To Progress and Grow in Him

Dear Brothers:


The recently held XXV General Chapter declares among others the following:

“To progress and grow as disciples, called by the Master to be with Him, and to be sent as witnesses and messengers, until we are transformed as was our Father Founder throughout the course of his life (MS no. 75).”

As indicated, this number refers directly to formation. In the next six years the efforts of the Congregation in this area is geared towards this direction.


Joy, a Guiding Star of Formation Process

light of lifeMy novice master Fr. Franz Dirnberger used to ask us frequently, “ Are you happy?”, expecting the response of a “yes” from the young novices. For him an unhappy novice was a paradox and it was an indicator that an unhappy novice was not meant for this form of life, unless he worked out his difficulties and returned to the “natural joy” of consecrated life.

Absence of joy in everyday life or presence of pervading sadness in a Claretian speaks loudly about his vocational integrity. Consecrated life is a free response to the loving call of the Lord heard in the interior of a person. Often one may find it difficult to hear the call amidst so many of the sounds are furies trumpeting within him and he may find himself pulled and pushed by the many attractions they promise. Unless one learns to enter into the zone of interior silence, it is easy to get confused and get lost in the cacophony composed by the conflicting calls. Cultivation of inner silence and practice of meditation and Lectio Divina are important ways to recognize the voice of the Lord and recover the joy of life.


The Change that Changes Everything

the changeLooking at the formation programs which aim at promoting change and transformation, a formator may wonder what is that change which changes everything in a person. In other words, what is that change which, if it does not happen, there is no real change in a person even if one advances in age and accumulate academic degrees. Only very few formees are naturally tuned to benefit from the formation programs and grow towards higher levels of transcendence. It is after initial formation when life offers serious challenges that some religious go through the process of "breaking and building", the Pasqual mystery of dying to the old and rising to new life. Such a change often begins to happen in people at crucial moments of their lives. It can be through an encounter with a person, an escape from an accident, an illness, a failure, an experience of betrayal….


The Center of Formation in our Formation Centers

creationAs we are learning to make sense of the prophetic act of Pope Benedict XVI in his resignation and his onward journey as a fellow pilgrim in contemplation, prayer and study, I would like to take one of his constantly repeated affirmations as central axis for our formation process. The Pope repeatedly said, "being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction… since God has first loved us" (Deus Caritas Est 1).   He has reiterated it again in his Lenten message.


Students visit the Claretian places in Madrid

madrid visitThe streets of Madrid welcomed us, the Claretian students, as we began the celebration of  Claretian Week  with a visit to the places related to our Founder in Madrid on 28th February 2014. We, the Claretian students from Poland, Granada, Euskadi and Colmenar Viejo tried to imagine the apostolic life of father founder Claret in the heart of the city. We were accompanied by Severiano Blanco cmf, who took us to the places where Father Founder lived after his appointment as royal confessor of Isabella II. We also discovered the first trails where Claretians began their presence in Madrid.

At Puerta del Sol Fr. Severiano helped us to situate the historical time of Claret. From the Plaza de Pontejos where Claret got the services of a printing press, we went to the current Congress building. During our itinerary we were told many anecdotes of the missionary life of Claret. We visited the street Atocha, the charismatic place where Fr. Claret, Fr. Clotet and Fr. Xifré lived and worked with many other Claretians who strived to build the congregation in the early stages of growth. It was there that Claret wrote his Autobiography.

The Church of St. Sebastian, the Toledo Street, the Church of San Isidro or popular Mayor street were some of the other corners where we recalled the Claretian presence in the streets of Madrid. We concluded this part of the encounter visiting the Royal Palace, that “cage”, where Father Claret could intensely intimate his configuration with Christ, his zeal and his surrender to the will of God.

As we contemplated these bedrocks of our history, we were challenged to be creatively faithful to our heritage and let the spirit of our Founder inflame us. We are grateful for this Claretian pilgrimage and thank Fr. Severiano for spending his time and wisdom with us.

- Reported by Gabriel, Colmenar Viejo