Chapter 4 : Period between the years 1922-1966

Chapter 4: Period between the years 1922-1966

The period that we begin now, because of its length, has been divided in two parts. The first part, which constitutes Chapter 4, covers the Superiors General; the second constitutes Chapter 5 and includes Documents, Chapters and Dispositions.

I. Fr. Nicholas García

Fr. García in his teaching amply and deeply delved into the vocational and formative theme. In addition to the specific circular letters on vocation and formation, he very often and from many angles made continuous references to this theme in other circulars[1].

In principle, I present the vocational and formative circulars with some references to others. For pedagogical reasons, I present them by themes and interrelated.

1. The Theme of Vocations

In his circular letters, Fr. Nicholas insists on the urgency of raising abundant vocations and on the need to cultivate the gift of vocation in order to remain faithful to it and to advance on the way of perfection.

1.1. A grievous vocational problem

1st. An especially important relevant situation compelled Fr Nicholas to enjoin the work for vocations. After the 1937 Chapter and following the events that befell the Congregation, particularly in Spain, which determined an important decrease of personnel, he wrote the circular letter “Sobre algunos acuerdos Capitulares (1937)[2], in which he stated that in order to avoid the congregational collapse:

“(…) it is imperative that all the Sons of the Congregation strive to foster vocations, so that the Institute may not only attend to the many works it has at hand, but also widen its sphere of action and extend its influence to all peoples and ministries. In a special way it should aim at evangelisation of new peoples, taking charge of Missions among non-Christians; in so doing, we will do justice to the glorious name of Missionaries we so proudly bear”[3].

2nd. Later he wrote the magnificent circular on Missionary Vocation (1938)[4]. Fr. García drafted the circular in the name of the General Government which, following the orientations of the latest General Chapter and stimulated by the examples of our Fr. Founder and of Fr. Xifré, “painstakingly studied this serious matter” of vocations[5].

3rd. The concern of the General Government[6], and of the Chapter of Albano as well, for the theme of vocations has a concrete historical context, which Fr. General himself presents to the whole Congregation when he speaks about the need for “missionary workers”[7].

1.2. Working for Vocations

Fr. García, well versed in the congregational tradition and with admirable broadmindedness and foresight, at the moment of promoting and admitting abundant vocations, returns to the idea of Fr. Founder and of Fr. Xifré. For this reason, he proposed that the Major Organisms establish and multiply Postulancy and Prepostulancy schools and even houses where children and young adults could be admitted in preparation for Postulancy[8].

Fr. General ends the circular with an ample conclusion that could very well reflect the master lines of a plan of action for vocational pastoral ministry[9].

1.3. Taking Care of the Gift of Vocation

Receiving from God the gift of vocation is not enough. We must painstakingly cultivate this gift in order to remain faithful to it and advance in the way of perfection. This gift appears as a seed and must be developed until it becomes a complete and perfect plant[10].

1st. When vocation is not cultivated, vocational temptations appear, “bad inclinations revive.” The joyful acceptance of the demands proper to the chosen vocation is lost or, worse yet, such demands become unbearable. One begins to dream again about secular life or to think that outside one could do more and better things[11]. Hence the importance and the need to nourish it in order to protect and develop it. It is a very special grace that can be lost if it is not cared for faithfully and responsibly[12].

This nurturing must be continuous, beginning from the first moment that vocational signs appear, and lasting for life:

“This nurturing of vocation begins even before the individuals are received, as one cultivates and prepares the ground as a seedbed”[13]

“(…) the nurturing of vocation must be constant; not only during the Postulancy, or during the Scholasticate, or only in the first years of public life. Vocation must be nourished throughout one’s entire life”[14].

Vocation must be cultivated with “delicate care” and preserved in an atmosphere of faith. Supernatural faith is the suitable atmosphere for vocation to be born and should also be the suitable atmosphere for its consolidation and development[15].

2nd. The means that express and foster the painstaking cultivation of vocation may be personal or community. Among the personal means, the following may be highlighted: appreciation and love for one’s vocation; determination to develop it; care to preserve it and to shun the dangers that threaten it; keeping it in its proper environment and living the religious and congregational spirit[16]. From the perspective of the community, as a task for every member, and especially Superiors, Economes, Prefects, Professors, etc., the most appropriate means are: religious observance and an exemplary atmosphere of the community in regards to spirituality, fraternal charity, hygiene, industry and routine[17].

1.4. Love for the Congregation

A missionary should think, feel and experience that the vocation he has received and freely accepted in faith is truly a divine gift, the best for him; in this vocation he does the will of God and can completely fulfil himself. He should also be convinced that it is in the Congregation that he should develop his life in the concrete[18]. This feeling should be kindled in all missionaries from the very beginning of the noviciate, and should bring them to live their vocation with joy[19]; and to love and cherish the Congregation in spite of its defects[20].In order to achieve this, one must “live in conformity with it,” assimilating its life project and its mission, in keeping with the spirit and the style of our Congregation[21].

Fr. García states that the esteem, love and concern for the Congregation are intimately interrelated. All these attitudes should bring each one of its sons to seek the best for the Congregation by all possible means, that is, to promote its good in all its dimensions, to propel its works and to foster vocations[22].

2. Formation of the Missionaries

About the formation in our Congregation he wrote the two above mentioned circulars, entitled Formation of our students (1932)[23] and Religious, Missionary and Claretian formation (1947)[24].

2.1. Aim of Claretian Formation

1st. Following our Fr. Founder, the aim of formation is, according to Fr. Nicholas, to form apt ministers or to form Christ in the missionaries with view to evangelisation. This means engraving Christ’s image in the whole person of the missionary and in all dimensions of his personality, until the image of the Lord fully glows in him[25].

The missionaries of the Congregation cannot be content merely with their own sanctification; the aim of the Institute includes the glory of God and the salvation of all people. Conformity itself of the missionary with Christ has one more aim: it should serve to bring Christ to people, to form Christ in the faithful of the whole world, thus accomplishing the same work of Jesus Christ on earth. All efforts and works, the knowledge, the ministries, teaching, governance, etc…, should be directed to this aim. The missionary of the Heart of Mary should be humanly, culturally ad spiritually very well prepared in all dimensions of his personality, in order to perform the most varied ministries and functions that this aim demands. This idea “should be inculcated by the formators and engraved with iron and fire in the soul of the missionary, whether Priest, Student or Brother”[26]. Therefore:

“The Missionary should not be formed for a life of retirement or exclusive contemplation. It is not enough that he be a good religious in the realm of discipline; he has to be formed for public life. He should acquire the virtues and science demanded by the sacred ministries. To this end must all Formators of the Congregation direct all their efforts. The seminaries must be organised for this end, according to our life’s possibilities”[27].

Without a missionary formation the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary will not fulfil the aim of the Congregation, they will be neither apostles nor missionaries[28].

2nd. For this missionary formation, formators should inculcate three things to those in formation. They should remove the impediments that hinder the fulfilment of our universal mission, basically attachment to family, country, etc. They should prepare themselves for the ministries of the Congregation with a broad vision and a generous attitude. Thirdly, they should practically and prudently train themselves in those means they will need in their apostolic works (public speaking, readings that foster the missionary spirit, etc.). If the formators foster missionary spirit in our youth, “then from our seminaries, as from cenacles, will come out great Missionaries who will change the world”[29].

3rd. The formation of the Brother must also be missionary since, like all Sons of the Heart of Mary, he too is a missionary in the full sense. In his life and action he must always have for his aim the salvation of all people. He lives and acts as a missionary by prayer, by sacrifice and collaborating in the apostolic endeavours of the Congregation by his work, his energies and his professional obligations[30].

4th. The life and future of a missionary, his peace and vocational happiness, his eternal destiny depend on a good formation. His life will be centred and well rooted in a safe, firm and stable ground, because it will be based on the rock that is Christ[31], and his work and apostolic ministry will be effective[32].

2.2. Formation founded on Christ Jesus

Speaking of spiritual life, Fr. Nicholas insisted on the necessity of raising the level of spirituality of persons and communities in the Congregation. Spiritual life, which should be fostered all through life, should be developed especially during the time of formation. This spiritual life must be founded on Christ Jesus:

“All formators should take pains to form in the persons entrusted to them the image of Christ Jesus, so that they can say with St. Paul: daily I suffer the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you (Gal 4,19).”[33]

For this reason, the task of formators is clear: “Christ must be formed in the Missionary”[34].  The formator should help the young missionary to carry Christ in his body, in his soul and in his mind, in his heart and in all manifestations of his personality: words, deeds and actions. In consequence, the young missionaries are to be formed in their personal, physical, intellectual and pastoral life.

According to Fr. García, a missionary must take good care of his spirituality. Otherwise, he will not seek “in omnibus gloriam Dei et animarum salutem” [In everything the glory of God and the salvation of souls]. He will seek himself and his own interests, his comfort and pleasure; he will seek quae sua sunt, non quae Jesu Christi [his own interest, not that of Jesus Christ][35]. Giving oneself to God is not enough; one has to be constant and persevere in self-surrender. Only those who maintain their surrender, wholly consecrating themselves to perfection, perfectly fulfil the aims of the Institute. Only they give glory to God “in omnibus”: only they sanctify themselves in truth, and only they are efficient instruments in God’s hands for the salvation of souls[36].

2.3. Formation under the Action of the Holy Spirit and of Mary

Formation must be achieved under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, as the first agent of formation[37]. God, through his Spirit, forms the image of Jesus Christ in the souls. The Holy Spirit, who formed Jesus in Mary’s womb, imprints the image of Jesus Christ in the formandus. The same Holy Spirit forms the priest, God’s masterpiece, and the religious. In this way, integral formation is also charismatic and congregational. The Holy Spirit, who inspired our Founder, engraves in all missionaries “the Claretian idea” and enables them to live the congregational project.

Only with the insistent prayer of the entire Congregation to the Holy Spirit, but especially of those responsible for formation shall the Claretian charism be realised, incarnate in mind and heart and be put into practice[38]. This prayer should also be addressed to Mary, Mother of the priest, of the religious and of the missionary. She, who formed in her womb and nourished Jesus until he became a perfect man, will also form the missionary in her Immaculate Heart and will nourish him with the necessary graces until he reaches the fullness of Christ[39].

3rd. For this reason, the Missionary should be, by vocation and by profession, a man of God. He should live for God, in God and with God and, consequently, he should be a man with a high level of prayer[40].

Only this type of missionary is able to change the world[41]. Specialised and professional formation by itself is inefficient if it does not go hand in hand with a holy life, a life of intimate union with God and docility to the spirit; a life of seclusion and prayer; a life adorned with virtues, unselfish, enriched with constant study[42]. This spirit should be pervasive in the Congregation; in it should our young missionaries be formed[43].

2.4. Integral Formation

According to Fr. Nicholas, the complete formation of a person implies the integral development of the whole person, of his entire being (in his physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual and social dimensions)[44]. Formation is the cultivation, development and perfection of the faculties and gifts God has given to a person, both in the natural and in the supernatural order. Everything has been given to the human person in a germinal form and needs to be developed until it reaches its fullness. Formation tends to perfect and complete health, physical faculties, senses, imagination, memory, intellect, will, spiritual life (life in Christ, faith, hope and charity) till it reaches its fullness, the perfect human person, according to the maturity of the fullness of Christ[45].

2nd. As Sons of the heart of Mary we have also received the gift of missionary vocation. As we grow as persons, we must develop our religious-missionary-Claretian being. For this reason, the life of a missionary, if he wants to respond to his vocation, demands a complete and perfect man; fulfilling his mission entails a harmonically developed organism, a saintly heart and a highly formed intelligence[46].

Consequently, the aim of our formation must be the development of the person in all its human, supernatural and vocational broadness. And this aim, which should be the formative objective in all stages of formation, must be an important concern of those who have the responsibility and charge of the formation of our young missionaries[47].

2.5. Personalised Formation

The Claretian formation, anchored in Christ, must be firm and immovable. The person in formation should acquire a type of personal virtue that will depend neither on circumstances nor on times, places or persons. Thus nothing and no one on earth will separate him from the love of Christ and from the missionary life to which he has consecrated himself. He should not only be dead to worldly things but he should also be ready to give up everything for his vocation: his only thought is to live for Christ, give glory to him and gain souls for the Kingdom[48].

Fr García will constantly insist on this viewpoint in his formative orientations for all stages:

“Virtue must be personal, (bona qualitas mentis [a good mental quality] as defined by the philosophers), intimate; it goes with the person; it does not depend on the circumstances or on the times, places or persons, occasions or temptations. Virtue accompanies the person everywhere; it is a habit, a second nature; it does not easily disappear, it usually acts according to its own principles; violence is needed to act against it. It encounters no difficulty in carrying out tasks, and even does them with pleasure, delectabiliter”[49].

Formation, in this sense, must be based on the free choosing of good, of what is best, for one’s vocation and for the interests of God and of Jesus Christ. In addition, it should be supernaturally motivated and confirmed by practical exercise and by experience[50].

2.6. Enthusiastic Formation

Only a missionary full of charity triumphs against the difficulties of missionary life and bears apostolic fruit[51].

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…[52]

For this reason, the missionary formation should be an enthusiastic and fervent formation, permeated by apostolic love:

“The missionary formation, however, should not be cold. The Claretian Missionary must be a man that spreads his flame wherever he goes and, because of him, the world must be aflame with love. Only the fervent missionary will triumph over the one thousand and one difficulties of life. The lukewarm, the person with an apathetic spirit, who does not enthuse over the great ideals, will never do anything profitable and greatly risks his vocation and even his salvation.”[53]

2.7. Apostolic Formation

As Fr. Nicholas reminds us, in order to attain a goof missionary formation, in addition to apostolic zeal and detachment, it is necessary that the students “enable themselves for the ministries of the Congregation[54] and the brothers for the community services”[55]. And following the criterion of the Constitutions, he states that those who are not qualified to teach the people the message of salvation should not be ordained.

In order to attain the apostolic objectives, they should prudently practice delivering speeches in order to familiarise themselves especially with the art of public speaking. They should train themselves throughout their studies, beginning from postulancy itself, in writing literary or academic essays in order to develop their mind, to think for themselves, to improve their writing skills and acquire an adequate mastery of the pen. All of these are essential parts of missionary life[56]. And all this they should do, not only under the direction of professors, but also on their own initiative.

3. Formative Stages

3.1. Postulancy

Vocational discernment, begun at the moment of entrance, should be continued during Postulancy. The vocational indications from both the candidate and his family should be continuously clarified with view to the perseverance or the abandonment of the postulant[57]. Postulancy is, properly, a period of vocational discernment with various successive moments:

“Postulancy is a sort of preliminary trial or probation to ascertain if the postulant has a vocation. Three operations constitute the function of the Postulancy: screening, dismissal, and spiritual, intellectual and social formation.”[58]

However, the most important thing is to continue the process of giving the future missionaries an efficient, well-grounded, integral and consistent formation that will enable them to tackle the difficulties of the future[59]. The spiritual formation should be based on the holy fear of God, a filial, not servile fear. The fear of God is a starting point for the postulant to be totally converted to his new life, break with sin and seek perfection and fidelity in everything[60]. In addition to the holy fear of God, the postulants should, by means of discipline and self-denial, get used to renouncing themselves and to be submissive in order to prepare themselves to overcome the difficulties of obedience and community life[61].

Piety should be cultivated as a necessary condition for the postulant to persevere in virtue, particularly in the virtue of chastity. He should grow in an ever deeper piety toward God, the Heart of Mary, the Fr. Founder and the other saints of the Congregation; a piety that should manifest itself in the sacramental life, as well as in the respect to all Superiors[62].

Their intellectual formation should prepare them for “the struggles of intellectual life;” therefore, it should be active, creative and extensively exercised by didactic means[63].

Social formation, through the acquisition of habits of education and respect, will adequately prepare them for community life and for apostolic ministry[64].

3.2. Novices

The Noviciate stage is deemed fundamental for the future of the Congregations and for a mature life and the perseverance of the religious[65].

1st. The noviciate is a time for the novice to carve in his soul the image of a missionary, to conform his personality to the traits that define the Claretian Missionary. The traits of the image of a missionary were outlined by our Fr. Founder in the definition he left us in the Constitutions. For this process, the novice must cast himself into this mould, he must be open to the project of the Constitutions in order to know it, internalise it and personalise it[66]. The novice, from the perspective of these demanding conditions:

“(…) upon arriving to the profession, or at least in the first years as professed, should have gone beyond the purgative way. Because he must be ready to comply with the duties as a religious and a Missionary and to give a morally sure hope that he will not turn back. For this reason the Congregation also demands tests in the Noviciate. (…) The Founder wants a deep foundation for the enormous structure of holiness that the Missionary must build. The Founder excludes from the Congregation the Novices that have affections that offend God and cannot correct them.”[67]

2nd. He asks the Novicemasters to form the Novices and get them used to living in union with God. To this end, the novices need not only external recollection, but also inner silence or “mental solitude,” since God is not present in noise, in commotion, in distraction. In the same way, the novices should live in the presence of God. To this end, he should inure them to living alone with themselves, since God rests in the innermost being of the person[68].

He asks them to form the novices in the prayer life proper of the congregational spirit:

“The Novicemaster should clearly explain the character of the Congregation: mixed life, to wit, a life of contemplation and much prayer, which is indispensable and cannot be left aside, and of much action, (…).”[69]

The novices should also know obedience very clearly, and practice it[70]. Moreover, even candidates to the Congregation should be admonished, from the very beginning, about the type of perfect obedience they should live in the future[71].

For this reason, the Master should do his best to train the novices in self-denial[72] and get them used to discipline. He should train them in “the submission of their own judgement and will,” and in the subjection, with internal and external discipline, to the norms of the Congregation that our holy Founder left us in the holy Constitutions, as well as those that are contained in the ordinations and dispositions of the Superiors. This discipline should be personalised, i.e., it should emanate from their personal conscience and from their own conviction, and must be free and spontaneous[73]. If they are not suitable, they should be separated from the Congregation[74].

3.3. Professed in Formation

1st. All the missionary virtues, Fr. Nicholas García said, should be required both from Brothers and Students during the formation period. Brothers should progress in virtue and should be “industrious and humble.” Students in Theology should practice virtue with ease and on their own initiative, and should seek

“with eagerness the third degree of humility, so graphically described in the Constitutions when speaking about interior mortification.”[75]

The formators should inspire those in formation to choose out of love “what is lowliest and hardest; to glory in the cross, like the Apostle.” They should set before their eyes, as their ideal, the definition of a Missionary that our Fr. Founder left us and the chapter of the Constitutions that deals on interior mortification. They should make sure that those in formation really strive to put this into practice, in such a way that

“when the occasions arise, it can be seen that they willingly embrace not only interior, but also exterior humility, since merely mental virtue has little practical efficacy.”[76]

2nd. The missionary should be full of zeal for the salvation of all people. To this end, Fr. Nicholas reminds us, he should be detached and have an open mind to be able to adapt himself to all persons, of any temperamental, social and cultural condition. In this way he will be able to “make himself everything to everyone, to gain them for Christ”[77].

The missionary should be intellectually open to the culture of the people. He must see in that culture an indispensable instrument for the realisation of his divine mission towards people[78]. He must attain a very high cultural level through literary, scientific, social, pedagogical and ministerial instruction. With such instruction he will be able to communicate the contents of faith “to the most cultivated intellects” which are, at times, the most in need[79].

The formation of the Son of the Heart of Mary should follow this line. In addition to being religious and missionary, it should be professional. The student should study not only theological and philosophical, but also technical and literary culture[80].

4. We Are All Responsible for Formation

In addition to the responsibility in the vocational area, “the formation of its members” is another one of the great responsibilities of the Congregation[81]. For this reason, formation is a joint task of all of us[82] and the Congregation, aware of its responsibility, wants to give its missionaries a “perfect formation,” making use of all possible means to this effect.

1st. In general, the Congregation plans the formative process, organises formation structures, appoints the most qualified formators and assigns to formation the best materials available in the spiritual and academic order[83].

2nd. The superiors of the Congregation have a special responsibility in this task[84].The superiors general animate and encourage formation in its most central and global aspects, and are the conscience of the Congregation[85]. The provincial superiors have the work of directing formation in the organisation of formative structures and, among other things, they have the grave responsibility of making a good selection of formation personnel[86].

3rd. The formation community (formators and persons in formation) has a decisive role in the formation of missionaries[87]. In order to accomplish their function, the formation centres must be well governed and organised[88]. The formation houses should be havens of peace, houses of studies, offices of virtue and the heart of the Congregation. They should be cenacles where new men may be formed with the help of the Holy Spirit. If the Congregation has missionaries of great spirit, who carry the name of God to the whole world, it owes it to the formation houses. For that reason:

“All the hope of the formation of students of the Congregation is set on the formation houses.”[89]

II.  Fr. Philip Maroto (1934-1937)

Given the short time he was Superior General, he wrote only a few circular letters. Nevertheless, he was very efficient in executing what was decided in the General Chapter (1934) that elected him, particularly the establishment of the International College in Rome in the academic year 1934-1935[90].

1st. Writing on some points of observance[91], in some paragraphs dedicated to the formation centres, he asks that perfect poverty be strictly kept (f.ex., by making use of the “common box”), in accordance with what is established in the Constitutions and what the last General Chapter brings to mind[92]. He insists on the participation in community prayer, daily Mass and the prescribed conferences[93]. He reaffirms that the norms for the students with regard to the reading of newspapers and journals should be kept[94].

2nd. Presenting and commenting on the Encyclical of Pius XI on priesthood[95], he applies to the Congregation the demands that derive from it. Although he does not expressly speak on formation, however, he urges to take seriously and with missionary spirit the priestly studies, in such a way that the students may come out well formed, as “apt ministers,” for the performance of the ministry[96].

3rd. In his circular on The Missions in the Congregation[97], he asks that the universal missionary spirit be fostered in the formation centres by all possible means (conferences, magazines, philately, etc…), in line with what he suggested for the whole Congregation[98].  Formators, “prefects and novicemasters,” should inculcate it to the persons in formation “opportune et importune,” in all time and places; professors and preachers should strive to look for vocations in day-schools, in their preaching, in catechetical instructions[99]. He gives responsibility and motivation to those in formation, and encourages them to accept this ministry with generosity[100].

III. Fr. Peter Schweiger (1949-1967)[101]

1. Urgency of Vocations

The concern for vocations and for the numerical growth of the Congregation would become one of Fr. Schweiger’s concerns. In this sense, Fr. Schweiger addressed to the Congregation his circular letter “On the Search for, Selection and Cultivation of Vocations and on the Esteem of One’s Own Vocation” (1955)[102]. The title itself indicates its objective and contents.

1.1. Vocational Situation

Fr. P. Schweiger, referring to the recently published Catalogue of the Congregation[103], believes that the Congregation’s growth, although it appears constant in the last years, is not adequate to attain the aim of the Congregation. Taking in consideration the time of its foundation, over a hundred years ago, the increase of the Congregation is slow and the number of vocations that attend our formation centres is still meagre.

Within his universal vision of the Church he has a desire, typical in him, to universalise the Congregation further, spreading it throughout the world and he deeply regrets the scarcity of personal resources. Hence,

“It is therefore absolutely and urgently necessary to foster and promote the increase of the Congregation by all possible means.”[104]

According to Fr. Schweiger, too, fostering and promoting by all means the increase of the Congregation is a necessity that does not admit delay[105]. The fact of being one with the Church, the wide range of our apostolic mission[106] and the insufficient number of missionaries in the Congregation[107] for the fulfilment of its mission, are motivations that should urge the Congregation to work for vocations more intently.

Although it is a fact that the number of missionaries will always be insufficient, there are two elements at the base of Fr. Schweiger’s worry about its scarcity: The slowness of our growth (“too slow for the more than centenary age of the Congregation”) and the low perseverance of those who enter (“too small for the number of apostolic schools and of Postulants attending them”).

1.2. Means to Foster Vocations

Fr. Schweiger calls the attention about two dimensions: spiritual life and apostolic generosity. A spiritual life that is a reflection of, and leads us to live out our own missionary identity, “vere nominemur et simus” [that we may truly be and be called], will be blessed by the Lord with new vocations[108]. Also, an apostolic generosity on the part of individuals, communities and provinces will be rewarded by the Owner of the harvest and will always be a source of vocational appeal to the youth[109].

2. Vocational Screening

The urgency of having abundant vocations should not lead us to the admission of persons whom the Lord has not called, persons who have no vocation. This would be a great harm for the Congregation[110]. Therefore:

“(…) as the numerical increase of the Congregation is sought, at the same time the qualitative growth should also be sought with all care and diligence.”[111]

For this reason, in the process of vocational discernment, the general and congregational criteria for screening should be taken into account[112].

3. Vocational Acceptance

For Fr. Schweiger, an initial screening of vocations is not sufficient. Once vocations have been admitted to our Congregation, they should be “cultivated and formed with painstaking care”[113]. Although Fr. Schweiger does not give any formation norm in this respect and follows the congregational tradition of admission of vocations, he underscores some pedagogical criteria.

The talents and the gifts of the postulants are the greatest wealth of the Congregation. For this reason they should be developed from the very first moments of their formation. If they are well developed, they will be greatly profitable for the Congregation and its apostolic mission[114]. To this effect, the formation has to be personalised to the maximum, avoiding gregariousness. Each postulant should be given the attention he needs in accordance with his character, his gifts and personal talents.

These natural talents should be integrated in a vocational supernatural perspective within which they will be meaningful, avoiding any kind of formative dichotomy[115]. Since education is a preparation for life, the formation of the postulants should be a formation for the religious life, that is, toward living the imitation of Christ who thus becomes the norm of life[116].

The formation centre should be like the second family of the postulant. Therefore, the atmosphere lived and breathed in it should be a family atmosphere that will make living together and staying in the Congregation something attractive and pleasant[117].

4. Fostering the Esteem for Vocations

One of the worries that most afflict Fr. Schweiger is “the decline of the esteem for vocation” that, in the last years, has been acquiring ever-growing dimensions[118]. Times have changed and are different from

“those times when religious vocation was appreciated as a heavenly treasure, a pledge of eternal salvation, corroborated by a divine promise on behalf of all who persevere in our Congregation till death. Religious Profession was considered as a bond that could only seldom be dissolved, something similar to the priestly bond.”[119]

The causes of this decline in the esteem of one’s vocation are: deficient screening of candidates to religious life[120]; deficient religious formation[121]; the belief in the doctrine itself on the non-obligatory character of religious vocation, and the lack of religious spirit and of habitual spiritual life, that renders the religious incapable of enduring the sacrifice of the perfect imitation of Jesus Christ[122].

As a remedy, we should, in the first place, insistently recall and try to internalise what our Fr. Founder tells us in the Constitutions about the “absolute need of being faithful to our vocation.” In the second place, vocational promoters should strive to make a truly painstaking screening of vocations and formators should offer and demand an ever more solid and complete formation from the first formative stages. The Superiors of the Congregation, in the third place, should assist those who are in danger of losing their vocation, to save it and to overcome infidelity[123].

Lastly, “the care for the fidelity to one’s vocation” should be fostered by means of prayer for one’s own perseverance and that of the brothers, and the creation of a positive spiritual and family atmosphere that may strengthen each one’s vocation[124].

[1] Besides the circulars we will be quoting, it’s worth recalling the following:

•El espíritu corporativo [The Corporate Spirit], March 10, 24: Anales, 20 (1924), pp. 193-205; ColCC., pp. 250-263.

•Observancia de las Santas Constituciones [Keeping of the Holy Constitutions], Anales, 20 (1924), pp. 513-539; ColCC., pp. 67-85.

•El cumplimiento del deber [Fulfilment of one’s duty], Anales, 27 (1931), pp. 17-22; ColCC., pp. 662-667.

•El año de perfección religiosa y misionera, [The year of religious and missionary perfection], Annales, 36 (1940-1941), pp. 97-116 with the Book of Regulations.

•Sacerdote Misionero [Missionary Priest], Annales, 37 (1942-1944), pp. 209-251.

•Dirección espiritual, [Spiritual Direction], Annales, 37 (1942-1944), pp. 437-459.

•A los Padres Prefectos de Postulantes, [To the Prefects of Postulants], Annales, 38 (1945-1946), pp. 105-106.

•A los Padres Prefectos de Estudiantes Profesos, [To the Prefects of Professed Students], Annales, 38 (1945-1946), pp. 106-107

•La nota más característica del Hijo del Corazón de María, [The most Characteristic Mark of a Son of the Heart of Mary], Annales, 38 (1945-1946), pp. 241-255.

•El Deber Religioso [The Religious Duty], Annales, 38 (1945-1946), pp. 493-510.

Fr. JOSÉ Mª MESA, CMF published a selection of circulars by Fr. García in his book Para formar Apóstoles [Towards Forming Apostles], coll. of Vida Religiosa 24, Madrid 1964, pp. 327. It contains a profile of Fr. General written by Fr. Augustus Andrew Ortega, cmf.

[2] N. GARCÍA, circular letter Sobre algunos acuerdos capitulares [On some Chapter Decisions], Annales, 34 (1938), pp. 3-9; ColCC., pp. 858-866.

[3] N. GARCÍA, Acuerdos…, ColCC., p. 862. As early as 1926 Fr. N. García urged the Missionaries to work for vocations in order to be able to help the missions (cf. circular letter on La Pía Unión Misionera del Corazón de María [Pious Missionary Union of the Heart of Mary], Anales, 22 (1926), pp. 769-776; ColCC, pp. 263-270; reference in p. 267).

[4] N. GARCÍA, circular letter on La Vocación Misionera, Anales, 34 (1938), pp. 289-323; ColCC., pp. 324-365.

[5] “One of the objectives the latest General Chapter entrusted to the care of the General Government was the necessity of the Congregation’s increase and development (…). The General Government, in keeping with the Chapter orientation and thus imitating the Fr. Founder (…) and Fr. Xifré (…), has painstakingly studied this most serious matter” (N. GARCÍA, Vocación…, ColCC., p. 324). He refers to the XIV General Chapter held in Albano from 20 November to 7 December of 1937.

[6] “It is one of the Congregation’s concerns because it sees, and experience confirms it, that on it depend the welfare of the Congregation and its children, the continuation and expansion of its apostolate with its great enterprises, the orderly and efficacious realisation of its aim as indicated in the first chapter of the holy Constitutions, namely the salvation of all people in the world: totius mundi animarum salutem quaerere” (N. GARCÍA, Vocación…, ColCC., p. 324).

[7] “With the Spanish revolution, the Congregation has suffered a hard blow in its personnel. A very large number of worthy Priests, well advanced Students who constituted a beautiful hope, and well formed Brothers have been immolated (…). For all these reasons, the Congregation absolutely needs an increase of members, but choice members; since what makes religious Institutes progress is not precisely the number, but the quality of their members” (N. GARCÍA, Vocación…, ColCC., p. 327. Cf. also, Acuerdos…, ColCC., p. 862).

In another circular, about which we will speak later, Fr. General will again say that the Congregation:

“urgently, without delay, needs many and excellent vocations. The field of action is very wide in space: totius mundi; in its ministries: Missions, Exercises, pious action, Catholic Action, Dioceses, Vicariates, Prefectures, Parishes, Seminaries, teaching, publications, schools, propaganda. All of these things demand much personnel, select personnel” (N. GARCÍA, circular on Formación Religiosa, Misionera y Claretiana [Religious, Missionary and Claretian Formation] FRMC., Annales, 39 (1947), pp. 65-119; quotation on pp. 86-87).

[8] “Each Province, Vice-province and even Visitorship, if circumstances so demand, should have:

a) At least a Postulancy School; but they should not be contented with one, rather they should open more, if there are hopes of new vocations and viability for their maintenance.

b) Prepostulancy or lower Postulancy Schools, if they are deemed suitable as vocation gathering centres. If circumstances warrant it, these Prepostulancy Schools may be multiplied, even at the cost of reducing the Higher Postulancy Schools.

c) With the appropriate permissions, small youth centres may be established even in special houses, where the youth may be trained for Postulancy, as our Fr. Founder indicated as early as 1870, and the General Government established in 1876.

It would be a praiseworthy idea to have in each of the aforementioned major organisms a prudent and zealous priest, appointed by the Major Superior to promote, guide, foster and stimulate the work of vocations, always under the supervision of the same Major Superior” (N. GARCÍA, Vocación…, ColCC., pp. 356-357).

[9] “From all the foregoing we can infer, Brothers, that our love for the Congregation, our love for the Church, our love for souls and our love of God impose upon us the necessity of:

1st. Ceaselessly praying God to send many and good labourers to the vineyard of the Congregation.

2nd. Seeking many and good vocations by all possible means.

3rd. Cherishing, loving and defending our vocation.

4th. Living in conformity with it.

The Holy Constitutions offer us a very broad evangelisation plan: first, they present the brilliant idea of our Father: the salvation of people throughout the world. Then they point out very diverse and very efficacious means: catechisms, exercises, missions, teaching; all possible means and throughout the entire world. That implies many labourers and, therefore, many vocations. Without numerous labourers, the Congregation will not be able to carry out the very broad plan laid out in the Constitutions.

Let us not be the cause for the Congregation’s failure to carry out its aim; that would be its death. Let us ceaselessly ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers. We must put our trust in the Lord and in our Mother; work as good soldiers of Christ and not doubt that the Congregation will grow. Thus we shall be able to say, “Rise up and see how many are the children who greet you and surround you.” Let us all work under the maternal mantle of Mary’s Heart, filling with light people of the entire world, ascending the ladder of sanctity to its very top. Thus we will deserve that the divine glory that the Congregation is spreading here on earth may envelop us in heaven with a mantle of eternal bliss” (N. GARCÍA, Vocación…, ColCC., pp. 364-365).

[10] “It is a fatal mistake to believe that once this grace has been received, once we have been incorporated in the body of the Congregation, transplanted or grafted into this vineyard of the Lord, we need not worry about it any longer. This is what causes many, after the Noviciate, or studies, or the first years of public life, to fall into lukewarmness, laziness of spirit, laxity in the ways of perfection. As a consequence, bad inclinations revive, in the same way as thorns and thistles grow in a neglected field” (N. GARCÍA, Vocación…, ColCC., p. 346).

[11] “One begins to dream about the apparent advantages of secular life; the love of recollection is lost; one does not find pleasure in prayer; mortification becomes difficult; life of submission, unbearable; one does not any more see in one’s vocation those sublime ideals that used to be so inspiring. Very easily one begins to think that there are situations even more conducive to virtue, a theory that does not fit in with the teachings of the Church; that perhaps they could work better in other situations; that religious life is a burden rather superior to the human strength” (N. GARCÍA, Vocación…, ColCC., pp. 346-347).

[12] “All this means that it is necessary to cultivate one’s vocation as one cultivates a fragile and delicate plant that one wishes to see grown and developed. This plant, left to itself, exposed to the weather, to the heat of the sun, to the bite on the insects, will unfailingly die. In the same way a vocation that is not nourished, protected and defended will die and be lost” (N. GARCÍA, Vocación…, ColCC., p. 347).

“The reason of all this is that vocation is a grace, a very special grace; and it is well known that grace, if not responded to, is lost. Therefore, it is the task of all to cultivate it always” (Ib., p. 349).

[13] N. GARCÍA, Vocación…, ColCC., p. 346.

[14] N. GARCÍA, Vocación…, ColCC., p. 349.

[15] “That plant can only take root, grow, develop and bear fruit in a supernatural atmosphere; it requires delicate care” (N. GARCÍA, Vocación…, ColCC., p. 346).

[16] 1st. Estimating one’s vocation, having a very high idea of it; appreciating it as God’s very special gift, as our Rules tell us (…)”

2nd. Loving our vocation with great affection, as the greatest good after baptism (…). Therefore we should be happy with our vocation, continuously thanking God for it, asking for holy perseverance, which is a sure guarantee of eternal salvation.”

3rd. Vocation is a seed, as we have said and the Church teaches (…). Work and care is needed to develop this seed. Whoever does not develop it, whoever does not advance goes backward, according to our holy Constitutions (…).”

4th. (…) We must fight against these enemies of our vocation with the weapon of faith, as our Father tells the Novices (C. XXIV, n. 105), with the weapon of mortification, with the weapon of prayer. Only God can grant perseverance, but God does not deny it to those who ask for it. For this reason, we should unceasingly ask for this precious gift every day, but above all in moments of temptation or danger.”

5th. (…) That treasure is better kept by means of seclusion, of recollection, because religious life is separation from the world, or with proper cautions, when the duties of our ministry call us to deal with people in the world, in order to bring them to God.”

6th. Placing vocation in its proper atmosphere (…). Self-sacrifice is the adequate atmosphere for vocation (…). This is the atmosphere where it takes root, grows and reaches maturity (…).”

7th. “That spirit (of religion) gives life, makes work easy, urges on to works proper of Religion. Externally, living out the spirit of Religion comes down to the generosity towards offices, assignments, ministries, (…). Our Founder demands this from those who enter. The lack of this generosity is the origin of worries, discomfort, discussions, even the loss of vocation” (N. GARCÍA, Vocación…, ColCC., pp. 349-351).

[17] Cf. N. GARCÍA, Vocación…, ColCC., pp. 351-355.

[18] “We believe that a missionary should think and feel that his state is indeed divine and the best for him; that, within the Congregation, he can develop his spirit, his piety, his holiness and his apostolic zeal; that in the Congregation, if he lives in conformity with it, he will have peace of soul; that the Congregation will be the guide that will lead him in the ways of holiness to the heights of eternal glory” (N. GARCÍA., circular on the Estima, amor e interés por la Congregación [Esteem, Love and Concern for the Congregation], Anales, 26 (1930), pp. 33-43; ColCC., pp. 271-280; quotation on p. 277).

[19] “This idea should take root in all the sons of the Congregation as early as the noviciate; furthermore, these ideas should be expressed in order to encourage oneself and to stimulate others. In this way we create an optimistic climate. The shadows of certain religious, that will always be there, either by temperament or out of spite, or due to mistaken ideas of false spirituality, will drown in this climate of light and reassuring enthusiasm” (N. GARCÍA, Ib., ColCC., p. 277).

[20] “There are those who see nothing but perfection in other Institutes and defects in their own. This defeatist spirit, contrary to all enthusiasm, can only lead to pessimism” (Ib., ColCC., p 277).

[21] “(…) above all, let us offer the Congregation the great good of religious observance: this will be its life, its peace, its happiness, its prosperity and its glory. In this way, far from being ashamed of any of its sons, the Congregation will be able to boast of their holy life: Vos corona mea et gaudium meum [You are my crown and my joy]” (Ib., ColCC., p. 279).

[22] “Its spreading throughout the world demands that all strive to procure vocations, by fostering its schools” (Ib., ColCC., p. 276).

“The missionaries who truly love the Congregation procure her all the good they can, the good of vocations, making use of all possible means to foster them. Above all, we would like them to fix their attention on the need of mature vocations, namely, priests and advanced students and Brothers with some profession. Nothing that is done in this matter will be too much, and they should not forget that God uses human means to select his chosen ones (…). We also vehemently urge you to promote the Pious Union of Suffrages which, besides fostering popular devotion and doing good to the souls in purgatory, is also a great help for our Schools, whence will come the new missionaries that we so badly need, as we all acknowledge” (Ib., ColCC., p. 278).

[23] N. GARCÍA, circular on Formación de nuestros estudiantes, Anales, 28 (1932), pp. 225-244; ColCC., pp. 513-533.

[24] Cf. note 379.

[25] In order to be counted among the great missionary figures, such as that of our Fr. Founder, “it is indispensable that the Son of the Heart of Mary, during his formation days, engrave in himself the image of Jesus Christ, Eternal Priest, divine Saviour and Redeemer of people by his doctrine and by his precious blood, in such a way that, at the end of his formation or career it may be said of him: this Missionary is alter Christus, another Christ” (N. GARCÍA, FRMC., p. 75).

[26] “The lack of that clear idea in the mind, made blood and life in the heart, causes many not to enter with total resolution into real life, into the great road of the holy, perfect, most efficacious life of a Missionary Son of the Immaculate heart of Mary” (N. GARCÍA, FRMC., P. 75).

[27] N. GARCÍA, FRMC., P. 76.

[28] “All the young missionaries should engrave in their heart this idea: Vae mihi si non evangelizavero [Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel] (1Cor 9,16)” (N. GARCÍA, Formación de…, ColCC., p. 531).

[29] N. GARCÍA, Formación de…, ColCC., pp. 532-533.

[30] N. GARCÍA, FRMC., pp. 92-93.

[31] Cf. 1Cor, 10,4.

[32] “If he is well formed, he establishes a safe, firm and stable foundation, because it is based on the rock that is Christ (1Cor, 10,4) (…). He will be a successful Missionary since effectiveness in ministry is linked to the good formation he has received, not only technically, but especially spiritually” (N. GARCÍA, FRMC., P. 98).

“A missionary must be formed because the fruit of his ministry depends on his spiritual and professional life. The fruit of the ministry is the result of two causes: the virtue itself of the ministry and the preparation of the person who receives the ministry” (Ib., p. 84).

[33] N. GARCÍA, Acuerdos…, ColCC., p. 860.

[34] “Christ must be formed in the Missionary. That is the task of our formators. The Missionary must bear Christ in his body by the example of all modesty (…) bearing in his body the marks of Christ (Gal 6,17) so that he may be Christ’s fragrance (2Cor 2,15). He should bear Christ in his soul, in his mind, directing his acts, his words, his projects, his works, his studies to the glory of God and the welfare of souls (…). He should bear Christ in his heart, seeking not his own glory and exaltation, but the glory of God, until he can say with Jesus Christ: ego quae placita sunt ei facio semper; ego non quaero gloriam meam [I always do what pleases him; I don’t seek my own glory] (Jn 8, 29, 50)” (N. GARCÍA, FRMC., p. 96).

“Thus formators of missionaries should not abandon his charges but rather assist them always with their example, prayer, word, counsel, correction, so that Christ may be formed in the conscience of all, until they reach the fullness of the age of Christ (Eph 4,13)” (Ib., p. 97).

[35] Phil 2, 21; Cf. N. GARCÍA, FRMC., p. 80.

[36] Cf. N. GARCÍA, FRMC., P. 119.

[37] “How shall we achieve such lofty and perfect formation? 1st, with prayer: only God forms the souls He created. Only the Holy Spirit, who physically formed Jesus Christ in the womb of the most Blessed Virgin, only He can form the image of Jesus Christ in people. The priest is the masterpiece of the Holy Spirit. The religious is the result of the great inpouring of the grace of the Holy Spirit in the soul; it is He who, with indelible characters, imprints in the soul of the religious the image of Jesus Christ crucified, the ideal of the religious. Only the Holy Spirit, who inspired our Founder, will engrave the Claretian ideal in the Missionary, Priest, Student or Brother. For this reason, the Congregation should, first of all, pray with unutterable groans to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, to come with the abundance of his gifts, his charisms, his inspirations, his irresistible motions, upon each and everyone of the Sons of the Heart of Mary. Only with prayer, much prayer, insistent prayer on the part of all, but especially of those in charge of formation, shall the Claretian idea of perfection, of holiness, zeal, science, oratory, culture, professional work, be realised and incarnate in the heart and mind and be put into practice” (N. GARCÍA, FRMC., p. 107).

[38] Cf. N. GARCÍA, FRMC., p. 107.

[39] “Let us pray, dear Brothers; let us pray much, with humility and perseverance, through the mediation of the Mother of the Priest, of the Religious and of the Missionary. She formed in her womb and nourished her most blessed Son until he became a perfect man. May She also form the Missionary in her bosom, in her Immaculate Heart, and nourish him with the divine graces until he is fully developed, according to the fullness of the maturity of Christ, and keep him under her maternal protection. She who is the Mother of perseverance” (Ib., p. 107).

[40] “The Missionary Priest must be by vocation, by profession, a man of God: Tu autem homo Dei (1Tim 6,11). Prayer must take up a great part of his time: Nos vero orationi et ministerio verbi instantes erimus [As for us, we shall give ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word] (Acts 6,4). He must live for God, in God and with God; he must constantly lift up his heart to God” (N. GARCÍA, FRMC., P. 93).

“The Missionary must be, above all, a man imbued with a very great spirit of prayer, which everywhere must accompany the Son of the Congregation” (N. GARCÍA, circular on piety: La piedad, Anales, 21 (1925), pp. 225-240; ColCC., pp. 646-662, quotation on p. 656).

[41] “A Missionary who is full of God changes the world. History teaches this” (N. GARCÍA, FRMC., p. 84).

[42] “All this professionalism demands virtue, a docile spirit, constant study, a life of seclusion, an unselfish life, intimate union with God, constant recourse to prayer; in one word, a holy life” (N. GARCÍA, FRMC., p. 94).

[43] “All the organisms of the Congregation, all the functions, all the means of formation must be directed to producing Missionaries animated by that spirit. Postulancy, Noviciate, Scholasticate, Year of Perfection, Second Noviciate, first years of Ministry, everything should be directed to this formation. Superiors, Novicemasters, Prefects, Professors, Confessors, Ministers, Preachers, should cooperate to this end” (FMRC., p. 94).

[44] “because the human person, in order to be complete, must develop and perfect all the elements that integrate its being, and the human person is not only body or only soul, but is composed of body and soul, with their respective faculties”.

[45] Cf. Eph, 4,13; N. GARCÍA, FRMC., p. 66-68.

[46] Cf. N. GARCÍA, Formación de…, ColCC., p. 515.

[47] “This formation, in all its broadness, is the direct object of Postulancy, of Noviciate, of Scholasticate, of the Year of Perfection, of the second Noviciate for perpetual profession and the exercise of the ministry (CIA. D.C., 504). That is the grave obligation of Provincial Superiors, Superiors, Novicemasters, Ministers, Prefects of Scholastics and Prefect of the Year of Perfection” (N. GARCÍA, FRMC., p. 70).

[48] Cf. N. GARCÍA, Formación de…, ColCC., pp. 200, 522-524,528-529.

“It is fitting that Prefects and Superiors instruct them on the dangers that may be found in the ministries, and present to them the world with its snares, so that they may prepare themselves to fight generously. They should also inform them about the character that their life should have, in order to become serious men, with solid and well-rooted ideas that will direct their life. Ideas are permanent, feelings are temporary and movable” (Ib., p. 529).

[49] N. GARCÍA, Formación de…, ColCC., pp. 523-524.

“Is this what we see? How many of those who in the seminaries seemed models of virtue go to the houses and forget everything! Could this be the fault of the Directors? It would be unfair to attribute it to them. People, ut in pluribus deficiunt [how they fail in many things]: but at any rate, it is good to learn the lesson” (Ib., ColCC., p. 524).

[50] “They (the Prefects) should raise their eyes and see to it that the students choose, for the sake of God, what is most humble and hardest; even more, that they take glory in the cross, like the Apostle. They should read the definition of a missionary left by our Founder, and study the chapter on interior mortification, and they will see the ideal they should aspire to. They should not be content with setting forth this ideal to them; they should see to it that the students gradually put it into practice. It should be clear that, as the occasions come, they willingly embrace, not only external, but also internal humility, since merely mental virtue lacks practical effectiveness. It is indispensable that the will adapts itself to these ideas and that these ideas act upon the life of the Students of the Heart of Mary. So long as our Directors do not form men who are habituated to these great virtues, we shall not have great Missionaries; they will be mediocre, they will never accomplish great things for God” (N. GARCÍA, Formación de…, ColCC., p. 530).

“Instructions are necessary, but they are not enough; those lessons of spirituality have to be applied, put into practice. Our formation, as we already said, cannot be only passive; it must be active; we too are all free (…). Virtues are acquired by exercise; for this reason, the Student must continuously exercise this supernatural virtue (of humility)” (N. GARCÍA, FRMC., p. 113).

[51] “What can be expected of persons who are cold, empty, dry, without enthusiasm or great ideals and, above all, without the warmth emanating from the presence of Him who came to bring fire to earth and wants to put it entirely on fire by means of his Ministers?” (N. GARCÍA, circular on La espiritualidad Misionera o Claretiana [Missionary or Claretian spirituality], Anales, 35 (1939), pp. 49-108; ColCC., pp. 85-155, quotation on p. 141).

[52] “These people are spiritually retarded; they are children who do not leave their childhood. They are not ready for the struggles of the spiritual man. Therefore, they frequently fall under the weight of spiritual life; they fall into lukewarmness, which is contrary to the law of love that says “you shall love God with all your heart, with all your strength, with all your mind.” These people love only with a part of their heart, of their mind, of their strength. They go against the law of progress (…). The law of progress enjoins ascende superius [go higher], aemulamini carismata meliora [set your hearts on the more precious gifts] (…)” (N. GARCÍA, La espiritualidad…, ColCC., pp. 125-126).

[53] N. GARCÍA, FRMC., p. 106.

“The Missionary, his heart set on Jesus, his divine Master, and on Mary, his Mother, supported by faith, strengthened by prayer, can say with the Apostle: neither thirst nor hunger, neither life nor death, neither heaven nor hell, will separate me from my Divine Jesus. Thus speaks the fervent missionary; but when fervour decays and the Missionary turns his eyes away from Jesus (…) then (…) he sinks in the waves of passions” (N. GARCÍA, La piedad, ColCC., p 647).

[54] N. GARCÍA, Formación de…, ColCC., p. 532.

[55] Regarding the necessity for the brothers to improve in their offices and tasks, cf. N. GARCÍA, FRMC., pp. 91-93. Cf. also the circular on Nuestros Hermanos Coadjutores [Our Coadjutor Brothers], Anales, 23 (1927), pp. 689-717; ColCC., pp. 554-583, reference on pp. 564-565; circular on Nuestros Hermanos Coadjutores, Annales, 38 (1945-1946), pp. 3-15, reference on pp. 8-9).

[56] “A missionary must be fluent in speaking and writing; but fluency in language is an art, and art is a habit, and a habit is only established by continuous use and practice. For this reason, the Missionaries should not leave the acquisition of language fluency for the time when they must exercise their ministries. By then they will encounter serious difficulties; while having a storehouse of knowledge, they will be unable to profit from it for lack of language fluency” (N. GARCÍA, Formación de…, ColCC., p. 519).

[57] Cf. N. GARCÍA, FRMC., pp. 110-111.

[58] N. GARCÍA, FRMC., p. 110.

[59] “In the Postulancy the general bases or foundations should be laid, to wit, fear of God, piety, above all toward the Virgin Mary, discipline or respect, and industriousness” (N. GARCÍA, Formación de…, ColCC., p. 552).

[60] “Prefects should persistently strive to foster the holy fear of God in the Postulants, not only in conferences or in private conversations, instilling in them a holy fear of all sin, making them practice acts of God’s presence. This fear should be filial, not servile, looking more at the love for God than at punishment; therefore, they should foster piety in these young men, more particularly the devotion to Mary, which will keep them away from sin and united to God” (N. GARCÍA, Formación de…, ColCC., p. 525; cf. also FRMC., p. 111).

[61] As early as the Postulancy, the seminarians should present positive indications towards their future life of obedience.

“Discipline. In order to be a Missionary, a very profound self-denial is needed. Therefore, it is imperative to continuously inure the young Postulants to discipline; transgressions against the Regulations of the Seminary should not be tolerated, much less, lack of respect to Superiors and Professors. In this regard, we call the attention of all those concerned with the formation of these young men. There should be unity of action among Superiors, Prefects, Professors and Confessors. If they do not unanimously strive to instil that spirit of docility, it will be very difficult, not to say impossible, that our Communities reach the level of perfection, as regards obedience and charity, that our Fr. Founder demands in our holy Constitutions. Superiors and Prefects should be very vigilant in this regard. Should they observe some unmanageable young men, opposed to any kind of discipline, these persons must be inexorably dismissed. We do not refer to those young men who, being good at heart, like children, inadvertently commit some faults, but are amenable to correction; we refer rather to those others who are opposed to any yoke, who do not yield or admit correction. Pius X said that Seminarians with these characteristics, after a fruitless year, must be dismissed, never to be admitted in any Seminary, for lack of qualities for priesthood” (N. GARCÍA, Formación de…, ColCC., pp. 526-527).

[62] Cf. N. GARCÍA, FRMC., p. 111.

“The young seminarians need a deep piety in order to persevere in virtue, above all to keep the virtue of chastity; more particularly, in the Congregation they need a sincere, enthusiastic and practical devotion to the Heart of Mary. Prefects should train them much in these practices, and see to it that they do frequent offerings to Mary and visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. In this way they will preserve purity and virtue in their Postulancy schools, (…)” (N. GARCÍA, Formación de…, ColCC., p. 526).

[63] Cf. N. GARCÍA, FRMC., pp. 111-112.

“(…) as early as the Postulancy, the children in the preparatory stage should make their essays; but in such a way that they not only translate the thought or essay made by their professor but the Postulant himself, in view of the rules and notions he has received, writes his own exercise and makes short essays” (N. GARCÍA, Formación de…, ColCC., p. 519).

[64] Cf. N. GARCÍA, FRMC., p. 112.

“Our Missionaries should be extremely polished; they have to deal with all sorts of people: omnibus debitor sum [I am under obligation to all] (Rom, 1,14). Therefore, it is necessary that they be socially educated, so that they can decorously appear before people and, since social education cannot be improvised, it is indispensable that during the formation years they behave with the good manners they will have to practice in public life” (N. GARCÍA, Formación de…, ColCC., p. 530).

[65] “The most suitable time for formation is the Noviciate” (N. GARCÍA, FRMC., p. 112).

[66] “The Noviciate is a mould into which the novices must cast themselves… The Founder gives us a well-made mould, that is, the holy Constitutions, where he draws the image of a Missionary. It is necessary that the Novices, under the guidance of the Novicemaster, carve this image in their soul” (N. GARCÍA, FRMC., p. 112).

[67] N. GARCÍA, La espiritualidad…, ColCC., p. 147.

[68] N. GARCÍA, Formación de…, ColCC., p. 527.

[69] N. GARCÍA, FRMC., pp. 112-113.

[70] “It is necessary that the idea that the superior represents God and governs in his name be deeply engraved in all the Sons of the Congregation. However, they should not consider in the Superior his human personality, the perfect or imperfect characteristics that distinguish it, but only his representation (…). We strongly recommend that this matter be frequently discussed and even be presented in talks to the Communities, especially in the Noviciates and Scholasticates” (N. GARCÍA, Obediencia cristiana y religiosa [Christian and religious obedience], Anales, 22 (1926), pp. 5-28; ColCC., pp. 622-646, quotation on p. 644).

[71] “Before opening the gates of the Institute, he (our Fr. Founder) admonishes that in it we make profession of perfect obedience. The candidate must have in mind that he should be content in any job or house obedience should place him in. Once the aspirant is admitted, when he is about to lay the foundations of religious life, the Founder tells the Novice that, together with the world, he should leave behind his own will and be perfect in obedience, so necessary to him, and so insistently prescribed by the Constitutions” (N. GARCÍA, Obediencia…, ColCC., p. 628).

[72] “2nd, Grounding them (the novices) in self-denial. Not only in the external, but also in the internal discipline of judgement and will; they should train them in the sacrifice of their own judgement and will; should not allow them to live internally according to their own whims, but see to it that they submit to the norms of the Congregation and the directions of the Superiors” (…) (N. GARCÍA, Formación de…, ColCC., pp. 527-528).

[73] 5th. In discipline. That the novices submit to the norms of the Congregation, those that our Founder left us in the holy Constitutions as well as those contained in the ordinations and dispositions of the Superiors. But this discipline must be spontaneous, born of conviction, not out of fear. Therefore, it is necessary that they do not act because of the vigilance of the Superiors. Their conduct should be dictated by their own conscience, and this conscience must be such that they ordinarily do not break the norms of their conduct” (N. GARCÍA, Formación de…, ColCC., pp. 528-529).

[74] Our Fr. Founder, in the Constitutions, “demands the expulsion of any novice who refuses to obey or does not want to submit his own judgement to the Superior” (N. GARCÍA, Obediencia…, ColCC., p. 628).

[75] N. GARCÍA, Formación de…, ColCC., p. 528.

[76] N. GARCÍA, Formación de…, ColCC., p. 530. Even in social education and in their courteous relationship with their Superiors and the rest of the brothers, the Students should be humble and docile (Cf. in., p. 531).

[77] N. GARCÍA, circular on El celo [On Zeal], Anales, 27 (1931), pp. 209-221; ColCC., pp. 679-692, quotation on p. 692.

[78] The necessity of a higher culture on the part of a Missionary cannot be called into question. That culture must always be up-to-date. A Missionary cannot be out of touch with the general culture of his time. This would be detrimental to the mission” (N. GARCÍA, circular on Las Bibliotecas [On Libraries], Anales, 38 (1945-1946), pp. 305-316, quotation on p. 315).

Human Sciences and Arts themselves can be of service to your mission, that is, to transform the profane temples into temples of the living God” (Ib., p. 316).

“A Missionary should be able to express the divine truths in various forms, acceptable to the many different audiences to whom he must address his word. The Priest should study the great political, social, philosophical, scientific and moral questions, aspirations of the peoples, all manifestations of life, in order to impregnate them, give them form, penetrate them with the divine. Thus he will be able to avoid error, the deception of the masses, and to direct the great impulses of the peoples, along ways marked out by Revelation, by the Church, towards attaining the final destiny. All this presupposes on-going study” (Ib., p. 315).

[79] N. GARCÍA, Acuerdos…, ColCC., p. 861.

[80] Cf. N. GARCÍA, FRMC., pp. 91-94.

“Spiritual formation is not sufficient; professional formation is indispensable (…). For this reason the Church and our Congregation, following the Church’s direction, prescribe a career. Study must be intensive and extensive. All sciences have a more or less direct relationship with the Missionary’s professional formation. The Missionary should have a high general culture in addition to his own specific one. He should not only be at the same level with the educated persons of the world, but he should rise above the general level of the Clergy, because of his public mission (…). The Student of the Heart of Mary should be convinced that he needs a great love for study in order to keep on forming himself professionally towards the Ministry” (N. GARCÍA, circular on Ministries, Annales, 38 (1945-1946), pp. 361-386, quotation on p. 370).

[81] Cf. N. GARCÍA, FRMC., p. 101.

[82] Cf. N. GARCÍA, FRMC., P. 108.

[83] “Superiors, Prefects, Novicemasters, Professors, Ministers, Confessors, are delegates of the Congregation, which transfers to them its rights, its duties and its responsibility. The weal or woe of the Congregation, then, depend on them” (N. GARCÍA, FRMC., p. 101; cf. also p. 107).

[84] “One of the most serious obligations of religious Superiors is to ensure a good formation of their subjects, particularly of the young who prepare themselves for the priesthood (…). Formation of the young religious is the first and most serious obligation of all religious Superiors” (N. GARCÍA, Formación de…, ColCC., p. 513).

The specific functions of superiors in the area of formation are described in the Constitutions, in our law and in the study plans. Together with the superiors, the General and Provincial Chapters, as agencies of government, have normally taken care of the formation of our members, guiding and legislating according to the circumstances of the moment. As regards responsibility in the formation of the brothers, cf. N. GARCÍA, Nuestros Hermanos…, Annales, 38 (1945), pp. 8,11.

[85] In fact, with some exceptions, they have addressed their circular letters on formation to the entire Congregation, aware that the whole Congregation is responsible for formation and that all its members should be directly or indirectly committed to the formative task.

[86] In the formation centres, provincials should place “religious of great virtue who will educate more by the example of all religious and priestly virtues (…) than by their word” (N. GARCÍA, FRMC., p. 104; cf. also pp. 107-108).

[87] “We have written to you, venerable Directors, Professors, and dear Students, with the desire that you work ever more eagerly in your formation and in the work of forming our youth. The future of the Congregation depends on you; what you are, the Congregations will be; if you prove perfect in your formation work, we will have a perfect Congregation; if you are negligent, you will cause the Congregation irreparable damage. (N. GARCÍA, Formación de…, ColCC., p. 533).

[88] “Lastly, if the government of our Communities, and especially of the Formation Centres, is not well regulated, vocations will not be cultivated… The Formation Centre is the mould for Missionaries: it should be perfect. It is the source of missionary life: it should be pure, abundant and uncontaminated. It is the root: it should be healthy, vigorous and well rooted” (N. GARCÍA, Vocación…, ColCC., pp. 354-355).

Together with the novicemasters, prefects and ministers, responsible for the integral formation of the novices, students and brothers, there are other persons seriously involved in their formation. Our Congregational documents continuously speak about them (N. GARCÍA, FRMC., p. 104). For superiors, formators and confessors, see the reserved circular on chastity, by N. GARCÍA, Conducta de los Superiores, Confesores y demás encargados de la formación en nuestros Colegios [Behaviour of Superiors, Confessors and other Persons-in-Charge of the Formation in Our Formation Centres], dated 5 June 1938 (Cf. AG CMF: 9, 8, 54).

[89] N. GARCÍA, FRMC., p. 102.

[90] PH. MAROTO, circular letter on La Obra del Templo al Corazón de María y Colegio Internacional en Roma [The Work of the Shrine of the Heart of Mary and the International College in Rome], Annales, 31 (1935), pp. 259-264. For the Statutes of the College, cf. Ib., pp. 13-16.

[91] PH. MAROTO, circular on Algunos puntos de observancia religiosa [Some Points of Religious Observance], Annales, 31 (1935), pp. 145-186.

[92] PH. MAROTO, Ib., p. 149.

[93] PH. MAROTO, Ib., pp. 164-166.

[94] PH. MAROTO, Ib., p. 177.

[95] PH. MAROTO, circular on the priesthood In Litteras Encyclicas Ssmi. Domini Nostri Pii Papae XI “De Sacerdotio Catholico” [On the Encyclical Letter of Pope Pius XI on Catholic Priesthood], Annales, 32 (1936), pp. 189-191, 239-261; ColCC., pp. 458-488.

[96] PH. MAROTO, Ib., p. 479.

[97] PH. MAROTO, circular on Las Misiones en la Congregación, Annales, 33 (1937), pp. 147-153; ColCC., pp. 308-315.

[98] PH. MAROTO, Ib., p. 312. The suggestions appear in Fr. Raymond Ribera’s note, Por nuestras Misiones [For our Missions], Annales, 33 (1937), pp. 11-13.

[99] PH. MAROTO, Ib., p. 312.

[100] “We want to say a word also to our beloved young students in our formation centres. Non-Christian Missions constitute a great future for the Congregation and you are called to carry it out for God’s glory. This will bring consolation to the divine Heart of Jesus, joy to the Heart of our sweetest Mother, honour to the Institute that received you and takes care of you with maternal care, and will be your own glory and crown. Do not be enticed by ministries that are easily combined with a comfortable, easy-going life, unworthy of a son of the most dynamic Fr. Claret; or those that are glamorous in the eyes of people (…)” (PH. MAROTO, Ib., pp. 312-313).

[101] Among other writings of Fr. SCHWEIGER on various formative aspects, the following circulars may be consulted:

•De studiis in Congregatione impense fovendis [On Studies that Are to Be painstakingly Cultivated in the Congregation] Annales, 45 (1959-1960), pp. 151-165.

•Instructio de clericorum vitae spiritualis formatione liturgica [Instruction on the Liturgical Formation of the Clerics’ Spiritual Life] Annales, 48 (1965-1966), pp. 5-9.

•Centenarium approbationis Pontificiae Nostrae Congregationis in luce Concilii Vaticani II [Centennial of the Pontifical Approval of our Congregation in the light of Vatican II Council], Annales, 48 (1965-1966), pp. 203-239.

[102] P. SCHWEIGER, circular letter De vocationibus cooptandis, seligendis, colendis et de dono propriae vocationis aestimando, Annales, 43 (1955), pp. 155-176). The quotations will refer to Annales, but the texts transcribed in the original Spanish book are taken from the Spanish translation published in the Crónica de la Provincia Claretiana de Castilla, 155 (1955), pp. 167-175 and 156 (1956), pp. 199-207.

[103] CATALOGUS C.M.F., Rome 1955, pp. 255.

[104] P. SCHWEIGER, De vocationibus cooptandis…, p. 156.

[105] Cf. P. SCHWEIGER, De vocationibus cooptandis…, p. 156.

[106] “Because of our intimate connection with Holy Mother Church and our common mission, our (Claretian) Family considers itself its ally and shares its worry and concern. This is all the more so, because of the aim our Founder gave us, namely, seeking the salvation of all people throughout the world (Cons., P. I, n.2); using all possible means (Ib. II, 63); preaching God’s word to all sorts of people (Ib.). All of us are fully aware and deeply regret how far we still are from attaining this broad aim. Very vast fields are already white for the harvest (Jn 4, 4); indeed, the harvest is rich, but the workers are few (Lk 10, 2). Therefore, alas!, great is the harvest that lies on the Lord’s field and is not gathered in the barn for lack of workers and reapers, because of the scarcity of Priests and Missionaries” (P. SCHWEIGER, Ib., p. 156).

[107] “In truth, how meagre is the number of Missionaries, Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; how small the number of Priests in our Congregation, if we look at the broadness of our aim and of our mission. Because, even though the increase of the Congregation is constant, it is still not adequate to our aim; it is too slow for the more than centenary age of the Congregation, and too small for the number of apostolic schools and of Postulants attending them” (P. SCHWEIGER, Ib., p. 156).

[108] “It is also very important that, in our religious Family, spiritual life be greatly appreciated, painstakingly fostered by the Superiors (curent Superiores, we read in can. 595,1), and practised by all the members, so that we may truly be called and be Sons of the Im. Heart of the Bl. V. Mary. Because Christ our Lord came to the world so that all may have life and have it abundantly (Jn 10, 10). And now He sends religious and priestly vocations mainly to those religious Families where spiritual life is loved and cultivated in such a way that those who are called may be imbued with it and possess it, not in any small degree, but abundantly. We even think that our Lord Jesus Christ, in distributing vocations, keeps that paradoxical distribution: “The one who has will be given more and he will have in abundance. But the one who does not have will be deprived of even what he has” (Mt 13, 12). And why should we be surprised that Jesus Christ would send those whom he calls to holiness and apostolate to those religious Families where they would be able to attain more securely and more fully the aim of their vocation? Or, on the contrary, that He would keep them away from those Institutes where the grace of vocation might perhaps become useless? Let us, therefore, dear brothers, do our best so that in our religious Family spiritual life be dearly loved and all virtues painstakingly cultivated. We will be getting many and good vocations if we do this.” (P. SCHWEIGER, De vocationibus cooptandis…, pp. 157-158).

[109] “Apostolic generosity. If both the Congregation and its Provinces generously offer workers for the Lord’s vineyard, unafraid of incurring any loss but rather convinced that this would be a gain, we believe that this generosity would be another means to attract vocations to the Congregation. Let us not hesitate to give from our scarcity in order to favour those parts of our Congregation or of the world that suffer under extreme indigence of apostolic workers (…). Let us rest assured that He will keep His word, who said: “Give and it will be given to you; and you will receive a good measure, pressed down, full and running over. For the measure you give will be the measure you receive back (Lk 6, 38). Because God knows well that the Congregation and the Provinces, leaving aside their own utility and necessity, recruit, form and direct vocations to the most pressing aim.

On the other hand, we are not lacking generous young men who, attracted by the title and by the hope of doing apostolate in the missions, come into the Congregation. There are also others who, during their studies, offer themselves time and again to go to the missions, even the most difficult ones. Such generosity, when accompanied by other suitable conditions, is a sure sign of missionary vocation. And if this missionary vocation, in turn, is joyfully supported by the Superiors and offered to the Lord for God’s Vineyard, will be a token of new vocations” (P. SCHWEIGER, Ib., p. 158).

[110] “It is very important for the Congregation that the number of its members increase as much as possible. However efforts should be exerted not to act hastily and inconsiderately in the admission of candidates. We should indeed ardently desire the increase of the Congregation and its extension throughout the whole world and, to this end, we should unceasingly ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. However, it would be very harmful for the Congregation to admit into its bosom those who are not called, those who are ignorant or possess a bad character (Const. I, 74). Certainly, a lamentable and irreparable harm would be inflicted on the religious Family should this warning of our Fr. Founder not be heeded as faithfully as the previous injunction to increase the number of members. The same would be the case if, against the Founder’s advise, unworthy and unfit candidates should be admitted or if, once admitted, they would be retained or admitted to the Noviciate, to the religious Profession and even to the Priesthood itself” (P. SCHWEIGER, De vocationibus cooptandis…, pp. 160-161).

[111] P. SCHWEIGER, Ib., p. 161.

“We should be convinced that vocational screening is the best guarantee of the growth of the Congregation, since good members are an appeal for many. On the other hand, the lack of screening is a sure cause of decrease and ruin for the Congregation, since members of little worth repel the most valuable ones. Screening of vocations will afford the Congregation strength and vigour” (Ib. p. 162).

[112] Cf. P. SCHWEIGER, Ib., pp. 162-163.

[113] Cf. P. SCHWEIGER, De vocationibus cooptandis…, p. 163.

[114] Cf. P. SCHWEIGER, Ib., pp. 164-165.

[115] “(…) the education and formation of the candidate to religious life cannot be sectionalised in such a way as to cultivate first the natural and then the supernatural virtues. Formation is an organic evolution of human values and, as such, is spontaneous, gradual and harmonic” (Ib., p. 165).

[116] “And, since religious life is nothing but an imitation of Christ made norm and example of life, the young candidates, from the very beginning, should be initiated in this new form of life through suitable instructions and exercises that are fit to their condition and capacity” (Ib. p. 166).

[117] “It is important that this family breeze be felt mainly by those who come from the world to the Congregation, so that when they come near us, especially near the children and young postulants, they may be reminded of that Bonum est nos hic esse, it’s good to be here” (P. SCHWEIGER, Ib., p. 164).

[118] This decline of the esteem for one’s own vocation “undoubtedly manifests itself in the unbelievable thoughtlessness with which some religious ask for dispensation from their vows. Some, immediately after their profession, because they do not feel strong enough to keep their vows. Others, soon after ordination, lured by the ease with which they can outside land a good job, by which, as they claim, they will be able to help their parents, or some relatives in need, or keep them away from losing social status. Lastly, there are some who, perhaps after rendering excellent service, when some adversity comes, common life and submission to the Superiors become too heavy for them, and so they strive to obtain the decree of secularisation” (Ib. p. 167).

[119] Ib., p. 167.

[120] “By necessity, it will happen that those who, at the proper time, were not well screened, later in life will declare themselves impotent to carry out the duties of religious life” (Ib., p. 167).

[121] “Perhaps too much attention is given to preparing the young religious for the works and external activities of the Institute, to the extent of causing harm to what should be the soul of all activity of the religious, to wit, inner life. Perhaps more thought is given to forming a good labourer than a good religious” (Ib., p. 167).

[122] Cf. Ib., p. 168.

[123] Cf. Ib., pp. 168-169.

[124] “In order to maintain in our Family the grace of fidelity to religious vocation and to increase everyday the appreciation of that same vocation, first of all each one should pray for himself. But we should also confidently pray for all our brothers, since vocation is a great gift, a freely given grace, which we can lose or which can be taken away from us, if we are unworthy of it. In addition, we strongly recommend that, always and everywhere in our Communities, a spiritual and family atmosphere be created and fostered. In this way, all in the house and those who may come to it will be encouraged and strengthened. They will joyfully and gratefully bless the hour when our divine Mother called them to the Congregation and, from the bottom of their heart, they will ask her for the grace of fidelity to their vocation till death” (Ib., p. 170).