SIXTH PHASE( 1841-1849, 1855 & 1858)
Fundamental Dimensión: ‘do with Others What He Alone Couldn’t Do

P. Jesús Bermejo

1. Grace of Apostolic Fecundity

God granted Claret a particular charism in the Church through the Holy Spirit: that of a special apostolic fecundity. Charism of a founder is mediation through the work of the Holy Spirit and it moves him to form missionaries and create numerous institutions to promote Christian faith and charity and to spread the Good News.

• Germinal stage: towards 1839, according to the testimony of Luis Sauquer (Vida., p. 412).
• Decision to found a missionary association: towards 1846
• Gestation: towards 1849

2. Apostolic Reaction

Found an Association of lay people (1847) and of priests both dedicated completely to missionary evangelisation.
• Spiritual Exercises and Conferences to priests (Aut 308)
• Founding of Religious library in 1847 (Aut 476)
• Various attempts and plans of founding: the Apostolic Confratemity as Pre-Congregation
• Solitary apostolic experience and with some collaborators (among them Fr. Manuel Vilaró) in Catatonia (Aut 454-476) and Canary Islands (Aut 480-487).

Realization of the Project Which God Inspired in Him

Claret carries to happy realization the plan to form a Congregation of priests who would both be, and be called, Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Aut 488) shaped with the five Co-Founders in Vic on 16th of July 1849 (Aut 489) and living strictly in Community (491) for which he gives praise to God and Blessed Virgin (Aut 492-493) and offers & beautiful portrait of the Claretian Missionary : the so-called definition of the missionary (Aut 494), or ‘Reminder which Anthony Claret makes for himself (EA p.619), which is a squeezed Christological synthesis of the Pauline spirit. The missionary’s only concern is how he can best follow Jesús Christ and imítate him in working, suffering and striving constantly and single-mindedly for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls’ (Aut 494). The ‘homo apostolicus’ enamoured in Christ is a portrait of St. Paul: man on fire with love, spreads its flames, desires to set the whole world on fire, nothing daunts him, rejoices in privations, welcomes work, embraces sacrifices, delights in calumnies, rejoices in suffering.

3. Why did Claret found the Congregation?

Because he saw the scarcity of evangelical and apostolic preachers (ECIII, p. 41).

Founded for what purpose?
‘To be able to do with others what he alone could not do’; this doing is nothing else than evangelise.

4. Profound Crisis

It is caused by the appointment as Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba which compels him to abandon his two favourite enterprises: ‘the Religious Library and the Congregation just coming into being”(Aut 495).

5. Acceptance of the Archbishopric in Humble and Trusting Obedience
• Because it is told to him that it is the will of God (Aut 496).
• Because the Bishop Casadevall imposes it on him (Letter of 1 Oct. 1849, EC I p.74).

His charism as Founder extends itself also to Cordimarin Filiation (which can be situated between 1846 and 1850, in which year he will publish the book of founding) and to the Congregation of Religious of Mary Immaculate – Claretian Missionaries in Cuba together with Venerable Mother Antonia París (25 August 1855). ‘Although the intervention of Fr. Claret in the foundation of the Institute could seem little late as he was not the one who had the inspiration to put into practice the plans, still we have to affirm that he is present – according to the eternal plans of God – in the first genesis of the idea itself of the Instituto.’ (Alvarez, J., Historia de las Religiosas de María Inmaculada Misioneras Claretianas, Roma, 1980, p. 738). This charismatic fecundity has extended itself posteriorly in a mediated form, to other 4 Religious Institutes which with CMf, RMI, FC and SC, conform the Claretian Family which has in Claret the Father and source of inspiration of missionary life.

This fecundity is prolonged in some way through the effective collaboration given to the foundation of other various Congregations emerged in Spain in XIX Century, above all the following:

• Carmelites of Charity (founded by St. Joaquina de Vedruna)
• Daughters of the Heart of Mary (Joaquín Masmijá)
• Tertiary Dominicans of the Anuncíala (Blessed Francisco Coll)
• Tertiary Capuchins of Good Shepherd (Fr. José Tous)
• Franciscan Religious Missionaries of Mother of Divine Shepherd (Blessed Maria Ana Mogas Fontcuberta)
• Adorers of Most Blessed Sacrament (St. Maria Michaela del Smo.Sacrament)
• Missionaries of Teaching (Marcos and Gertrudis Castaner)
• Slaves of the Heart of Mary (Esperanza González)
• Servants of Jesús (Bl.Mary of of Sagrado Corazón Sancho Guerra)

Two important observations:

1. The Founder doesn’t exhaust himself in responding to the challenges of his times, but responds also the actual challenges, because the spirit of his responses is maintained in his sons and daughters; the ecclesial sensibility changes, the circumstances of the world change, but the force of the command can’t be changed at least in us: proclaim in the whole world the Good News of Salvation through all possible means: life, word, prayer, sacrifices.

2. The origins of the Institute are decisive: the experience of the Founder and Cofounders (style of life and action) is normative for the identity of the Congregation as were the origins of the Church (Christ as Founder and the first disciples). As Claret was telling to Mother Sacramento referring to the Institute of Adorers: ‘How deep are the roots, so loafty will be the tree.'(Barrios, A., Mujer audaz, p.591).

This demands a continual return to the source of charismatic grace (spirit), to its source (the Founder) and to the flow of the current all along the history until the today with an eye in the project of God, other in the Church and another in the concrete world surrounding us (inculturation). After the French Revolution (1789), according to Audisio, it is a very difficult thing to be a man of modern times and a man of olden times.’ (quoted by Alvarez, J….)

Our Directory states in a synthetic form what a missionary is while explaining our name: The word ‘missionary’, understood in the light of the spiritual experience of St. Anthony Mary Claret, defines our charismatic identity. The title of ‘Apostolic Missionary’ which he received synthesizes his ideal of life according to the style of the Apostles. This way of life implies being disciples and to follow the Master, to live the evangelical counsels in a community of life with Jesus and the group of those who are called, to be sent and to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom to the whole world.’ (Dir.26) We are born to evangelize. Our Founder affirms it to us all along his life with word and example. His Episcopal motto reminds us of this: ‘Caritas Christi urget nos’ and with the first coat of arms of our Congregation. Both were sketched by the Saint and have oval forms with the inscription: ‘Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; a heart appears above (that of Mary) pierced through a sword (double edged sword of the Word of God?), and at its side a cross and a staff; underneath an open book with two columns in each page (4 Gospels); and beneath it a small St. Michael with the sword raised tramping the devil.

The very intense apostolic life of Fr. Founder is the best testimony of the evangelizing finality of the Congregation as he after having discerned the spirit of every one of those who were to become his companions or co-founders (Clotet, Notes for the Annals), came to the conclusion that the Lord had given them the ‘same spirit that motivated him.'(Aut 489)

The Congregation was founded as Fr. Xifré told, for the missionary preaching (Xifré, J., Crónica de la Congregación: AC-CMF 1915, p. 304) If the Founder, born for preaching, to be the continuator of the mission of Jesus at the style of the apostles and great saintly missionaries reformed in the preaching whatever he touched, the conclusion drawn is clear: the first missionaries of the Imm. Heart of Mary and all those to whom the Holy Spirit granted the ‘same spirit’ in the course of times which was given to Claret, were born to preach, for the ‘missionary preaching’, were anointed by the Holy Spirit for the preaching of the Word of God to the poor.

6. Characteristics of this stage:

Apostolic fecundity as the Founder promoter of religious and secular life.