Jesús M. Palacios Alcántara, cmf
THE PROPHETIC DIMENSION
IN THE CLARETIAN FORMATION
The title, “The Prophetic Dimension in our Claretian Formation”, intends to develop some orientations to apply to the last General Chapter with regard to formation. In this exposition, I am not going to tie myself down exclusively to the Chapter document “In Prophetic Mission” (IPM). I shall also make necessary references to “The General Plan of Formation” (PGF). We cannot forget that already in the PGF one speaks expressly of a formation “prophetic and liberating” and some methodological orientations and formative emphasis are been given of the full prophetic sense.
With regard to IPM we can say that besides some explicit references to the vocational and formative theme which it makes and which shall be discussed in number III, all the theme of the XXII General Chapter, “The Prophetic Dimension of our Missionary Service of the Word” affects also the formative dimension and should have influence on it. The Claretian formative process has to include and accentuate on a context of integral formation those elements of IPM which has to form all Claretian missionaries. In this sense, the entire IPM is formative in a direct and indirect manner, it contains a clear formative dimension and must have concrete formative implications.
1.A PROPHETIC STYLE OF FORMING
Before talking of the principles, objectives and formative means, and the stages of formation, it is necessary to indicate a general perspective in which we have to situate ourselves and which has to be imbued into all our formation in the line of prophetic dimension. It treats of a “style of forming” which has to be eminently prophetic. In a global manner, this style shall include the following elements:
1.To put into effect a formative prophetic methodology
Although the formative methodology has its own laws, nevertheless it can be the ground to be impregnated with values, which at times dominates ideology. The educative methodology is not a dynamic septic, indifferent or neutral. A methodology with a prophetic role can place some relief to some formative elements with prophetic exigencies. For that, the Apostolic Exhortation “Vita Consecrata” talking of the Plan of Formation (Ratio Institutionis) calls to propose “a rich method of spiritual wisdom and pedagogy” (68) which leads the candidate in a progressive way to self conversion to the Word of God from the most in depth of his being, to assume the sentiments of Christ and to learn the art to seek the signs of God in the reality of the world.
1.1. From a general perspective, a global exigency implies putting into action the actualised and effective methodology, updated with vision for tomorrow, in consonant with the present time and with the new formative values, and forestalling future perspectives. We need here a prophetic methodology that takes into account those principles, dynamics and “new” means which help to develop better the potentialities of the person and to assimilate the “new values”. A prophetic methodology which without renouncing that which follow, being valid yet be it traditional, knows how to integrate in a balanced and holistic way the novelty of the new formative situations.
To maintain the balance and the integration of the new without abandoning the valid, nevertheless, the traditional dimension is highly important in order to know how to make it in formation. Many errors were committed in the past in this respect. There were also in some cases an excess of psychology in the vocational field that has brought reductive psychologism which has obscured the dynamic and operational value of vocational grace; the sensibility for the social and the experiences in this field, with frequency they have neglected the formation of the affective dimension, etc¼1.
1.2. All the effort of post-conciliar in the field of formation has been in this prophetic sense. If there has been a sector of the religious life which has changed profoundly and in many directions it is the formative sector. The formative role of the community, the decisive incidence of the social factors, the value of experience, the renewal of the didactic in studies, etc¼have been formative elements fully integrated, of one way or the other in the actual methodology. The same option for the poor which has to be made known in the formative process is today itself source of methodological creativity: the influence of the social place, the formation in insertion, the experiences in the field of poverty and marginalization, etc¼ are new formative realities which they are responding to the challenges of the aforementioned option. It is a way we must continue without interruption but with openness, discernment and decision.
1.3. However, some aspects of this methodology shall be appreciated along with the exposition, notwithstanding, I shall like to make clear right away that the prophetic dimension of our formation is fully contemplated in the methodology of our GPF. Moreover, of the formative elements indicated above and adequately integrated in our formative orientations, the GPF situates the methodology of our formation in a framework of reference with a strong prophetic trace or imprint (cf. Ch. 1). The charismatic reference has to imply a style of formation which helps the formandi to be able to represent the prophetic life and mission of Jesus and of Father Founder and to face a prophetic and liberating evangelization (cf. nn, 19, 28). The situational reference shall require a faithful formative process to the situation of man today, of the present time, of the actual society in which we are inserted and of the Church to which we belong (cf. 42-43). The pedagogical reference will come up as one of the fundamental characteristics which has to impregnate the Claretian formative process, that which must be a liberating and prophetic process (cf. nn. 37-39). Summarily, this characteristic affirm that our formation has to be realized in liberty and for liberty; which helps the formandi to be each time more free; and which prepares him for liberating and prophetic mission proper to our charism (cf. n. 37).
2. To transmit the formative contents that are radical, prophetic and martyr type
2.1. As Vatican II tells us in the Constitution “Lumen Gentium” (cf. LG. 44) and as being reminded by the last Synod in the document “Vita Consecrata” (cf. VC. 73, 84), the entire consecrated life has a prophetic value. For this, right from the first moment of formation, we have to promote in the formandi the consciousness that missionary life which he is embracing is in its totality prophetic.
2.2. Although the values of our missionary life will be prophetic, yet, this will be certain, that is to say, with some conditions. In the first place, if the proposition of the claretian values which we make to the formandi are clear and radical, without ambiguities nor softness in their exigences; for example, the proposition of our values has to include necessarily the martyr perspective; in the congregational tradition, from the time of Father Founder, martyrdom has always been contemplated as a characteristic of our apostolic spirituality. Secondly, if we live it in-depth without mediocrity of life which quenches the prophetic force of the values of our missionary project. And thirdly, if one knows how to express it as responses to the actual challenges; in the situation of epochal change and of cultural pluralism which we live in the Congregation, we have to ask ourselves for the most fitting manner of living our discipleship of Jesus in chastity, poverty and obedience (IPM 21). In this manner, we shall truly be “prophetic signs”.
3. To promote a formation of persons which prepares them to be prophets and martyrs
3.1. The Claretian has to form in his life the traits of personality of the prophets (cf. IPM 2, 16, 20, 22, 42-45). Among them, the General Chapter presents to us the following:
* The experience of God: The prophets are persons seduced by God (cf. Jer. 220.7), impassioned by Him and his Covenant. Persons, who, moved by the fire of apostolic charity sets its fire where they go.
* The experience of reality from the experience of God: They see the historical reality with the eyes of God, feel it with their heart (cf. 1 Sam 12, 2‑75) and participate in their compassion for the poor and the people.
* The radicality and coherence in living one’s own vocation till death: This vocation alters their lives and transforms them in a sign. The authentic prophets are faithful to the last consequences.
* The proclamation of a message of renewal with authority of his Word and with attitude of love and tenderness, of bravery and audacity. That message is consoling and at the same time interrelating, that’s why it creates hope and raises up rejection.
3.2. In the line of radicality and coherence, we have to insist once again on the necessity of offering to the formandi a very good integral formation, a formation of high quality, aspiring always to the best, and above all very committed/involved and determined. It is true that we have to be concerned and to work with interest so that more candidates can join the Congregation. More so, there is true urgency in some zones of the Congregation. However, it has to be affirmed that it is much more important to impart a qualitative formation to the candidates who are already present, that is to say, a formation that is personalised, actualized, profoundly Claretian and demanding. A formation that brings a formandi (candidate) to a maturity in his personality, to consistency and stability in his options and decisions, and that he be well rooted in a solid apostolic spirituality.
Without a qualitative formation, the formandi will not be “prophetic sign”, nor will he be able to respond to the present challenges of our mission. Moreover, without this he is not prepared to accept martyrdom with joy and missionary spirit as our formandi, Blessed Martyrs of Barbastro. As the GPF reminds us, to talk of formative process “liberating and prophetic”, given the conflicting conditions in which we live our prophetic vocation and the risks of the message we have to transmit ( a message of announcing and denouncing in conflicting situations of unbelief, injustice, alienation or death), we have to prepare ourselves to live with audacity and confidence of the martyrs (cf. n. 39).
4. Prophetic attitude of formators
4.1. The prophetic attitude of formators suppose in the first place, to identify the type of methodology which we have talked about previously (cf. 1.1). Given the formative responsibility which they have, the formators must discharge their decisive role in the development of formative process. Formators “intervene in the formative process offering and putting into practice the dynamisms and means that help to follow up the ends of formation. The formator in his formation task takes, creates and offers the means with the formative intention, organizing and articulating them in order to arrive at the intended objective (cf. GPF 90). For this, the methodology of the prophetic type will not be effective if the formators are neither conscientized nor disposed to actualize and promote it.
4.2. The formators, in assiduous contact with the Word of God and living conscientiously the “prophetic spirit” have to follow above all “spiritual wisdom”, “supernatural instinct” and to arrive to be “experts in the ways that lead to God” (cf. VC 66, 84, 94). From this sapiential perspective, they can face squarely the mission and the formative task which are entrusted to them with true prophetic mark. He can bear some capacities like:
* the capacity of listening and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, true formative agent and inspirer of formator, by whom he realizes his work as authentic mediator of his formative action. As the GPF says “through these formators the Spirit of Jesus is at work. Hence, living in an attitude of listening to the Spirit and of being attentive to his movements and inspirations must be permanent attitude on the part of both the formator and of the formandi” (n. 107),
* the capacity to know how to listen to the vocational signs of the formandi in order to help them in their discernment; the recognition of the personal talents of the formandi to stimulate them in their liberty, growth and maturity and capacity to know how to orient them in the congregational and ecclesial future,
* the capacity to be in relationship with the formandi with the “peculiar imprint” of our prophetic lifestyle which we receive from Mary. An imprint which will also be expressed in the formative relation, characterized by love, tenderness, understanding and nearness, vocational joy and fidelity to the Word (cf. IPM 20).
* Sensitivity to the signs of the times and places, particularly towards those values of which they are to be formed as missionaries; to the challenges of the Church; and to the necessities and urgencies of the Congregation.
GENERAL FORMATIVE ORIENTATIONS
The general formative orientations that are said below are the formative nucleus that explicitly reflect the prophetic dimension of our formation. Normally they express in a form of objectives, attitudes and formative means to implement. Without being exhaustive I want to emphasise the following.
1. To live and develop, in a conscious manner, the “prophetic spirit” which has been given to us with the experience of the Spirit, that dwells in each of us.
1.1. The source of all prophetism is the Spirit of the Lord. The same Spirit which anoints and sends Jesus to evangelize the poor (cf. Lk 4:18ff; Mtt 3:1ff.), and which called and consecrated the prophets till they are made mouthpiece of God (cf. Is 30:2) to announce his Word, is upon each and every one of us as He was on Claret (cf. IPM 16, 39, 40; GPF 93).
We have all received it in our baptism and it has been confirmed in us in the gift of vocation to the Claretian Congregation; moreover, for us the Spirit of the Father and the Son is also the Spirit of our Mother (cf. Aut 687). It is the first and principal agent in formation which urges us to know in Jesus the Lord (cf. 1 Cor 12:3) and to follow Him, and makes us to arrive at configuration with Him (cf. GPF 93, 94, 96). As the Constitutions (n. 39) tells us, be so steeped in his Spirit, we have to contemplate Jesus assiduously and imitate him.
1.2. Claret explains the meaning of this spirit to priests and seminarians when he speaks of the “ecclesiastical or priestly spirit”. “Ecclesiastical spirit is nothing other than a participation of the Spirit of God” he will say to them”. The Holy Spirit that received Jesus Christ is the same spirit which receives each priest to develop his life and mission. It is the priestly spirit of the Apostles, of St Paul and many others who lived a priestly, holy and apostolic life.
1.3. This spirit is active and affects our personality and its life prompted by the prophetic spirit” ¼ The “prophetic spirit” is a global sensitiveness, coming from the spirit of the Lord, which allows us to perceive rightly the “things” of God. These things are: his thoughts, his feelings, his interests, his will on the world and on everyone of us, is like a “spiritual smell” which permits us to know where God is and where he is not, how he acts, his intentions, his will, his love. Since the presence and actions of God are not always clear and evident, the “prophetic spirit” through the process of discernment discovers it in the security of the faith.
The same GPF (cf. nn. 95-96) tells us that the Spirit is the “interior master” which in our following of Jesus Christ goes on guiding us till the complete truth, it endows us with force which helps us give our entire life so that the Good News of the Kingdom be announced to the poor and to face the difficulties of evangelization. His action is the foundation/base of creativity which recreates the formative community as community of prophets and apostles. His creative and renewed action affects our personal centre (personal interiority), changes our vision of reality and offers us the key and the indispensable force to live it from God in permanent reference to Jesus Christ and the world. However, we are not able to know it with precision, we perceive its fruits.
1.4. We have to consciously live, experiment and cultivate the “prophetic spirit”. To receive and second the action of the spirit in us we need to develop some fundamental attitudes. On the one hand, the humility, docility and mood of the disciples who allowed themselves to be taught. And on the other hand, the practice of discernment to be able to clarify the vocation, adjust one’s proper formative way; and acknowledge his presence in all aspects of life and history and through human intermediaries (cf. GPF 97).
2. Renewal of Vocational Experience
2.1. The religious vocation is an experience of faith for which the religious feels himself called and personally inter‑related by Jesus to follow him according to the style of the Apostles (CC 4, I.P.M 38). In this experience, after a discernment, the religious picks up in the “vocational signs” through the action of the “prophetic spirit” that the way of carrying out its Christian vocation and fully realize itself in this life is living the radicality of the Gospel. Without consciousness of the personal call of the Lord it is impossible for the religious to take the initial vocational pace. For that is an indispensable condition for entrance into the novitiate and for beginning the process of formation.
The consciousness of the vocational calling is discovered by the “prophetic spirit” and by faith through the vocational signs, moments of the personal history of the religious in which the Lord presented himself inviting him to follow him. Those moments of strong vocational experience are real, they cannot be lost and it is necessary to make them present in moments of vocational difficulties.
2.2 One demand of our life is the renewal of the consciousness of the vocational calling through the revitalization of the “prophetic spirit“. The consciousness of the vocational signs is dynamic. God continues to call constantly. Vocation is all though life and God continues to speak and call vocationally throughout the vocational history of the religious. If the personality is the history of the person, according to Hans Thomae, vocation is the whole history of the (person) called. In the order of this revitalization I would indicate the following orientations:
1st Prayer: In this revitalization prayer acquires maximum importance, which for the religious has to be always vocational prayer. Through it, the religious feels and experiences the urgency of committing itself vocationally. The vocational prayer of the continuous call of the Lord, which continues to invite the religious with dynamism to deepen in its life the exigencies of the Gospel, when the contact with the Lord who calls is broken, the perception of the call is lost. And if the perception of the call disappears, the vocational commitment has no meaning.
2nd Vocational and assiduous reading of the Word of God. This reading, in a wise sense, has to be done with an attitude of a “believer”, with a simple, humble and loving attitude. It has to have as objective the creating of capacity of constantly questioning God, Christ, about the designs which he has on each of us.
In the Sacred Scriptures reflected upon with a loving faith, as our Father Founder said, (the “Credidi Caritati” of St. John), the person encounters always an adequate answer to the call. In the word of God, the believer finds satisfactory answers to the innumerable questions which vocation constantly poses to him. Questionings which have to be solved and settled, whose answers only have viability from the Word of God.
The reflection on the Sacred Scriptures must lead to creating an “attitude of obedient faith” to Christ, manifested in an attitude of constant acceptance of the Will of God.
3rd The reflection on the proper vocational signs. This reflection is essential to continue to make explicit more and more the vocational faith and to progressively penetrate in the existing connections between the signs of vocation. The lack of reflection on the signs that have sustained the call of God makes vocation not to penetrate deeply in the person, it is not personalized, it hinders him from giving a unitary meaning to his own life; each difficulty can throw him to the ground and it can affect his vocational fidelity.
All, not only those being formed, ought to constantly reflect on the signs of vocation ‑ simple and daily signs of life – which has delineated our proper vocation. A very appropriate means is to redact the vocational autobiography, read it frequently, take it to prayer, seek unity between the signs, give thanks to the Lord for it and ask his fidelity.
2.3. All that has been said previously, prayer, vocational reading of the Word of God reflection on the vocational signs will lead spontaneously to the creation of a vocational mentality, through which the (person) called will be in the disposition of understanding the vocational signs (past, present and future) of the proper call, and will listen to minor supernatural indication ‑ that come from God.
3. Being People free and well Integrated
The formandi have to be well integrated people humanly and vocationally authentic people who live their vocation with joy. Experience shows that it is possible to cultivate the values of missionary live and maintain our style of life within a harmonious development of our personality. Our life is meaningless if we are not authentic, that is, if the values we preach are not coherently lived. It is only when there is coherence between the preaching and life, that prophecy is made persuasive; our personal and community life is then, our first prophetic act. When we experience and manifest a joyful living of our vocation then our profession is a fundamental element of our prophecy. Beside other psychological means, the Chapter puts at the base of personality integration the motivation of love, “the fire that makes the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary into men who are on fire with charity and sets it fired wherever they go” and live “in Christ Jesus” contemplating and imitating him, until it is no longer we who live, but Christ who truly lives in us” (cf. VC 67; IPM 16, 19, 21)
3.1. In the first phase to achieve this maturity and integration is to live the “prophetic spirit” which we have spoken. The Holy Spirit as the first agent of formation underlines his action of formative itinerancy as the “integrating centre for all the dimensions of our life and mission” (GPF 93); is the “inner teacher” (no. 96); and “principle of inner life” that “unifies the life of the formandus” (no.95); his action is creative and renovative that “affect the centre of our personality”; and in the Spirit that we acquire our identity as servants of the Word” (no.94).
3.2. The second phase is actualizing a liberating and prophetic formation that help the formandus to become freer in a liberative formative process and for liberation. This demand the formandus, in the formative journey, to know himself better and to acquire a real image of his own proper personality; to free himself from: negative unconscious motivations, the inconsistencies, fears, anxieties and all that conditionings that hinder to assume a free and responsible committed missionary life. Above all, it demands that we develop the capacity to make free options that are held up to the values of the Kingdom and are spurred by authentic motivations (cf. GPF 37).
This type of formation is sensible and listen to the signs of the times and places that take to a deeper, intimate and regular relationship with the Lord and that develops in the formandus the proper audacity of the prophets. Thus a lived liberty is dynamic and transformed and makes us to “be a sign and force that liberates from every sort of egoism, servitude and slavery that may prevent them from achieving personal growth and communion with God and others” (MCT 170) (cf. GPF 38)
3.3. And the third phase is the motivation of the apostolic charity. At the base of the integration of the personality, besides the other psychological and pedagogical means is as the Chapter says the motivation of love, “the fire that makes the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary into men who are afire with charity and set its fire wherever they go (cf. Aut 494), and to live “in Christ Jesus” contemplating and imitating him, until that it is no longer we who live, but Christ who truly lives in us (cf. IPM 16, 19, 21). To have the maturity that prepare us to martyrdom and to overcome fears and temptations that could cripple us, we who follow Jesus, martyr of the Word that nobody has been able to silence, must passionately love God, Mary and the brethren, as our Founder and our martyrs (cf. SW 17; GPF 39; TM 22).
3.4. In our spirituality also Mary as the Mother and Formatrix help us in the process of personality integration. She holds us in the forge of her Heart, and form us in apostolic charity, the essential motivation that impulse the missionary life (cf. GPF 100). Our Mother teaches us to welcome the Word of God “with a joyful heart” and to be faithful to it and put it into practice making it effective. Mary shows that without heart, without tenderness, without love, there is no credible prophecy (cf. IPM 20). To the formandus in Mary has the person who inspires the living synthesis throughout the process of formation until reaching the fullness of inner oneness (cf GPF 101; also SW 13; Auto 687).
4. Living the Prophetism of the Ordinary Life
4.1. It is very interesting, and I want to point it out, the acknowledgement the Chapter makes of the prophecy of ordinary life in the congregation. A type of prophecy “frequent among us” (cf. IPM 24). It is a tribute to many of our brothers I would say ‑ the majority ‑ who are radically living their Claretian vocation and are working with absolute surrender and dedication to the apostolic mission in silence, in gratitude, with love, humility and simplicity. Many times we allow ourselves to be carried away by spectacularity and social and ecclesial resonances of the prophets, most of the time, promoted by the means of social communications and we forget those who are carrying out “the extraordinary thing of prophecy in constant and heroic fidelity through the ordinary events of life.
The prophecy of ordinary life is “doing the ordinary things extraordinarily well“. The extraordinary coherence, the radicality and the authenticity of the person, as we were saying before, is already authentic prophecy. But it is prophecy also because it makes possible the great prophecy of the extraordinary moments, as it happened with our Blessed Martyrs of Barbastro.
4.2. This prophecy is manifested in various globalizing nuclei of our missionary life:
* In constant fidelity to an unceasing prayer, as an expression of friendship with God. Prayer carried out “with a determination” as St. Theresa would say; or as an essential and indispensable element to the missionary, as our Father Founder throughout his life recommended to the Congregation and reiterated with force and clarity some days before his death, through Fr. Clotet.
* In continuous search for the will of God, and in an attitude of discernment, the person moved by the “prophetic spirit” approximates himself, to this will of God in order to identify himself with him (God), his thought, interests and way of viewing reality. The ‘prophetic person’ does so in order to faithfully fulfill the plans of God to the last consequences without losing courage nor stopping in the presence of difficulties.
* In relationships with others in which some evangelical attitudes must shine out, like: faith in the other (in his person, qualities and possibilities), tenderness and compassion with the brother (fruit of brotherly love), generous and disinterested service (with the brother (fruit of brotherly love), generous and disinterested service (with ablative purpose), and vital, expansive and communicative joy (as a sign of harmonious integration of oneself).
5. Sensibility before the new signs of the times and places
5.1 Every prophesy has its historical and geographical context (cf. IPM, 4 SS). The Chapter makes us to realize some special signs of our time that affect and towards which we have to be opened to. They are signs, sometimes contradictories, which we have to discern adequately. A discernment which is carried out through the “prophetic spirit”. So to sum up:
* On the one hand, “each one of our people is trying to follow its own way” (IPM, 10). That is, the social, cultural and religious reality which is very complex, diversified and multivalent. It implies a different and varied reflection of the signs of the times and places, and a new way of assuming new missionary stimuli.
* On the other hand, we live, “partaking of a globalized reality” (IPM, 10 SS) that affects us for good and for bad and makes us interdependent. Science, technological revolution of communication and cybernetics had made the consciousness of the “global village” of humanity possible. This has created in us a new missionary sensibility and had opened for us new ways of evangelization.
5.2 Our last General Chapters, “following the example of Claret and in turn with the church of our time” (CMT.4), sought in life and in the journey of humanity the signs and the voice of God the kingdom (cf. IPM, 2). Like them, we try to listen to the Word of God in our <today>, in the events of history, in the cultures and in the life of the peoples, in their silences and in their clamours” (SP 16, 1).
If we look at reality with eyes of evangelizers and prophets we shall find out that there are many situation which stimulate the prophetism of our missionary services. Situated in universal dialogue we can make an effective solidarity possible between all human beings. Overcoming dogmatisms, fundamentalisms, totalitarianisms and a new way for the Gospel. Among them I would like to emphasize: The love and safeguard of creation. The defence of life; the respect, appreciation and dialogue between peoples, cultures, religions and different beliefs; the commitment with the poor and with justice; the defence of the weak, the development and human promotion; the awakening of new popular organizations; the formation of the laity and the acknowledgement of their mission; the bringing of the Word of God closer to all believers and inculturation. (cf. IPM, 11-13, 33.4, 46.3,39,54.2).
5.3. Our formation itinerary, from the exigency of our missionary charism, has to have necessarily a reference to the actual situation. It has to be attentive to the social, ecclesial and congregational challenges and thus must be “inculturated and universal” (cf. GPF 40-43). Thus in concrete:
Today’s world offers new hopes and unheard of challenges that affect our formation (cf. SW 1). The sociocultural, ecclesial and congregational context in which we live awakens positive drives and new possibilities in the field of formation. Therefore, as we have said above, it is necessary to continue the ongoing process of discernment in the light of “prophetic spirit” to discover that which will help and stimulate a genuine formation (cf. GPF 43).
Our missionary formation is interpersonal, historical and cultural process in which the formandus grow and open up communion with others and insert himself in the history. This invite us a style of formation that is keenly sensible to the needs and characteristics of today’s men and women to the point that sharing the hopes and joys, the sorrows and trials of the people. Haunted by the panorama of impoverished and oppressed human masses, formation must be realised from the stand point of the Congregation’s option for the poor, and prepare to work in close collaboration with all those who seek the transformation of the world according to the plan God (cf. CC 46; Dir.157; CPR 49; SW 20, GPF 40).
We form ourselves for a congregation with an universal mission that is extended to all the continents of the world. This situation essential to our charism must be present from the very moment of our vocational program. Thus, we need to immersed in the culture of each people, and the availability and openness to be sent to any place in the world. This demands that our formation has to be incultrated and universal; that is to say it prepares the formandus to live in a specific culture and people, undertaking their way of life and values attending all those aspects that derive from the openness to universality (cf. GPF 41)
6. The Prophets as the formative models
In pedagogy, formative model is the person who converts himself into an authentic mediation and lives the values that he wants to transmit towards the dynamisms and formative means. The model of formative force not only rests in the efficacy of the authentic life of oneself but also in what he shows in a visible and attractive manner that values which offer in the formation are possible in reality (cf. GPF 90).
6.1. Jesus was the definite prophet of God and the fullness of the prophecy (cf. Lk 14,21; Mt 5,17; CC 3, 40). Starting from Jesus the prophet for excellence, Mary our mother and formatrix, and other prophets of the past and present, we have to understand the “prophetic dimension” of our missionary service of the Word. Therefore, it is evident that this charismatic dimension that we have to take as models and to become like the biblical prophets, above all Jesus the prophet, and those who are real prophets in the actual world.
6.2. Our Father Founder has to be a model of a prophet also. He felt anointed by the Spirit of Jesus and he took Jesus and prophets as models of his missionary vocation. Claret had the passion of identifying himself with Jesus in everything and like Him dedicate himself to the Service of the Word in season and out of season so that God may be known, loved and served. The Lord granted him a strong sensibility in the face of the evils of his time. He was clairvoyant, creative, enterprising and promoter of great apostolic initiatives (cf. IPM. 17, 39)
6.3. Claret founded the Congregation and transmitted it to us in “missionary form” to prolong prophetically its missionary project. The congregation has been faithful to its project for almost 150 years of existence and we have to continue in this line its work. It has livened, experimented and deepened the Claretian charism and its prophetic dimension in a theoretical and practical way. Examples abound in our Congregation history (cf. IPM. 18, 40).
III. PARTICULAR ASPECTS MADE EXPLICIT
For these particular aspects I will primarily fix on the IPM, which is the fruit of an analysis of the actual reality of the Congregation. This reality calls our attention to a “prophetic announcing and denouncing”. The Chapter stimulates the Congregation to be more and more faithful in the vocational and formative field. In certain cases, the Chapter opens new horizons. In others, not much newness (already indicated in different General Chapters and in GPF). But to be faithful to the objectives which are very urgent and haven’t yet realized such as “vocational alarm”. We can say that in these cases, equal to what we have affirmed before talking off prophetism of ordinary life, the novelty and the “prophetic” is in the “announcing” and “denouncing” of certain situations and the urgency with which the congregation stimulates.
The theme of vocations, explicitly treated, has as its text framed the sentence of the Constitutions (58): “To invite others to embrace the Lord’s vocation”. Let us see its context and contents of the proposals.
1.1. The gift of vocations
The Congregation, through the chapter, wants to thank God for the numerous vocations which he has granted us and continues to grant us in some places like for example Nigeria, India, Poland, Indonesia etc … to us the universal richness of our Claretian charism which can be inculturated in many countries, environments and cultures; and on the other, it is a serious inter‑relation to the Congregation to be more committed in the field of vocation, that is, it is an invitation and an urgency “to welcome and accompany them responsibly”.
To give a response to this interrelation we need the collaboration of the congregation and the generosity of new Formators; we need to offer to them the Claretian Charism in testimony of life and in form of transmission through the plans and formative means of high quality. On the other hand, we have to be grateful to God and to the Heart of Mary, our Mother always and in every circumstance, for the gift of vocation. In the first place, for our personal vocation which we have received from the Lord. We have to thank him every day, take care and develop it (as our past General Superiors reminded US), and we have renewed the commitment of personal fidelity daily. And in the second place, even though we have shortage of vocation in some zones, as we will see immediately afterwards, we have to thank God always for the many or few vocations that he send to us, even if it is one only. Only one vocation is already a gift, which implies an acknowledgement, a thanksgiving and commitment.
1.2 Vocational Alarm.
Besides the flourishing of vocation in some parts of the congregation, we know, also that in others not a few organism of the Congregation are in situation of vocational alarm (cf. IPM 37). Among the possible motives of this situation, the Chapter points out the followings:
a. The dominant social milieu, characterized by strong changes in the system of values
b. The valuing of other forms of Christian life and commitment.
c. Insufficient missionary witness
e. Hesitancy in setting forth the topic of vocations and placing the obligation to do so on others.
In the presence of this reality the Chapter made the following proposals:
1st. To cultivate the gift of prophecy. Prophecy is the source of vocations (cf. IPM 36). Prophecy is attractive in itself and raises admiration and following in the youths. Prophecy despite contradiction, cross and suffering, is a call to high ideals. All those who actually work and fight for a new world know how to value any prophetic trait which pronounces the prompt coming of this world which they aspire to.
This fact has to be an interrelation for us. Before this situation, we ask ourselves what influence does the prophetic dimension of our ministry exert on ourselves and those around us, especially the young. The Pope remind us that our example and surrender as were given by the Martyrs of Barbastro, has to be an invitation and a stimulus for others, especially the young (cf. Message of the Pope to the Chapter 4).
2nd. Principles of animation in Pastoral Vocation. A pastoral vocation has to be sustained by some fundamental principles. Among which, the Chapter has indicated several of them (cf. IPM 37.1; 37.2; 37.7).
* Way of conceiving Vocation: The whole life is a vocation, an openness to the calls of God and a response to them. It is a fundamental fact which has t o be born in fundamental principle to understand the so‑called ‘vocational signs”, which are manifested in our day-to-day activity of life which we have spoken of previously.
* Commitment of the Congregation: Pastoral vocation should be a priority in each province and community and for every Claretian (cf. CC. 58). This theoretical principle should be converted into conviction and commitment. If it is a priority it should affect each and every one of the Claretians in every spiritual, community and pastoral dimension. For it to be real and effective this principle ought to be moulded in the community project, in prayer for vocations, in services that are programmed and in actions that are carried out.
To be more concrete, the chapter asks that particular attention to be paid to vocational challenge in the process of revision of Organisms and of Positions, and in policy of foundations and assignments (cf. IPM 37.5;52).
* Commitment of the church. All Christian communities especially families, should become involved in the interest and work for vocations, thus raising up a “vocational culture” in the Church. Among those called to define and deepen the vocational culture are the theologians, the agents of means of communication, educators, spiritual directors, the consecrated and Presbyters, and the young themselves (cf. G.P.F. 280).
3rd. Pastoral Orientations. The Chapter, without being exhaustive, indicates the following pastoral orientations as the most urgent (cf. IPM 37.4; 37.39; 37.6):
* Discernment: The theme of vocation by its nature, could only be understood in the climate of discernment, which is a manifestation of the “Prophetic Spirit” which we have all received, as we said before. In this moment, the Chapter asks that we carry out evangelical and not only psychological and social discernment on the meaning of shortage of vocation. We have to ask ourselves the reason of this situation, its causes, import, what could be distinctly perceived in this situation. All this to avoid the vocational temptations that could affect us like regret, disenchantment and mere consideration of the number. These temptations can be very dangerous for the selection of vocations as well as for formation. They can lead us to, be anguished for the lack of vocations, to a lack of discernment in welcoming vocation and in formation by lowering the demands of vocations and accepting candidates without a true vocational calling. Discernment on the other hand, has to lead us to put our trust in the Lord who guides history, who leads the church and takes care of our congregation on the other hand; and reinforce our fidelity to our personal vocation, to cultivate our Claretian identity and to proclaim it with joy through all the corners of the earth, on the other.
* A vocational ministry integrated in a more ample pastoral context. Nowadays vocational ministry cannot be conceived nor practised in an isolated way, as a disconnected action of the congregation and Church. Already we have pointed out its congregational and ecclesial dimension. It is requested here that the vocational ministry be articulated with youth ministry and formation. It is an aspect which we have clarified in our General Plan of formation (nos. 278 ‑ 281). The call of the Chapter is for it to be accomplished in the congregation, that old concepts be overcame and future situations be foreseen.
* Pastoral accompaniment. The Chapter requests specifically that vocational accompaniment be taken care of. It is a fundamental theme which is constantly spoken of in every national and international forums; there is an immense bibliography on the same. It is a symptomatic face for two reasons:
+ First, because it is a means of great formative importance. Its importance is evident. Besides the group actions, it is necessary to reach the person. Vocation is always a personal process; personal calling and personal response; and it is not always clear and well‑defined. God calls through “vocational signs” which have to be discerned. On the other hand, the accompaniment is essential for stimulating the candidates to grow in Christian life (area where vocation is manifested), to help them to do their vocational discernment, to accompany them in the difficulties before the decisions that are taken and to avoid future frustrations for lack of adequate discernment.
+ And second, because it has been neglected or has not been sufficiently taken care of. It is a real problem which I have started in many ambients, a question that interpellate us and a question to which we have to answer with sincerity and truth. Do I have a little time? Am I too occupied with other tasks? Do I have personal difficulties? Do I find myself little prepared?
* Vocational Material: It is demanded that specific materials on vocation ministry be drafted for the different forms of Claretian life (brothers, deacons, priests), in such a way that the vocational thrust of each appear in full clarity. Even if something is being done in this field continuously, nevertheless, is only a little that is being done, almost the priestly condition is being supposed in our vocational propaganda always. They lay condition of brother, appears in few cases, and the condition of deacon, never. In this field we have to make real also what the Chapter says to us: “we will revise all usage that still denote clericalism: title, practices and customs” (IPM 30.1).
On the other hand, the opinion is that it is better that the materials for vocations be made in each area. That the Prefecture distributes the traditional Claretian propaganda (pictures, painting, etc) that have a universal value. At these moments a small book for the vocational ministry for the youth is being prepared (Claret, Pobre, y a pie. By Fr. Codinach) that presents the figure of Claret and the spirit of the Congregation in a clear and simple way. Also for many years now he has been preparing some subsidies of a formative type (cf. Collection of exercises of Claretian formation).
2. Initial Formation
The initial formation was not explicitly treated in a special section. As we said already in the introduction, in reality all the document IPM has a perspective which must condition the initial formation. However, there are references on the same, which we expound immediately.
2.1 General Principle: To cultivate an initial formation that prepares for ongoing formation.
This must be one of the objectives of initial formation, to come out of the process of formation with the conviction that it has to continue throughout life. Already the Chapter of 85 has spoken in this sense (CPR, 67). Without conviction towards a value (in our own case, the value of ongoing formation) there could neither be a positive attitude towards the value nor operativity to carry it out. Besides, it ought to be a personal and personalized conviction, that is, personally assimilated, that is consistent, stable and that overcomes all the difficulties that present themselves in life. It has no meaning among us the person of the missionary who after the initial formation lives, so to say, of rents; that forgets the much or the little he has learned; who neither studies nor reads, and who keeps himself up only with readings of popular newspaper and small magazines, of low intellectual level and without contents. This is contrary to what our Father Founder practised and said and asked of the congregation: the two feet of the missionaries are prayer and study, or also virtues and sciences.
2.2. Formative Proposals
1st. The Personal Project of Formation
The General Chapter of 85, speaking of the process of permanent formation, affirms: “Each Claretian must have his own formation plan or commitment to personal growth, which will both provide for his personal wholeness (spiritual, physical, psychological, intellectual and apostolic ministerial dimensions) and meet with the agreement of his community and his Superiors’ (CPR 67). The Chapter of 91 reaffirmed it as a necessity, not only as an impulse to the vocational development of Claretians, but also as a constant renewal of our spirituality as “Servant of the Word” (cf. SW 13.3). Once again, the last Chapter has reaffirmed it asking that those who conclude their formative process must finish being convinced of the convenience of carrying out the proper project of personal formation (IPM 34.3). It is a consequence of the former.
The PPF is a pedagogical means of great value in initial formation. It can help to the personalization of formation, to create and raise personal responsibility, to the evaluation of the proper formative process and to confronting oneself with accompaniment in spiritual direction.
2nd. Theoretical and Practical Formation for the New Values
Our integral formation must include a specific formation for the new values that are emerging, must be a contextualized formation in the world and in the cultures of today, and adequate for the evangelization of the man of today and his world values. Already the GPF has repeatedly echoed them in various moments of its development (cf. 16, 40‑49, 163, 174, etc…) The Chapter accentuates a theoretical and practical formation of the following aspects in particular: Inculturation, inter‑religious dialogue and commitment with justice and peace (cf. IPM 34.4;42‑45;46.3;49,54.2). The study plans as well as the local and provincial plans of formation must include these aspects in its elaboration according to the peculiar circumstances in which they found themselves. It is necessary to begin by a knowledge and a sensibilization towards the new values, studying them and experimenting on them In better circumstances and preparing for ourselves formative actions most appropriate.
Around the formative application of these themes and other similar ones, it has to be made operative effectively in the congregation. Concrete theoretical and practical orientations are already existing and could be utilised in making the plans of studies and the formative projects.
3rd. Formation For University: Languages
11. The contexualized formation in a concrete cultural area and incarnated in a particular social and ecclesial situations cannot go to the detriment of a formation in which the value of universal things are very much present in an operative way. The globalization, on the one hand and the universal dimension of our charism and vocation is suggesting a formative process that prepares our young missionaries for carrying out the mission in any part of the world. The GPF moves in the same line when it talks of Claretian formation in each concrete situation, yet open to universality (16). Or of a formation for a mission understood “in the universal mission of the Church” (27). Or of a formative process “that is inculturated and universal” (40‑41). Near to these values, besides in a context of inter‑provincial collaboration, the Chapter requests that we continue to foster in all Claretians, from formation on, their openness and availability for the universal mission of the Congregation. (cf. IPM 53.3,5 1,54).
2.1. Within the context of universality and the inter‑provincial collaboration of which we have just spoken of, and of the cultural diversity in which our congregation find itself, the Chapter encourages us, especially in the initial formation, to foster the study and the practice of languages. The mastery of languages, yet little developed in the Congregation, will allow us:‑ to enrich the quality of our formation with the approach to other cultures, both old and modern; to cultivate the congregational relationships to help the mutual knowledge, fraternal communion and mutual help; and to develop the missionary availability (IPM 56.1).
In this field we have a great example in Claret. Our Father Founder was a great impeller of the study of the languages, are in accord with those that moved him personally to study them. Fundamentally they are apostolic motivations to attain logically, apostolic objectives.
3. Permanent Formation (On‑going formation)
The on-going formation was explicitly treated from a general perspective and for the purpose of the quinquennium.
3.1 Brief diagnostic of the situation
The governments report, when talking of the permanent formation, summarizes its global evaluation in a sentence: “there is satisfaction for what was done, not always for what was achieved and there is still a long way to go“. The Chapter recognizes that the congregation has made great efforts in the field of permanent formation in the last years; however, we have not translated into out daily rhythm the conviction that “Ongoing formation is a must for every Claretian (GPF 462). We urgently need to improve this situation (IPM 34).
3.2 Principles of Motivations
1º. Prophetic Sensibility
The Chapter of 85 has appealed as motivation of depth, so stimulate ongoing formation, the renewal of the person and its personal conviction (CPR 67). The chapter of 91 emphasized as motivation “being suitable ministers of the Word” (SW 22). The last Chapter is situated in a prophetic perspective when he says that “only community that welcomes the gift of God, listens to the signs of the times and allows itself to be constantly rejuvenated can carry out the announcement of the gospel in a credible and attractive way (IPM 34). In general, the chapter does not invoke so much personal conviction or preparation for the ministry of the word as regards other attitudes of prophetic mode like: the “acceptance” of the gift of God which is always a vital and dynamic experience, always interpellating and motivating; the listening” of the signs of the times with a positive receptiveness to assimilate the new value bearers of the love of God; and the “allowing of oneself to be rejuvenated” as an attitude of absolute openness of oneself which impels the person to grow in perennial youthfulness without getting stagnant in the times and overcoming the sclerosis of personality. A community of this type will lead a prophetic life style and will carry out the “announcement of the Gospel in a credible and attractive way”.
To summarize, we can say that only a community with prophetic sensibility will qualify for its own internal and external renewals, to be at the height of the times and places, and carry out the evangelizing mission in a prophetic way.
2nd. Experience as means of ongoing formation.
May be, one of the causes of unsatisfaction which appears in Major Organisms as regards the permanent function (cf. above and note 21) could have its origin in the fact that it has been primarily orientated to the intellectual knowledge of the new values, neglecting other more vital and experiential dimensions. Without excluding the theoretical aspects which is always necessary, the chapter opens up another channel of going formation: the experience of reality. So it will ask on the one hand, (we shall see it later on) that education to the new values be not only theoretical but also practical (cf. IPM 34.4), that it increase among the Major organisms “the interchange of life ‑ experiences” (IPM 34.9); and that in significant or crucial moments of their life let them carry out “intense experiences of ongoing formation (IPM 34. 7) and on the other, that we confront “our criteria and positions with the realities of our world that challenge us as missionaries” (IPM 48.1) and regarding to the ongoing formation (cf. IPM, 34.6).
1º. Elaboration of Ongoing Formation Projects.
Major Organisms will draft their own project of ongoing formation as part of their plan of action for each sexennium. And the communities will single out the times, spaces and means which they are going to dedicate to ongoing formation and their manner of evaluating it (cf. I.P.M., 34.1, 34.2). It is important that these projects be capable of evaluation, for them to be effective, that they be enlightened by the new sensibility of the Congregation. Concretely, it insists on the continuation of the “Word ‑ Mission” project (cf. I.P.M 38.8, 42). It asks that the formation for the new values be integrated like in the formative projects of initial formation, that is an adequate theoretical and practical education for inculturation, inter‑religious dialogue and a commitment to justice and peace (cf. I.P.M 34.4; 50.3; cf. also, 42‑45,46.3,49,54.2; Message of the Pope to the Chapter, 4).
2º. The Personal project of Formation.
From the perspective of permanent formation, the PPF in fact, can be a means that can help us to grow in the life of apostolic holiness and in vocational faithfulness. The PPF motivates us to give a personal response to the call to holiness to which we all have been invited by Our Vocation (CPR 55). Through it, each one of us, carry out our personal commitment as regards many aspects contained in the Constitutions and which directly fall upon the responsibility of each one, as for example, personal prayer, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the examination of conscience, the spiritual accompanimel1t, the ongoing formation, etc…
Besides insisting once more on the suitability of carrying out their own personal plan of formation, for what we have just said (cf. IPM 34.3), the Chapter asks that the PPF should not be lived in an individualistic way but in a fully community way. The Chapter, wants that the personal projects be integrated in a common missionary project with our brothers of the Community, Province and congregation (cf. IPM 29.1). The PPF does not only better the quality of our personal life, but also helps to better the quality of our Community life, by raising up a greater commitment of everyone with the brothers, and enhancing our own common apostolic project with the ardour of our apostolic charity.
In the field of specialization, there exists an increasing care for the same in the Congregation and very important steps have been taken in the last years. The interest for specializations has increased during this sexennium and numerous diplomas, licentiates and doctorates have been obtained. The majority is in ecclesiastical, pastoral, and civil sciences with pastoral or formative incidence.
According to the General Government, there would be the need to continue in a determined way with the promotion of greater number of specializations possible. There would be the need of specializations in family theme and much more regarding the Word of God and M.C.S. Beside, without removing specializations in any foreign country especially if they are specific (The Holy Scriptures, Law, etc…), there would be the need to seek for a way of making more use of the possibilities of specialization in one’s own cultural context, particularly if it deals with specializations with a clear pastoral aspects.
The Chapter proposed that some specializations that better respond to the challenges of our mission be promoted in the next years in the measure possible. The Chapter requested for an establishment of “a group of experts in the theology of Mission” (IPM 46.3) to help the Congregation to reflect more deeply on the mission “and gentes” and the dedication of “some personnel to a deep study of the present functioning of worldwide economy and of so‑called Neoliberalism” (IPM 50.4) in an effort to understand its internal mechanisms and its real effects and being able to search for and propose with word and action other viable alternatives to the injustices of the reigning system (prevailing system).
4º. Particular situations
1ª. An important step has been also, the impulse given by the Chapter to carry out activities of ongoing formation in particular situations in the experimental line. Some common particular situations are described in the GPF: the “fifth year” and the “third age” (505‑520). Others, less defined, can “in significant or Crucial moments” of their life (religious daily record, personal crises, etc…) (IPM 34.7)
2ª. With regard to the five years (quinquenium), the Chapter states that the first years following ordination or perpetual professions are delicate times in the life of many young missionaries. Many are the situational reasons that explain this delicate situation. The reason that the Chapter adduces are two: On leaving the formative community, the young missionaries are often burdened by many apostolic commitments or they are given excessive responsibilities (or they assume frequently many apostolic commitments or excessive responsibilities) (cf. IPM 35). To these we could add lack of personal accompaniment; abandonment of spiritual life; lack of serious and demanding personal project; little coherence in living the community life where they are incardinated; formative and ideological generation differences with other brothers, which leads to misunderstanding isolation or boredom.
Given the importance of the particular situation, the chapter calls attention on the fifth year. The Chapter encourages the Major Organisms that this situation be accompanied following orientations of the GPF (506‑511) and requested that the general Government offer a ‘programme ‑ Course of three of four months… also opened to other missionaries”. The General Government has decided to offer the “experience of the Forge” which the Province of Castilla in Colmenar Viejo (Madrid) are carrying out, in the charismatic and experimental lines.
5º. Claretian Subsidies
The Chapter has taken into account the usefulness of the Claretian subsidies that have been elaborated and are still being elaborated in the Congregation.
The General Government and especially the General Prefectures have offered great quantity and variety of them in the last years. The GPF, which has been assun1ed very positively in the Congregation, has been a point of constant reference during the Chapter. In the manner the validity of the “Word ‑ Mission” project was reaffirmed; however, the Chapter asked that the methodology be taken more care of (rhythm, mechanisms…) In such a way that it “allows more time to be devoted to the study and assimilation of the Scriptures” (IPM 34.8; cf. also 42).
The Major Organisms, besides impelling common projects or vocational ministry and initial and ongoing formation, (cf. IPM 53.2 must increase the interchange of life‑experiences and Claretian materials. Concretely, the interchange of Claretian documents, formation materials and sources of personal and community renewal, through all possible means of communication, especially through the Internet are asked of (cf. IPM 34.9).
On the Internet the last Chapter has given us some orientations for its use in formation and in Mission (cf. IPM 50.5). For me I will like to remind and insist on the great perspectives that they open for ongoing formation. The ongoing formation could be very much enriched with the fitting use of the Internet, it appears as an indispensable means. It greatly completes our libraries, gives us actualized means for our formation, keeps us up to date, and offer us in the second place with infinite number of materials of every type as ever. And what is it to be said about the third age? Is also an indispensable means; for that we have to prepare for it when the time comes, “with long sight and firm step”.
A P É N D I C E
1. CONGREGACIÓN PARA LA EDUCACIÓN CATÓLICA, Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis (normas fundamentales para la formación de los futuros sacerdotes) (6 de enero, 1970).
2. SECRETARIADO PARA LA UNIÓN DE LOS CRISTIANOS, Directorio Spiritus Domini sobre el ecumenismo en la enseñanza superior (16, abril, 1970).
3. CONGREGACIÓN PARA LA EVANGELIZACIÓN DE LOS PUEBLOS, Carta circular sobre La dimensión misionera de la formación sacerdotal (Pentecostés, 1970).
4. CONGREGACIÓN PARA LA EVANGELIZACIÓN DE LOS PUEBLOS, Documento sobre La vocación y la formación de los misioneros (4, noviembre, 1970).
5. SECRETARIADO PARA LOS NO CREYENTES, Nota sobre el estudio del ateísmo, (10, julio, 1970).
6. PONTIFICIA COMISIÓN PARA LA COMUNICACIÓN SOCIAL, Instrucción pastoral Communio et progressio sobre los medios de comunicación social en la formación (23, mayo, 1971).
7. CONGREGACIÓN PARA LA EDUCACIÓN CATÓLICA, Carta Circular sobre La enseñanza de la filosofía en los seminarios (20, enero, 1972).
8. PABLO VI, Exhortación Apostólica Evangelii nuntiandi sobre la evangelización en el mundo contemporáneo (8, diciembre, 1975).
9. CONGREGACIÓN PARA LA EDUCACIÓN CATÓLICA, La formación teológica de los futuros sacerdotes (22, febrero, 1976).
10. SCRIS Y CONGREGACIÓN PARA LA EVANGELIZACIÓN DE LOS PUEBLOS, Carta a los religiosos y religiosas de África (3, junio, 1978).
11. CONGREGACIÓN PARA LA EDUCACIÓN CATÓLICA, Instrucción sobre La formación litúrgica en los seminarios (3, junio, 1979).
12. SCRIS, Documento Religiosos y promoción humana (12, agosto, 1980).
13. JUAN PABLO II, Al Capítulo General del Instituto Pontificio de Misiones Extranjeras sobre La Formación misionera (14, noviembre, 1983).
14. CONGREGACIÓN PARA LA EDUCACIÓN CATÓLICA, Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis (19, marzo, 1985).
15. JUAN PABLO II, Mensaje a la plenaria de la Congregación para los Religiosos e Institutos Seculares sobre La formación de los hermanos (24, enero, 1986).
16. CONGREGACIÓN PARA LA EDUCACIÓN CATÓLICA, Carta sobre la Pastoral de la movilidad humana en la formación de los futuros sacerdotes (25 de enero, 1986).
17. CONGREGACIÓN PARA LA EDUCACIÓN CATÓLICA, Orientaciones para la formación de los futuros sacerdotes sobre los medios de comunicación social (19, marzo, 1986).
18. CONGREGACIÓN PARA LA EVANGELIZACIÓN DE LOS PUEBLOS, Carta Circular Algunas directrices sobre la formación en los seminarios mayores (25, abril, 1987).
19. CONGREGACIÓN PARA LA EDUCACIÓN CATÓLICA, Carta Circular Orientaciones para el estudio y la enseñanza de la doctrina social de la Iglesia en la formación de los sacerdotes (10, diciembre, 1988).
20. JUAN PABLO II, Mensaje al Consejo Superior de las Obras Pontificias Misioneras sobre la formación misionera (4, mayo, 1990).
21. JUAN PABLO II, Exhortación Apostólica postsinodal Pastores dabo vobis sobre la formación de los sacerdotes en la situación actual (25, marzo, 1992).
22. PONTIFICIO CONSEJO PARA LA PROMOCIÓN DE LA UNIDAD DE LOS CRISTIANOS, Directorio para la aplicación de los principios y normas sobre el ecumenismo (25, marzo, 1993).
23. CONGREGACIÓN PARA EL CULTO DIVINO Y LA DISCIPLINA DE LOS SACRAMENTOS, La liturgia romana y la inculturación (25, enero, 1994).
24. PONTIFICIO CONSEJO PARA LA PROMOCIÓN DE LAS UNIDAD DE LOS CRISTIANOS, La dimensión ecuménica en la formación de quienes trabajan en el ministerio pastoral (9, marzo,1997).
Muy útiles pueden ser los subsidios publicados por la Prefectura General de Apostolado: La evangelización como diálogo (Encuentro en Libreville, enero, 1995); Evangelizar en una situación de increencia (Encuentro en Viena, agosto, 1995); Proclamation and dialogue with religions (Encuentro en Karumathur, octubre, 1995); Servidores de la Palabra entre los excluídos (Encuentro en Lecco, diciembre, 1996); Servicio misionero de la Palabra y diálogos con las religiones (Encuentro en Sri Lanka, febrero, 1997).
1. There should not be “any kind of doctrine” to change the formative methods that at times are found to be simple “summer cloud.”
“In our 51 brothers, the Blessed Martyrs of Barbastro, we see portrayed in a special way the paradigm of what we are called to be, sons of the Heart of Mary, from the Magnificat to Calvary. This “martyr seminary” has also become for us a model formation community, by reason of its unbreakable and joyful faith, its full availability to the will of God, its constant and trusting prayer, its living of the Cordimarian sonship and of the Eucharist, its mutual brotherly help, its love for the Congregation and its apostolic zeal.
By “formators” we mean those entrusted with an immediate responsibility for the integral formation of our candidates” (Dir. 161, GPF 107).
In the GPF, while indicating the qualities and functions of the formators and formative team, much is been talked about these exigences (nn. 108-109, 307, 415-418).
CLARET, Internal Rule for the students of Escorial: “Claretian Epistolary” (CE), 1st January 1867, 1101-1102.
“The same Jesus Christ received the Holy Spirit, the priestly spirit, the spirit which every priest has to live and work . Here are the words of the Holy Scriptures: Spiritus Domini super me¼ propter quod unxit me. Because He has anointed me as doctor, prophet, saviour and legislator¼ I shall not delay to refer one by one to the marvellous things which the Apostles worked, so available/ready that they are filled by the Spirit of the Lord that they began to speak. I shall only say something about the Apostle St Paul, full of this ecclesiastical spirit¼ So ready as he was called by Jesus Christ on the way and after being animated by the spirit which he received in Damascus, yet not by flesh and blood, but full of fire of charity, runs by every parts as vase (vessel) of election, carrying the name of Jesus, searching nothing but the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls¼ This same spirit is that which animates the Dominicans (Los Domingos de Guzman), the Vincentians, the Xaverians and many other priests.” (CLARET, The Priestly spirit: “Saint Anthony Mary Claret. Selected Spiritual Writings” (SSW). Edition prepared by J. BERMEJO, Madrid 1985, 284 –286).
“¼they have an ecclesiastical spirit which is no other thing than a participation of the spirit of God, which helps man to make gladly, with decency, modesty and aptitude the ecclesiastical functions” (CLARET, Interior Rule¼ 1101-1102).
The decree Presbyterorum Ordinis (no. 11) while talking of the attention which the priests should offer to priestly vocations textually states the following: “Parents, teachers, and all who are in any way concerned in the education of boys and young men ought to train them in such a way that they will know the solicitude of the Lord for his flock and be alive to the needs of the church. In this way they will be prepared for when the Lord calls to answer generously with the prophet: “Here am send me” (Is. 6:8). However, it is emphatically not to be expected that the voice of the Lord calling should come to the future priests ears in some extraordinary way. Rather it must be perceived and judged through the signs by which God’s will becomes known to prudent Christians in everyday life. And these signs are to be studied attentively by priests. (cf. also Note to PO 11; text of John Paul 11, CPR. 46).
About the vocational experience of Claret and the “vocational signs” of his call, one can see, PALACIOS, Jesus M., cmf, The Vocational Signs of St Anthony Mary Claret: Claretianum 11 (1971) 97-137.
When the meaning of religious life has been lost in the personal life, practically it is impossible to live to the personal unity. The religious finds himself not being integrated neither in prayers, nor in community, nor in apostolate. The evangelical counsels means nothing to him. He has lost the illusion for that which he so seriously committed himself in years past. Not feeling the call of God in himself, he considers himself out of place and is incapable of unifying his personality in the fulfilment of the vocation mission.
Experience shows that many religious have not arrived at making explicit this consciousness or have lost it within few years of perpetual profession. In those cases, the life of the religious in question is characterised by notable mediocrity or by lack of meaning in what they do in the community and in the apostolate or by definitive rupture of the option for the religious life.
CPR reminds us that “we cannot back the options and preferred recipients of our mission, unless each one of us internalises, in terms of personal commitment, the unique experience of the grace of our vocation, accepted and nourished in a serious spiritual life and in a community life so as to be always available to respond to what is most urgent, timely and effective. The process of renewal presupposes as its proper source, the newness of the Spirit of Christ” (n 46).
For this section, I refer myself to the project of IWM published by the General Prefecture of Formation.
Many a time one tries to justify vocation from the human and rational ambient; this perspective is harmful on the long run. It is necessary to situate oneself in God’s plan, who has left us a word with which he call us to have a dialogue with Him. Neither does it try to press on the obligation of following the vocation with a moralistic sense but rather to come to understand the love which God has manifested to us in Christ, the love which Christ has shown us when he chose us and the urgency which the person called shows that love also on the basis of a total and definitive after.
Possibly, a part of these defections may find its explanation in the fact that the people concerned have neither loved Christ nor their vocation, nor have they understood that vocation is not a question of evidence but sign of love, faith and freedom. Rather they have been in the moralistic line of the obligation. And since this moralistic line is today in crisis, it happens that the only vocational support has crumbled and crumbling also the vocation conviction and with it the vocation commitment.
When the chapter has reminded us of the aspects of our life which we knew already, we could say “little original or creative” it has wanted to remind us of this prophetic dimension. That is, it invites us to live “the ordinary reality in an extraordinary way” which we know already and which has been said in other occasions.
Some days before he died, through Fr. Clotet he sent following message to the missionaries of Chile: “Tell them that they cannot nor must they undertake tasks beyond their strength, nor work more hours than their strength can carry whatever be the necessity. Also: Never they leave the Divine Office, nor the meditation that is prescribed, whatever be the custom, authorization or the necessity (need): those two things are food of the soul, which ought not to be prescinded of in our Congregation. When I went to the Canary island (canaries) and later to Cuba I found out so much and even more spiritual needs than in Chile, and nevertheless, I never left those things referred at” (M. ALDUAN, Life of Fr. Poul Vallier, 1919, P.115).
Through the means of them (the challenges) the Spirit is addressing and probing us, calling us to personal, community and institutional conversion, and to a greater fidelity to our missionary vocation (SW, introduction; cf. GPF 42)
As examples we remember; the missions and apostolic positions accepted in very difficult situations; the infinite number of Claretians who assumed an apostolic life style marked by simplicity, itinerancy and unselfish service to the Church; the many and various ways of announcing the Word (gesture, sermon, class, pentagram, painting, sculpture, book, poem, liturgy, outcry, silence…); the abundant testimonies/witnesses of Claretians who gave their lives for Jesus, the church and the Congregation, as a prophetic example our Martyrs of Barbastro; the reflections of the General Superiors and General Chapters, etc… all of them are signs of fidelity to the evangelical, missionary and prophetic proposal of Claret.
The report of Government to the last General Chapter, in speaking of the vocation promotion in the congregation, it is affirmed that “in general, there is a great concern and interest in the theme of promoting vocations, which is considered as the first and principal priority of all the Organisms. It is perceived that during the sexennium much work has been done (in Chapters, assemblies, encounters, ¼) so that this concern should reach all the communities, since there are still some communities that are not very sensitised in this respect (1.2.1., 1). “In general, good work has been done in promoting vocations. Important invests have been made in personnel, structures, and economy, although, in some cases this effort has not been reflected in an increase in vocations; sometimes the results are very scarce, and giving rise to discouragement” (22.214.171.124)
As a challenge, it is said in the report of the Chapter: Looking at the future and with the mind full of hope trust in the Lord yet every organism be committed in fact in promoting a “general mobilization of the people and communities. We must strive to make vocation ministry “the priority of priorities” in a real way, not just in theory (in documents Chapters, assemblies, encounters). Therefore; pray with insistence and confidence; live with joy your won vocation and be transparent witnesses of God; give testimony of our missionary life, be devoted more personally and be free, and apply with more exigency the plans and vocation projects which the organism has elaborated” (cf. Vocation Ministry, evaluation and challenges).
“Therefore, it is necessary to promote a vocational culture that knows how to acknowledge and welcome that profound aspiration of man, that leads him to discover that only Christ can tell him the truth about his life (…) Every Christian will truly give sign of collaborating in the promotion of a culture in favour of vocations, if he knows how to commit his own mind, his own heart in the discernment of what is good for man” (John Paul II, message of the Pope on the occasion of XXX world day of prayer for vocations of may 2nd 1993, n. 2, cf. also n. 3 and the GPF 280).
The Report of Formation of the last Chapter said that with regard to vocational material the organism as well as the vocational areas have produced their awn. To sum up; Calendars, stickers, posters and mural‑paintings, fly shes, triptychs, and the Internet is initiated on. Even though the organisms have made a considerable effort. However, there would be the need to elaborate an adequate introduction of the person of Claret to the young people, a pedagogical synthesis of the charism of the congregation easily intelligible and enter fully through the Internet (cf. 1.2.1., 21; 1.2.2., 51).
According to the Government report of the last Chapter, in the previous sexennium: “We have continued sending vocational and formative subsidies in various languages communicating formative experiences and reflection on the level of the Church, the Congregation and other Institutes. A total of 16 subsidies have been sent out on the Lectio Divina and other methods of reading the Word of God. And we have continued publishing in Spanish and English the Notebooks of Claretian Formation. Concretely, numbers 10 (A, B) 11,12 and 13 (A.B) have been issued” (2.4.3, 3).
Cf. IPM 34.3, 34.4, 53.3, 56.1
In the Government report of the last Chapter, speaking of the initial formation, it is said, “the personal project, which includes all dimensions of the person, is often the frame of reference of personal dialogues in the personal accompaniment ¼ The only ones to realise it have been a good number of formandi and a few other members of the Organisms. (1.6.1, 4; 1.7.1, 1)
One of the works that the General Prefecture of Formation proposed in the present sexennium is the application of IPM to formation (cf. General Government Plan of Action, 1997-2003, IV,C, 2a,3) and “to foster a suitable theoretical-practical education for inculturation, interreligious dialogue, a commitment to justice and peace, a sensitivity to solidarity, the defence of life and human rights, in keeping with the Church’s social teaching” (Ib. IV, C, 1a,4). Besides the General Prefecture of Formation has entrusted the preparation of a book on the inter-religious dialogue for all the formation centres to Fr. Joseph Ma Ruiz Marquez (of the Philippines).
In the last months the formator of IBERIA (Almunecar – Granada) and ACLA (Owerri-Nigeria) have worked on this theme.
In GPF in the appendix no.1 a detailed bibliography of the pontifical documents on formation themes and duly completed with the latest publications which could be consulted in the appendix of this work.
A1. The motivations of the Father Founder to study languages were vocational and functional, not simply estethics nor literaries. He studied Latin in order to be able to fulfil his priestly vocation and to adequately accomplish his priestly functions. The study of French in Barcelonia he did it in order to prepare himself better for manufacture; for his personal formation and apostolic ministry afterward.
2. The interest of Claret for the languages must be understood within the keys of his missionary life: the glory of God, his own sanctification and the salvation of souls; so he stated it in his purpose of speaking Latin in Rome. For him, the knowledge of the languages entered into the universal perspective of the mission to which he has been called. The languages produced in him a multiplying effect in respect of his ministerial preparation and apostolic action. Studying the languages he could have access to other cultures and pastoral ambits; and could reach also to many people to transmit the gospel to them” (PALACIOS, JESUS Ma. The personal study of the languages in Saint Anthony Mary Claret, in Studia Claretiana, IX, Rome 1991, pp. 106‑107).
Over the orientations given to the seminarians by Claret, Priest and Missionary, cf. Palacios, Jesus Ma. Learning of languages at the service of mission according to St. Anthony Mary Claret, in Studia Claretiana, XV, Roma 1997, pp 13-81. The apostolic motivations are the following:
“There are three objects that are proposed in the study of so many foreign languages:
1. To be current with and to be instructed in the knowledge and advances that are being manifested in foreign countries (nations).
2. To have knowledge of all the errors that come out of Spain and foreign land, to combat them.
3. Making himself competent to be able to hear so many strangers that pass through Spain in the Sacrament of penance, and many like Catholic Christians ask for this sacrament, be it in the temples, be it when they are sick in the hospitals or private homes” (CLARET, Notting that he made for his personal use and for the rule of the diocese and always the Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba (today Trajanopolis) D. Anthony Mary Claret and Clará, 2nd edition, Madrid 1865, 264 pp.; quotation on pp. 222‑256) (we shall always cite the 2nd edition) Monastery of Escorial. Plan of studies of Escorial: in Miscellaneous interesting, Barcelona 1865, 338 pp. Cited in pp. 174‑175).
“These were the three views the seminaries of Escorial had, and since they had so noble and charitable end, God helped them in a way very peculiar. Besides they had time for everything staying continuously at home, and in this way they were joyously and usefully occupied” (PALACIOS, Jesús Mª, El estudio de las lenguas…, pp. 53-54).
Cf. IPM: 34 (general perspective) and 35 (quinqenniun)
He indicated the following list as parameters:
“At times, one has the impression that all the effort made has been useless. People change little.
*It has not become a priority that merits a primordial attention.
*There are people who are not convinced of their necessity.
*The person is very occupied and has no time for self formation” (cf. Report of the Government on the Chapter, Ongoing formation, evaluation, 7.2)
In years past some of the members of the major organisms have carried out their sabbatical years as period of updating themselves (bring themselves up to date) in mission zones with benefit. The General Government in the last years has tried to take into account, within the possible measure, this dimension of experience in the activities of ongoing formation that it has organized. Thus the experiences in Claretian places of Barbastro and Vic, in encounters and Courses of Renewal; and missionary experiences of the Central Prefecture of the Apostolate. The GPF talks also of “missionary experiences” and gives some criteria of their realization (504).
The Government Report to the last Chapter says: “Most communities program their ongoing formation in the community project¼ Nevertheless, several Organisms indicate that ongoing formation is quite deficient, fragmented, not very constant, with poor study tools such as libraries, etc. “1.7.1, 2)
The report of the government of the last Chapter says: “In general the personal project of formation has been animated in the Organisms and included in the chapters and Assemblies documents. Nevertheless, its practical incident has been minimal”. Only a part of those in formation and some members of the Organisms use to carry out. In spite of all, some few organisms have shown that there are people who are in fact interested in their personal formation, even though they don’t have any personal plan of formation elaborated. The causes of this little practical incident are: little conviction of its necessity and importance, lime interest in forming themselves, little knowledge of the same and the “vanished” euphoria (Ongoing Formation, situation 1st). “The personal project of formation is still in the bud and a lot remains to be done. It is necessary to continue to animate it without fainting away” (Evaluation 2nd).
“Besides, one’s own country the specializations have been carried out in other foreign countries (Italy, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Colombia, USA, The Philippines, Brazil). In some cases, the biennium of degree of master, after the completion of the initial studies, ends with a specialization. Also, Sabbatical years, short courses in non‑Claretian centres, inter‑provincial and general courses have been fostered beside universities courses as such (home)” (Report of the Government, Ongoing formation, situation, 7.1).
Cf. The General Government Plan of Action (1997 ‑ 2003), Formation D, 2nd line of Action, 2.
Cf. Report of the Government, Ongoing Formation Evaluation, 7.2.
The Report of the Government states that “5th. In general the organisms have taken seriously the special attention of the young priests and brothers of the fifth yearn. One first general criterion has been in some cases, to take care of first postings:‑ the first pastoral responsibilities ‑ personal accompaniment‑ and dialogues on the part of the Superiors (Provincial and Provincial Prefect of Formation). Then, special activities (retreats, periodic encounters…) Have been organised at the Provincial and Inter‑provincial level (South cone, IBERIA, ASCLA) Ongoing Formation, 7.1).