We begin a series of reflections from Fr. Gonzalo Fernandez on different aspects of our charismatic identity. The core of our identity lies in our relationship with Christ.
1. We are followers of Jesus Christ in the style of the apostles
XXIV General Chapter Men on Fire with Love
To live the call to evangelize more fervently, we need to remember who we are and to whom we belong. Returning to the “definition of the missionary” helps us to eliminate the ashes of routine and weariness, rekindles the burning embers of our vocation, and renews the enthusiasm we need to be “on fire”, “to spread the flames” and “to set everyone on fire with God’s love.” The “definition of the missionary” leads us to the core of a fulfilled human and Christian life: love. (MFL 32).
After first profession we add to our name the initials CMF (Cordis Mariae Filius cf Dir 25). This is not just an external detail. It expresses that with our profession we take on a new identity17 that includes all the others: being Missionaries, Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is the concrete way of being men, Christians, religious, ordained ministers and apostles. (cf. CC, 4;159; Dir, 24-26; MCT 132). Our charismatic name18 expresses the new mission to which we are called: to be the “arms” of the Woman who is still defeating the dragon (cf. Rev. 11:19 – 12:18) through the Word of God, of which we are listeners and servants. (MFL 34)
General Plan of Formation
We are followers of Jesus Christ, consecrated to the Father through the gift of the Spirit. For us, Jesus is the Christ and the Lord to whom we entrust our life. He is the Son and Envoy of the Father, He is Word made flesh of the Virgin Mary, He is the One Anointed by the Spirit to bring Good News to the poor, the Prophet powerful in works and words, the One who was obedient even to death and is the Risen One who continues living in the world. We have been granted the grace to represent in the Church his prophetic life, his vocation as herald of the Good News for all human beings, especially for the poor, the addressees and privileged subjects of the Kingdom that He lived and proclaimed.
We follow Jesus Christ in the manner of the apostles. Like them, we have been given the grace to live and to announce the Word, by re?presenting in the Church the virginity, poverty and obedience of Christ, and by sharing the hopes and sorrows of humankind, especially of the poor.
Among the elements emphasized in the Gospel, we pay special heed to the call to be perfect as our Father is perfect, to the commandment of love, to prayer, to the rule of apostolic life and to the beatitudes. These emphases entail as their foundation the unconditional acceptance of the person of Jesus and of the new order of values he proposes as the Kingdom. The centrality of the Kingdom in the message of Jesus becomes for us the fundamental criterion of discernment for our life and mission. It presupposes an unshakable faith in the God who calls us, an experience of our sonship in God, of becoming conformed with Christ the Evangelizer and of living our cordimarian sonship.
Gospel (Mk 1:14-20)
14. After John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee and began preaching the Good News of God. 15He said, “The time has come; the kingdom of God is at hand. Change your ways and believe the Good News.” 16As Jesus was walking along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” 18At once, they left their nets and followed him. 19Jesus went a little farther on and saw James and John, the sons of Zebedee; they were in their boat mending their nets. 20Immediately, Jesus called them and they followed him, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men.
Autobiography of Claret
I am ever more deeply impressed at the thought of Jesus moving from town to town, preaching everywhere-not just in big cities, but in little villages and even to a single woman. When he spoke to the Samaritan woman, he was tired and thirsty from traveling, and the moment was as inconvenient for him as it was for the woman.
From the very beginning I have been thrilled by the preaching style of Jesus, his likenesses and parables. And how He was persecuted! He was a sign of contradiction, persecuted for his teaching, his works, and his very person. Finally, they took his life amid affronts, torments, and insults, making Him suffer the most shameful and painful death imaginable.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was sent from the Father and became incarnate of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, was anointed by that same Spirit to proclaim glad tidings to the poor. In complete dedication to the concerns of his Father, he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom.
Since it was his will to associate people with him in this saving work, he called together those he desired, appointed twelve of them to be with him, and sent them out to proclaim his message. Then, when he himself had accomplished the work of our redemption, he founded the Church as the universal sacrament of salvation and sent the Apostles and others to bear witness to the resurrection.
Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, some of these others began to manifest in the Church the kind of life Jesus had chosen for himself, as their way of witnessing to the Gospel.
We, the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, have also received a calling like that of the Apostles and have been granted the gift to follow Christ in a communion of life and to go out into the whole world to proclaim the good news to every creature.
Therefore the following of Christ as set forth in the gospel is our supreme rule. And so we listen to the Lord’s words, eager to learn from him as he calls his disciples to be perfect as their Father is perfect, as he gives them the new commandment of fraternal love, as he urges them to pray, as he gives them rules for apostolic life and as he proclaims that the poor in spirit, the sorrowing, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for justice, the merciful, the single-hearted, the peacemakers, those who suffer persecution for the cause of right and endure slander for his sake, are all sharers in his own blessedness.
We answer this divine call by adopting Jesus’ way of life, a way which the Virgin Mary, too, embraced in faith. And so in the Church we have to manifest Christ’s virginity, poverty and obedience in proclaiming the Good News. Through our profession of the evangelical counsels by public vows we dedicate ourselves to God and are consecrated by him, and thus we form in the Church an Institute which is truly and fully apostolic.
The anointing of the Holy Spirit, whereby we are anointed to preach the Good News to the poor, is a sharing in the fullness of Christ. For this reason, we who have been called to follow the Lord and collaborate with him in the work assigned him by the Father, must keep our gaze fixed on Christ, imitate him, and be so steeped in his spirit that it will no longer be we who live, but Christ who truly lives in us. This is the only way in which we will become effective instruments in proclaiming the kingdom of heaven.
We aim to attain conformity to Christ by professing religious vows in a missionary community. We also pursue this conformity by the practice of other virtues and express it according to our gift in the Church.
For personal reflection and prayer
- Who is Jesus Christ for you at this moment of your life? What of his words touch you the most?
- Write a personal letter to Jesus telling Him your quests, problems, concerns, everything you discover in your “missionary heart”. And then read this letter to Jesus and pray with it.