Chapter 6: Stage of Development – Missionaries in Formation


Stage of Development and Consolidation. Missionaries in Formation

1.   Point of Departure

114. In this stage the missionaries should pursue the task begun in the novitiate and deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ, their friend, brother and master, as the center of their life, as seen through Scripture, thus preparing themselves to be fitting ministers of the Word. It is a period aimed at deepening their welcome and assimilation of God’s Word and seeing it as a source of life, conversion, gratuitousness and coherence: a Word received from Scripture read in an historical-cultural and ecclesial context.

115. For the formandi, this stage involves an experience of contrast and of realism that is normally not exempt from crises and difficulties. The Word questions their life, vocation and mission.[1] They tend to hold up to the Word their own personal problems, the confrontation between faith and reason, the analysis of reality and the meaning of the apostolate.

116. The formandi show an appreciation and a real interest in knowing and discovering the sense and message of the Word and in measuring up to it. In general, they regard the Bible as the main book for their spiritual reading.

117. On the other hand, they sometimes tend to take the Bible as a mere object of study and to hew to a merely exegetical reading, lacking a more savored and spiritual attitude toward it. They do not always have sufficient discipline and ascesis in the daily reading of Scripture as nourishment for their spiritual life. One also notes a certain tendency toward a subjective and individualist reading of Scripture, that is, one that focuses on their own problems. In some cases they fail to make a clear connection between ordinary life and the Word, and show a lack of sufficient biblical formation.

 2.   Formative Criteria

118. Since our description of this situation is necessarily generic, it is important that each formation community and each formandus (in dialogue with his formator) be able to sketch out in detail its or his own situation regarding the Word.[2]

119. One of their priorities should be to achieve a personal unity that integrates hearing, studying, contemplating and announcing the Word, paying attention to historical reality, taking Mary as an example of this integration.[3]

120. Great importance must be attached to the Personal Project, in which Scripture holds a privileged place, becomes a point of reference in personal accompaniment and allows us to evaluate the degree of assimilation of the Word of God.

121. It is fitting that they be enabled to perform some missionary-apostolic experiences in the service of the Word that prepare them for immediate ministry.

122. It is important to foster the candidates’ insertion among the People of God in order to share the life of the people and give witness to the nearness of the incarnate Word.

123. This stage should emphasize the communitarian and apostolic dimension of our identity as hearers and servants of the Word.

124. When the personal project is being drafted, we must see to it that the Word plays a relevant role in it.

125. To avoid distracting from or overloading the prayerful reading of Scripture, it is fitting that they profit from the academic study of the different books. Moreover, it is important to help formandi to discover the necessary biblical grounding of all theological subjects, as well as function of theology as a way of knowing and growing deeper in the Word of God and of discerning the signs of the times and places.

 3.   General Objective

126. To gradually consolidate the living and announcing of the Word, so that they may become “fitting ministers” of the Word in the Church.[4]

 4.   Specific Objectives and Means

 4.1. The Word Listened to and Internalized in Prayer

 4.1.1. Objectives

127. a)   To center their spiritual life on listening to the Word of God as the foundation of the missionary life.[5]

b)   In their contemplation of the Word, to cultivate a filial relationship with the Father,[6] which gives depth and meaning to their life and allows them to interpret all reality.[7]

c)   To live, through the revealed, incarnate and saving Word, their relationship with Jesus Christ, Missionary of the Father,[8] as the center of their own existence.[9]

d)  In prayer, to open their being to the action of the Spirit who anoints and sends them to be servants of the Word in the likeness of Mary,[10] and to ask God unceasingly to make them fitting ministers of the Gospel.[11]

e)   Following Mary’s example, to integrate hearing and contemplating God’s Word with an attention to historical reality and with a sensitivity to the problems of today’s people,[12] especially those who are poorest and in greatest need.[13]

f)   To integrate into their prayer life the biblical studies they are carrying out.

g)   From the standpoint of the Word, to throw light on every personal, community, social and ecclesial reality,[14] and allow themselves to be questioned by it.

h)   To faithfully maintain the daily habit of personal prayer and the reading of the Word,[15] in order to keep illumining different situations and to respond to the calls of God in daily reality.

i)    To identify with the poor in order to understand, live and announce the Word.[16]

 4.1.2. Means

128. a)   In the daily liturgy, to prize the important place that the Word holds in it.

b)   To form the habit of doing their daily prayer and spiritual reading from and with the Word, in a Claretian key, giving special relevance to the biblical texts:

–  of the liturgy

–  of our Claretian tradition[17]

–  of the books they are studying in class

c)   To carry out their personal project, which includes a time aside for the daily reading of the Word.[18]

d)  Retreats and recollection days planned from the standpoint of the Word.

e)   Practices that illumine life, events and reality from the standpoint of the Word.

f)   Personal and community revisions based on the Word, striving to confront their own life with it.[19]

 4.2. Understood and Assimilated in Study

 4.2.1. Objectives

129. a)   To delve deeply, critically and wisely into the study of Sacred Scripture and gain a knowledge of updated criteria of interpretation.[20]

b)   To have a great appreciation of one’s own culture, through which God speaks to us,[21] yet always remaining open to universality.

c)   To gain a deeper critical consciousness of reality and to become used to discerning it from the standpoint of God’s Word, which illumines and interprets the signs of the times and places.[22]

d)  To set theological studies in relation to Scripture: as based on it and as a privileged way of growing deeper in them, of interpreting and updating them.

e)   To learn how to handle the pastoral tools, media and techniques that enable us to become prepared as fitting ministers of the Word.

 4.2.2. Means

130. a)   Carrying out seriously and in depth the biblical studies assigned for those training for the priesthood and the biblical-theological formation assigned for those training for the brotherhood.[23]

b)   Attending seminars, circles and workshops of group reflection on the Word from an updated, inculturated and contextualized perspective.

c)   Periodic conferences on Claretian scriptural texts.

d)  Study of various techniques:

–  of communication: qualified training in the use of means for the presentation of the message, taking advantage of local or regional opportunities for improvement: workshops, seminars, etc.

–  of preparing homilies,

–  of discernment based on the Word.

e)   Concern for updating the library in biblical matters.

 4.3. Lived and Celebrated in Community

 4.3.1. Objectives

131. a)   To grow as a community of faith by listening to, reflecting on and communicating the Word.[24]

b)   To make it an habitual norm to confront our community life (relationships, conflicts…) with the Word of God.

c)   To become accustomed to community use of the Word of God in order to illumine and interpret the signs of the times and of places.[25]

 4.3.2. Means

132. a)   Celebrating the Eucharist as a privileged moment for proclaiming, listening to and communicating the Word.

b)   Community celebrations of the Word and meetings in which its meaning for each one is shared, personal and community situations are illumined, and situations in society are made present.

c)   Careful preparation of the liturgy, with special attention to the cycles of the liturgy, including some ecclesial proposals, such as the RCIA for Lent.

d)  The community project, illumined by the Word in its diverse dimensions.

e)   Elements of the Word-Mission Project, suitably adapted to this stage.

f)   Joint preparation of the homily on some occasions.

g)   Retreats or recollection days for sharing apostolic experiences in the light of the Word and for discovering all of its implications for conversion on different levels (personal. related to community and pastoral practice…).

      4.4. Announced and Witnessed to in the Apostolate

    4.4.1. Objectives

133. a)   Living our missionary awareness of being sent in the light of the Word.[26]

b)   Preparing, carrying out and evaluating the apostolate as a prolongation of the living and experience of the Word of God,[27] and as an incentive toward its necessary inculturation and actualization.

c)   Moving toward a permanent attitude of life that leads to the integration of prayer, study and the apostolate.

d)  Learning, together with the faithful, to illumine, analyze and respond to the daily realities in which we are all immersed.[28]

e)   Learning to discern the “seeds of the Word” in popular religiosity and in different cultures and religious traditions.

f)   Continuing to consolidate the awareness of our universal mission from the standpoint of the Word.

g)   Taking Sacred Scripture as the principal means of the apostolate and making frequent use of it in our pastoral work. In particular, making God’s Word known and inculcating a love for it in all our apostolates.

h)   Discovering the prophetic dimension of the Word in the apostolate,[29] so that it may inspire and nourish pastoral attitudes and projects for the transformation of non-evangelical realities.

4.4.2. Means

134. a)   Preference for apostolates in which the use of the Word is primary, especially the animation of Bible study groups and other forms of the explicit announcement the Word.

b)   Workshops for acquiring a deeper knowledge of the options of the Congregation in the light of God’s Word.

c)   Contacts with different cultures (life-experiences, study, relating with missionaries…) and with different Church groups and realities, making room for interreligious dialogue.

d)  Deeper critical reading of reality and of the communications media in the light of God’s Word.

e)   Experiences of announcing the need among the very poor and needy

5.   Meaningful Experiences

135. Specific preparation for and living of perpetual profession, laying stress on the importance of the Word of God, starting above all from the Bible texts that speak of radicalism and fidelity in believing and following Jesus Christ as servants of his Word, in facing the challenges of the day.[30]

136. Preparing for and living the special moments of the conferral of ministries and of ordination,[31] which highlight the charismatic dimension of the missionary service of the Word in each of its stages or degrees.

[1] Cf. GPF 388.

[2] Some guidelines for this analysis can be found in Appendix no. 7.

[3] Cf. Dir 234; GPF 396.

[4] Cf. GPF 380, 387.

[5] Cf. CC 37.

[6] Cf. CC 34.

[7] Cf. MCT 144; GPF 387.

[8] Cf. GPF 388.

[9] Cf. GPF 388, 398.

[10] Cf. CC 72; GPF 387.

[11] Cf. CC 65, 73; SW 16.

[12] Cf. Dir 234.

[13] Cf. GPF 396.

[14] Cf. Dir 234.

[15] Cf. CC 37; SW 13.1; GPF 387, 398.

[16] Cf. SW 16.4.

[17] Cf. Appendices nos. 3 and 4.

[18] Cf. CC 37; GPF 397.

[19] Cf. CC 37.

[20] Cf. Dir 144.

[21] Cf. SW 16.1.

[22] Cf. Dir 144.

[23] Cf. GPF 428.

[24] Cf. SW 16.1.

[25] Cf. SW 16.1.

[26] Cf. Dir 234; GPF 408.

[27] Cf. SW 16.

[28] Cf. SW 16.3.

[29] Cf. SW 20.

[30] Cf. GPF 419-420 and the following chapter.

[31] Cf. the following chapter.