal and love for the Congregation, you will gladly receive them and willingly lend yourselves to keep them faithfully” (J. XIFRÉ, Reglamento para los Colegios de nuestra Congregación [Regulations for the Schools of our Congregation], in E.C., Madrid 1892, pp. 217-229).

[44] Cf. Ib., pp 220-221.

[45] Cf. Ib., pp 217-218.

[46] “In the scientific aspect as well as in all the rest, the spirit of piety, respect and love for the Congregation should be fostered, even in the explanations and questions about the same disciplines” (Ib., p. 225).

[47] Many times our Fr. Founder recalled the necessity of studying foreign languages in order to widen the evangelising action of the Missionaries. This he suggested in the first Plan of Studies for major seminaries that he drafted for the Congregation, and in the formative Regulations, as we saw in the first chapter.

[48] On Thursdays and Sundays, “French should be studied during the first and second years and English during the third and fourth years. The study of Italian is recommended rather than German, when the circumstances permit it” (Ib., pp. 221-226)

[49] San Francisco de Sales Press, Madrid 1894.

[50] J. XIFRÉ, Reglamento para los Colegios de Postulantes del Instituto de Misioneros Hijos del Inmaculado Corazón de María [Regulations for the Schools of Postulants of the Institute of Missionaries Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary], Madrid 1894, AG CMF: 11, 4, 22, op. 100, p. 29.

[51] “(…) we have prayed, we have observed and we have heard the opinion of many of our brothers so that nothing would be lacking in the present regulations, according the idea and plan we had formed for the proper functioning of these schools” (J. XIFRÉ, Reglamento para los Colegios…, 1894, Intruduction, p. 3).

[52] “We wish (to see) in them (in the Postulant schools) uniformity, harmony and order” (J. XIFRÉ, Reglamento para los Colegios…, 1894, Introduction, p. 3).

“We have come to the end of our work, long and difficult indeed. It had to be, taking into consideration the minute things we had to attend to in order to achieve the uniformity, harmony and order, which left so much to be desired” (Ib., Final notes, p. 29).

[53] “(…) making our seminaries fertile grounds for virtuous and well-informed young men that in due time may give days of glory to our beloved Congregation and apt and irreproachable ministers to the Holy Church” (J. XIFRÉ, Reglamento para los Colegios…, 1894, Introduction, p. 4).

[54] That is to say “that they (the postulants) may achieve the proper corporal development and acquire all the knowledge that the Congregation has established for that age and, above all, that they be formed in the spirit of piety, zeal and self-denial that befits the Missionary life to which they have been called” (J. XIFRÉ, Reglamento para los Colegios…, 1894, ch. 3, p. 9).

[55] “Let the Prefect then pray much in order to obtain from heaven, especially from the Immaculate Heart of our Mother, the very special gift of forming those tender hearts for God and for our Congregation” (J. XIFRÉ, Reglamento para los Colegios…, 1894, ch. 3, art. 3, p. 16).

[56] By means of these documents the traditional figure of the Claretian formator is being clarified. Regarding the relationship of the professors with the postulants, the book of regulations has this to say: “Once the postulants are out of the classrooms, they are once again under the immediate responsibility and care of the Rev. Fr. Prefect” (J. XIFRÉ, Reglamento para los Colegios…m 1894, ch. 3, art. 2, 6th, p. 16).

[57] “The third and certainly the most important duty of the Rev. Fr. Prefect towards the Postulants is forming their heart well. A Postulant, no matter how many innate talents he might have, would be ineffective if he lacked the necessary virtue for the apostolic ministry to which he has been called” (J. XIFRÉ, Reglamento para los Colegios…, ch. 3, art. 3, p. 16).

[58] “For these particular instructions, he should see to it that all in rotation pass by his room at least once a month, in great detail looking into all that is happening and may be suitable to them according to their needs and temperaments” (J. XIFRÉ, Reglamento para los Colegios…, 1894, ch. 3, art. 3, n. 3, p. 20). This personal contact, which in our Congregation has included spiritual direction, has become a traditional practice among us.

[59] Cf. J. XIFRÉ, Reglamento para los Clegios…, 1894, ch. 3, art. 5, pp. 24-25.

[60] Cf. M. AGUILAR, Historia de la Congregación de Misioneros Hijos del I. Corazón de María, vol. I, pp. 293-300, 574-583, 614-626; C. FERNÁNDEZ, Compendio histórico de la Congregación de los Hijos del Inmaculado Corazón de María, vol. I, Madrid 1967, pp. 137-139; 359-386; 859-872; C. FERNÁNDEZ, La Congregación de Misioneros Hijos del Inmaculado Corazón de María, vol. I, Madrid 1967, pp. 237-246; 691-707.

As regards the formative orientations, in addition to the previous quotations, cf. F. NAVAL, Plan de un noviciado (manuscript without place or date), AG CMF: GN, 7, 9, pp. 10. He probably wrote it during his stay in Vich between 1881 and 1888. Fr. F. Naval was auxiliary and coadjutor to the Novicemaster and professor in Vich during those years; then he was a professor and later superior in Cervera from 1888 to 1901. The Plan that he wrote for the noviciate includes both novices and professed (students). He envisions a noviciate in the style of Vich, and not according to the recently established noviciate in Cervera, which was intended only for novices who were exclusively dedicated to the spiritual practices proper of the year of probation.

[61] As early as 26 May 1868, Fr Clotet presented to the General Counsel this note: “General Assembly. Noviciate. It seems that it would be desirable to do it as it is done in other religious Institutes, with exclusive dedication to spiritual matters” (C. FERNÁNDEZ, La Congregación de Misioneros…, p. 242).

[62] The Chapter “saw with obvious satisfaction that, with the acquisition of the grand building of the ex-University of Cervera, the road lay open for these plans: the General Government of the Congregation would be able to establish the Noviciate with all the independence that the sacred Canons prescribe. This is something that, although highly desirable, had not been viable until now. This independence would consist in separating it not only from the Scholasticate, but also from the Postulancy school” (V GENERAL CHAPTER, session 4, afternoon of 10 June 1888).

The account of this event was published in the Boletín Religioso of the Congregation of that year. It stated: “The novices, that is, those who have finished Rhetoric, shall not devote themselves to school subjects during the year of probation; they will however take the classes befitting a perfect noviciate.” (Cf. CMF. Boletín religioso de la Congregación de Misioneros Hijos del Inmaculado Corazón de María, 4 (1887-1888), p. 163; cf. also C. FERNÁNDEZ, Compendio histórico…, p. 869).

[63] [FR. VALLIER], Prácticas Espirituales para uso de los novicios de la Congregación de los Hijos del Inmaculado Corazón de María por disposición del Rmo. P. José Xifré, Superior General de la Congregación [Spiritual Practices for the Use of the Novices of the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, by order of the Most Rev. Fr. Joseph Xifré, Superior General of the Congregation], Madrid 1888, pp. 271.

[64] About the drafting by Fr. Vallier, cf. F. MEDARDO ALDUAN, Vida del Siervo de Dios R.P. Pablo Vallier Escarín [Life of the Servant of God Rev. Fr. Pablo Vallier Escarín], Santiago de Chile 1919, pp. 320-321. J. POSTÍUS, Informe al P. General sobre la obra del P. Vallier [Report to Fr. General on the work of Fr. Vallier] (typewritten), Madrid 1928, AG CMF: GR, 04, 19. R. RIBERA, El Novicio Instruido [The well-instructed Novice], Madrid 1931, Prologue, p. IX-X). The work of Fr. Francisco J. Idiáquez is entitled Prácticas e Industrias para el uso de los Hermanos Novicios de la Compañía de Jesús del Noviciado de Villagarcía [Practices and Techniques for the use of the Novice Brothers of the Society of Jesus of the Noviciate of Villagarcía], Villagarcía, Seminary press, 1766, 12º, 152 p. 34. Fr. Postíus in his report to Fr. General makes a quite critical analysis of the book of Fr. Vallier. He recommends not to have it reprinted. He believes it is better to prepare a totally Claretian work for the novices of the Congregation.

[65] R. RIBERA, El Novicio…, Prologue, pp. IX-X.

[66] Cf. [Fr. VALLIER], Prácticas Espirituales…, Introduction, pp. 6-7.

[67] “This definition is placed at the beginning of the book so that, by looking at it from the outset, the Novice may see the goal towards which he aims and which he must achieve during his year of probation. He should read it and meditate on it many times and keep it always in sight while putting into practice all that is here proposed” ([Fr. VALLIER], Prácticas Espirituales…, Introduction, p. 10).

[68] Every Missionary should burn with zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of souls; this must be the constant purpose of his entire life. And to this aim, even from his noviciate, he should direct his prayers, and do penance, and prepare himself in the best way possible” ([Fr. VALLIER, Prácticas Espirituales…, p. 214.)

[69] “They should habitually act out of reflection, avoiding routine and thoughtlessness in their actions, which is like a woodworm that frequently renders useless religious life and all resources, even extraordinary ones” ([Fr. VALLIER], Prácticas espirituales…, Introduction, p. 6).

“In reality, the principal aim of all the practices proposed to the Novices in this book is to form their spirit, getting them accustomed to act in everything with thoughtfulness, and never out of habit or routine, as was mentioned in the introduction” (Ib., Conclusion, p. 211).

[70] The novices, like the Apostles (Mt. 13, 36-40) must enter into dialogue with the Master in order to be enlightened and oriented in their life. To that end, they should seek information from the Master in the community conferences or in private conversation (Ib., pp. 98-99).

[71] Cf. [Fr. VALLIER], Prácticas espirituales…, Conclusion, p. 211.

[72] Cf. [Fr. VALLIER], Prácticas espirituales…,, pp. 115-116.

[73] [Fr. VALLIER], Prácticas espirituales…,, p. 115.

[74] “When a Novice is tested in humble tasks, he should not think that that is a passing trial; when he sweeps, when he serves others, let him do it with the intention and the desire to do it for life, if this be God’s will and the direction of the Superiors, convinced that it is a great honour to serve God and give him glory in this way” ( [Fr. VALLIER], Prácticas espirituales…, Conclusion, p. 214-215).

[75] “1. He who truly humbles himself encounters the grace to win. 2. Any temptation humbly borne, is a weight that makes us sink in the useful knowledge of our misery. 3. Humility in temptation opens our eyes to see that, without God, we shall fall” ([Fr. VALLIER], Prácticas espirituales…,, pp. 184-185).

[76] “We have placed at the beginning of the book the definition that our Fr. Founder gave of the Missionary of the Heart of Mary. In it is described a spirit in the third degree of humility. A man who looks only at God, desires only God, and for himself seeks only privation, works, sacrifices (…). For the glory of God and the honour of his Most Blessed Mother, may the Lord grant that all Missionaries may at least aspire always in desire and in action to this sublime degree” ( [Fr. VALLIER], Prácticas espirituales…, Conclusion, p. 216-217).

[77] Cf. [Fr. VALLIER], Prácticas Espirituales…, Conclusion, pp. 214-215.

[78] Cf. [Fr. VALLIER], Prácticas Espirituales…, p. 17. As his daily offering, the novice should say the following prayer: “I open in your presence, O God, the innermost part of my heart, and I offer from my poverty all the wealth of my affections. In your honour I offer all the works and deeds of this day, united to the merits of the life, passion and death of Jesus, of his Most Blessed Mother and of the Saints. I offer you the gold of charity, the incense of prayer and the myrrh of penance” (Ib., p. 18).

[79] The search for the glory of God is present in all the sections of the pedagogical manual. Its methodology leads to it. Each chapter, by beginning with a gospel text as reference for a concrete activity, is already directing to the Lord the intentions, affections and works of the novices.

[80] Cf. [VALLIER], Prácticas Espirituales…, pp. 171-182.

[81] [VALLIER], Prácticas Espirituales…, Conclusion, pp. 196-203.

[82] For the detailed learning of some practical things that would improve the skills of the brothers, there are some Apuntes útiles [useful notes] drafted by themselves in Cervera in 1895 (Cf. AG CMF: 7, 4,2).

[83] Cf. J. CLOTET, Conferencias de los hermanos ayudantes [Conferences for the Adjutant Brothers] in Boletín Religioso CMF, 2 (1886), pp. 365-368).

[84] Cf. Boletín Religioso CMF, 2 (1886), pp. 365-368.

[85] Fr. Xifré’s Reglamento of 1892 was written for the “seminaries of our Congregation” and for the “spiritual and scientific benefit of the young Students of our seminaries” (cf. Introduction); in fact it speaks of the postulants and of the professed.

About the Prácticas Espirituales, Fr. Xifré, in the introduction to the Avisos importantes a los Estudiantes Profesos (about which we will speak later) says this: “It is not our intention to speak directly of the holiness that every Professed Student should have, or of the means to attain it. The way is already indicated in our Constitutions and, should anything be lacking, everything desirable to this effect is already expressed in the Prácticas Espirituales that was published for the novices (…)” (J. XIFRÉ, E.C., p. 187); cf. also [Fr. VALLIER], Prácticas Espirituales…, pp. 8, 156-162.

This pedagogical application continued later for several years. Although Fr. Serrat’s Reglamento of 1900 is addressed to the postulants, in a note in the Introduction it says: “the Prefects of Professed Students and their Auxiliaries, as well as the Novicemasters and their Coadjutors, may proportionately adopt what is prescribed in this Reglamento for the Prefects of Postulants and their Assistants.” This same ides is repeated in the Introduction to the edition of Fr. Alsina’s Reglamento of 1907, in the General Dispositions of 1900 (n. 100) and 1905 (nn. 138 and 145), and in El Novicio Instruido, (Madrid 1931) by Fr. Ribera, pp. XI, 414-445).

[86] Cf. J. CLOTET, Reglamento para los estudios eclesiásticos de los Hijos de Inmaculado Corazón de María [Regulations for the ecclesiastical studies of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary], en Boletín Religioso CMF, 2 (1886), pp. 231-232, 260-263, 277-280 and 294-295.

[87] Cf. Ib., p. 232.

[88] J. XIFRÉ, Avisos Importantes a los profesores de los colegios [Important Advices to the Professors of our Seminaries], Imp. Antonio Pérez, Madrid 1889. They were also published in E.C., pp. 163-184; we shall quote this last publication.

[89] Ib., p. 183.

[90] Cf. Ib., pp. 164-165, 172.

[91] Cf. Ib., pp. 165-166.

[92] Cf. Ib., pp. 164-165. As a general norm, in order to attend to their mission better, the Professors were not allowed to take other ministries.

[93] Cf. Ib., pp. 166-172.

[94] “Our professors, therefore, should be models of virtue and observance. There should be nothing in them unworthy of the office they hold. They should be truly pious. They should fervently commend to the Lord and to our Blessed Mother, the disciples entrusted to them. In this way, and in no other way, will they be able to fulfil their duties perfectly” (Ib., p. 173).

[95] Ib., pp. 174-175.

[96] Cf. Ib., pp. 174-175. As it appears in several congregational dispositions, professors should not impose punishments to our postulants and students; this is the responsibility of the Fr. Prefect.

[97] J. XIFRÉ, Avisos importantes a los Estudiantes Profesos de la Congregación de Misioneros Hijos del Corazón de María [Important Advices to the Professed Students of the Congregation of Missionaries, Sons of the Heart of Mary], Antonio Pérez Press, Madrid 1890, pp. 37. They were also published in E.C., pp. 186-209; we will quote this last publication.

[98] Cf. Ib., p. 187.

[99] Cf. Ib., pp. 188-193.

[100] In this case, he will not only tarnish the name of the Congregation and hamper the fruit of the ministry, but he will also impede the congregational growth. In view of these cases, Fr. Xifré asks himself: “Will these missionaries attract many people to enter our Institute?” (Ib., p. 193).

[101] Thus, for example: “Not always are those with greater intelligence more useful to the Church, or produce more fruit in the ministry of the salvation of souls. The Apostles were uncultured, yet they converted the world.” “What is really important (…) is that we be humble and virtuous, not necessarily intellectual.” “The only thing needed for the ministry of saving souls is virtue and some enlightenment in the theological and moral matters; but the profane sciences we are handling hinder rather than help.” “The subject matters will be studied as the need arises.” “There are others who study or dedicate themselves to other things, yet they are observant and pious; I could just as well do the same” (Cf. Ib., pp. 193-197).

[102] Ib,. pp. 197-209.

[103] Cf. Ib., pp. 197-198.

[104]            “(…) it is beyond all doubt that, in order to correspond to our vocation, other sciences, albeit profane, must also be cultivated (…). Such sciences and studies are necessary to the Missionary in the present time; and this, for many reasons (…). It will be necessary, especially in these times we are going through, to acquire great scientific and literary knowledge in order to spread the true doctrines and defend the good cause” (Ib., p. 195).

[105] Cf. Ib., pp. 194-196.

[106] In this section we shall quote the Chapters with the abbreviation RDV that makes reference to the book: CMF, Resumen alfabético de las Disposiciones Vigentes contenidas en los Capítulos Generales y en las Circulares [Alphabetical summary of the prevailing dispositions contained in the General Chapters and in the Circulars], Madrid 1887, pp. 216.

[107] IV GENERAL CHAPTER, Minutes, AG CMF: AD, 1, 15.

[108] IV GENERAL CHAPTER, Minutes, ses. 7a, p. 9.

[109] V GENERAL CHAPTER, Minutes, AG CMF: AD, 1, 22.

[110] Cf. Ses. 9, CMF, RDV, n. 590.

[111] Cf. CC., 1870, part I, nn. 56ff.

[112] Cf. Ses. 4, CMF, RDV, N. 591.

[113] “From here we can infer the advantage of being able to attend to the projected reform of the regulations for postulants, since it is not advisable that they follow the way of the novices and professed, both in the material and in the spiritual aspect. But, since this project requires a well-thought study for which important data must be held in view, the Chapter decided to appoint a commission to draft the bases for a book of special regulations for postulants” (V GENERAL CHAPTER, afternoon session, 10 June 1888: AG CMF: AD, 1, 22).

This commission probably worked during the Chapter, because three days later the minutes state: “Also, the commission in charge of the bases for the regulations for postulants presented their work to the Chapter. They were read and unanimously approved, and it was agreed to keep them very much in mind as soon as the Seminaries are left with only the Postulants, once the Noviciate and the Scholasticate are established in a suitable place” (Ib., afternoon session, 13 June 1888).

[114] Cf. Ses. 4, CMF, RDV, n. 592.

[115] Cf. Ses. 4, CMF, RDV, n. 537.

[116] Cf. Ses. 4, CMF, RDV, n. 538.

[117] CC., 1870, Part III, n. 1.

[118] Cf. Ses. 12, CMF, RDV, n. 411.

[119] Cf. Ses. 6, CMF, RDV, n. 351.

[120] Cf. Ses. 9, CMF, RDV, n. 783.

[121] Cf. Ses. 3, CMF, RDV, n. 203.

[122] “that is, those who manifest scorn or aversion towards any nation or province or their natives, either by criticising, or insulting, or in any other way belittling the persons, things, ways and customs of this or the other country. And it must be noted that the obligation to manifest to the respective Superiors the infringements of this or any other injunction, is incumbent upon everyone, nay, it is an act of charity towards the violator, towards the Congregation and towards people in general” (Ses. 3, CMF, RDV, n. 676).

[123] VI EXTRAORDINARY GENERAL CHAPTER, Anales 5 (1895-1896), Appendix.

[124] Cf. Ses. 12, RDV, nn. 381, 539.

[125] Cf. Ses. 14, CMF, RDV, n. 593.

[126] Ses. 14, CMF, RDV, nn. 360, 422.

[127] Cf. Ses. 14, CMF, RDV, n. 367.

[128] Cf. Ses. 14, CMF, RDV, nn. 368, 370.

[129] Cf. Ses. 19, CMF, RDV, n. 407.

[130] “Lectiones nimis longas ipsis non imponere” (CC, 1870, Part I, n. 104, 9th.

[131] Cf. Ses. 3, CMF, RDV, n. 662.

[132] Cf. Ses. 13, CMF, RDV, n. 670.

[133] Cf. Ses. 3, CMF, RDV, n. 488; ses. 19, nn. 408, 486.

[134] Cf. CC., 1870, Part I, n. 88.

[135] Cf. Ses. 3, CMF, RDV, n. 228.

[136] Cf. CC., 1870, Part II, n. 41.

[137] Cf. Ses. 5, CMF, RDV, n. 282.

[138] Cf. Ses. 15, CMF, RDV, n. 356.

[139] Cf. Ses. 16, CMF, RDV, n. 369.

[140] Cf. Ses. 16, CMF, RDV, n. 357.

[141] Cf. Ses. 19, CMF, RDV, n. 204, 485.

[142] Cf. Ses. 12, CMF, RDV, nn. 373-375.

[143] Cf. CC., 1870, Part I, n. 67.

[144] Cf. Ses. 12, CMF, RDV, n. 376.

[145] Cf. Ses. 12, CMF, RDV, n. 476.

[146] Cf. Ses. 12, CMF, RDV, nn. 377-378.

[147] CC., 1870, Part. I, n. 68.

[148] Cf. Ses. 12, CMF, RDV, n. 379.

[149] VII EXTRAORDINARY GENERAL CHAPTER, Anales 5 (1895-1896), Appendix.

[150] Cf. Ses. 3, CMF, RDV, n. 589.

[151] Cf. Ses. 7, CMF, RDV, n. 423.

[152] Cf. Ses. 6, CMF, RDV, n. 483.

[153] CMF. Resumen alfabético de las Disposiciones Vigentes contenidas en los Capítulos Generales y en las Circulares, Madrid 1897, pp. 216.