Continuing the spirit of the Founder
As we Claretians celebrate the anniversary of the foundation of our congregation on the 16 July, let us call to mind the Life and Mission of our Founder who in his life never lost a moment’s time and hence always kept himself busy either studying, praying, preaching or conferring the Sacraments (Aut. 647). If our congregation has grown and spread in 65 countries in 5 continents, we can be sure that the words of our Founder “My spirit goes to the whole world” are truly becoming a reality.
If the Charism began with the life and mission of St. Claret has grown as a legacy, it is relevant even today and the Spirit of God is leading us to a future with a purpose. Therefore let us be open personally and collectively to the Spirit leading and guiding us. For this what we need is a deep interiority and determination to work accordingly. In our Founder we can find one who lived, moved and found his very being united with the Divine and who searched in truth and sincerity God’s plan for him and carried out that plan according to the spirit of Jesus (Lk 4: 16-22). As a prophet of his time he stood uncompromisingly for justice and equality, but was misunderstood and criticized and many spoke calumnies against him. Yet he stood with determination and courage trusting in the divine. As our Founder did in his days, we need to go against many secular tendencies of our time and radically commit ourselves for the mission of the Church to build up an eternal and universal kingdom of God, a kingdom of truth and life, holiness and grace, justice, love and peace where righteousness will be at home: Means, rather than taking our vocation as an easy job for comfortable living we need to commit ourselves to work for the glory of God and good of all humankind.
Father Claret as a mystic and man of action could blend together the contemplative and active dimension of Christian spirituality very well. Living a life of prayer and deep interiority he could accomplish a lot about which when asked by a friend he commented: “I am just a horn, someone else does the blowing” (Aut. 639).
As Indian Claretians, the life and works of Fr. Franz Xavier Dirnberger has to be an inspiration for us. Here let me share an experience in the novitiate. Almost at the end of our novitiate on an ordinary summer day afternoon, Fr. Dirnberger noticed a little cloud in the sky and expecting rain he asked us novices to do an urgent work. It was to clean the canals from different corners of our property leading to a pond, in order to collect the rain water. It was a difficult work because the canal was very narrow and full of thorny weeds. As I was doing the work and sweating Fr. Dirnberger came near and saw me rubbing off the sweat from my forehead and commented: “You are sweating, we need to sweat a liter a day”. Though his words sounded harsh then, immediately the thought came to my mind, ‘here is Fr. Dirnberger a man who works like a machine when he takes tools in hand’. Though Fr. Dirnberger did not have good knowledge of English and formative psychology, the two Latin words he used to repeat often (Ora et Labora) were very inspiring in my vocational journey.
Overcoming the temptation to find shelter in a comfort zone of laziness, prejudices and selfish search for pleasures, let us imitate Fr. Dirnberger in his spirit of joyful simplicity, prayer and hard work; those very qualities we find in our Founder in a greater degree.
Fr. Jose Kattath CMF
Youth: The Harvest is Plentiful…
As Claretians, July 16 is an important day for all of us. We are celebrating the foundation day of our congregation with great joy and pride. Our Founder, Claret has given us a great legacy to follow and his life continues to inspire us. He had a strong spiritual foundation based on the love for the Church, Holy Scripture, Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary. These pillars of his spirituality enabled him to go beyond and embrace the difficulties and challenges of his mission. The vocation to missionary life is first and foremost a response to God’s call and the Gospel challenge: “Go out to the whole world and preach the Good News to all creation”. This calls for an adventurous spirit, commitment, enthusiasm and innovation. Fr. Jesus Maria Palacios CMF, in his article, Claretian Vocation says, “A missionary is the finest and most splendid example of the ideal life. In spirit the missionary has contemplated Jesus Christ commissioning the apostles to conquer the world, not by weapons but by persuasion and love; and the missionary has been captivated by the encounter with Christ. For this ideal cause, the missionary gives up family, homeland and all that he treasures as his very own. Our missionary vocation is a call to serve, follow and imitate Christ in praying, working, enduring and striving constantly for the greater glory of God and salvation of humankind”. This offers us a wider platform for our missionary activities.
We need to read the signs of the times and focus our activities for the integral development of the recipients of our mission. In this context we cannot take it for granted or neglect the ministry among the youth. We shall not forget the call of the last General and Provincial Chapters to make youth ministry as one of the priorities of our missionary activity. Our last provincial chapter document says, “Considering the vast number of young people to whom we have access through our parishes, educational intuitions and other centres of mission, it is a matter of urgency that we develop youth ministry”.
The ministry of Jesus has never ceased to fascinate minds through the centuries. It is all the more exciting when we realize that Jesus had a predilection for the young. It is not an exaggeration to claim that most part of His healing ministry and his parables found their focus on the young. The sinners he embraced in the warmth of his divine forgiveness, most of those he called to be his close disciples and the beneficiaries of his spectacular compassionate healings can well be assumed to be young. The skill of the master in blending the sensitivity and tenderness of his humanity displays in His encounter with the young. Nothing human was ever alien to Him. Life was the setting for his actions and the manifestations of His being one with all human kind. He extended the bounty of His goodness to those who needed the most – the young. He healed them, unbound them, forgave them, comforted them and even confronted them. Thus he taught us how we too ought to get involved in our ministry to the young.
Youth ministry - the Claretian way, points the way to building up a dream parish, as Jesus and Claret would with its accent on ministry among the young. The focus on the young will undoubtedly help to reshape, reform and revitalize the parishes and other centres of our ministry. This is very important that it is the young who will hold the reins and the Church will take the direction determined by them. As Claretians we have numerous opportunities for the youth ministry in all our settings. A little more serious and systematic approach in this area will reap rich harvests and will create a sense of confidence in the communities in relationship with young people. We are sons of ploughman. He does not look back, nor does he measure his work by immediate results. The ploughman does not have vision of the sower nor the joy of the reaper. He has only hope, even though at the time of ploughing he sees only hard work and the sweat of his brow. But these are the virtues of anyone who wants to work with the young. We have no time to waste. We cannot stand on the road and contemplate the past, looking over our shoulder. Neither can we expect the results straight away. We need to hope, look to the future and know how to nurture the certainty in our hearts that what we are doing will bear much fruit, the fruit of holiness, the fruit of good Christians and upright citizens. Wish you all a great celebration of our foundation day and pray for God’s blessings through the intercession of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Fr. Tom Vellappattu
Prefect of Youth and Vocation Ministry
José XifréiMussach was born in a farmhouse called “Can Sibiu” on the outskirts of the city of Vic on 19February 1817. His parents were Josep and Teresa. He was the fourth of six siblings. After having studied at the diocesan seminary of Vic, on February 16, 1840 he received the Priestly ordination in Rome since the Spanish government had forbidden the bishops to confer Holy Orders. There he probably met a fellow countryman who was trying to offer himself as a Propaganda Fide missionary in the Near East countries; his name was Antonio Claret.In 1842, Fr.Xifré returned to Vic and was destined as Vicar to the town of Prats de Lluçanès; where he began to dedicate himself to preaching.
On 16July1849, he was a member of the small group of five young priests who, summoned and thrilled by Fr. Claret, founded the first Claretian community in Vic, Barcelona.
In 1850, Fr. Claret, having been appointed Archbishop of Santiago of Cuba, had to leave the group, putting it under the direction of one of the five fellow members, Fr. Esteban Sala. During those early years, Fr. Xifré assiduously dedicated himself to preaching around the villages and, above all, giving spiritual retreats.
On 18April1858, Fr. Esteban Sala died in Barcelona; and on 01May Fr. Xifré was elected to succeed him as Superior General; a position that he held until his death, on 03November1899.
Throughout his long governing term of almost 42 years, Fr. Xifré gave new impulse with energy, zeal and enthusiasm, to the missionary group, passing from one house and a dozen missionaries, to 61 houses, scattered around the world (Europe, America and Africa) and a total of 1782 members. He travelled tirelessly, summoned six General Chapters, had the group recognized as a religious Congregation by the Holy See and the civil government of Spain, preached and wrote books and circulars, with a hectic pace, despite his delicate health. In his book “Spirit of the Congregation”, he outlined in particular his missionary ideal that he fostered everywhere. He always put forward the figure of the Founder, Fr. Claret, as a model.
In one of his last letters to the Congregation he wrote: “My dearest Congregation: I have loved you as much as I could until the end, and I will not forget you in eternity. I have lived exclusively for you, without avoiding sacrifices or dangers …”
Let us live the “Little God”
The love of God that has taken human flesh and entered into the human spirit is an unparalleled event in the history of humanity that changed the human destiny once and for all. The song of the Angles on the Christmas night “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will” (Lk. 2:14) is not just a beautiful heavenly chorus but it is a promise and a challenge. It is a promise that the kingdom of God has been established among us with all its glory and beauty. It is a challenge that we toil and pray always to make God’s Kingdome accessible to us by becoming ourselves the ambassadors of “peace and goodwill”. I pray that His kingdom may come among us and I wish you all the joy and peace of a Merry and Happy Christmas!
Pope Benedict XVI says, “God’s sign is the Baby: we learn to live with him and to practice with him that humility of renunciation that belongs to the very essence of love” (Benedict XVI). God comes to our encounter, in the human form just as one among us. He appears in front of us with the humility of his swaddling-clothes: never before a “God-wrapped- in-swaddling clothes”! In the cold and the poverty of Bethlehem He begins to load his small shoulders with the weight of ordinary daily life. He continued to live the ‘human life’ in its most challenging and demanding ways. He had to toil hard for his daily bread that he taught us the best way is to pray to God the Father for our daily bread (Mt.6:11-12). Finally he has carried away our sins through his suffering and death and won for us the eternal life.
“Now I see why You had to do it” wrote Louis Cassels in A Christmas Parable. And indeed God had to do it, had to become one of us to make us understand because despite God’s best efforts throughout all the Old Testament we still didn’t get the message. Sometimes you have to, as we say, rub their noses in it to make them understand. Christmas is, in a sense, God rubbing our noses in it to make us understand. Christmas is God saying, “Maybe this will grab your attention.” The Letter to the Hebrews expresses it beautifully, “At various moments in the past and by many means, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our time, the final days, he has spoken to us in the person of his Son.” (Heb 1:1-2)
God has spoken to us, the Word has become flesh. Let us then allow God’s word to sink into our hearts. Let us live the & quot; Little-God” in our life and grow with Him just as He grew. May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give us a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring us to the full knowledge of Him.
Once again wish you all the beauty, blessings and joy of this sacred Season. Merry
Christmas and a Happy New Year 2017!
Fr. Jacob Arakkal John, CMF
CLARET: AN APOSTOLIC MISSIONARY
The feast of our Father Founder is here again. Claretians the world over celebrate this day with joy and enthusiasm. It is not just a commemoration of a date, oct.24th, not just an annual exercise. But an attempt to relive his values, an effort to capture his ethos and life example in our own times. We are living in a historic moment in the life of the congregation: just a year into the life of the new General Government, which does its best to shepherd, inspire and guide Claretian family. This is also the time when major organisms attempt to streamline their life and ministry on the recommendations of the Chapter.
Apostolic Missionary describes the most authentic and profound personality of Anthony Mary Claret. Apostolic missionary, in its original and legal sense mean a priest sent by the Apostolic See to raise up the church where it is not established. Claret obtained the title of apostolic missionary ad honorem in 1841, but for him it was not an honorific title but a definition of his being, a recognition of his charisma and commitment with the church. Again he chose evangelical witness according to the life style of Jesus and the twelve. I believe this celebration of the feast should help us introspect: Do I try to take up the lifestyle of Jesus and the twelve and desire earnestly to be seen in the life style of Jesus and the Apostles?
Claret as a missionary bishop was seen quite on the move. When cholera epidemic ravaged the diocese of Cuba he, along with his priests visited the stricken. In those days one of his priests, Pastor El Cobre gave the supreme display of Christian Compassion and courage with the words. “I know that if I go I will die because it will only worsen my condition: I would rather die than fail the sick man who is calling for me”. He went and on his return took to his bed and died. (Auto.537).Our Founder father Claret as a missionary bishop traversed such terrain and places which were least frequented by a bishop.” Well now, it had been 60 years since a bishop had visited this city, which meant that the sacrament of Confirmation had not been administered in all those years. (Auto 542) Thus this zealous missionary not just gave heed to the exhortation of St Paul (Col.3:12) “As Gods chosen people, clothe yourself with compassion and kindness”, he seemed urged on by these words.
Centered people look beyond the obvious. Persons who are focused set their minds on higher values. They look beyond the obvious, would not fall for the instant gratifications. One need to cultivate higher values: “From Me first to After you”. Father Claret was someone who had his ideals clear. Salvation of souls, sanctification of self and God’s glory was his life’s principle. He went along doing his ministry with these ideals unperturbed.
John Keats said, “I have been astonished that men could die martyrs for their religion. I have shuddered at it. I shudder no more. I could be martyred for my religion. “Love is my religion”, and I could die for that.
It’s time we rise above mere goals and objectives and ask what my life’s purpose is. At some point in life each will have to face this great question. What do I want to do with my life? Spiritually inclined persons call it “the higher purpose in life or life’s purpose. The earlier you answer it the better. Let’s halt on our roads and ask ourselves this question. Let’s turn to the Founder for inspiration.
Fr. George Mattathil
Prefect of Formation
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