When I meet the young missionaries in our formation centers, I am overwhelmed with joy and gratitude for the generosity of these young men who want to respond to their call meaningfully.
Most of the formandi in our formation centers are full of enthusiasm and hope for the missionary project lying in store for them.
On the other hand, I am also concerned about their formation when I imagine how they would turn out to be in the missions in future. They may become joyful men grounded in God-experience, who tirelessly spend themselves up for the people of God, sharing in their joys and sorrows and teaming up with their confreres in a relevant missionary project. Some may, perhaps, turn out to be immature men who constantly doubt their vocation, get caught up in a self seeking adventures at the cost of the people and the congregation.
Often formators wonder what are those variables that would assure a process of growth that leads to wholeness and holiness of the formandi. There is no easy answer for this question.
Good desires and lofty vocational ideals serve well to motivate a young man to embark on a vocational journey. But they may not automatically take him to live these ideals in real life. One of the important keys to make real progress as a Claretian is the practice of the virtues and values proper to consecrated life. When formandi are bombarded with only ideas and ideals without being personally accompanied in incarnating them in their lived life, they may confuse their ideals as actual, resulting in a rupture between preaching and practice.
Ken Wilber makes a distinction between states of consciousness and stages of development in The Integral Vision (2007). Everybody experiences various states of consciousness and these states often provide profound motivation, meaning, and drives to oneself and others. But these states come and go. Stages of development are actual milestones of growth and development wherein a person has access to the capacities of that stage in an enduring way: greater consciousness, more embracing love, higher ethical commitment etc. A passing enthusiasm of a state of consciousness becomes a permanent trait at a higher level of development. Growth into higher stages of development in each aspect of life is through conscious effort and practice. This distinction is useful to understand what happens to a candidate who may enjoy sporadic sentiments of self denial and self giving, but has very little capacity for a sustained and joyful vocational commitment. States of consciousness that evoke vocational enthusiasm has to be consolidated into a higher stages of vocational development where these traits are made permanent acquisition. This progress is possible only through arduous practice, not by desire alone.
A candidate does not become an integrated person just by completing his academic studies. He may remain immature even after advanced studies, if left to the mercy of unintegrated conscious or unconscious desires and passions. The task of conscious conquest of the unevangelized zones of interior life for the Kingdom is an important task of formation. This takes place in the everyday lives by consolidating vocational aspirations into consistent signs of commitment proper to higher stages of vocational growth. Formation takes place in the concrete events of life, when they are brought to conscious awareness for mature reflection and action. A young man who cultivates reflected action grows in wisdom and in favour with God and humans. It is this formative journey that every Claretian candidate is called to embark upon.