Historical Notes on Formation in the Congregation
1. Formation in the Congregation has received from the beginning a priority attention. So much so that, from the Founder himself, there has been in the Congregation a strong formative tradition, both oral and written. This tradition has been transmitted to the various generations of formators and has been continuously enriched with the teachings of the General Chapters and the Superiors, as well as with experience, the interchange among the formation centres and the commentaries to the Constitutions.
In the same way, our formation has ever been perfectly oriented and organised by means of well ordered and planned formative instruments. The Regulations written by our Fr. Founder, the directives of Frs. Xifré and Clotet, the diverse study plans, the decisions of the General Chapters and some of the circulars of the Superiors General, together with the various Constitutions, Dispositions and Codex Iuris Additicii (CIA), have been the sources that have inspired our formators in the fulfilment of their formative mission. This fact has always been very clear in the congregational awareness.
Fr. Martin Alsina acknowledged that we have in the Congregation all the necessary means for a good, integral formation:
“Thanks to God, in the Congregation we lack none of the necessary means for a good scientific, religious and apostolic formation. We have Superiors, Teachers, Constitutions and dispositions to form our will in such a way as to seek what is good and seek it steadfastly. We have Professors, conferences and good books to illustrate and educate our intelligence. We have models to imitate and not a few examples to admire. What else is needed? Our personal work.”
Years later, insisting on and developing the same idea, Fr. Nicholas García stated:
“The Claretian Missionary should not beg from other Institutes (formative) ways, methods, activities. All these things are worthy of respect but they are not his way or his type, because God has not given him that way of being and acting, but rather the way He inspired to the Blessed Father Founder. The formators should have a clear, precise, lively idea of Claretian form, Claretian asceticism, Claretian apostolate, Claretian being and acting. That being, that acting and that form are clear in our Holy Constitutions, in our additional Code, in the circular letters of the Superiors General; they are in our tradition (…). They will find that form aglow in the life of our Blessed Father Founder and in the lives of the Co-Founders, in the ascetical books written by our members, in the Spirit of the Congregation, Notes for the Coadjutor Brothers, Regulations for our schools, studies, Noviciates; Regulations for Missions and Spiritual Exercises, Instructions to Superiors, Professors, Teachers, etc….”
And the XV General Chapter of 1949, speaking on, non-academic, spiritual formation, affirmed:
“(The Chapter) has acknowledged that in this matter we have a magnificent theory: an exceptional chapter indeed, inspired on the Holy Constitutions, chapter XXV of part I, –De Scholasticis–, in addition to others devoted to the Novices, Novicemasters, and Prefects of Students. Moreover, there are very wise norms in our CODEX, which compiles the experiences of Experimental Psychology, as well as thorough circular letters from the Superiors General. The last General Chapter too gave practical norms for the formation of the personnel (…).”
2. Although I have not directly dealt on the Constitutions, nevertheless they have been present throughout the General Chapters, dispositions, circulars and formative documents. In addition, on the one hand, our Constitutions included in the constitutional text many of the orientations given by our Fr. Founder and by Frs. Xifré and Clotet. And, on the other, they gave rise to our legislation in the matter of formation and to many other future orientations with regard to their interpretation as well as their practical application.
3. In principle, I have dealt exclusively on the vocational theme and on the process of initial formation. In some particular case I have touched on permanent formation when it was fit to emphasise a formative initiative of special importance.
When referring to a General Chapter, circular or document I have tried, in most cases, to set it in a context briefly with the motives and reasons that gave rise to them. Moreover, I have paid attention only to the vocational and formative dimension. In the development of the contents I have not been exhaustive; I have underscored the more universal and central aspects and I have compiled whatever has a clear reference to the whole Congregation. I have not made a complete study of each historical phase or a critical analysis of the superiors general, the general chapters or the documents. This work should be done later on by means of more profound monographic studies.
4. The division of the different chapters corresponds to conventional periods with a certain significance and unity.
The first chapter corresponds to the first organisation of formation, while our Fr. Founder was still alive (1849-1870). The second, to the period of incumbency of Fr. Joseph Xifré as General, which was very fruitful in vocational and formative material, already without the physical presence of Claret (1871-1899). Chapter 3 comprises the period of the Superiors General Clement Serrat and Martin Alsina (1899-1922) until 1922, coinciding with the beginning of a new stage of renewal. Chapters 4 and 5 include a very long and very dense period embracing the governance of the Superiors General Nicholas García, Philip Maroto and Peter Schweiger until the Vatican Council II (1922-1966). Chapter 6 refers to a very transcendental period and deals in great depth with the postconciliar renewal period (1967-1997). And chapter 7 is dedicated to the General Plan of Formation as a culminating moment of the postconciliar period (1994).
And within each chapter, when we refer to a Superior General in a particular context, we are referring to his teaching, normally expressed in his circulars. We exclude the vocational and formative documents published during his time. These are dealt with under a different section.
First Organization of Formation 1849-1870
The Congregation, founded by Saint Anthony Mary Claret with a small group of priests, during the first years of its existence (1849-1857), did not contemplate the possibility of incorporating students.
I. Students in the Congregation (1858)
1. Fr. Xifré, concerned for the expansion of the Congregation, consulted the Fr. Founder on the opportuneness of admitting students into it. In reply, the Founder wrote to the Fr. General, suggesting that if they saw a well-disposed young man, they should admit him, even if he were not yet a priest, or even ordained, so long as he was well along in his studies and offered a guarantee of perseverance. The economic straits of the Congregation, which were troubling Fr. Xifré, also conditioned the possibility of accepting young men who had not finished their studies.
In another letter, full of gospel spirituality and of trust in the Lord’s providence, the Founder encourages Fr. Xifré in these terms:
At that time, the Founder only spoke of persons who were advanced in their priestly studies, were well disposed and had the will to belong to the Congregation and to persevere in it. At any rate, this was a crucial step that would in future days change the very face of the Congregation.
2. On the occasion of the First Assembly of the Institute (1859), Claret and Xifré had to talk about students and the possibility of making their studies in houses of the Congregation. This we gather from a letter of 15 June 1859, in which the Fr. Founder informs Fr. Xifré that he had talked with the Nuncio on the matter, and that the latter had granted permission for the students of the Congregation to pursue their studies in our own houses as if they were in seminaries. This faculty, as we gather from a letter of the Founder to the Nuncio, dated 11 June 1859, was granted orally in a conversation which must have taken place three days later, on June 14.
In order for Claret to obtain the faculty in writing, the Nuncio must have asked him to submit an official and formal request. This he did via a letter of 28 July 1859. Some days later, on 11 August 1859, the Nuncio replied, granting him the faculty in writing, adding certain observations in the writ of concession. On August 12, the Founder informed Fr. Xifré of the faculty granted by the Nuncio, and at the same time, sent him some very brief pointers of his own on the studies that ought to be made in the Congregation, entitled Plan of Studies of the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
3. Notwithstanding the foregoing, an event took place that was going to disturb the peace of Fr. Xifré in this matter. On 25 September 1859, the Fr. General sent Fr. Claret a petition to handle before the Holy See, in which he asked for the approval of the Institute and of its Constitutions. He also asked for several other favours, among them, the faculty allowing the students to do their studies in our houses under the supervision of the Superior General. It was the same faculty that the Nuncio had granted verbally and in writing, to the Fr. Founder and the Congregation, which Fr. Xifré now wanted to assure with pontifical approval. The reply to this petition, which arrived a year later, on 19 October 1860, was negative.
In view of this reversal, it was only logical that Fr. Xifré should ask the Founder about the validity of the faculty granted a year earlier by the Nuncio. The Fr. Founder set the General’s mind at peace and at the same time promised to consult the Nuncio for some assurance in the matter. The Nuncio´s reply must have been affirmative, as our Founder’s letter to Fr. Xifré, dated 12 December 1860, bears witness.
4. In practice, the Congregation continued using the faculty granted by the Nuncio as if nothing had happened. In fact, our Founder already had a fair idea that a negative reply would come from the Holy See. However, he wrote a letter on 29 June 1860 counseling the admission of a student, the future Fr. Donato Berenguer, who had not yet completed his seminary studies, and added some norms on how he might finish those studies. And on 3 May 1861 he wrote to Fr. Xifré, stating his satisfaction on the establishment of a chair of Canon Law, adding some practical norms on oratory, moral theology and the advisability of learning French.
5. This is how the first formation centres of the Congregation began to spring up in Vic. The year 1861 saw the inauguration of the first noviciate for priests and students. It had to begin somewhat earlier for the brothers, so that they could attend to the needs of the candidates who were entering. From 1861 to 1868, the year in which the Congregation had to leave Spain because of the Revolution, there were two noviciates in Vic, with their respective Masters and formation regulations.
The scholasticate, too, probably began in 1861 with the first candidates admitted, although some classes had already been given them. One set of statistics mentions 5 students in the course 1864-65, 7 in 1865-66, 10 in 1866-67, 11 in 1867-68 and 11 in 1868-69. Among the professors were Frs. James Clotet, Bernard Sala, Lawrence Font, Paul Vallier and Felix Bruch. During the summer, lectures were given by the aforesaid professors and others, including Fr. Xifré. It seems that the Novicemaster of both student and priest novices, was also the Prefect of the professed students.
II. Acceptance of students in the Constitutions (1862)
The second General Assembly of the Congregation (II General Chapter) in 1862 took a very important step with regard to the formation in the Congregation. It officially accepted in the Constitutions the category of students and promulgated the first directives for their formation and entrance into the Congregation.
III. Vocational and formative documents
1. Fr. Founder
1.1. Plan of Studies (1859)
The above mentioned Plan of Studies of the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which Claret sent to Fr. Xifré, has above all the great historical value of being the first formation document that the Fr. Founder wrote for the Congregation.
1st. Regarding the duration and the matters to be studied, there would be three years of Philosophy and four of Theology.
2nd. Regarding the method, there would be full dedication to study every day except holidays. Priests or those who are about to be ordained, in addition to studying, should prepare sermons and homilies and could help in some missions. Lastly, Fr. Founder says, “today the study and knowledge of French is a necessity.”
1.2. Formative Regulations (1862)
After the II General Chapter, the Fr. Founder immediately set about drafting the Congregation’s first document on formation as a whole, and not just on studies. According to a letter to Fr. Xifré dated 2 August 1862, Fr. Founder had already handed over to Fr. Clement Serrat in Segovia on 28 July the regulations for the students and the regulations for the Pedagogue or Prefect. The chapters on Aspirants, Novices, Master and his Assistant were drafted a few months later, between August and December of 1862. In fact, our Fr. Founder sent Fr. Xifré all the documents in definitive form on 20 December 1862, under the title of Reglamento [Regulations]. All of these formed a whole, entitled Reglamento para los Aspirantes, Probandos y Estudiantes de nuestra Congregación y sus respectivos Maestros [Regulations for Aspirants, Novices and Students of our Congregation and their respective Masters].
1st. Aspirants, Novices and Novicemaster
Once the students were officially admitted in the Congregation, the Fr Founder himself organised, from the beginning, the acceptance of the new vocations.
a) The Aspirants and their Master
Aspirants are those who have been accepted by the Congregation to be on trial for the two weeks previous to the noviciate. According to the Regulations, the Aspirants (priests, students and brothers) are to be accepted in a Community of the Congregation, lovingly attended to by those in charge and helped in the discernment of their vocation.
To this end, they should remain in the house for 15 days and should be very obedient to their Master. The latter, personally or through his Assistant, should “kindly” teach them all that seems suitable in the moral, formative and material order.
They are also given various occupations and tasks so that they may get to know the Congregation, conform themselves to its spirit and strengthen their will with special resolves suitable to the way of perfection they are about to start. Finally, should they, during this time, give hopes of being called to the Congregation, they will start the year of probation.
b) Objective of the Noviciate
Since the missionary has been called by God to an apostolic ministry, a “sublime and important” ministry, he should possess all the virtues that enable him for it. In this sense, the objective of the noviciate, as a year of probation, is to lay the foundation for those virtues.
c) The Novices
The first concern of the novices should be to attain the aim of the noviciate. Therefore, “their first attention should be directed” to acquiring all virtues, laying the foundations of the same and painstakingly putting into practice the most efficacious means to this end.
After the year of noviciate, if the novices have acquired a formation that is suitable to become good missionaries, and if “they are decided and resolved to remain in the Congregation,” they should prepare themselves with ten days’ spiritual exercises for their definitive admission through their consecration to God and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
d) The Novicemaster
With a view to the formation of the novices and in order to comply with his function of guiding, teaching and regulating the life of the Noviciate, the Novicemaster should be “light, way, father, teacher and model” to all.
The person chosen to fulfil this “very important task” must be a member of the Congregation who combines and possesses “the qualities of maturity, kindliness, discretion and knowledge suitable for this function.”
In the exercise of his functions the Novicemaster should above all take into account the following obligations:
With regard to spiritual health, the Novicemaster should help the novice in the formation of his missionary personality and accompany him in his vocational growth. He should offer him formative orientations, initiate him in prayer and the spiritual life, inculcate upon him truly missionary attitudes and help him overcome temptations. He should have a personal contact with the novice in order to get to know him more intimately and help him in his vocation.
Regarding bodily health, the Novicemaster should show particular concern for everything that may affect the novice, such as food, clothing, work, manner of studying, laziness or idleness, types of mortification and participation in recreation. In cases of sickness, he should seek the necessary information and prescribe the remedies suitable to the “maladies and temperament of each one.”
e) The Auxiliary to the Novicemaster
In order to help the Novicemaster, an Auxiliary should be assigned to him. He should possess the same spirit and qualities as the Novicemaster, should work in close relation with him and take his place when needed.
Our Fr. Founder starts from a principle of differential pedagogy when he establishes that the students’ formation should be governed: first, by the norms prescribed for the priests, that are compatible with their condition of students; and, second, by the specific formative orientations established for them in the Regulations.
a) The Students
To this end, the students should “carefully and fervently” make their personal prayer and follow the established rhythm of community prayer and spiritual reading, especially of the Word of God.
Regarding virtue, although they should strive to be adorned with all virtues, they should seek however those that are directly related to study, so that the trinomial science-virtue-piety may keep the right proportion and harmony in their life. Thus they should take into account the following criteria:
In addition, they should be respectful toward their professors and exemplary in their behaviour; they should give testimony of life to their companions and shine for their prudence and modesty.
Regarding study, in addition to what was previously said, the students:
On free days and holidays and during vacation time, the students should devote themselves to apostolic activities, to prepare themselves for preaching and oratory, to the study of national and foreign languages and to the review of previously studied matters.
b) The Pedagogue of the Students
His functions are in tune with the formative demands indicated by our Fr. Founder for the students. Thus, the formator:
In order to discharge his office, he should be aware of the very high mission that has been entrusted to him, he should give the necessary lectures and conferences, make the appropriate corrections with kindness and work in close union and collaboration with the Superior of the Community.
1.3. Other vocational and formative orientations
Apart from his works about vocation and seminary formation, our Fr. Founder throughout his life expressed his way of thinking in his letters, jottings and notes, through which he gave vocational and formative orientations to the Congregation according to the circumstances. Over and above what he expressed in his correspondence with Xifré, we recall here other testimonies.
1st. Right after the foundation of the Congregation, Claret was very careful before admitting new members in the community, making sure that no unfit persons would be incorporated. It was indispensable to make a good screening of the candidates.
2nd. In view of the scarcity of missionaries and the abundance of requests he receives, he constantly insists on the need to pray and ask the Lord to send labourers to his harvest. In his Autobiography he recommended praying the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin in the Noviciate because in this way “She would provide the Congregation with persons who would help it grow, spread and endure.”
3rd. Confronted with the difficulties the Congregation was encountering in its development, expansion and growth, he advises Fr. Xifré to strive to the best of his ability to promote vocations. He should not to fall asleep, but rather work without losing time to “gather and form young men;” and, if he needs to build, he should do so with complete freedom, without consideration of others’ opinions, and without anxiety about the expenses. More concretely:
* In 1867, in order to help Fr. Xifré solve some difficulties regarding the admission of students, Claret offered several solutions. And he added a thought that, in the words of the Saint himself, “you and your Consultors should think about.” The thought of the Founder was about the possibility of admitting students “of good disposition, with vocation and with solid hopes,” who would complete their humanistic formation in the Congregation. These students could be distributed among our houses, finish their studies of Philosophy and Theology in the seminaries of the cities where they were assigned, and do some apostolate or other activities compatible with their studies.
* And when he was in Rome for the Vatican Council I in 1869, he wrote a very interesting Vocational Note. It dealt with the idea of fostering vocations by training acolytes in churches and parishes. They should be taught Latin, rubrics, plainsong, etc, while staying in their own town. All missionaries should take this task upon themselves not only when they give missions but also when they are in their own communities (where there should always be one person charged with this task). According to our Father Founder, the experience in some dioceses has been positive, and these acolytes “are now good seminarians.”
4th. In spite of the temptations and difficulties that Satan will no doubt pose to prevent it, one has to struggle to be faithful to one’s vocation. To this end one must cherish the missionary vocation, live joyfully, keep always busy and pray to the Most Holy Virgin Mary.
2. Fr. Xifré
2.1. The Very Important Instruction (1862)
With the intention of making the Congregation known, Fr. Xifré wrote in 1862 a Very Important Instruction for the Aspirants to the Congregation of Missionaries of the Immaculate Heart of Mary0 It is the first vocation promotion document of the Congregation. Fr. General himself expresses its aim in a brief synthesis in the introduction:
We have thought of giving this news so that the aspirants as well as their directors may know what they are up to. Therefore, in order to know what line to take, they should carefully read the inspiring motivations, the advantages, the requirements and the impediments for the missionaries as well as for the students and brothers.”
The Instruction presents some requirements and impediments to enter the Congregation. First, it shows the motivations (motives, advantages, etc…) to become a missionary in the Congregation; then, more concretely, it deals with the conditions to admit priests and young men either as students or as brothers.
In order to regulate and facilitate the vocational discernment of those who are to examine the candidates, another Instructio is published in 1864 in the form of a questionnaire. This instruction, influenced by St. Ignatius Loyola, served as basis for chapters XVIII-XX of Part One of the Constitutions of 1865.
2.2. The Very Important Maxims (1862)
Another fruit of the discussions in the II General Chapter was the document that Fr. Xifré published towards the end of September of 1862, under the title Máximas importantísimas en todo tiempo y para todos los Misioneros, pero con más especialidad para los que están en el año de probación [Very important maxims for all times and for all Missionaries, and very specially for those in the year of probation]. It is a brief document of 10 maxims about the attitudes the novice should cultivate during the Noviciate (trust, humility, joy, etc…) and his relations with the Superiors and the Director.
The novice must fully believe and have the certainty of the realisation of his vocation. To this effect, he must trust that the Lord who chose him will give him the aptitude and all that is needed to fulfil the vocational project to which he has been called. He must put his trust in the Heart of Mary, because she is our Mother and Formatrix. And he must also trust in the Congregation who prays for all its members and helps them with all necessary means to be faithful.
Together with this personal conviction, grounded on the Lord, the Heart of Mary and the Congregation, the novice must also have a deep humility and self-confidence; he should not be afraid or sad when he is tempted with mistrust or experiences his own limitations. Therefore, he should never be weighed down by the many occupations he may have, or by the lack of talent or the necessary knowledge required by his vocation; and not even by the many faults and imperfections he commits, or the temptations he must undergo.
In addition to these reasons for trust, the novice should apply some means to become humble and to overcome his temptations or his personal limitations. The following means are recommended:
* Prayer: The novices should ask the Lord for what they need in health, knowledge and virtue in order to be faithful. They should insistently pray to the Heart of Mary, as their Mother and Formatrix. And they should have trust in the prayers of their own Brothers who pray for them.
* Spiritual direction: In temptations, anguish and in moments of sadness, in addition to fighting against them and praying, it is indispensable and necessary to have recourse to the spiritual director or to the superior.
3. Fr. Clotet
3.2. Later on, Fr. Clotet wrote for them the Directori dels Hermanos Ajudants de la Congregació del Inmaculat cor de Maria ó sian Instruccions prácticas para combinar los seus traballs domestichs amb lo cumpliment de la reglas de dita Congregació. This directory contains instructions for various professions, as well as others of a spiritual or religious character.
IV. General Chapters
1. I General Chapter. Vich 1859
The I General Chapter, so called Junta General [General Assembly] of the Congregation took place in Vich on 28 May 1859 and dealt with the interpretation of some points of the Constitutions ( “congregantes,” stroll, the prayer “O Virgin and Mother of God,” fasting, etc…) No reference was made to formation.
2. II General Chapter. Gracia 1862
The second General Assembly of the Congregation [II General Chapter] was held in Gracia from 7 to 14 July 1862, as prescribed by the Constitutions. It was a very important Chapter in many aspects, but especially in the matter of formation. Concretely:
1st. The category of students was established by means of decrees that amended numbers 5 and 13 of the 1857 Constitutions. Therefore, the constitutional text of n. 5 remained in this way: In addition (the Congregation) will be made up of Priests, Students and Adjutant Brothers.
3rd. Lastly, it was requested that the students, who voluntarily left the Congregation or who by their own fault were expelled, should indemnify the Congregation for all expenses and losses incurred during their studies.
3. III General Chapter. Gracia 1864
The III General Chapter was held in Gracia from 3 to 6 July 1864. Among the matters discussed, there is one of utmost importance, because of the authentic interpretation of our missionary spirit and the indirect reference to formation. We are referring to the attention to seminaries, a new activity that can be accepted in the Congregation under two dimensions: the spiritual direction of the seminarians and the professorship in ecclesiastical sciences.
 XV GENERAL CHAPTER, Annales, 40 (1949-1950), p. 128. Cf. also J.Mª Palacios, cmf, Notas históricas sobre la formación en la Congregación [Historical Notes on Formation in the Congregation] and the bibliographical summary of the Appendix 1 in the General Plan of Formation.
 We should remember that the Constitutions of the Congregation in their various editions and adaptations constitute the basic formative frame. All later reflections and orientations emanate from them.
 In addition to this volume, another one is in the process of preparation with some monographic themes on typically Claretian formation, such as: personal accompaniment; the presence of Mary, Mother and Formatrix; preparation for the noviciate, perpetual profession and sacred orders.
 “I am of the opinion that when they see a young man who is well-disposed, etc., etc…, they should admit him, even if he is not a priest or even ordained, provided that he is advanced in his studies and offers hope of persevering in the Congregation, (…)” (Letter of August 4, 1858: EC. I, p. 1624)a.
 The first student who entered the Congregation was Hilarius Brossosa. Shortly after his ordination as a Deacon, he was admitted on 1 July 1858 (Cf. MARIANO AGUILAR, Historia de la Congregación de Misioneros Hijos del I. Corazón de María, vol. I, Barcelona 1901, p. 100).
 “I whiled away the time writing some notes regarding the studies and I had no time. Here they are just as they were at the time of writing this letter” (Cf. letter of 12 August 1859: EC II, p. 16).
 Cf. J.M. LOZANO, CCTT, P. 610. In the mind of Fr. Claret the study of languages was very important toward the universal mission. He himself cultivated them (Cf. J.M. PALACIOS, El estudio personal de las lenguas en San Antonio Ma. Claret [Personal Study of Languages according to St. Anthony M. Claret]: Studia Claretiana, IX (1991), pp. 81-107) and frequently recommended them to the seminarians (cf. El colegial o seminarista teórica y prácticamente instruido [The Well Instructed Seminarian] v. I, Barcelona 1860, pp. 202-203; v. II, Barcelona 1861, pp. 406-407) and to the missionaries in formation of the Congregation (cf. later on, when speaking of the formative Regulations).
 “By this letter I wish to inform you that, considering how important it is to train well in knowledge and virtue the young men that God may call to our Congregation, I have thought of writing these regulations. I enclose them in this letter so that they will be put into practice everywhere, because this is the will of God and of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our beloved Mother” (Letter to Fr. Joseph Xifré, Madrid, 20 December 1962: EC II, pp. 576-577).
The last words of the Saint have been interpreted in the Congregation as if God and the Blessed Virgin had especially inspired the Regulations (Cf. A. LARRAONA, Los Capítulos de las Constituciones relativos a los estudiantes y al Prefecto [The Chapters of the Constitutions that refer to the Students and the Prefect]: Studia Claretiana, I (1963), pp. 8-41).
 In order to complete the information, in addition to the above mentioned study by Larraona, Cf. J.M. LOZANO, CCTT, pp. 271-298; J.Mª VIÑAS, La Formación del Misionero en la Congregación según el Padre Fundador San Antonio Mª Claret [Formation of the Missionary in the Congregation according to our Father Founder St. Anthony M. Claret]: Cuadernos de Formación Claretiana, 1, General Prefecture of Formation, Roma 1987, p. 24; J.Mª VIÑAS, La formación de los novicios misioneros según el Padre Fundador, San Antonio Mª Claret [Formation of the Missionary Novices in the Congregation according to our Father Founder, St. Anthony M. Claret]: Cuadernos de Formación Claretiana, 2, General Prefecture of Formation, Roma 1988, p. 20.
These Regulations were so important in the future organisation of formation in the Congregation, that:
1st. They went on to form part of the constitutional text with some variations. In fact, they were included as an Appendix to the Constitutions of 1862 (the same as those of 1857, with the variations introduced by the General Chapter of 1862) and were sent thus to Rome for their approval in the early months of 1863. Later, the Appendix went on to form part of the constitutional text approved for a ten-year period on 25 December 1865. Finally, it was permanently integrated into the text of the Constitutions when they were definitively approved on 11 February 1870, and when they were modified in 1924.
2nd. Through their insertion in the Constitutions, the bases were laid for the organisation of the academic formation and for carrying out the studies that were later developed in the Congregation (Cf. P. SCHWEIGER, circular letter De studiis in Congregatione impense fovendis [On the studies to be diligently fostered in the Congregation], Annales, 45 (1959-1960), pp. 155-156; also, Ordo Studiorum Generalis (O.S.G.), Rome 1959, Proemium, pp. X-XII).
 These are the concrete occupations given to them: “1st. Reading and understanding the Constitutions and practices of the Institute. 2nd. Forming their spirit in accord with the same Constitutions, by making Spiritual Exercises and, within them, a general confession since their use of reason. 3rd. Drafting and writing resolutions in conformity with the perfection required by the new state. 4th. Using the rest of the time to do whatever else the Master may dispose” (n. 13).
“Nothing is so important to the Missionaries, nothing so essential for them, as the adornment of all virtues. Without them, their talent is useless; their voice, sterile; their entire work, inane. Therefore, their desires, their first attention should be directed to attaining them. And, since the year of probation is intended to lay the foundation of all virtues, all members, Priests as well as Students or Adjutant Brothers, should painstakingly put into practice the most efficacious means to this end” (n. 15).
 “Lastly, after finishing the year of probation, if they are decided and resolved to remain in the Congregation, and if they possess the qualities suitable to a good Missionary, they should fervently make a ten days’ retreat, which will serve as immediate preparation for their definitive admission. This will be done by a solemn act of consecration to God and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This consecration will entail the oaths of permanence in the Congregation till death and of not accepting any ecclesiastical dignity without the express mandate of the Superior General or the Supreme Pontiff; they are the only two persons empowered to dispense from these oaths. And in order that no one be deprived of the double merit of their acts, the Superior may authorise the simple vows, temporary or perpetual, to those who are willing to make them” (n.24).
 “The second, toward the Superior to whom he should be most faithful, acting always with subjection to him and never authorising anything contrary to his dispositions or to his expressed or presumed will” (n. 3).
“If he should observe anyone without vocation or possessing bad habits, which he should watch very carefully, he should give him suitable advise, and inform the superior without delay. He should also frequently inform the superior regarding the talent, health and other qualities of each one. To this end, he should have a ready list of all of them” (n. 8).
 The third is toward his charges. For them he should be a Father, painstakingly looking after their health of mind and body; a Teacher, teaching them all virtues by word and example, and a Physician, inquiring after their maladies, and prescribing the remedies suitable to the sicknesses and temperaments of each one” (n. 4).
 “For the soul: With earnest he should give them ascetical conferences aimed to their growth, and should ascertain whether all of them punctually make their meditation, spiritual reading, visits to the Blessed Sacrament and the examination of conscience. He should always be with them during recreations, and instil into them a spirit of detachment from country, parents and relatives, a spirit of mortification and self-denial. He should never allow them to go to the parlour alone, or to have particular friendships. And to avoid these, he should be very watchful, very demanding regarding silence, and must never tolerate that they should enter into another’s room. In addition, he should see to it that everyday they change companions during recreation” (n. 6; cf. also n. 7).
 “He must give great attention to those who are in the year of probation because of the special temptations they are subjected to. Therefore, he should patiently listen to them, even though they may be childish or annoying; he should encourage and strengthen them, giving them sound and prudent advice. If anyone is sad or depressed, the Novicemaster should immediately call him, ascertain the cause and apply the necessary remedy” (n. 7; cf. also, 8).
“For the body: He should make sure that they have all they need in clothing and food; that no one is working beyond his capacity, or studying in an unhealthy physical position, or at forbidden hours. He must see to it that no one is carried away by idleness or laziness and, finally, that no one practises penances unauthorised by the Constitutions, without permission from the Superior. In the same way, he should see to it that no one is absent from the recreations that are prescribed for reasons of health” (n. 5).
“His duties are to substitute for the Novicemaster and to do, in the latter’s absence or defect, whatever has been said for him, giving him later an exact account of whatever happened. In all these he should bear in mind that, just as his merit will be great if he fulfils this task satisfactorily, his responsibility will be equally grievous if he fails” (n. 11).
 Our Fr. Founder’s text on the Students and the Pedagogue had several versions (Texts A, B, C, D). Normally we shall refer to text A (in some particular cases, also to B) because it was the first one drafted by the Founder and, therefore, the most spontaneous and charismatic. We shall quote them by the paragraph numbers. When it was incorporated as an Appendix to the Constitutions of 1862, as we mentioned earlier, the numeration (between 166-185) follows that of the constitutional text. The regulations for the students and the prefect (pedagogue) constitute just one body, and are distributed among chapters XV and XVI (Cf. J. M. Viñas, o.c., I, pp. 10-11).
 “(…) in truth there should be no other aim than making oneself ever more suitable to promote always the greater glory of God and the welfare of people. Therefore, they should pray the Lord to make them his apt ministers, powerful in words, deeds and examples” (n.171).
“The Pedagogue should think of the excellence of the task that has been entrusted to him, which is no less than forming virtuous, learned and suitable missionaries (…) (n.181).
“Their only motivation should be the glory of God whom they should ceaselessly ask to make them apt ministers of his word, in order to spread his Name and promote his Kingdom throughout the entire world” (n. 28b, text B).
 “(…) They should make their prayers with care and fervour, they should foster great devotion to the Most Holy Sacrament, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Michael, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, etc….” (n. 169).
 “They should make the offering of works. They should have half hour of mental prayer, on their knees at the beginning and end, but they could stand in between. They should hear or serve the Holy Mass and receive communion on the days their Director will allow them, which should be at least once a week” (n. 167).
 “They should all have the Holy Bible and read daily from it two chapters in the morning and two more in the afternoon. They should also read one chapter from Rodríguez everyday, except Friday when, instead of Rodriguez, they should read the Passion of Jesus, and Saturday, when they should read about the Blessed Virgin” (n. 168).
 “At the same time, the students should cultivate their intellect and heart, in which they should implant science and virtue. Just as the ground, however well cultivated, will bear no fruit if it has no water, the same will happen with the students. For this reason, they should procure for themselves the water of piety” (n.169).
“(…) they should begin with humility of the intellect and will; therefore they should reject all thoughts of vainglory, pride and arrogance. They should not take pleasure in the functions they successfully perform, or seek praises for them; they should immediately refer them to God, thinking that they have received from God their talent and whatever they have and to God must all be returned. Otherwise, they would become thieves of God’s glory and deserve that God’s grace be withdrawn from them. They should never despise or prefer themselves to others, even if they are not bright. Ordinarily, those who lack intellectual qualities are more humble and not infrequently God makes use of them to do great things in his Church. They should always remember Jesus’ words when he tells them: “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you shall find rest for your souls” (n. 170).
 “(…) the second should be an upright intention in their studies. In truth, this means that they should have no other aim than making themselves ever more suitable to promote always the greater glory of God and the welfare of people. Therefore, they should pray the Lord to make them his apt ministers, powerful in words, deeds and examples” (n.171).
 “(…) the third virtue of students must be the dedication to study with tenacity, steadfastness and perseverance. But this dedication should not be such as to make them forget the other virtues or stifle or weaken their piety and devotion” (n. 171; cf. also n. 182).
 “Their dedication to study must be accompanied by obedience and mortification. Obedience is exercised by studying well what the teacher prescribes, even though one may feel some reluctance. This obedience will be so much higher and more meritorious if during free time and vacation days one should review those matters that were learned in the past, so as not to forget them or to understand them better” (n. 172; cf. also 173).
 “Nevertheless, if a particular student should have more talent and memory so that he finds extra time after learning and understanding well his lessons, he should inform the person in-charge so that the latter may give the appropriate dispositions” (n. 172b).
“(…) And if some one should possess precocious talent and extraordinary memory so that he learns and understands his lessons ahead of the others, he should be given books or additional classes in order to get the most out of him and keep him profitably occupied, (…) (n. 184).
 “They should practice penance, by abstaining from reading newspapers, novels and other books than those assigned by the Professor or Director, even those that deal on the same matters that are being studied. They should remember the principle that says Pluribus intentus minor est ad singula sensus [one can bite off more than one can chew]” (172b).
 “The Superior will see to it that, on Sundays, holidays and vacation times, the students practise teaching Christian doctrine. They should also write or copy some homilies or sermons, and even memorise and pronounce them, drilling on the actions, voice and the rest, according to the oratorical rules that they should try to learn” (Text A, n. 177).
 “During vacation months and during the free time within the year, they should review the principles of the Castilian language, and the Catalonians, those of the Catalonian language, in order to be able to express themselves accurately in the pulpit. In addition, all should learn French, which today is a real necessity in order to hear confessions of the foreigners” (Text A, n. 178).
“The pedagogue of the Students of the Immaculate Heart of Mary must be meek, kind and, at the same time, modest and dignified; he should never get angry at them, neither should he use imperious words or nicknames with them (…)” (n. 187).
 “He should try to promote three things in the students, to wit: Piety, virtues and sciences, and all together. Regarding piety, the Pedagogue should see to it that none of the students is absent from the spiritual exercises and acts of devotion; that all do them and do them well. For this reason, he should teach them how to do mental prayer, how to hear the Holy Mass and how to receive the holy Sacraments of penance and communion. All this should be done not out of routine or because they are mandatory, but with love, fervour and devotion, getting more and more graces from these Sacraments. He must see to it that a sound balance be kept, since there are some students who dedicate so much attention to study that they abandon the Sacraments and prayer, or do them badly, reluctantly and as if by force. There are others, on the other hand, who give themselves to the frequency of the Sacraments, prayers and pious readings in such a way as to neglect their studies. These persons should be made to understand that they must cut down on their devotions so that they may be able to fulfil their obligations well; thus they will please God” (n. 182).
“The Pedagogue should see to it that, besides their devotion, the students exercise all the virtues, especially humility, modesty, mortification of the senses, of the passions and, especially, of the will (…)” (n. 183).
 “The Pedagogue must see to it that the students do not miserably waste time, but rather make good use of it (…). Experience teaches that the students, even if they be grown up and advanced in their studies, profit more if during the hours of study they gather in a common room, supervised by the Pedagogue. The latter, in turn, should not allow them to move until the time or period assigned to study should be finished (…) since they cannot leave the common room until after the time allotted to study is finished” (n. 184).
Cr. also what was earlier said about the complementary studies.
 “It is not proper to burden the students everyday with a heavy load in difficult matters: this will overwhelm and fatigue them. It is far better to give them an average load, leaving space for other easy and pleasant matters, such as languages, natural sciences, etc. In this way they study with pleasure, get less tired and the variation itself serves them as rest, and they profit much more” (n. 185).
 “Some students are spoiled for three reasons: 1) For reading, studying or writing immediately after lunch or dinner. 2) For studying or writing with their body too stooped over their chest. 3) For being on their knees too long. The Pedagogue must be very much on the watch so that the common enemy may not snatch any of the students. He always seeks the best and in this way he renders them useless and at times takes their life away by means of these imprudent practices” (n. 186).
 “The Pedagogue should think of the excellence of the office entrusted to him, which is no less than forming virtuous, wise and apt missionaries. O, what a great reward awaits him in heaven if he carries out his task well! If teaching the ignorant is so meritorious, what would be the merit of the Pedagogue who teaches the students of the Congregation to be good for themselves and apt to save their neighbours?” (n. 180).
 “In order to (help the students) acquire these and other virtues, the Pedagogue (…) (should foster as) very useful the reading of Rodríguez, Escaramelli (sic) and others, over and above the talks he should be giving them” (n. 183).
 “(…) If anyone should commit an error or fail to learn his lesson for lack of application or for any other guilty reason, the Pedagogue should admonish him and, if necessary, apply to him the penance that the Superior may deem convenient” (n. 187).
 “Between the Superior and the Pedagogue there should always be the greatest possible harmony. The Superior should place all his trust in the Pedagogue and the latter without reservation should manifest to the former everything he sees in the students, the good as well as the evil. In addition, the Pedagogue should consult the Superior regarding the most suitable means to be used in order to remove some defect, acquire some virtue or progress in virtue or in science; he should change nothing without previous consultation” (n. 181).
“The Pedagogue and the Superior should jointly prepare a plan or timetable according to the classes and occupations of the students” (n. 184).
 Now we are referring exclusively to what he wrote with regard to the Congregation. Some testimonies have been gathered by J. BERMEJO, Textos espirituales y formativos de San Antonio Mª Claret: Cuadernos de Formación Claretiana, General Prefecture of Formation, nn. 4A and 4B, Rome 1989, pp. 50 and 35 respectively. Our Fr. Founder wrote abundantly about priestly vocation and formation. Thus, in addition to the above mentioned work in two volumes, El colegial o seminarista teórica y prácticamente instruido, we may recall, among others, Modificaciones de los Estatutos del Seminario tridentino de Cuba, Barcelona 1854, pp. 30; Reglamento para el gobierno y régimen de El Escorial, Madrid 1861, pp. 8; La Vocación de los niños. Cómo se han de educar e instruir, Barcelona 1864, pp 134. Cf. also J. BERMEJO, o.c., 4B, nn. 128, 129, 130, 142, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 152, 154, 155, 156).
 “There are some who have asked to live with us, but we proceed with great tact and examine their physical and moral traits. In these matters it is necessary to exercise much caution, because a mangy sheep could contaminate the others” (Letter to Fr. Joseph Caixal, Vic 5 September 1849: EC. I. pp. 316-317; in J. BERMEJO, o.c., A4, n. 59).
In this same line Claret repeated: “and in this matter (admitting young men) you should be very careful, lest it happen to you as it did to the Vincentians of Madrid: a great many of their young men left after they had studied in their house and been ordained, (…)” (Letter of 4 August 1858: EC. I, p. 1624; cf J. BERMEJO, ib. n. 68; cf. also n. 114).
 “Let us pray the heavenly Father to send labourers, because the labourers are indeed few and the harvest is very big in Spain and abroad (…)” (Letter to Fr. Joseph Xifré, Madrid, 30 November 1858: EC. I, pp 1678-1680; cf. in J. BERMEJO, o.c., 4ª, nn. 72, 82, 88, 93).
 “Believe me, my friend, do all you can to increase the membership of the Congregation and, if another building needs to be constructed, do it gladly and do not pay attention to the costs or to what others will say” (Letter to Fr. Joseph Xifré, Madrid, 6 March 1863: EC. II, pp. 636-637; cf. en J. BERMEJO, o.c., 4ª, nn. 90, 99).
“We mustn’t fall asleep (…) I trust only God and you, the members of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and so I insist that without waste of time you should work to gather and to form young men” (Letter to Fr. Joseph Xifré, Aranjuez, 1 May 1863: EC. II, pp. 650-651; cf. in J. BERMEJO, Ib., 4ª, n. 90).
 Cf. J. M. LOZANO, CCTT, pp. 633-634. According to Fr. Lozano, he wrote it around 24 June 1869. In the notes he prepared for Vatican Council I and in those he took during the same, there is plentiful material about vocations, priestly formation and seminaries. (Cf. SAINT ANTHONY M. CLARET, Escritos Autobiogáficos, edition prepared by Frs. JOSEPH M. VIÑAS and JESÚS M. BERMEJO, BAC, 1981, pp. 453-454, 456-461, 478, 480, 482-484, 486, 493-496).
 J. XIFRÉ, Instrucción importantísima para los aspirantes a la Congregación de Misioneros del Inmaculado Corazón de María, in J.M. LOZANO, CCTT, pp. 617-625. It was published for the first time in the “Revista Católica,” of Barcelona, on 20 June 1862, before the II General Chapter (7-14 July), and was re-printed in the same magazine as soon as the Chapter was over, on 10 August of the same year. The second publication, with amendments made by the Fr. Founder, echoes the changes introduced by the Chapter in the Congregation. The Instruction appears again in Perpignan in the form of a leaflet, amended in its presentation and contents. It was published by the Superior General (Fr. J. Xifré) clearly for vocation promotion purposes, on 20 November 1872 (AG CMF: BE, 13, 1, 2) and in other diocesan bulletins (Cf. J. ÁLVAREZ GÓMEZ, o. c., pp. 416-417).
 J. XIFRÉ, Instructio pro examine personali eorum qui in Congregationem Missionariorum Immaculati Cordis B.M.V. admitti postulant [Instruction for the personal examination of those who apply for admission in the Congregation of Missionaries of the Im. Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary], Barcelona 1864, CCTT, pp. 650-660.
“He should never seek himself (…) or take pleasure in what he knows (…) or in the praises he receives (…)” (Ib. n. 3).
 “He should never be downhearted for lack of talent, or the ability necessary for his vocation, or for the many activities; neither for the many faults he commits and not even for his temptations, however bothersome and violent they may be (…)” (Ib., n. 7).
“He should hold as an indispensable principle that of manifesting all his inner life to the Director and to the Superior, to whom he should manifest all his inclinations; he should do so in accordance with the method and formula established to this effect” (Ib., n. 5).
“He should never let himself be overcome by sadness and, if ever he finds himself surprised by it, he should have recourse to prayer. And if he does not find peace in prayer, he should disclose himself to the Superior, manifesting to him the cause, whatever it may be, even if it should come from the Superior himself” (Ib., n. 6).
 [CLOTET] CMFF, Directori dels Hermanos Ajudants de la Congregació del Inmaculat Cor de Maria ó sían Instruccions prácticas para combinar los seus traballs domestichs amb lo cumpliment de la reglas de dita Congregació [Directory for the Adjutant Brothers of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, or Practical Instructions to combine their domestic works with the fulfilment of the Rules of the said Congregation], Vich 1858, p. 95.
For a study about the Brothers of the Congregation, cf. E. SASTRE CMF, Los hermanos Coadjutores en las Constituciones del P. Claret y una Consueta de la casa de Vich [The Adjutant Brothers in Fr. Claret’s Constitutions and a “Consueta” (customs) of the House of Vich]: Claretianum, XXIX (1984), pp. 79-196.
 The XIII General Chapter (1934) gave a numerical order to the Chapters of the Congregation; we follow this official numbering (Anales, 30 (1934), pp. 420-421). However, Chapters II and III were not celebrated in Vich (as General Chapter XIII affirms), but in Gracia, as it appears in the Minutes of both Chapters.
 In the morning session of 8 July it was agreed: “3rd, that in n. 5 (…) the word missionaries should be replaced by “students.” And in the afternoon session: (“1st, that in n. 13, after the word priests, the expression and students should be added” (AG CMF: AD, 1, 11).
 On July 9, afternoon session, it was decided to promulgate several decrees. One of them is: “2nd, that all the candidates, priests as well as students and brothers, should go through a period of 15 days as aspirants, after which they should make spiritual exercises and then be admitted to the year of probation by means of some formality. This should be repeated mutatis mutandis at the end of the year, for their definitive admission” (AG CMF, 1, 11). In this way a period of aspirancy was established for all candidates, previous to the year of probation.
 On July 13, during the morning session, the Chapter decided, among others, this point: “4th, that a decree should be promulgated to the effect that the students should indemnify the Congregation for all expenses and losses they may have caused, but only in cases when they leave voluntarily or are expelled by their own fault” (II GENERAL CHAPTER, Minutes, AG CMF: AD, 1, 11, p. 6). This norm would later be reaffirmed through several dispositions, adding also that its fulfilment is a condition to the granting of the certificates of studies to those who would apply for them (Cf. V GENERAL CHAPTER, 1888, session 7, AG CMF: AD, 1, 22; J. XIFRÉ, El Espíritu de la Congregación, (E.C.), Madrid 1892, p. 209; CMF, Resumen alfabético de las disposiciones vigentes, [Alphabetical summary of prevailing dispositions], Madrid, 1897, n. 89, AG CMF: Library 9, 8, 53; CMF, Disposiciones Generales [General Dispositions], Santo Domingo 1900, n. 84, AG CMF: Library 10, 2, 20). From 1905 on, the norm is abolished and does not appear in any other official document.
- 109In the afternoon session of 4 July it was declared: “4th. That, in consonance with the spirit of the Congregation, the missionaries could dedicate themselves to the spiritual direction of the young men in the seminaries. In the same way, that it was fitting for them to hold Chairs in the seminaries, especially those of rubrics, sacred oratory and plainsong” (III GENERAL CHAPTER, AG CMF: AD, 1, 13).