The Claretian Mission

Chapter 10

 The Claretian Mission

            Every human being is called to carry out a mission. Each person is aware that he or she must fulfill a task in this world during his or her lifetime. Human collectivities, ethnic groups and peoples, also experience within them that call to carry out a mission, a collective historical task for the sake of a better future.

We Claretians have a deep missionary consciousness and we explain it by saying that Jesus, our risen Lord, sent us to proclaim the Gospel to all the world until the end of time (cf. Mt. 28:19; Mk. 16:15). It becomes increasingly clear to us that mission is the reason for Christian existence. Without it, we are not authentic followers of Jesus.

From our beginnings until today, we have had a strong awareness of being sent by Jesus. But today this awareness is stronger than ever. Today we say that mission belongs to the very nature of the Church: lay people, religious and ordained ministers work together on one basic mission out of their charismatic and ministerial peculiarities.

The Church displays impressive activity on both the worldwide and local level, which we call mission. The Church carries out its mission through many different activities. But the mission is not identified with the activities the Church carries out. Mission is much more than that.

We Claretians are very interested in getting a better sense of mission in the Church. That mission gives us our identity, since we call ourselves missionaries and we make a specific contribution to the Church’s mission. The present chapter is divided into two parts:

  I. THE MYSTERY OF MISSION IN THE LIGHT OF REVELATION

     II. THE CLARETIANS: A MISSIONARY CONGREGATION

I. THE MYSTERY OF MISSION IN THE LIGHT OF REVELATION

            It is not easy to see every aspect of the Christian mission in a single glance. It can be looked at from different angles. All of them present the mysterious richness of this event, which God has placed in our midst.

1. Clarifying Terminology

Mission comes from the Latin word mittere (to send) and its derivatives missum (sent), missam (sending). These Latin words correspond to the Greek words apostellein (to send), apóstolos (one sent). This means that words referring to mission or to apostolate talk about the same thing. The missionary, the apostle, thus, is one sent, an ambassador, a representative, a servant of the other. Jesus expresses this very well when He says: “Whoever hears you, hears Me” (Lk. 10: 16).

2. The Mission That Comes from Jesus, an Offer of Salvation

The risen Jesus did not send His disciples to conquer the world, but to offer it salvation and to make it available to everyone. Through the Church it remains available to all.[1] The command to evangelize and baptize is not an order to conquer. The command to preach and baptize does not involve threatening those who refuse it, but is the offer of a blessing already given, of a salvation already present.

3. The Mission of the Holy Spirit

The Christian mission is not explained only by the command of the Lord Jesus and his promise of help. The apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi of Paul VI encourages us to deepen our understanding and further develop mission from the perspective of the Holy Spirit.[2]

3.1. The Spirit Who Anoints Jesus to Evangelize.

To evangelize is to transmit the good news of the reign of God. That transmission is carried out through the efficacious prophetic word– dabar -; through it the mystery of the Kingdom breaks in. Evangelization is to announce the good news of a transforming event, the coming of the Kingdom of God. And this is not possible without the Spirit.

Among the different types of Old Testament prophets, Jesus identifies Himself with the prophet of grace, of good news: “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your presence” (Lk. 4:21). Jesus is Prophet because his is anointed by the Spirit.

Jesus’ humanity was fully sanctified and led by the Spirit. The entire action of the Spirit was centered in Jesus, consecrating Him and empowering Him for His mission. Prior to Jesus, the Spirit had never spoken in a person as the Spirit spoke in Jesus. The Spirit had never spoken to God and to human beings as the Spirit spoke in Jesus. Never had Abba! been spoken with such intensity. In Jesus the Spirit is much more intense than in any of the prophets.

3.2. The Spirit Who Anoints the Church to Evangelize

The evangelization of the Church flows out of Jesus’ prophetic action. We then ask ourselves: What place does the Spirit have in this prophetic action? We recall the Pentecost event where the Christian community is anointed by the Spirit for mission. With the coming of the Spirit, the nationalistic vision of the disciples is shattered and a universal mission is conferred on them: Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. The Promised Land is now the entire earth. The Spirit vouches that they are witnesses of Jesus, of His words and actions and of His resurrection. That witness will be the great means for ensuring that God’s Kingdom will come and not for the predominance of Israel over other nations.

The outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost empowers the disciples to proclaim the wondrous deeds of the Father in every nation.

4. Mission as the Church’s Vocation

Mission is an essential dimension of the Church. Mission is its true vocation. Because of this the Church must address itself to all peoples until the end of time so that all people may acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord. The Church will not be the center toward which all peoples must stream in order to contemplate the glory of God, as was foreseen in the ancient prophecies of the Old Testament (cf. Is. 2:2-4; Ps. 46), but a community sent to the nations so that the glory of the Risen Lord may arise in them. The Church community is not the center of the world.

In this sense the Christian community does not live for itself; it is the place to which we are called and from which we are sent to the world.[3] Mission, then, is not something juxtaposed with the Church’s vocation. All believers are responsible for the whole mission of the Church. Nevertheless, each believer does this out of his or her own special charisms and ministries.

5. Shared Mission

A mission with this scope, this complexity, cannot be carried out by one group of believers. It is a responsibility that falls on the entire Church. The mission is one, yet it requires the responsible collaboration of all believers. Each one according to his or her own charisms must become a minister of the Church’s mission.

In the Church there is a plurality of ministries, but a unity of mission.[4] Each form of life, each community group and each person has received specific charisms which are exercised in the Church, among humankind, as ministries or services on behalf of the Kingdom of God. Thus, we Claretian Missionaries cannot and should not talk about “our” mission; it is more correct to talk about our charismatic contribution to the one mission. Thus, we understand mission as a way of sharing the mission with others, with other forms of Christian and human life, with other services.

We Claretian Missionaries are aware that, if we have some specific mission in the Church, it is to be “steadfast helpers of the Shepherds in the ministry of the word”[5] and that we do not carry out that mission by ourselves but in close collaboration with other Christians, who have also received the apostolic gift in various ways.[6] Only in collaboration and in shared mission with lay people and ordained ministers, with those called to married life and to consecrated life in all its multiple forms, can we fulfill the one mission that the Lord has entrusted to us.[7] Only in this way can we Claretians carry out the mission from our own specific gift or charism. That is our specific contribution to the Church’s mission, as we will point out below.

II. THE CLARETIANS: A MISSIONARY CONGREGATION

            We Claretians are a missionary and apostolic Congregation. The Fr. Founder wanted us, like to apostles, to be with Christ and to be sent to preach to the whole world (cf. Mk. 3:14). Claret, apostolic missionary, chose as cofounders priests to whom the Lord had given the same missionary spirit that he had.[8] From the very beginning the cofounders, like Claret, always saw themselves as apostolic missionaries.

The title of the Congregation that appears in the Constitutions clearly indicates that we are a Congregation of Missionaries and the definition of the Missionary Son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, written by the Fr. Founder and inserted into the Constitutions (n. 9), describes us as missionaries.

Thus all our documents (Constitutions, Directories, General Chapters, Circular Letters of the Father Generals, GPF, CVD, etc.) talk about our condition in the Church as missionaries and apostles in the style of Claret, our Founder.

1. Our Mission in the Church

1.1. The Missionary Service of the Word

The Constitutions tell us that “the ministry of the Word, through which we communicate the total mystery of Christ to humanity, is our special calling among the People of God”[9]. Put in another way, we are sent to proclaim, through the Word, the life, death and resurrection of the Lord until He returns so that all people may be saved by believing in Him.[10] This is our reason for being in the Church: to proclaim Jesus Christ by means of the Word, as successors of the apostles and prophets, according to the Claretian charism.

All of us—brothers, students, or ordained ministers—have received a specific, charismatic vocation that places us at the unconditional service of the Word of God. This means that we are part of the group of prophets who received the commission to transmit to People the Word of God. We share in the vocation of the apostles and their successors, who were sent to proclaim the Word, i.e., the Gospel which is Christ Jesus. This charism of evangelization can be lived out in ordained ministry or in lay ministries.

In recent years the Congregation has deepened this prophetic and missionary dimension of our service of the Word. In the chapter documents The Mission of the Claretian Today, Servants of the Word and In Prophetic Mission, we have the best commentaries on the chapter in the Constitutions dealing with the mission of the Congregation.

1.2. Proclaiming Jesus Christ

We have received the ministry of proclaiming Jesus Christ by means of the Word. To proclaim is to reveal (remove the veil from) the presence of the Lord and His whole mystery in history to a human group or individual. It is to proclaim that with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Kingdom has begun to come, to dawn.

The proclamation is done through signs, symbols, capable of conveying that news in its totality. The signs or symbols that proclaim the presence of God the Father in Christ and in the Spirit can be words or symbolic actions that re-present the Kingdom. Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom through His discourses and His words, the parables, through the practical signs of the Kingdom which were the miracles and, on the deepest level, through His own life, which was already in itself a preaching, parable and miracle of the Kingdom.[11]

1.3. The Content of the Proclamation

The Constitutions demand communication of the total mystery of Christ.[12] And they explain it by saying that we have been sent to proclaim the life, death and resurrection of the Lord until He returns. The demand in the Constitutions to proclaim the total mystery of Christ is to counter the oversimplifications that have occurred over the course of Church history and even continue today.

We are not authorized to simplify the message or adapt it to our own interests and our personal sensitivities, tastes or ideologies. We have been called to be trustworthy messengers of the Church’s faith in its Lord. We are called to preach the risen Jesus, to proclaim his sacramental presence in the Church and in history, to maintain the tension of eschatological hope, convinced of His full manifestation at the end of time.

The Claretian Missionary is characterized by his earnest attempt to present to his brothers and sisters, to men and women, all the richness of the Mystery of Christ Jesus. The Claretian will present a richer and transforming Gospel message to the extent that he nourishes his proclamation from all the sources of Revelation.

1.4. Proclaiming to People Today

Our prophetic ministry of the Word does not refer to a Word that is proclaimed once and for all and is written in stone, but a Word that has much to say to people today, at the moment in history in which we are living.[13] In order to do this it is necessary to translate the Word anew in order to convey it appropriately.

Translating the Word into the present moment and communicating the Message appropriately to people today is not only done by employing concepts or images. Appropriately translating the Word of God for people today requires a ministry of the Word that—as the Constitutions say—involves “sharing the hopes and joys, the sorrows and trials of the people, especially the poor.”[14] It is necessary to be inserted into the situations of human salvation and damnation in order to experience from within them, in that place, what God feels for people and what message the Word of God has for that situation. Many texts in the Word of God take on extraordinary vibrance and pertinence when they are situated, thought about and lived in specific human situations of success or conflict.

For us Claretian Missionaries not only is what we proclaim important but also from where we carry it out. The situational context gives depth and timeliness to the text. Cultural insertion, insertion among our peoples, is not a choice for us.[15] It is the atmosphere we need in order to be able to appropriately carry out our mission as messengers of the Word. Only through insertion into our peoples and cultures will we learn their language, share their deepest experiences and find the inspiration of the Sprit that empowers us to serve them the bread of the Word.

1.5. Transforming the World

The objective of the charismatic ministry of the Word, which characterizes us, is “to transform the world according to God’s plan.”[16] To assure that the world takes on the “shape” of the Kingdom of God proclaimed and inaugurated by Jesus is our purpose. We know that we have a small place among the many men and women committed to it. Certainly the great agent of the Kingdom continues to be the Risen Lord who acts through the Holy Spirit. But it has been granted to us, men and women, to participate in that transforming action of the Spirit by making use of charisms that we have received. As Claretians, we participate in that project of transformation as heralds, prophets of the Word that explains and gives meaning to history. We are agents of transformation through the service of the Word.[17]

We cannot do it all. Ours is not to perform immediately liberating actions, nor to effectively solve the problems being posed. That instrumental and effective function belongs to other charisms. But this does not mean that we exercise our service of the Word disconnected or isolated from charisms of directly transforming instrumentality. The Constitutions express it precisely: “We readily offer to join efforts with all who are striving to transform the world according to God’s plan.”[18]

2. Characteristics of the Claretian Mission

2.1. Universal Mission

Like the mission of our Founder, our mission is universal. We have been called to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world and to all creatures without limits. This characteristic has always been present in all our documents in different expressions: “for the salvation of all the inhabitants of the world;”[19] “for the salvation of souls throughout the world;”[20] “the salvation of peoples throughout the world according to our missionary charism in the Church,”[21] etc.

2.2. Ecclesial Mission

We are servants of the Word at the service of the Church. The Fr. Founder wanted us to be “steadfast helpers of the Shepherds in the ministry of the Word.”[22]

First, we are at the service of the universal Church and of the entire world in order to respond to their needs.[23] Second, we help the bishops and collaborate with priests and lay people in order to build up and strengthen particular churches.[24] And, lastly, as a community we form a small church that lives in the Church and in communion with it and bears witness to the Church’s love and all the spiritual riches that are lived in the Church. Our life is a witness to the life of the Church.[25]

2.3. Prophetic Mission

Like the mission of the Fr. Founder, our mission is also prophetic.[26] He predicted this for his missionaries: we have been called to respond to the challenges of our time out of our prophetic service of the Word.[27] We Claretian Missionaries have been anointed by the Spirit of the Lord in a special way for this prophetic mission.[28]

The Chapter of 1979 stated that our mission is prophetic and that we should and must “opt for a prophetic and liberating evangelization.”[29] The General Chapter of 1997 developed and concretized the prophetic dimension of our mission in the document In Prophetic Mission.

3. Demands of Our Mission

Our evangelizing mission proposes today a series of demands that flow out of the charge that has been entrusted to us and out of the challenges that the world poses for those of us who are sent. We only want to highlight those demands that, in keeping with our charism, urge us today to give greater authenticity to our mission.[30]

3.1. Following Christ the Evangelizer

Our mission as evangelizers cannot be understood except as a following of Jesus, sent by the Father to proclaim the Good News. To follow Jesus means to accept and make ones own the new value system He proposes as the Kingdom.

In light of the varied situation of life and requirements for apostolic activity, the Claretian must be a sign and witness of Gospel radicalism, of faithful following of Christ the Evangelizer.

3.2. In an Evangelized and Evangelizing Community

A community is evangelized to the extent that it maintains an ongoing conversion: it always takes the Word of God as its basic point of reference. Starting from the Word, it cultivates dialogue that produces an attitude of respectful service to one’s brothers and sisters in order to offer them our trust, which can help them be faithful to the commitments they have taken on. Out of this it discerns what is happening and is evangelized by the events that affect people, especially the poor and needy, to whom it is sent.

The Congregation, since its founding, has always taken care that its missionaries, before going out to preach, have cultivated a life of prayer, meditation on the Word of God and study of the sacred sciences. Their rest was preparation for missionary work. It was a way of being evangelized in order to transmit the Gospel.

The Claretian community is called to be a true community of witnesses and prophets in the Church that, clearly and unequivocally, bears witness with its life to the “name, life, promises, Kingdom, and Mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God.”[31] Our proclamation will be prophetic to the extent the glory of Jesus shines through our life when we have died to ourselves. Every follower of Jesus Christ knows the relationship that exists between the cross and Christian witness.

3.3. By the Witness of Our Life

“Do you really believe what you proclaim? Do you really live what you believe? Do you truly preach what you live?”[32] John Paul II has asked religious for three kinds of witness: sincere consistency with Gospel values and the charism of their specific Institute; a personality humanly fulfilled and joy.[33] The witness of life is a preeminent means of evangelization. Our life is not separable from the prophetic proclamation of the Gospel and must take on, in deep unity and consistency, all the elements that shape our charism-mission. By our total consecration to God in a missionary community and by public profession that world cannot be transfigured nor offered to God without the spirit of the Beatitudes, we become outstanding signs and witnesses of the marvels God works in the Church and among people.

Our consecration becomes for us our first and foremost way of evangelizing. Thus, if we want to play a critical and prophetic role in evangelization, as our Claretian mission demands, we must live it in depth and with all its consequences in community life, the evangelical counsels, etc.

The Claretian evangelizer must find the inspiration for his life synthesis in Mary, who listens attentively to the Word, ponders it in her Heart and is actively committed to the interests of the Kingdom. Like Claret, Mary, by the working of the Spirit, configures us to her Son, the Gospel of God. Under her motherly action, we learn to welcome the Word, to embody it in a life commitment and to communicate it with the same readiness and generosity that she did. She is our formatrix and directress for the work of evangelization. She is the guiding star of evangelization.

3.4. In Creativity, Love and Joy

We would not truly be Claretians if we were not sensitive to the many different challenges presented to us in the world and the Church today. These urge us to foster, in every circumstance in which we find ourselves:

• the wisdom and industriousness to invent new methods, better adapted and more effective, for proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom to the people of our age.

• the spirit of initiative that characterized the ministry of the Fr. Founder. This requires us to place ourselves under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and to work boldly and generously to look for new approaches in conformity with the charismatic and prophetic nature of our life.

• the joy of communicating the Father’s unconditional love. The Good News cannot reach people today through men who are discouraged, sad, impatient or anxious, but through ministers whose lives radiate the fervor of those who have first received the joy of Christ themselves.

4. Our Missionary Options

Renewed consciousness of our mission leads us to formulate, through basic options,[34] the commitment with which we want to truly and faithfully respond to the Lord’s call, as we feel it compelling today. These basic options must next inspire action steps that must be shaped into the Congregation’s programming that must be carried out all together and by each of its various Organisms. These must also inspire the times when we communally revise our missionary fidelity.

4.1. The Option for a Missionary Evangelization

Evangelization is our service to people, to the world, to the Church, to the building of the Kingdom of God. And we opt for a missionary evangelization, i.e., one in the manner of the apostles, directed toward converting people and renewing Christian life, in order to build up and animate the various local churches, in dialogue with the culture and religious values of the peoples.

To be a missionary in the style of Claret is to directed and basically oriented toward the tasks of evangelization. This demands, on the one hand, to basically incarnate our presence in those ways and actions whose evangelizing scope we have discerned in community and, on the other hand, to be available for new areas and new ways that apostolic sensitivity and creativity suggest.

4.2. The Option for a More Inculturated Evangelization

Incarnating God among people requires that we engage in respectful and active dialogue with different cultures (inculturation) and, at the same time, requires a serious effort to discover and dynamically accept those values that are like seeds of the Word[35] or those that exist as a greater or lesser life force in the Christian recall of the peoples.

This demands a fitting awareness of different situations, a new acceptance of new values and a commitment to revive and express them in the language, signs, symbols and sensibility of each culture. We Claretians must responsible to these attitudes with respect to those peoples and human groups to which we are sent as evangelizers.

4.3. The Option for a Prophetic and Liberating Evangelization

In the face of inequities and injustices that destroy human dignity in various ways, We Claretians want, through our life and our words, to bring the light of the Gospel, with its full content of salvific announcement and condemnation. We want to be a sign and a force that frees people from any kind of self-interest, slavery and servitude that hinders the growth of the person and his or her communion with God and other people.

The character that we must have in our prophetic and liberating mission is same as that of our Fr. Founder. He was a man who perceived and proclaimed the plan of salvation in the concrete circumstances of his times, which he expressed in terms of Gospel freedom and denounced situations of sinfulness and injustice. Animated, like Claret, by the power of Jesus, and nourished by the example of so many Claretians who have given, or are giving, their lives for the sake of the Kingdom, we accept the risks of prophetic denunciation and commitment that are involved in our evangelizing mission.

4.4. The Option for an Evangelization from the Perspective of the Poor and Needy

Together with the Church in our time, challenged by the contemporary situation, we have a new consciousness that the poor are primary recipients of Jesus’ message (cf. Lk. 4:18-21) and his preaching to them is a proof that He was the Messiah (cf. Lk. 7:20-23). In fidelity to Jesus and to the Church, all of us Claretians must pay close attention to those who are poorest and neediest and orient our work of universal evangelization from that perspective.

Claret was aware that, like Jesus, the anointing he had received from the Spirit dedicated him specifically to the evangelization of simple people and the poor[36] and that this must also be the work of his companions, the missionaries in the Congregation. Our Founder’s clear awareness is a clarion call in this regard. We are asked today to heed “the cry of the poor, out of the source of their poverty and their collective misery. How can we not respond to the outcry of these chosen people of God, for whom Christ came (Lk. 4:18, 6:20), going so far as to identify Himself with them?”[37]

4.5. The Option for an Evangelization that Increases the Number of Lay Evangelizers

The urgency of evangelization at the present time, the orientation of the Church today, and our evangelizing vocation for the building up of God’s Kingdom demand that we reawaken the sensitivity that Claret had in his time and that we today opt for the task of raising up and promoting evangelizers: priests, religious and lay people. We feel anointed to promote a participative model of Church where lay people are completely incorporated into Church tasks, especially works of evangelization, offering them our understanding and the support that we can give to their formation. We feel particularly anointed to work among youth, who have to feel they have a role to play in the Church and the world of the future and actually play that role. Finally, the present time offers ideal conditions for implementing Claret’s project of the “Claretian Family.”

5. Apostolic Means and Criteria for Their Discernment[38]

5.1. General Principle

The ministry of the Word, which characterizes us in the Church, must be carried out by various means. Imitating our Founder and impelled by his passion for evangelization, we use “all means possible.”[39] The Constitutions, nonetheless, put these means in the context of our missionary charism in the Church.

We missionaries must use all the means that make our mission “in the manner of the apostles” and the context of our vocation among the people of God, which is the service of the Word, visible. The means must thus correspond to the Gospel inspiration from which our Institute springs. But they must also be in keeping with the signs of the times.

The apostolic means, the ministries that the Congregation carries out in practice, must be ministries suited to our missionary charism, i.e., ministries for the service of the Word. The concrete forms of ministry must be discerned in light of our charism and according to the congregational criteria given before.

The topic of appropriate means has been an object of reflection and evolution in the General Chapters and has been molded by the various Constitutions and the experience of the Congregation.

5.2. Criteria for Discernment

a. The sense of intuition. The Constitutions require us to foster in ourselves “the sense of intuition in order to be alert to what is most urgent, opportune and effective, in the setting of the times, places and persons with whom [we] have to deal, without clinging to outmoded or inadequate methods or tools of the apostolate.”[40] The 19th General Chapter understood that in order to discern what type of evangelization is appropriate for our missionary vocation, the Claretian community has a valid criterion in the principle formulated by the General Chapter of 1967 of sensitivity to what us most urgent, opportune and effective according to the circumstances of the times, places and persons, without clinging to inadequate methods or instruments of the apostolate[41].

• What is most urgent characterizes better than other expressions the missionary thrust of our options. It supposes an availability to go wherever there is the most pressing need of our presence to build up the Kingdom. It implies a spirit of unfixedness, mobility and detachment regarding any custom or interest distinct from that of the Kingdom.[42]

• What is most opportune refers primarily to the kind of psychological and spiritual sensitivity that enables us to read and judge the signs of the times. It also implies that the missionary’s habit of seeing events in the light of the Word of God gives him insight into what is useful for the work of salvation in a given time or place and, in contrast, what might have lost its relevance or become an obstacle to that work.[43] The criterion for discerning what is most opportune is sensitivity to the signs of the times and the ability to interpret them.

• What is most effective refers to the means and forms that must be chosen and employed for the work of evangelization, either because of their universality or their connection with the power to transform. The basis of this search for the effective is an overdose of love and impatience for the Kingdom. It is a form of apostolic zeal, not just some attempt to gain efficiency in the manner of our present-day society.[44] It is a matter, then, of looking for means of mission and forms or styles of mission that have the broadest outreach, that serve to evangelize more individuals, more peoples, and that have the widest range of activity.

b. The sense of availability. The sense of availability implies that we missionaries must give ourselves completely to the work of the Gospel and that we must be free in order to be sent to any part of the world and prepared for whatever ministry that may be entrusted to us by the Congregation through its superiors.

We must be ready to renounce whatever we need to renounce for the purpose of carrying the mission of spreading the faith, either inside or outside the borders of our native country, docile to the Spirit and obedient to the mission. The members of the Congregation must leave their families and must avoid an inordinate love of country or of their own culture that hinders their ability to adapt themselves to the people they are going to evangelize.[45]

This attitude is the work of the Spirit that has anointed us, like Jesus and Claret, in order to evangelize. The Spirit creates in the disciples and followers of Jesus that docility that results in ongoing availability for mission. We are spontaneously available. This requires interior freedom. Availability is the result of the benevolent presence of the Spirit within us and of our generosity. It is the Spirit that makes us go out of ourselves and urges us to accept the various human, ecclesiastical and congregational interventions, and make Jesus’ grand saving project our own.

c. The sense of catholicity. The sense of catholicity supposes our being prepared to go to all parts of the world without exception. It implies developing an open spirit in order to highly esteem the customs of the peoples and their religious and cultural values. Missionary activity should be directed, first and foremost, to those who are most in need of evangelization or to those who are already, or who can be, agents of that evangelization. To a large degree we unite our apostolic works in the Lord to each and every one of those who, impelled by a missionary spirit, want to collaborate with us.[46]

The Chapter of 1979, despite the priorities it offers, clearly recognizes the universal mission of the Congregation.[47] And the Chapters of 1991 and 1997 deepen, analyze and apply our mission specifically to each of the five continents.[48]

6. Formation for Mission

6.1. The Apostolic Spirit of Candidates for the Congregation

The CVD give specific orientations in regard to vocation discernment for entry into the Congregation. A basic criterion for vocation promotion and selection must be the candidate’s aptitude for the apostolic mission and its demands. From the very beginning, the Congregation requires superiors and examiners to diligently investigate the candidates’ spirit, intention and will. For any candidate to be admitted, he must have what is required of every member—priests, students or brothers: an apostolic spirit. This criterion must always be a determining factor in vocation discernment during the years of postulancy. It is important for the good running of formation centers that postulants who, for various reasons, are unsuited for apostolic ministry be dismissed.[49]

6.2. Fitting Ministers of the Word

 

The Father Founder, when he wrote the Rule for Students in the Congregation (1862), already emphasized that the intention to do studies was nothing other than “to make oneself day by day always more suited to promote the greater glory of God and the good of souls; thus, in their prayers they should ask the Lord to make them his fitting and powerful ministers in word, deed and example.” And in the second edition of the Rule, more integrated and revised, he condensed this because he intended it for the whole time of formation: “What should constitute their entire motivation is the glory of God, whom they should ask to make them fitting ministers of His word in order to extend His name and spread the Kingdom throughout the entire world.”[50]

6.3. Formation for Mission

The Constitutions tell us that the period of studies is a time set aside for formation in order to be able to fulfill the mission.[51] Being essentially missionaries, apostolic formation, the General Chapter of 1967 says, must guide all aspects of formation in one way or another.[52] In this same vein, there are documents in our Congregation, especially the GPF, that talk about “mission as a key for formation.”[53] In the final analysis, the objective of formation is personal attainment of the characteristics of a Son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary left us by the Fr. Founder, i.e., the definition of the Claretian Missionary.[54]

6.4. Other Pedagogical Orientations

a. A supernatural sense of apostolic mission: The apostolic mission is supernatural. It acquires its full meaning from a faith perspective. The principal mover is the Risen Christ and His Spirit, who acts through us, His instruments. But we are the kind of instruments that can positively or negatively impact the Lord’s saving action.

From a formation viewpoint, this fact is of overriding importance. To be fitting ministers and to be formed to be such implies a transparency and an inner transformation that makes it possible for Jesus and His Spirit to act through our persons. The apostle is a witness to the Lord’s Resurrection, insofar as he lives the risen life with Christ. The apostle is one sent by the Lord to proclaim His message to all the world and to all parts of the earth.

b. The presence of mission in the formation process: Mission must be present from the very beginning of formation in all areas and at all levels. The presence of mission cannot be restricted only to the carrying out apostolic actions and activities by those being formed, although these are necessary and indispensable.

The one being formed, beginning with his first profession, is already a missionary and an apostle and must live the entire formation period with that awareness, avoiding any possible duality that might affect the integration of his living out of his vocation. Thus, mission must permeate his whole personality and must be lived in every dimension of his life: development of personal qualities, emotional life, spirituality (faith, prayer, etc.), community life, Gospel commitments, studies, preparation for ministry, etc. All these dimensions must have a missionary perspective and must be formed with a missionary and apostolic projection, in a lived unity.

c. Formation for mission must be both theoretical and practical: The Constitutions tell us very clearly about the theoretical formation: “During the period of studies, our missionaries should cultivate their hearts as well as their minds, keeping them open to the action of the Spirit and observing our own characteristic method of instruction. Our students should be especially diligent in the pursuit of sacred studies.”[55] They thus propose three elements: sacred studies, knowledge of the world and people, and techniques for apostolate. From the practical viewpoint, the Claretian being formed, through the formation process lived in missionary community, must keep on acquiring those personal dynamisms, well assimilated and internalized, that enable him to be an authentic missionary in the style of Claret. This involves not only the dynamisms and experiences that empower him for direct apostolic activity[56] but also the personality dynamisms that enable him to attain the maturity necessary for discharging his mission.

d. The community dimension of formation for mission: We are a community for mission.[57] We are like Fr. Founder with this style of life. He says in his Autobiography: “Thus we had begun and thus we continued, living together strictly in community. All of us were going out regularly to work in the sacred ministry.”[58]

From a formation viewpoint, the MCT tells us: “Before all else, the proposal of a shared project in mission should be the nucleus for promoting new missionary vocations, as well as a principle of discernment, of pedagogical incentive and of experimentation, throughout the process of incorporation into our Institute.”[59] And in another place it says: “The new generations that enter the Congregation must be formed for evangelization in missionary community, undertaking from the outset a communal, poor and inculturated lifestyle.”[60]

The community context gives special relevance to the need to form young missionaries to work in teams, to systematically and communally planning pastoral activity, to exercising communal evaluation and revision of the apostolate and to being open to the worldwide Claretian community.



      [1] Cf. RM 9-11.

                [2] In EN 72, Pope Paul VI says that, just as the Spirit was always present in the evangelizing action of Jesus and of his first disciples, so there is never evangelization without the action of the Holy Spirit: the Spirit’s presence and action is absolutely necessary because the Spirit is the principal agent and goal of evangelization. It takes place—heads—through the Spirit’s personal action.

                [3] Vatican II confirms this perspective when it says: “The Church is missionary and the work of evangelization is the fundamental duty of the People of God” (AG 35). “The People of God are assumed by Christ to be instruments for the redemption of all and are sent to all the world as light for the world and salt for the earth” (LG 9).

                [4] Cf. LG 4, 7.

                [5] CC 6

                [6] Cf. CC 7.

                [7] “The Congregation feels that it collaborates in the Church. It lives out of the Mystery that nourishes it, that makes it share in and corresponsible for the evangelizing mission. It feels called to interpret, on to the other and out of its role, the symphony of vocations to the ordained ministry, to the consecrated life and to the lay life” (A. BOCOS, MVTM 10).

                [8] Cf. Aut 489.

                [9] CC 46.

                [10] Cf. CC 46.

                [11] This ministry is not reduced merely to the exercise of preaching, although preaching has a very important place within such proclamation.

                [12] Cf. CC 46.

                [13] Cf. 2AP 80-82; MCT 232

                [14] CC 46.

                [15] Cf. MCT 167-168.

                [16] CC 46.

                [17] As newspaper reporters can be agents of social transformation through the service of the written word, as artists and stars of stage and screen can be agents of change through symbolic representation, as thinkers and philosophers can be agents of social upheaval and of the emergence of a new society, so we, missionaries and religious, strive to be agents of transformation through that symbolic ministry that is the ministry of the Word.

                [18] CC 46.

                [19] Cf. CC 1857, 2.

                [20] Cf. CC 1967, 2.

                [21] Cf. CC 2; also 6, 49.

                [22] Cf. CC 6.

                [23] Cf. CC 6; DC 24, 28-30; PE 10, 39, 45

                [24] Cf. CC 14; PE 42; MCT 120, 130, 212-220; IPM 33.

                [25] Cf. CC 14.

                [26] Cf. IPM 17-19.

                [27] Cf. CLARET, Self-centeredness Overcome: EE, p. 410.

                [28] Cf. Aut 687.

                [29] MCT 169, 172.

                [30] Cf. MCT 142-159.

                [31] EN 22.

                [32] EN 76.

                [33] Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Discourse 10-11-1978.

                [34] Cf. MCT 160-179.

                [35] Cf. EN 53.

                [36] Cf. Aut 118.

                [37] ET 17.

                [38] CC 48.

                [39] CC 6.

                [40] Cf. CC 48.

                [41] Cf. MCT 163; cf. also CC 48; PE 50.

[42] From this is derived another, very timely criterion of discernment in the Congregation called Revision of Apostolic Positions (cf. MCT 229-238; CPR 76-86; SW 18-20; IPM 51-53).

     [43] Cf. MCT 165.

     [44] Cf. MCT 166.

                [45] Cf. CC 32, 48-49.

                [46] Cf. CC 48. 3.

                [47] Cf. MCT 180.

                [48] Cf. SW 23-33; IPM 57-62.

                [49] Cf. CVD 261, 301.

                [50] RFCMF, nn. 17 & 28. Both annotated editions are published in the Collection of Clarertian Formation Handbooks (J. M. VIÑAS, La formación del misionero en la Congregación según San Antonio Maria Claret, n. 1, Rome 1987).

                [51] Cf. CC 72.

                [52] Cf. 1F 2.

                [53] GPF 56-58.

                [54] Cf. CC 9.

                [55] CC 72; nn.74 y 75 speak in same vein.

                [56] Cf. CC 75. The GPF requires the implementation of carefully planned apostolic experiences in a Systematic Program of Apostolic Initiation (cf. 234-242, 408-409; cf. also CPR 68).

                [57] Cf. MCH 126 ss.

                [58] Aut 491.

                [59] MCH 135-136.

                [60] MCH 228.