Initiation into the Missionary Life, Manual for the Claretian Novice

This manual presents the summary of the main topics and formation suggestions that the novices in the congregation must learn and assimilate during the novitiate.

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Chapter 2: Vocation and Its Discernment

            Vocation is a gift that must be discerned at every moment of our lives in order to be faithful to it until death.

            Vocational discernment, initiated previously, is not interrupted by the arrival of the novitiate.  On the contrary, this is the time designed for the novice to intensify it, above all with respect to the Congregation that he wants to enter[1]. There are principles and criteria for discernment, arising from the reality and demands of a vocation, defined and established by the Church and the Congregation[2], which serve to orient and guide discernment.  Below we present the topic of vocation and its discernment in two sections:




            A Vocation is an inspiration or interior movement by which God calls a person for a mission.  It always presupposes the absolute freedom of the God who calls and the human freedom that reacts to this call.  All vocation summarizes the history of an ineffable dialogue between God, who lovingly calls, and the freedom of the individual, who responds in faith and love.  Thus the two indispensable elements for every vocation are the free gift of God and the responsive freedom of the human being[3].

            A religious vocation is a calling by God to live the Christian vocation in a determined way of life characterized by effectively representing in the Church Jesus’ form of life.  God makes this call through a charism that he freely grants to whomever He wishes.  The religious vocation is a special vocation, a charismatic embodiment of the common Christian vocation. It affects the entire life of the person called.  By welcoming it and freely taking it on, the person makes a fundamental option that commits his whole life and, at the same time, conditions important future decisions[4]. The vocation to the religious life establishes a covenant between the God who calls and consecrates entirely for Himself, and the person called, who in response dedicates himself totally and exclusively to God.

            In this context, the vocation to the Congregation of Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Claretian Missionaries), is a special call to represent in the Church, according to the missionary charism granted by God to Claret and to every one of the Claretians, the same kind of life that Jesus chose for Himself and the Virgin Mary also embraced in faith. Claret founded the Congregation of Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in order to procure the salvation of human beings through the proclamation of the Gospel[5]. Faced with a lack of preachers, he joined with other priests moved by the same spirit as he[6], in order to dedicate himself to the ministry of the Word and, together with them, pursue what he could not do alone.  The Congregation, the heir of his missionary spirit, feels duty bound to carry out his missionary initiatives and to carry forward those that he personally could not realize.

            Our project of missionary life involves being disciples and following the Master, living the evangelical counsels in community of life with Jesus and with the group of those called, to be sent and to proclaim to all the world the Good News of the Kingdom. The anointing of the Holy Spirit to announce the Good News and the communion with Christ, the prophet par excellence, render us sharers of his prophetic function[7].

            The presence of the Virgin Mary is essential in Claretian missionary life. We consecrate ourselves especially to the Father, in Christ, and we dedicate ourselves to the Heart of Mary in order to live an evangelical and apostolic life[8]. To be a son of the Heart of Mary means to be a missionary and an apostle.  The son of the Heart of Mary is a man filled with love who spreads its flames wherever he goes and thinks of nothing except how to follow Christ the Missionary and how to procure the salvation of humankind[9].


            Vocational discernment is not only a psychological process; it is, above all, a faith process by which one tries to ascertain the authenticity of the call[10] and assure that one is being faithful to it. Discernment attempts to verify from the vocational signs that are manifested the authenticity of the candidate’s vocation (call and response) to the Congregation. Both the candidate and his spiritual companion must discern the vocation in a conjoint action through prayer, listening to the Word of God and fraternal dialogue[11].

1. Vocation as a Dynamic Project

            Vocation is a dynamic reality, both in the call and in the response.  The dynamic character of vocation is manifested gradually and progressively because[12]:

            1. God progressively reveals his will and, besides the initial call, constantly continues to call the person throughout his entire life and invites him to a constant and unrelenting response.

            2. The person called must be impelled by the vocational motivations, which are the dynamic forces that move the personality.

            3. The vocation develops with the power and rhythm of the personality itself (gifts, qualities, etc.) and with the vocational grace of the call (vocational demands).

            4. The person feels more stimulated by the external world, the reality and signs of the times. When the external environment is rich, the person is more stimulated.

2. Vocation as Call and Response

            Vocation, in the fullest sense, is, at the same time, both call and response. For the vocation to become a reality in the life of the person it must include both these elements:

1. The call is manifested through vocational signs in two ways.  The first is the communication of his project that God makes to the person chosen through vocational events. The second is made up of gifts that God grants to the person for the carrying out of the vocational project that has been manifested to him.  Both are given simultaneously.

2. Answering to the call, the response is likewise manifested in two ways.  The first is the acceptance of the call manifested in the vocational awareness by which the person perceives that God is calling him; this is the person’s “yes” to God.  The second is the development of the gifts that person has received from the Lord; this is the total and permanent giving of oneself to the carrying out of this project.

3. The Call: Vocational Signs

            The call as a communication from God, as the voice of the Lord who calls, must be understood and distinguished through vocational signs that manifest God’s will to the one called[13]. They are of two types: events and gifts from God to the person.

3.1. Vocational Signs as Events

            Vocational signs are events in the candidate’s personal history in which the Lord makes Himself present, inviting the person to follow Him.  Normally one must not think that the call comes to the person in an extraordinary way.  The voice of God, as the language of grace, is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which is expressed in a deep and attractive way, and that comes through many vocational signs as a manifestation of the will of God[14]. The moments of strong vocational experience happen in the course of history and in real situations through which the will of God must be discerned.

            In the vocational dialogue, God accomodates Himself to the person.  He employs a sound pedagogy, using signs to make Himself understood.  Specifically, God manifests his will to the person through concrete experiences that mark out his personal history.  He makes Himself heard sacramentally, that is, through intermediaries. Any human experience, any place, any event, any circumstance, without any alteration, can become the vehicle, occasion and context for the encounter of the person with God.

            We also call these life events signs of the call.  Because of the depth of meaning they have for the person who experiences them, it makes it easy for him to locate them and single them out in his personal history.  They provide the subject’s vocational awareness.  Among the signs of the call, the most frequent usually are these:

            1. The process of the maturation of one’s own faith, that consists of a series of meaningful encounters with the Lord during times in one’s personal history.

            2. The life of the Church as call[15]. The life of the Church offers inestimable help for those called to appropriately respond to God’s call, transforming it into a fundamental option[16].

            3. Sensitivity to human problems. There are needs that in themselves are an outcry that awakens an urgent feeling of compassion and availability.

            4. Personal calls. These are received directly by the specific individual and leave him with uneasiness, doubts, fears, etc.  That woundedness is usually one of the clearest indications of a vocation.

            5. Role models, that is, those people with names and faces, who have fascinated the candidate.  Even though they may be idealized at the beginning, they assume the role of an authentic call[17].

            6. Chance events of life: those circumstances that, without conscious effort, have made the person confront the possibility that he has been called.

            7. Special and significant personal qualities. For God calling is the same as giving. God does not call anyone for anything without giving him what is necessary to fulfill it.  And the gifts and the vocation are irrevocable (cf. Rm 11:29).

            8. The Word of God and personal prayer. Through these God awakens tremendous freedom and availability in the one who prays.  Throughout the process involved one can see evidence of the importuning of God’s call.

            9. Childhood and adolescent fantasizing. Repeatedly imagining what one will be in the future usually engenders a preconscious interior dynamism that can reveal a vocation.

            These signs, and many others, are usually ambiguous, at least in the beginning. They do not prove once and for all that one has a vocation. The fact that they do not appear well-defined is no reason not to respond. Vocation is always a mystery of faith and love that is awakened in the person little by little. Without the love of friendship, which generates trust and availability, one cannot positively respond to the call, since there is no internal and external freedom.

3.2. Vocational Signs as Gifts of God to the Person

            The call is expressed also in gifts of nature and grace received by the person (cf. Rm 12:3). These gifts are granted by God to the one called in order to live out the demands of the missionary life and to carry out his mission. His life, considered also a vocational sign, vouches for the authenticity of the call.  These gifts include the qualities of one’s personality and the gift of God’s grace, one’s personal charismatic gifts and the supernatural virtues. The Church calls these gifts requirements[18] that the person with a vocation must possess and that must be carefully discerned.  The requirements are personal conditions of the candidate that allow his suitability to be ascertained[19]. They are positive criteria in discernment that allow the verification, both by the candidate and the institute, of whether signs of a true vocation exist.  The requirements indicated by the Church and the Congregation are the following:

            a. In general[20]:

            1. Right intention, i.e., the existence of authentic and valid vocational motivations and interests.

            2. Complete freedom at the time of choosing religious life and, in particular, the Congregation.

            3. Disposition, i.e., appropriate temperament, character and personality, especially for community life and service to others.

            4. Qualities required for living the Claretian project and for fulfilling the mission of the Congregation. Among these are good physical and psychological health, sufficient intellectual ability, psychological maturity and balance according to the age of the person, and appropriate moral and spiritual qualities.

            b. Specifically[21]:

            1. Age. The minimum age for entering the novitiate is 17.  Before that age candidates may be accepted for a period of pre-novitiate.  A maximum age has not been set by Canon Law.  It is a pedagogical and experiential judgment not to admit very young candidates nor adult vocations of advanced age, except in extraordinary circumstances.

            2. Physical health. The degree of health that is demanded of the one called is not established categorically. It is a matter of personal judgment. The one called must enjoy health that gives him the support of a suitable psychological balance and allows him to live and carry out the demands of the vocation.

            3. Suitable disposition. Disposition is an all-encompassing concept that includes one’s temperament, character and personality.  It must be suited to living out the demands of the vocation.  It is summed up in those attitudes and aptitudes that allow the person to live out vocational values.  Basically they are these human capacities:

•  disinterested love for others,

• the unconditional and generous giving of oneself to the service of the Kingdom,

• a rich sensitivity and emotional life,

• sociability and the capability of establishing human relationships and friendship,

• flexibility and adaptability,

• radical renunciation of self for the values of the Kingdom,

• a positive and optimistic view of life, sincerity and genuiness,

• the seriousness and responsibility to make decisions,

• constancy and stability to live up to one’s commitments.

            4. Psychological health and balance.  The one called must be a normal person.  That normality presupposes the possession of the degree of psychological maturity appropriate to his age and that one acts in conformity with behaviors that are defined as normal.

            Psychological balance manifests the maturity of the person. It is expressed in behavior that reflects an ability to appropriately assess reality, to love authentically and to be open to others, to make free and stable choices, to work and be efficient, and to be adaptable to his surroundings[22].

            The psychological maturity of the personality is never absolute, but relative. It is subject to a developmental process throughout the life stages of the person.  Each age, in the process of personal development, has its own maturity.

            5. Intellectual ability. The intellectual ability of the one called must be proportionate and suited to the demands of his vocation.  That degree of intellectual ability is required that:

• is sufficient for the one called to learn and understand the meaning and nature of his vocation,

• allows him to acquire the academic preparation needed to carry out his mission[23],

• includes, besides the possibility of learning, the ability to reflect and make judgments, thinking back over the events of his life,

• exists at least as a basic aptitude that must be developed, enriched and educated later.

            6. Moral and religious suitability.  The one called must be morally healthy, with right judgments and good human and Christian behavior. This constitutes a foundation and a guarantee of fidelity to one’s vocation.

            This suitability is not something obtained from the very beginning. The one called cannot then put together all the conditions of complete suitability for various reasons.  Discernment must be centered above all on those basic abilities that allow him to overcome deficiencies and achieve an appropriate degree of suitability.

            The counterindications in this area can have various manifestations:

• judgments and ways of thinking that are inappropriate with respect to human rights and Gospel values;

• lack of sensitivity to people and world around him;

• attitudes and behaviors that reflect egoism, the inability to renounce oneself and, especially, those that relate negatively to the living out of his sexuality;

• lack of faith that hinders bringing about or acquiring a basic Christian life.

            7. Authentic and valid vocational motivations. The motivations, which consist of a goal and an impulse, constitute the reason and the force that move a person to pursue his goals. Vocational motivations allow one to act with rightness of intention and with the freedom to embrace one’s vocation.  One needs to distinguish the following characteristics:

            1. Motivations may be present in a conscious or unconscious way.  Conscious ones are known and can easily be detected, controlled and educated. Unconscious ones are unknown to the person, but are active, dynamic and have an effect on his behavior.

            2. Vocational motivations sometimes appear as inadequate and insufficient.  The former are those that, although they are positive, are not adequate vocational values. The latter, which also may be positive, give no complete reason or justification for one to embrace one’s vocation.  These motivations, although they are good, are vocationally valid.

            3. Vocational motivations may also be authentic and valid.  Authentic ones are those that arise from the free person, neither conditioned by, nor subject to, internal or external pressures (without fear or fraud).  The valid ones are those whose goal and contents are in keeping with the constellation of vocational values.  For that reason, they are also adequate and sufficient vocationally.

            In responding to the call of the Lord one has to have and manifest complete freedom and right intention.  This means that the one called has to be free of all internal and external pressure that conditions his decision and must be moved by vocational values. This is decisive for discerning vocational motivations.

3.3. Other Orientations in Discernment

            a. In regard to vocational signs:

            1. They must be positive[24]. Vocational signs manifest the vocational call as events or as gifts of God. Without necessarily having to be extraordinary, they should present a certain relevance in the life of the person called. He must demonstrate that he possesses the requirements to appropriately live out his vocation, taking into account his age and how far he has advanced in his vocational journey, his positive suitability. It is not enough to simply presuppose it. If repeated discernment raises serious doubt, one must be dissuaded from pursuing the vocation further.

            2. They are manifested as the seeds of a vocation.  Vocational signs sometimes appear in the person in a germinal way, in a more rudimentary or less developed form. One must have the ability to detect those seeds and have confidence in the person who exhibits them, since these rudiments, when they are positive, can be later be developed with an effort of will and the help of the Spirit of the Lord[25] until they attain their full growth.

            b. In regard to motivations:

            1. Motivations must be detected and permanently clarified.  Conscious ones are usually explicitly stated.  Unconscious ones are more difficult to discover, since not even the subject knows them and yet, nonetheless, acts on them.

            2. Conscious and unconscious motivations can exist simultaneously in the person.  A person can express a conscious motivation in accord with vocational values and may, nevertheless, be in fact moved by unconscious motivations that have nothing in common with those values.

            3. Although at the beginning of vocational discernment the motivations may not be very easily clarified and their authenticity and validity not easily defined, still they can be clarified, reoriented and educated. Discernment in the light of faith, the vocational reading of the Word of God, the revision of personal and community life, the self-knowledge of one’s own attitudes and behaviors, fraternal correction, pastoral counseling and spiritual accompaniment are very efficient means, among others, that aid in discovering and refining motivations.

4. Awareness of the Vocational Call

            Vocation is only explicable in terms of the gratuitous, personal and unique love that God shows toward the one He calls[26]. Every call proceeds from God as the starting-point, who in the power of the Spirit, takes the initiative (cf. Jn 15: 26). Thus no one gives himself a vocation, nor does he give it to another[27].

            The person perceives the voice of God in his own awareness.  It is usually prepared for by events that stand out in one’s life until it is perceived clearly.  The awareness of the call comes through a process.  That process properly begins at the moment at which the one called is aware of God’s call (cf. Lc 1: 26-38). It has its stages, its dynamics and also its difficulties. Thus, although the one called is the indispenable protagonist and the one ultimately responsible for his vocation, he must, nevertheless, be enlightened and accompanied[28].

            There is no sense in speaking about a vocation if it is not in accord with the Lord’s call. The person acquires vocational awareness when he has the certainty of feeling of being called by God.  Thus begins the vocational dynamic of responding, that is translated into self-giving, service, enthusiasm for the mission, the mostivation for taking on the renunciations. Without vocational awareness one can have no vocational guarantee, stability or security.

            Faith gives the person the ability to hear the voice of God in his personal history. Ordinarily this is not an explicit act of faith. ????????Rather it is an attitude of the person that makes sensing the presence of God in the events of his life second nature. Since it is not the result of the person’s own subjectivity, it needs to be discerned and interpreted through prayer and accompaniment.

            Vocational awareness is acquired in many different ways.  The one called must place himself in those conditions that allow him to interpret it properly.  No true vocation is simply a personal craving, a mere search for self-fulfillment, the result of educational inertia or external or internal pressure. It is experienced as seduction, since it can only be explained by the love that God has for the person called. This love is absolutely gratuitous, personal and unique[29].

5. The Response: Vocational Fidelity

            The gift of a vocation is not an affair of human faculties, at the mercy of mere cravings.  It has its origin in the love of God.  It demands a radical response and progessive love for God.  One’s freedom does not consist in denying or refusing the call, nor in rejecting, at a given moment in one’s life, the commitment contracted entered into before God. The freedom lies in voluntarily carrying out God’s plan. Every lack of fidelity involves a degree of personal frustration, with consequent and unavoidable repercussions for the Church and the world[30].

5.1. The Demands of Vocational Fidelity

            Vocation embraces the entire person and demands a response in faith and love[31]. Fidelity springs from a living faith and from a love that gives itself totally and without reserve: Only this love of a nuptial character and that embraces the person’s entire affectivity can motivate and sustain the renunciations and the crosses that one who wants to lose his life for the sake of Christ and the Gospel necessarily encounters (cf. PI 9)[32]. Vocatonal fidelity:

            1. is intimately related to the human and freely accepted contract entered into.  This implies in the person: a capacity for truthfulness, because the person acts “truthfully”, without conscious or unconscious deception of himself or God, knowing the true extent of his commitment; and the capacity for personal constancy and fidelity, because the one who assumes the commitment needs not only truth, but also the ability to carry it out and effectively embody it in practice.

            2. Besides being taken on until death, the vocation includes a full sense of living out the commitments freely undertaken.  One is not faithful to one’s vocation only by the mere fact of persevering until the end of his life. It is necessary to live it out with all the intensity and creativity possible.  Fidelity is not only maintaining it, but continually recreating it in light of the challenges of new circumstances.  An egoitistical restriction of self-giving and generosity is an infidelity to one’s own vocation.

            3. implies the renunciation of many human values and realities that are sacrificed for Christ, without reason or apparent sense.  This renunciation will constantly subject the one called to harsh tests in order to keep him faithful without conditions or immediate reward.  Thus vocational fidelity must be based on love, on freedom and on self-giving.  Without love or freedom no one can hope to reach the apex of vocational fidelity. Love is giving, giving oneself totally, without limitations of time, space or intensity. For this reason, the renunciations that come with fidelity will never be frustrating if they are done with love and out of personal freedom.

5.2. Orientations for Being Faithful to One’s Vocation

            In order to properly respond to one’s own vocation one has to make sure he has, above all, a lived awareness of it, by reflecting on the call and through prayer.  In addition he needs a sincere, ardent and efficacious desire that translates itself into a daily effort at spiritual renewal—doing everything with the right intention.  As specific means for being faithful the following orientations are given:

            1. Gratitude to God and Mary for our vocation.  We have to be always and continuously grateful to the Lord, the Giver of all that is good, and to Mary, our Mother and Formatrix.  We must be grateful to them for the gift of life with those gifts which adorn and enrich our personality.  We must be grateful to them for the gift of faith with the gifts of grace and the charisms that make us children of God.  And we must thank them for the gift of our vocation, for having called us to be disciples of Jesus and for having given us the same missionary and apostolic spirit given to St. Anthony Mary Claret, our Founder.

            This attitude of gratitude is a guarantee of perseverance.  Gratitude attracts the benevolence of God who sends us at every moment the help we need to remain faithful to our vocation.  One who is grateful will receive the gift of perseverance[33]

            2. Updating the awareness of the vocational call.  A vocation is a faith experience in which the person feels himself called and personally challenged by Jesus to follow Him according to a charism. Without awareness of the personal call of the Lord it is impossible to begin that journey and remain firmly committed to it until death. Thus it is necessary to continually update it. For this, the following can be of help:

• Frequent reinterpretation of the vocational signs.  Vocational awareness is awakened by faith through vocational signs[34]. Those moments of deeply-moving vocational experience must not be forgotten.  They help to reinterpret one’s own life from a vocational perspective.  One must recall them, renew them and update them throughout one’s entire life, particularly at times when one is having vocational difficulties[35].

• Vocational prayer. In updating vocational awareness, prayer, which for the one called must always be vocational prayer, takes on the greatest importance. Vocational prayer is awareness of the ongoing call of the Lord, that keeps on inviting the person to more deeply probe the Gospel demands in his life.  When contact with the Lord who calls is disrupted, one loses his perception of the call. And if the perception of the call disappears, the vocational commitment has no meaning and is given up.

• The assiduous and vocational reading of the Word of God.  This has the objective of creating the ability to constantly ask God, ask Christ, about the plans He has for one’s own life.  And it must be carried out in a believing way. In the Sacred Scriptures, reflected on with loving faith, the person always finds satisfactory answers to the numerous questions that his vocation raises[36]. Listening to and meditating on the Word of God nourishes an attitude of vocational and obedient faith in God’s will. It is an attitude of constant and generous vocational fidelity. In this way a merely moral or rational sense of the following of one’s vocation disappears.  Vocation is not a question of evidence nor of duty, but a sign of love accepted in faith and freedom.

            3. Developing the one’s gifts and personal qualities.  For the person called all the gifts and qualities received into his personality are vocational gifts.  God gives them to the person as an integral part of the vocational gift.

            God gives one the qualities in order for the person to place them at the service of one’s vocation and of the apostolic mission.  All development of one’s personal qualities are a sign of vocational fidelity.  Every effort to perfect them is effort to be more faithful to God who calls and to his will.  During the period of formation, the one being formed has to cultivate to the greatest extent possible all the gifts one possesses in the physical, psychological, cultural and spiritual realms in order to place them at the service of one’s vocation and of one’s mission,  Keeping some vocational talents hidden or underdeveloped indicates a lack of fidelity to God and, surely, a frustration of one’s vocation.

            4. Fidelity to the dynamisms that animate one’s vocation.  In order to guarantee fidelity to one’s vocation it is necessary to promote and remain faithful to the dynamisms that nurture and animate our missionary life such as daily personal and community prayer, the reading of the Word of God, daily Eucharist, frequent confession, spiritual reading, study, personal accompaniment or spiritual direction, etc.  Abandoning them often marks the beginning of the crumbling of one’s own vocation.  They are not extraordinary means.  On the contrary, they are specific, ordinary means that the Congregation places at our disposal in order to live as authentic Claretians in ongoing fidelity.

            5. The prophecy of ordinary life. The General Chapter of 1997 recognizes the prophecy of ordinary life in the Congregation; a kind of prophecy that is frequent among us[37]. Often we let ourselves be carried away by the spectacle and the social and ecclesial repercussions of the prophets and it makes us forget that they carried out extraordinary prophecy within the context of an ongoing and heroic fidelity in the ordinary lives. The GPF itself highlights that formation is a process through which we keep on integrating, consciously and harmonically, the Gospel ideal, as it was lived by the Fr. Founder, into the reality of our everyday life and mission [38].

            The prophecy of ordinary life is to do what is ordinary extraordinarily well.  It is an authentic prophecy of fidelity through its extraordianry consistency, radicalness and the authenticity of the person.  It is also prophecy because it makes possible total and definitive fidelity, the great prophecy of extraordinary moments, as happened with our Blessed Martyrs of Barbastro.

            This prophecy of ordinary life is manifested in comprehensive core values of our missionary life:

• In constant fidelity to the life of prayer, as an expression of friendship with God.  Prayer carried out with a determined determination, as St. Teresa would say, or as an essential and indispensable element of the missionary, in accord with what the Fr. Founder advised the Congregation throughout his whole life, and forcefully repeated a few days before he died in speaking with Fr. Xifré[39].

• In the ongoing search that the person, moved by the prophetic spirit and with an attitude of discernment, makes for God’s will in order to identify himself with it, with his ways of thinking, his interests, and his way of viewing reality; and in order to faithfully fulfill God’s plans to the utmost without weakening or giving up in the face of difficulties.

• In relationships with others in which Gospel attitudes should be evident such as these: faith in the other (in his person, his qualities and his potential), tenderness and compassion for the brother (the fruit of fraternal love), generous and disinterested service (with a sense of self-offering) and living, expansive and communicative joy (as a sign of the integral harmony of his own personality).

            6. The ability to preserve one’s vocation

            It is possible to be unfaithful to one’s vocation. The response to one’s vocation is not left to human decisions that are, although made by a free person, subject to various waverings.  Thus it must be defended from conflict and opposing options, that can diminish it little by little until it is totally quenched.

            It is necessary to understand that the conflicts that one’s vocation poses in everyday life must not weaken it or place it in jeopardy.  On the contrary, they must reinforce it, making it stronger and giving it a greater consistency out of faith and out of love for the Lord[40].

            But, on the other hand, those ambivalent experiences must be avoided that in some way eat away at the vocation until they weaken or destroy it. Thus, one’s vocation, in order to endure, must be sustained by a life that is regulated externally and internally, choosing the life which is most suited to it.  Interior control unifies and orients one’s tendencies in the direction of one’s vocation.

            7. The personal project and spiritual accompaniment.  The development and faithful fulfillment of the personal project, or project for growth, is another very effective means for promoting vocational fidelity because it helps one to give a personal response to the call to the sanctity included in the vocation[41] and to maintain vocational fidelity.

            In order to truly achieve its objective, the personal project must begin with a faith experience and embrace the main dimensions of the person and of his vocation (the physical, psychological, intellectual, communitarian, spiritual and apostolic-ministerial dimensions). It is appropriate to develop it realistically, specifically, simply and flexibly, in such a way that it can be adapted periodically to new conditions that arise.  In it one has to take into account various elements, such as: physical exercise and sports, diet, rest, harmonic arrangement of the day, one’s type and frequency of reading and study, the schedule for personal accompaniment, and the means and dynamisms of the spiritual and apostolic life[42].

            The personal project should be discussed with a spiritual companion[43]. Accompaniment is a most efficacious dynamism for seeking God’s will, for growing in holiness of life and preserving vocational fidelity. When this means is abandoned for whatever reason, the person not only becomes disoriented, but also excludes an objective confrontation that can serve him as an incentive and stimulus for fidelity.

[1] Cf. GPF 348.

[2] Cf. CVD, chapters VI and VIII.

[3] Cf. PDV 36; CVD 7.

[4] Cf. CVD 8.

[5] The characteristics of the charism of the Congregation are explained further on in chapter 6 of this Manual.

[6] Cf. Aut 489.

[7] Cf. Dir 26.

[8] Cf. CC 5, 159.

[9]  Cf. CC 9.

[10] Cf. CVD, ch. IV, 1.8.

[11] Cf. CC 59.

[12] Cf. CVD 233.

[13] Cf. PO 11.

[14] Cf. PAUL VI, Aloc. 5-5-1965.

[15] Cf. DPVIP 13.

[16] Cf. SD 1992, n. 82.

[17] Cf. 1F 98.

[18] Cf. CVD Appendix 4.

[19]  Beside requirements, there are counterindications as negative criteria in discernment: they are those personal circumstances that allow the lack of suitability of the candidate to be ascertained (Cf. CVD, nn. 240-241; Appendices 4,  9, 10).

[20] Cf. CVD 240; GPF 304-305.

[21] Cf. CVD 242-286.

[22] Cf. CVD, Appendix 7.

[23] Cf. CVD, Appendix 6.

[24] Cf. RI 15.

[25] Cf. OT 3; VC 105; N. GARCÍA,  Vocation…, ColCC, p. 330.

[26] Cf. PI 8; GPF 52.

[27] Cf. CVD 9.

[28] Cf. CVD 10.

[29] PI 8; cf. GPF 52.

[30] This section is in large part a summary of ch. 8 of the CVD.

[31] GPF 53; cf. also RD 3.

[32] Ibid.

[33] There is a short traditional prayer in the Congregation to Mary, our Mother, giving thanks for our vocation, which says:

I give you thanks, O Mother, for the vocation I have received.

Give me the grace to be faithful to it all my life.

Spiritual Directory (Rome 2001), Dept. tech. of Ed. Regina, Imp. BIGSA, San Adrià del Besós (Barcelona), p. 39.

[34] Cf. PO 11.

[35] Cf. CC 62.

[36] Cf. CPR 54; SP 13, 14, 14.1.

[37] Cf. IPM 24. It is a tribute to so many of our brothers that they are radically living their Claretian vocation and are working with absolute self-giving and dedication to the apostolic mission in silence, in anonymity, with love, humility and simplicity.

[38] Cf. GPF 30.

[39]  Fr. Xifré wrote to Fr. Vallier, superior in Chile, the following letter in which he makes reference to the Fr. Founder: “Thus, you should never undertake works that are beyond your ability, nor work more hours than your strength can sustain, whatever the need.  In addition, never omit the Divine Office or the meditation that is prescribed, no matter what the custom, the authorization or the need is.  Those two things are the food fo the soul, which never should or can be left out in our Congregation.  When the Founder went to the Canary Islands, and later to Cuba, he found as much, if not more, spiritual need than you do there and, nevertheless, he never omitted the two things referred to.  He told me so a few days ago, and bade me write it to you.”(Prades, 5 October 1870: AGCMF BA 2, 10, 1).

[40] Regarding the positive value of conflicts, cf. ch. 15 of this Manual under the heading The Unity of Missionary Life.

[41] Cf. CPR 55.

[42] Cf. CVD, Appendix 11.

[43] Cf. CC 54; Dir 140; CPR 56; SW 13.3; IPM 21.2; PI 63, 71.