Chapter 2: The Word of God in Claret and in the Congregation


The Word of God in Claret and in the Congregation

1.   The Word of God in Claret[1]

 20. For Claret, Scripture was one of the hinges of his spirituality. In it, he found incentives that led him to discover and develop his vocation, by following the models of Jesus, the apostles and the prophets.

             1.1. Characteristics of his personal experience

 21. Strong motivation.[2] Claret was always greatly drawn to the Bible and read it daily. Familiar with it since his childhood, he intensified his love for Scripture in the Seminary of Vic, so much so that the Bible came to hold a place of preference throughout his life.

22. Under the action of the Spirit who anointed him to evangelize the poor.[3] The Spirit of the Lord led him to understand Sacred Scripture. The key to his relationship with the Word of God was always the fact of his being anointed by the Spirit to announce the Good News to the poor and to sinners.

23. After the example of Mary, his Mother and Formatrix.[4] The Spirit of the Lord who inspired Claret in his reading of the Word of God was not only the Spirit of the Father, but also of the Mother. This “maternal spirit” was always present in his life and mission.

24. In a vocational key.[5] Claret had a very clear awareness of the biblical inspiration of his vocation. His lifestyle, spirit and missionary activity, seen in the light of biblical prophecy, appear as traits of a clearly prophetic vocation. The Word of God conformed Claret’s personality to the style of Jesus and the apostles, in order to act as an Apostolic Missionary.

25. In order to announce the Word of God.[6] Claret’s assimilation of the Word of God was aimed at fulfilling Jesus’ command to announce the Good News to all peoples of the world. His spreading of Bibles, his recommendation to daily Scripture reading and his preaching of God’s Word, all express Claret’s effort to realize this announcement.

             1.2. Pedagogical orientations of Claret

 26. Through his life-witness, his way of acting and his recommendations, Claret offers us some concrete and precise pedagogical orientations for assimilating the Word of God fruitfully. He himself sometimes uses the word “method” or hints at it in referring to the way to read the Bible.[7]

       1.2.1. Appreciation of the Bible and motivation for reading it [8]

 27. The Bible should be the “most appreciated” book, which has the highest priority of all, even higher than that of the most devout and pious books. This being so, in order to read and meditate on the Word of God “assiduously and attentively,” “with the greatest fidelity and care” and “without tiring,” one must have the proper motivation and affection. The lack of motivation in his own milieu led Claret to denounce it and drove him to take action to help others overcome it.

       1.2.2. Attitudes and dispositions[9]

 28. We must read with devotion.[10] This is the disposition that Claret often recommends, a disposition that implies that we should read with various other attitudes and dispositions:

a)   With simple faith.

b)   In keeping with Church tradition.

c)   With humility and inner poverty, like Mary and the poor in spirit.

d)   With recollection and interior silence.

e)   Above all, with love of God.

 29. We must read with a will to profit from our reading,[11] which entails the following dimensions:

a)   Identification with Christ.

b)   Fulfilling Jesus’ mandate to preach the Good News to all peoples throughout the world.

c)   Acquiring a suitable formation.

       1.2.3. Pedagogical means for profiting

 30. Although Claret did not offer a systematized methodology for assimilating the Word of God, he gave some precise orientations and practical rules.[12]

a)   Each should have his own Bible.

b)   Reading, study, meditation.

c)   For each day, for each year.

d)   Memorizing.

e)   Periodic review.

 2.   Keys that Claret transmitted to the Congregation

 31. Although the figure of Claret always has reference to the Congregation as its Founder, Father and Model, on some occasions this reference is explicitly spelled out. Regarding the Word of God, there are some keys for its reading which Claret explicitly transmitted to the Congregation and which challenge us directly.

32. Under the action of the same Spirit that aroused his vocation. In founding the Congregation Claret chose those to whom God had given the same Spirit that animated him.[13] This gives the full meaning of his words: “So true is this that each one of us will be able to say, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; therefore he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted’ (Lk 4:18).”[14] The way the Spirit acted in Claret, He also acted in the Co-founders and is still acting in the Congregation today. It is under this same distinctive and charismatic action that we Claretians must read the Word of God.

33. His example: the Autobiography. Another key that Claret transmitted to the Congregation was his own life. As Founder he is an example to be imitated not only from the outside, but from the inner thrust of our common charism. The experiential interpretation that Claret gave to this charism is an example, a call to imitation and an assurance of fidelity for the whole Congregation. Hence the vocational key of Claret’s reading of the Word of God is also a key for us, a key that must be taken into account. And the Autobiography must be a source of inspiration on how he realized this reading.

34. Congregational biblical texts. In Claret the vocational key for reading the Word of God has two aspects. The first is his awareness that the vocation he received had its origin and development above all in the Word of God. The second is a complex of concrete biblical texts that in fact gave rise to and developed his vocation. From this complex, some texts are strictly personal; others, however, have a community and Congregational thrust. Among the texts that our Fr. Founder applied explicitly and directly to the Congregation, we would underscore: Psalm 23 (Founding of the Congregation); Jn 20:21 (1850 Retreat in Vic); Rev 14:6, 8:13 and 10:1-3; and the texts that lay the groundwork of the Primitive Constitutions.

35. Claret’s recommendations to his Missionaries. The reading of the Word of God was always something he recommended to all: clergy, seminarians and laity. With still greater reason, he also recommended it to his own Missionaries. In the various Constitutions he asks them to read the Bible daily and that every week they should also have some lessons in Holy Scripture.[15]

36. To the Missionaries in initial formation. In the Regulation for the Students and their Prefect, he gives some pedagogical orientations on the place that the Word of God should occupy in the formation of the young Missionaries. The Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, moved in all things by the glory of God, must have as an objective of their formation to become fitting ministers of the Word.[16] Expressing his own experience,[17] with a view to attaining this objective of formation, he indicated, among other means, prayer and Bible reading, which should be done daily in keeping with the dispositions of their superiors.[18]

 3.   The Word of God in Congregational tradition

 37. Congregational tradition.[19] The experience, teachings and recommendations of Claret have passed on to our Congregation, which has inherited a rich legacy of biblical formation and spirituality.[20] The tradition of the Congregation has been lately been gathered and expressed especially in the renewed Constitutions, in the General Chapters of the postconciliar period and in the GPF. Our Constitutions show us the central place that the Word holds in our missionary life; they point out that the Bible should be our main book for spiritual reading.[21] The Chapters have developed the principal nuclei and discerned the methodological applications for this. Above all, the 1991 Chapter dealt with the missionary service of the word as an integrating dynamism of our being and acting. And the GPF lays it down that in order to become a “fitting minister of the Word,” every Claretian should become an habitual hearer of the Word, an impassioned student of it who allows himself to be probed by it, who receives it in a vocational light and shares it with his brethren and with the laity.[22]

38. Love for the Word of God: a family trait. The latest General Chapters have constantly connected Congregational tradition with the life, example, style and teachings of our Fr. Founder. From Claret, who carried out his “ministry in faith, prayer and love for the Word listened to and assimilated,”[23] have sprung the updated orientations which the Chapters have offered to the Congregation.[24] Among other things, they have stated that the love and devotion to the Word of God is so deeply rooted in the life of the Congregation, that it constitutes as it were a “family trait.”[25] Hence the Chapters have warmly exhorted all the members of the Congregation to conserve this trait of our Founder and to read the Word of God “in a charismatic key.”[26]

[1] For a broader grasp of this chapter, cf. Claretian Bibliography, Appendix n. 9. The biblical aspects stand out especially in the studies of M. Orge and A. Aparicio, the pedagogical aspects in that of J. M. Palacios.

[2] Cf. Aut 68, 113, 132 and 151; Resolutions 1851, SAW p. 166; Sp. Notes, SAW p.244; cf. also EA, p. 150, note 2.

[3] Cf. Aut 118 (cf. Is 61:1, Lk 4:18); Reglamento interior para los estudiantes del Escorial: EC II, pp. 1101-02; The priestly spirit, SSW, pp. 347, 351, 358, etc.; MCT 58.

[4] Cf. Aut 687; LMT, IV.10, SSW, 438-441.

[5] Cf. Aut 68-69, 113, 120, 224, 114-118, 685-687; “The priestly spirit” in SSW, 341-43; API, 84; EA, note 93,188; Appendix 3.

[6] Cf. Aut 297, 298-99, 470; MAM 5; PEE 154; La Santa Biblia, I-IV, anotada por el P. Felipe Scio, Barcelona 1852, Dedicatoria al Excmo. e Ilmo. D. Antonio María Claret y Clará pp, 5-6; BPP, 29-30; EvMt; Consejos que una madre dio a su hijo al tiempo de despedirse para ir a la guerra de Africa y los santos evangelios, Barcelona 1860, 32 pp.; Prologue of PBV; CI 1, 2, 16, 2, note 11; Manual de concordancia de la Sagrada Escritura, Barcelona 1864; Apostolic Missionary: Self Portrait, SAW 25-26; Clotet, J., Resumen de la vida admirable…, Barcelona 1882, pp. 268-69; Balmes’ opinion of Claret’s preaching, SAW 22-23; Appendix n. 3.

[7] Cf. PCle 32 ff.; API 58; MAM 21; PBV, Prólogo.

[8] Cf. RCS I, 7, n. 39 in Miscelánea…, 301; I, 2, n.15, id., 290ff; CAs 11: SSW 170 ff.; PCL 32 ff.; PBV Prólogo; CI I, 2, 16, 28; PEE 154.

[9] Cf. Claret, PBV, Prólogo.

[10] Cf. Claret, MAM 5; RCS I, 7, n. 39, in Miscelánea…, 301; I, 2, n. 15, id., 290; EPD 4; PIC 64, SSW 561-64; Antídoto contra el contagio protestante, t. III, Col. de opúsculos, 125-28; API 84; LMT IV, 10 in SSW 438 ff.; EvMt, note on Mt 5:3, p. 34; CI 1,2,4,1; Retreat Resolutions 10/29/1860, SAW 195; AvSa n. 25, SSW 295 ff.; PCL 32-39 ff.; CI 1,2, 4, 1; Discourse on Infallibility, SAW 109. He alludes to Jn 5:39-42 and to the Life of St. Teresa of Jesús (ch. 40, n. 10) SAW 110; cf. Notes on Vatican I, “Religious Life” SAW 75 ff.

[11] Cf. CI 11,5,1,1: SSW 345-48, 357-58, with Ex 25:40 and 1 Cor 11:1; EV 10: SSW 505; Solace of a Slandered Soul (Barcelona 1864): SSW 243-62; PSM in Miscelánea, 163-64; CAs 11: SSW 170 ff.; MAM 5; LMT IV, 10: SSW 438-41; RCS I,7, n. 39 in Miscelánea, 301; AvSa, n. 25: SSW 295-99; PCL 32-39 ff; PEE in Miscelánea, 144, 149-54, 163-65, 171.

[12] Aut 779; PSM in Miscelánea 163-171; RSC 1, 2 n. 15, id. 290 f.; PCle 32 ff. and Appendix of 1855, p. 52; PBV; PEE in Miscelánea 15; PBV, Prólogo; PEE, on Miscelánea, 150-154; Modificaciones de los Estatutos del Seminario de Santiago de Cuba, Madrid 1854, 9; CI I, 2, 16, 2, note 112, I, 2, 23; II, 5, 1: SSW 357 ff.; MAM 21; SAW 129-44.

[13] Cf. Aut 489.

[14] Aut 687.

[15] Cf. CMF Constitutions for the Missionaries of the Comgregation, Barcelona 1857, “Regulations for the Time of Mission” ch. XII, n. 117; CMF Constitutions for the Missionaries of the Congregation, Barcelona 1871, n. 51.

[16] Cf. Claret, RFCMF, n. 28b (text B).

[17] Cf. Aut 113, 120.

[18] RFCMF, text A, n. 168; text B, n. 27; cf. CC 1865, Pt. I, Ch. 25, De Scholasticis, n. 94.

[19] This aspect will be further developed in the chapters that follow.

[20] Cf. OPML I, 215.

[21] Cf. CC 37.

[22] Cf. GPF 201; SW 16.1, 14.1, 13.1.

[23] Cf. MCT 82-85.

[24] Cf. SH 6, 15, 135; 1F 52; MCT 52, 53; SW 14.1.

[25] SW 14.

[26] Cf. SH 15; CPR 54.