7. Vocation is an inspiration or inner movement whereby God calls a person to a determined state or form of life. It always presupposes the absolute freedom of God who calls and the human freedom of the one who reacts to that call. Every vocation contains the history of an ineffable dialogue between God and human beings, between the love of God who calls and the freedom of the human beings who respond to that call in faith and love. God’s gratuitous gift and human beings’ responsible freedom are two indispensable aspects of vocation.3
8. Thanks to this freedom, a vocation is, on the part of human beings, a decision, an option that they take upon themselves in their own life. It is not just any option. It is an option that commits a person’s whole life and at the same time conditions all his or her other important decisions.
1. Human vocation
9. There is in every human being a specific vocation entailed in the mere fact of existing. The first vocation is a call to life, a call contained in the dynamics of the creative act of the Father. A human being comes to life because he or she is thought of, loved and called by a Will that has preferred him or her to have life as opposed to non-being. The first and most important decision of a person is to accept life as a gift, task and mission, and to acknowledge the divine presence in that life.
10. God, who is the origin of life, implants in each human being his or her own creative dynamism. In virtue of this dynamism they feel called to grow in the knowledge and acceptance of self, to seek the truth that sets them free,4 to walk and live authentically, and to collaborate in the work of the truth.5 Human vocation entails growth in one’s life as a person.
11. In the world. The human vocation, the call to life, has an ecological character. We could even call it an ecological vocation. By this vocation, human beings are called to care for, subdue and transform the cosmos by their labor, and to enjoy it. In this way they reach fulfillment as human beings and are enabled to give a conscious, free and creative response to the great questions of life.
12. With others. Every vocation, as a life project, is an existential way of self-realization and self-gift. It is a way of self-realization, because persons achieve their realization by fully living their vocation. It is a way of self-gift, because through their vocation persons find the way to relate generously with others, to love and be loved. Human beings, as men and women, are called to join their destiny with others by establishing relationships of equality, complementarity, reciprocity and fraternity with them. Human beings truly achieve self-realization when they commit themselves to the good of others.6 It is there that they find their own personal fulfillment.
13. Open to the Absolute. Each person is called to live according to the image and likeness of God7 and to relate with God. Our existence as creatures is essentially open to our Creator. Our highest vocation is to develop the divine seed that lies hidden within us. We develop this seed by surpassing ourselves in opening ourselves to transcendence and by fully realizing ourselves through manifold relationships with self, with the world, with others and with God.8
2. Christian vocation
14. Through Baptism. The call to life reaches its fullness with a new and gratuitous call to become—in Christ and through the Spirit—sons and daughters of God. This new call is realized in the sacrament of Baptism. Through it, Christ becomes, by vocation, the human project that all the baptized must realize in themselves. He is the perfect and definitive model who manifests to humanity the fullness of humanity and discloses to humanity its supreme vocation: a call to communion with God in Christ Jesus,9 a call to be the kind of human being that God wants us to be. This should not mislead us to dissociate the human vocation from the Christian vocation. Being a Christian entails being human, like Christ,10 and being, in Him, a son of God. Consequently, the supreme vocation of humankind is, in fact, only one: a divine vocation.
15. In and for the Church. The Christian vocation, a gift of God, is a gratuitous election by the Father in the Church, which is a con-vocation, an assembly of those called. The Church takes shape as a mystery of vocation, a living reflection of the mystery of the Trinity. The Church bears within it the mystery of the Father who calls all to praise and bless his name and to fulfill his will. It holds within itself the mystery of the Son sent by the Father to announce the Kingdom of God to all peoples. It is also the depository of the mystery of the Holy Spirit, who consecrates for mission all whom the Father calls through his Son, Jesus Christ.11 The Christian vocation is essentially ecclesial. It is born in the Church and through the mediation of the Church, and its is oriented toward the service of God and of the Church. In all its forms, vocation is a gift geared to the growth of the Kingdom of God, of its values and demands in the world, and to the building up of the Church.
16. Through the action of the Spirit. Under the guidance of the Spirit, the Church is called to continue the work of Christ, sent by the Father to carry God’s plan to its fulfill-ment, namely, to establish a definitive covenant between God and humankind, by making them sons and daughters of the Father and by gathering all those who were scattered into one New People.12 The condition of this People is the dignity and freedom of sons and daughters of God. Their law is the new commandment to love as Christ loved, and their aim is to spread the Kingdom.13 The Church and all Christians are called to announce the Good News of salvation.14
17. In freedom. The call of God in Christ, a call of freedom addressed to each and every human being,15 also invites them to a free response. God does not impose or coerce; he offers and proposes. Human beings respond with a spirit of faith and with the same freedom that God offers them in the gift of their calling. The grace of God reinforces the response of human beings by empowering their capacity for openness and response. Hence freedom is essential to vocation. In responding we freely express out personal adherence. This free response finds its foundation and incomparable model in Christ, who was the first to be called and sent, always freely obedient to the Father’s will.16
18. Like Mary. God called Mary for a special mission: to be the Mother of the Savior. Although she was troubled at the angel’s proposal, she humbly accepted God’s will17 and surrendered herself totally as the Slave of the Lord to the person and work of her Son.18 The freedom of the God who calls is manifested in the loving and special election of Mary. In turn, Mary expressed her human being both in listening to God’s call and in responding to it.
19. In communion and diversity. The Church is the Body of Christ, made up of all those who are baptized in one and the same Spirit.19 It is the Spirit who gives life to the Church, unifies it in communion and mission, and provides and governs it with diverse charisms and ministries.20 For this same reason the Spirit raises up diverse vocations.
3. Forms of Christian life
20. All of the faithful, graced with gifts and charisms of the Spirit, participate in diverse forms in the mission of Christ, which is also the mission of the Church: to announce the Gospel, to worship God and to transform humanity according to God’s plan toward the true image of man, which is Christ. This multiplicity of forms for carrying out this mission is expressed in the diverse Christian vocations: lay, ministerial and consecrated.
3.1. Lay Vocation
21. The lay vocation is defined in terms of baptism and of the Church’s nature and mission. Laypersons are all those Christian faithful who are incorporated into the Church by baptism and who exercise the mission of the whole People of God in their life and in the world, in keeping with their role in it.21
22. Secularity and commitment. The proper and distinctive character of the laity is their secular state. They live the mystery of Christ and the mission of the Church in the midst of the realities of this world. Their identity consists of being men or women of the Church in the heart of the world and, at the same time, men and women of the world in the heart of the Church.22 Members of the Church, loyal to Christ, they are committed to upbuilding the Kingdom in its temporal dimension.23 In the world, lay persons are called to live the newness of Christian life and to seek the common good, by defending the dignity of human beings and their inalienable rights, and helping to create fraternal structures of peace, freedom and justice.24
23. Services. The laity are called to live the mission of Christ, Priest, Prophet and King. In the midst of temporal realities they worship God by offering their life in following Jesus and by working to transform the world. Within the ecclesial community they participate actively in the announcement of the Word, in the liturgical life and in the charitable action of the Church.25
24. Matrimony and the family. These constitute the primary field for the community commitment of the faithful.26 Their mutual love marks the beginning of a conjugal and family vocation that should be the expression and the living of a love that is a free and reciprocal self-gift, open to the transmission of human life, in order to form a new family. The family is meant to be a school for human enrichment, which assures its primary place in the humanization of persons and of society.27 In the family, which has aptly been called the domestic church, all can find their own vocation and can realize it in the heart of the world, where they disclose and discover the presence of the Lord.28
25. Lay ministries. Some of the laity can be called to exercise specific ministries. The variety of these services depends on the charisms they have received and on the needs of the community. Lay persons who commit themselves to these services must always maintain their insertion in the midst of temporal realities and in keeping with their family responsibilities.29
3.2. Vocation to the ordained ministry
26. The vocation to the ordained ministry holds a specific place among the People of God. It is conferred through the sacrament of Orders and is made up of three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate and diaconate.
27. The ordained ministry is essentially a service of the ecclesial community, which is a mystery, a communion and a mission. A Mystery, because it is made up of all those who are born of the Spirit and graced with the love and life of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. A Communion, because all the faithful have been called to relive the very communion of God. A Mission, because all the faithful have been sent to manifest and communicate it in history.30
28. Every ordained minister, according to his degree, is present in the midst of the community as a minister of the Word, of the Sacraments and of charity.31
3.2.1. Minister of the Word
29. The People of God, whom the ordained minister serves, have been called together by the Word of the Living God, which is brought to life on the lips of the priest,32 who is consecrated and sent to proclaim to everyone the gospel of the Kingdom, thus continuing the work of the Son who was sent. Through the Word, the priest, joyfully prompted to seek the salvation of his fellow human beings, maintains the faith of all the members of the community and invites them to communion with God and with their brothers and sisters.33 On the part of those called to announce the Word, this ministry calls for a coherent witness of holiness in apostolic life.
3.2.2. Minister of the Sacraments
30. Through the celebration of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, the priest keeps the community united with Christ, who gives life to the community by the power of the Spirit. The Eucharist, around which the community gathers to celebrate the death and resurrection of the Lord, is the source and culmination of all evangelical preaching.34 The Sacrament of Penance, from which the priest himself benefits, allows him to be a witness of God’s mercy toward sinners, who are reconciled to God and to the whole community by means of it. 35
3.2.3. Minister of charity
30. The function of pastoral governance entails the ordained minister’s complete dedication to the service of the People of God. This service presupposes a love for his brothers and sisters. Through this love, the ordained minister expresses the concern of Christ, the Good Shepherd, for the community, especially for its neediest members, to the point of surrendering his life for the unity and freedom of the Church, until it is led to the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Either personally or through others, the ordained minister should see to it that each of the faithful should be led to the cultivation his or her own vocation in accordance with the Gospel teaching, and that to sincere and active charity in the freedom with which Christ has set us free.36
3.3. Vocation to the consecrated life
32. The vocation to the consecrated life is a distinctive way of living the faith as a response to a call from God, and a consecration by the Spirit for the following of Christ that leads us to the Father (Confessio Trinitatis). This consecration is a sign and expression in the Church of the love of God that unites all human beings (Signum fraternitatis). Moreover, it is a vocation that puts the con-secrated person at the service of God that goes to the extreme of love, as Jesus did (Servitium caritatis).37 This kind of life bears witness to and represents before the world the style of life that Jesus led, and it makes present the realities of the world to come.
33. The Holy Spirit has raised up a multiplicity of historical forms of the religious life throughout the ages, thus making the mystery of Christ perennial in the Church and in the world, in time and in space. Outstanding among these forms in the East and in the West are the monastic life, the order of virgins, hermits and widows; institutes dedicated totally to contemplation; the apostolic religious life; secular institutes; societies of apostolic life and new forms of religious life that keep appearing even today as a sign of the perennial youth of the Church.38 Because of their connection with the Claretian family, we would single out the Religious Life and Secular Institutes.
3.3.1. The Religious Life
34. Consecration. The religious life is based on and is in continuity with our baptismal consecration. On His own initiative, God calls certain persons and sets them apart by dedicating them to Himself in a particular way. At the same time, these persons receive the capacity to respond to God’s call, in such a way that they are able to express their consecration in a deep and free self-surrender.39
35. A sign of witness. The Religious Life presents itself as a sign which:
– Proclaims the preeminence of the Reign of God and shows forth the power and sovereignty of Christ.40
– Bears witness to the new and eternal life that Jesus Christ brought to us in his paschal mystery.
– Imitates add represents, in the Church and in the world, the life of the virginal, poor and obedient Christ.
– Manifests before the faithful the presence of the Kingdom.
– Attracts the members of the Church to fulfill their Christian commitments.
– Prefigures the future resurrection.
36. Community life. Religious consecration establishes a special communion between the religious and the Triune God, and in God, among the members of the same Institute. Rooted in the same religious consecration, they share their life and mission on the basis of the same charismatic gift. The foundation of this unity is their communion with Christ, which is expressed in a stable manner in community life.41
37. Apostolic mission. Mission is inscribed in the very heart of the religious life. The call of God is for a mission. Religious are called to carry out God’s work in the style of Jesus, in keeping with the distinctive character of their own charism.42 Through their consecration, they are decidedly committed in Christ’s mission.
3.3.2. Secular Institutes
38. By reason of their special consecration, the members of Secular Institutes live their union with Christ in the midst of the world and manifest it by undertaking secular activities and lifestyles.43 Although Secular Institutes are not Religious Institutes, they have as a constitutive element the profession of the evangelical counsels, acknowledged by the Church. They live their profession in the context of temporal structures in order to be a leaven of wisdom and witness of grace within cultural, social and political life. By realizing this synthesis of secularity and consecration, they insure the incisive presence of the Church in society.44
4. The Claretian Vocation
39. The Claretian Congregation is included, as an apostolic Institute, within the form of religious life that is dedicated to apostolic and missionary activity in keeping with the charism received and transmitted by Saint Anthony Mary Claret.
40. Claret, our Founder, under the action of the Holy Spirit and blessed with a distinctive apostolic vocation, dedicated his whole life to proclaiming the Gospel by all means within his grasp.45 He devoted himself above all to preaching popular missions, traveling throughout Catalonia,46 other regions of Spain, including the Canary Islands,47 and Cuba.48 He gave a great impulse to the Christian formation of children, young people and adults through catechesis and the spread of good books.49
41. To continue this work, Claret gathered about him priests and laity, men and women, forming a vast spiritual and apostolic movement. The Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Claretian Missionaries), the Religious of Mary Immaculate (Claretian Missionary Sisters), the Secular Institute of the Daughters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Cordimarian Filiation) and the Lay Claretians form the Claretian Family in the strict sense.50
4.2. The Claretian Congregation
42. Anthony Mary Claret founded the Congregation of Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in order to attend to the salvation of people by means of the preaching of the Gospel. He associated with himself some other priests who were imbued with the same spirit as his own,51 to be dedicated to the ministry of the Word, so that together they could accomplish what he himself could not do alone, given the scarcity of preachers in his day.
43. Throughout its history the Congregation has kept alive its awareness of being born in the Church as a community called together and consecrated by the Spirit by the mediation of Saint Anthony Mary Claret. As an heir to his missionary spirit, the Congregation feels responsible for updating his missionary initiatives and for promoting those that he could not personally carry out. The living of our charism incorporates the spiritual riches and cultural values of the people among whom we live.52
44. The Claretian Congregation is a Missionary Institute of Consecrated Life.53 Its style of life and supreme rule is the following of Christ as set forth in the Gospel.54 By its charism it is a truly and fully apostolic religious Institute.55 Claretians fully live their consecration to God in carrying out their mission. In it they are fully conformed with Christ the Missionary.56
45. Our project of missionary life implies being a disciple and following the Master, living the evangelical counsels in common life with Jesus and with the group of those who have been called, being sent and announcing to the whole world the Good News of the Kingdom. Our being anointed by the Spirit to announce the Good News, and our communion with Christ, the prophet par excellence, make us sharers in his prophetic function.57
46. The presence of the Virgin Mary is essential in Claretian missionary life. We consecrate ourselves especially to the Father, in Christ, and entrust ourselves to the Heart of Mary in order to live the evangelical and apostolic life.58 Being a son of the Heart of Mary means being a missionary and an apostle. A son of the Heart of Mary is a man filled with love, who sets its fire wherever he goes and whose only concern is how he may follow Christ the Missionary and strive for the salvation of humankind.59
47. The Claretian charism of servants of the Word, which is expressed in various forms in keeping with the conditions of times and places, entails the following demands:
– Serving the Church, present in many particular Churches throughout the world.
– Announcing the good news of freedom to prisoners and the oppressed, of health to the sick, and of atten-tion to the poor and needy.
– Proclaiming a word of denunciation, which may arouse opposition, persecution and even death, as the greatest expression and witness of living and proclaiming the demands of the Gospel.
– Evangelizing older Christian cultures in order to maintain and confirm their faith.
– Evangelizing environments that have lost the faith or have become dechristianized.
– Announcing the Gospel to those who have never heard of Christ.60
– Transforming the world according to the designs of God.61
48. In the Congregation, our service to mission is exercise by means of the ordained ministry (priests and deacons) and of the lay ministry. Both forms of Claretian vocation have their own distinctive and differentiated traits, as pointed out in our Constitutions.62 These traits offer elements for discernment that must be taken into account, both in vocation ministry and in the initial and ongoing formation of the missionaries.63 Bearing the foregoing points in mind, all members of the Congregation share the same vocation, live in the same community and fulfill the same mission in keeping with our own order and function.64 In the Congregation we must strive “to build among all of us –Brothers, Deacons, Priests and Students—an evangelical and evangelizing community.”65