Has God Gone Hiding?

One of my good friends called me other day and challenged me with a throbbing question: “Friend, where is our God in this ruthless and painful pandemic (Covid-19)? Has he gone hiding?” Shocked was I. I could not answer her convincingly but made me to think, think and think. I was reminded of Psalmist’s agonising dilemma, “My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me continually, “Where is your God?” (Ps 42:3). Many of you too may be asking the same question and still looking for convincing answers!  
We are all going through a very terrible and unprecedent time these days. I do not think any one of us would have had in our life time experiences like these. Never again, it may happen to us. Look at the entire world. The world has changed and it will never be the same again! Practically, the whole world is in silent or standby mode or with pause button on. Entire space is totally free of aircrafts. Railway lines remain completely idle. Roads are so empty making ways for the wild animals to play and dance. Most of us are inside the four walls of our homes doing unusually strange things. All of us are going through anxieties, worries, tensions, disappointments, depressions, frustrations, uncertainties, etc. The degree may vary but no one is exempted.    
As Christians, as consecrated persons, what are we supposed to do? Obviously, we have to strictly adhere to all the guidelines and standard operation procedures (SOP) laid down by the government, the civil authorities. Well, as consecrated persons what more should we do?  
Certainly, as consecrated persons our primary duty is to be with the Lord (cf. Mk 3:14). This is the time to pray, pray and pray.  It is a time to pray for all the victims of this virus and all those who are suffering as the side effect of this pandemic. Imagine the sufferings of the poor, homeless, migrants, daily coolies, those living in the slums, path vendors, shop owners, auto and taxi drivers and so on. The list of the most vulnerable people in this punishing pandemic will go on and on. Our prayer and solidarity can be our valuable contribution. But let us not limit with this. Perhaps, we can also do whatever material help is possible by us, including opening our halls and kitchens for them.  
It is also a time to listen, listen to the silent whisperings of God. Possibly our God is speaking to us through the happenings of these days. As the psalmist says, “The mighty one, God the Lord speaks” (cf. Ps 50:1). Our God is not dumb. He is not a silent God. He speaks to us through different ways. Of course, he speaks so powerfully through the events and experiences. In the book of Exodus, God spoke to Pharaoh of Egypt through plague. Prophet Amos mentions of God speaking to the people of Israel though nature, pestilence and plague (cf. 4:6-13). It is a time to tell God like Samuel, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening!” (cf. 1Sam 3:10). God is speaking and he wants us to listen to him attentively. Often this busy world of computers, internet and mobiles is so noisy that we do not listen to the gentle voice of God, the silence of the heart. What is the message that God wants to communicate to us individually, to our community, to our Church and to our country and to the world at large?  
As consecrated persons, we are all used to big institutions and magnificent buildings — Churches, universities, colleges, schools, social centres, retreat and renewal centres, training centres, hostels, hospitals, big formation houses, etc. We are used to institution-centred life, work-centred life and “Martha-like” life. These days most of our Institutions are closed. Our regular activities including celebrating the Holy Mass every morning is stopped. For most of the consecrated persons, with the pausing of the institutions, their life has lost its meaning and purpose. Life has become so boring with no thrill and frill. Perhaps God is inviting us for God-centred life than institution-centred life, activity-centred life and ministry-centred life. As God reveals through prophet Hosea, “I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offering” (6:6).   
Prophet Haggai warned the people of Israel that all the misfortunes happened because the temple was in ruin. He exhorted them to consider how they had fared and encouraged them to rebuild the temple (cf. 1:3-11). Prophet meant rebuilding Jerusalem temple after the Babylonian destruction. But what does “rebuilding the temple” mean to us today? Paul beautifully puts it, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1Cor 3:16). It is a time to rebuild our temple. Everything will be beautiful and wonderful once our temples i.e. our bodies, our lives are rebuilt. It is a time to consider how we fared so far and take necessary corrective measures in rebuilding our “temples”.   
Though Churches are closed, masses are no more celebrated in public, we can still be very close to God. Genuine spirituality is not mere rituals. It is beyond that. Genuine spirituality is beyond religiosities, rules, routines and exterior observances. Perhaps, God is asking us today to move on from exteriority to interiority, from religiosity to spirituality, from duplicity to genuineness. This is what it means when Jesus teaches the confused Samaritan woman saying, “the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is sprit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn 4:2324).1  
Nothing happens without the knowledge of God. If God has allowed this devastation to happen, there must be some message that God wants to communicate. And it is our responsibility to listen, discern and find out that message. But who are we to question God? God’s ways are mysterious. Our small human mind cannot comprehend many of God’s ways. It does not mean that God has abandoned us. He is with is. He is with us all the more. We need to be strong and courageous. We should not be frightened or dismayed for the Lord our God is with us where ever we go (cf. Jos 1:9). All we need to do is surrender to Him and to His will. Like Job, we too should surrender and acknowledge, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore, I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know [Italicised by me for emphasis]” (Job 42:2-3).    

Fr. M. Arul Jesu Robin, CMF 

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The Lock-down and the Religious Praxis

One of the side-effects of the world wide lock-down in the context of COVID-19 is the blanket ban on gatherings, be it religious, social or commercial. With this restriction imposed in most parts of the world, religious ceremonies involving people have been suspended indefinitely. Therefore in the religious sphere, we do not foresee any imminent return to the situation before the lock-down. That means, concretely in the Catholic church, what we used to do before the lock-down – large gatherings for mass and other sacraments, processions, feasts, pilgrimages, conventions and so on – will have to wait, as of now. In this context, religious people raise a pertinent question: how do we practice our faith during this lock-down, when we are not allowed to participate in religious ceremonies The response to this question will depend on how one understands ‘religious praxis’. Since this discussion is about a situation wherein public religious ceremonies are suspended, let us consider two different perspectives to evaluate the role of religious ceremonies in one’s religious praxis: first, a mindset where religious ceremonies in churches or other religious places form the essence of one’s religious praxis; and second, a different mindset where these ceremonies are only a part of one’s religious praxis.                                  

a. Cannot Practise Faith without Church Ceremonies: Probably many church-going Christians belong to the first group, who simply cannot think of practising their faith without attending church ceremonies. Different expressions of this mindset, both by clergy and laity, were reported during the lock-down. Some even dared government restrictions and went ahead with church gatherings, as if they were indispensable or they could cure the virus. Many were frustrated and are eagerly waiting for the restrictions to be lifted, so that the ceremonies could resume and they could regain peace. Some substituted church attendance with viewing these ceremonies in TV, internet, etc. (for many, these were ‘invalid’ means before the corona came!). Some cried out that the virus is not bigger than the Lord: sure, but is the Lord identical with or restricted to church gatherings? Sadly, many have been habituated to thinking so. An analogy would help us overcome this limitation. Most Jews in Jesus’ time could not think of practising their faith without the sacrifices and ceremonies in the Jerusalem temple; that is why when Jesus disrupted it on a single occasion (cleansing of the temple: Mk 11:15-18), he had to pay a huge price for it – he was arrested and crucified in just four-five days’ time. But ironically a few years later, after the Roman army destroyed the temple in 70CE and never allowed it to be rebuilt, the Jews did not abandon their faith but continued with alternative practices such as those in homes or in the synagogues. Today, most Jews seem to be comfortable practising the same faith even without a temple in Jerusalem. Therefore, religious ceremonies and rituals do not have a permanent nature; they change and evolve according to time, place and situations. So much so, COVID-19 will certainly have a lasting effect on many religious rituals; for example, at least as long as corona is around, many would be reluctant to receive possibly ‘virus-laden’ communion from a priest who coughs and sneezes during the mass.                                    

b. Faith is Practised outside the Church Ceremonies also: For the second group of Christians, rituals and ceremonies in the Church are only one part of their religious praxis; the major part of their religious praxis happens outside these ceremonies, in real life situations. The gatherings in the Church may provide the inspiration, impetus and the basis for their faith and praxis, but certainly the practice of their faith is not restricted to the church. So, there is no denying the important role of the ceremonies, but the practice of Christian faith goes well beyond them. This perspective also found several expressions during the lock-down. Following the Christian tradition of service especially during disasters, several relief works were taken up by many Christian individuals and organizations during this pandemic too. Thus, many Christians got an opportunity to truly touch the core of Christian faith – love for one another – through their concern for the suffering fellow beings. Food, shelter, health care, compassion, forgiveness... in numerous instances, all these found their right place during the pandemic. And those who cared thus to practise love in their lives (even without attending the church) were not frustrated at all. They lost neither their faith, nor their peace; probably they gained more peace during the pandemic by serving others. Why so? Because Christian faith is to be lived in real lives, more than performed as rituals. This is clear from the New Testament’s insistence on good deeds: they may see your good works (Mt 5:16); good fruits (Mt 7:17); house built on rock (Mt 7:24); faithful slave (Mt 24:45); talents (Mt 25:21); oil in the lamp (Mt 25:4); giving food, drink, etc. (Mt 25:35-36); sharing of wealth (Mk 10:21); Good Samaritan (Lk 10:37); new commandment (Jn 13:34); faith and deeds (Jas 2:18-20); loving service (Gal 5:13), etc.  And on the other hand, we notice in the New Testament an almost complete disregard for religious rituals: Jesus and his disciples are not reported to have performed any Jewish ritual except a Passover meal; in fact, Matthew has twice quoted the Hosean dictum, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13; 12:7). In other words, Christian faith is to be practised by living the Gospel values of love, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, service, justice, equality, truthfulness, etc. And gladly, there is no ban on the practice of these values even during the pandemic!                                                 

The frustration we notice after the suspension of public religious ceremonies during the pandemic is mostly among some ‘stage performers’ and their audience: they naturally get frustrated when there are no more stages. On the other hand, ‘real performers’ are not worried about the closure of stages, because they are not acting out faith, but living it. So then, what will happen if the ban on large religious gatherings continues further? It is my pleasant speculation that many Christians will emerge as better Christians by finding real ways of practising Christian values. In the absence of a ban, many would have continued limiting their religious praxis to church rituals and ceremonies. Now, since that substitution is not available, one has to look for real ways of practising faith. And once the church gatherings resume, they will hopefully cherish them more.

By – Fr. Martin George CMF

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General Theme for the Jubilee Year 
“Alive to the Spirit of Fr. Claret: Remember, Rejoice, and Rejuvenate” 
General Objective for the Monthly Recollections 
“Remembering the blessings of the Lord for the fifty Years, being grateful for the growth achieved through pioneers and contribution of all the members, we rejoice in the Claretian vocation and move forward with strength and renewed vigour to face the emerging frontiers after the example of Claret.” 

Specific Theme for the month of June 2020 
Missionaries for the Integrity of Creation 
Introduction: The moment human beings are placed in this beautiful, rich and life-generating mother-earth, God the Father has systematically given them instructions on how to live peacefully with everything that are in it (Gen 3:15-17). God made it very clear that unpleasant outcomes would follow any disrespect and inimical behaviour towards the earth. This divinely inspired wisdom is in every human person. But the delight and attraction of the forbidden fruit keep on overshadowing and paralysing this precious knowledge that the Heavenly Father has endowed in each one of us.   
We are living in a time where the majority seem unwilling to acknowledge the inevitablyinterconnectedness of everything that is around them. We are witnessing uncontrolled destructions and harms done each other and to mother-earth, which have caused gradual disintegration in the natural bond existed within God’s creation.  
Gen 3:15-17 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” 
Works of Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Vol. III  
The same God who gave all bodies in the universe the law of gravity whereby they are preserved and without which they would be destroyed, has likewise given in all men in the world His holy law, which He wrote by nature in every man, …This simple and great law, Jesus Christ came not to abolish but to perfect by His example, by His counsels, and by the grace He gives us in order that we might fulfil it perfectly. All other laws, unless they are based on this law, do not deserve to be called laws, but rather are nothing more than tyrannical and despotic edicts which subvert the order established by the Author of nature (p. 172).  
1. In one of our retreats, the preacher started with an anecdote about a father and his young son. The father cut the printed world map into small pieces and told his son to rearrange it. The son tried, but couldn’t. Then his father showed the picture of a man on the other side of the map, and so the son could rearrange the pieces accordingly with ease. The preacher concluded by telling, ‘Set the man inside you right, and everything will be alright’. Pope Francis writes, “Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change. We lack an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone…” (Laudato Si. 202). Personal integrity is a must to be effective as missionaries for the integrity of creation.  
2. The temptation to dominate and accumulate is in fact present in every human person. In most cases we are unaware, and so unnecessarily over-exhibit our superiority and authoritarian complex in dealing with each other – this is incompatible with our missionary spirit. Perhaps, it was on this pretext that God reminded his people, “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien…” (Lev 19:9-10). Pope Francis also writes, “When people become self-centred and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume” (Laudato Si. 204). The world around us needs more understanding, love and care so that it can offer us what we really need for generations to come.  
3. We need to be more integrated so that we can bring in substantial changes in places we are present. Father Claret showed his integrity at his young age while helping his father in the factory. His attitude towards their workers and his style of communicating with them was inspiring. His closeness to the nature can be seen from his knowledge of herbal medicine while in Viladrau, his interest to plant trees and fruit trees (Aut. 567) and his ability to even learn some virtues from animals (Aut. 664 – 673). Father Claret also writes, “Jesus Christ and His teaching are the only means to cure the ills that society is suffering from, because only Jesus Christ and His teaching can remedy and cure the intellectual aberrations, moral infirmities and social ruin of our era” (Works of Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Vol. III, p.172).  
4. We have been merciless and cruel in our dealing with mother earth. The pandemic and many other natural calamities that the world is experiencing at the moment, are unimaginably painful. But, at the same time we are reminded that even if we have forgotten to care for the earth, the earth will find time to care for itself. Following the encyclical Laudato Si, The Declaration of the XXV General Chapter states, “Within the Church, we are already very conscious of what is happening to our ‘mother earth’: loss of biodiversity, deterioration of the quality of life, social degradation and global inequality” (p.14). 
5. As we are ready to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, let us pray together with Father Claret, “My Jesus, there is one thing I ask that I know you will grant me. Yes, my Jesus, I ask you for love, for great flames of that fire you brought down from heaven to earth. Come, divine fire; come sacred fire enkindle, burn, melt and pour me into the mold of God’s will” (Aut. 446).  
For personal reflection: 
What are the initiatives we take for growth in our personal integrity? 
What are the opportunities available around us to bring awareness in our mission about the need to care for mother earth?  
How can we network with the governmental agencies in order to have more outreach facilities in this particular mission? 
As local communities and as a Congregation, what are the measures we need to take in order to help one another be involved in whatever ways possible for the care of mother earth? 
Fr. Phrimsing Rapsang cmf 
Dear Friends,  
This is the last meditation for the Jubilee year recollections. We have started this journey in the month of July 2019 and have completed 12 months with this meditation. I believe that all of you have benefited from the reflections we sent as meditation for the Jubilee year recollections. We are supposed to complete the Jubilee year celebrations with a grand concluding ceremony in June but because of the coronavirus pandemic we may not be able to do it as we planned, but nothing can prevent us celebrating the Jubilee in a personal or community level. I believe that each major organism may have their own plan. Best wishes and prayers.  
I take this opportunity also to thank the team members, Fr. Xavier Pereira cmf, Fr. Bipin Vadakkekunnel cmf, and Fr. Phrimsing Rapsang cmf, who whole heartedly cooperated and prepared the reflections in time for the benefit of the Claretians in India. I am sure, dear Fathers, you have spent quality time to prepare the modules and your meditations were precise, thought provoking and helpful. Thank you very much. 
I also thank all the Provincial Superiors and Provincial Secretaries to whom I send the meditations. Your prompt response and comments really encouraged us to prepare and send the meditations in time. Thank you one and all. 
May I request you all to pray in a special way during this recollection for the Independent Delegation of Kolkata which has suffered many damages due to the cyclone that affected West Bengal recently. Let us offer this recollection for their intentions. 
Yours in the Lord, 
Fr. Alex cmf.  

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General Theme of the Meditations for the Jubilee Year

“Alive to the Spirit of Father Claret: Remember, Rejoice, and Rejuvenate”

General Objective for the Monthly Recollections

“Remembering the blessings of the Lord for the fifty Years, being grateful for the growth achieved through pioneers and contribution of all the members, we rejoice in the Claretian vocation and move forward with strength and renewed vigour to face the emerging frontiers after the example of Claret.”

1. Introduction

Particular Theme for the month of May 2020

Consecrated through Blessed Virgin Mary

As sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we Claretians have a special filial bond with our Mother. We attribute the founding of our Congregation to the intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary and we commit ourselves to her that we may be conformed to the mystery of Christ and may cooperate with her in her maternal role in our apostolic mission (CC 8). In our formula of profession we say, “I offer myself in special service to the ImmaculateHeart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in order to fulfil the aim for which this Congregation has been established in the Church”.

For our jubilee meditation, this month we especially focus on the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary – one who inspired our founding and guides our proceeding.

2. Readings

? John 19:26-27: “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, 'Woman, here is your son.' Then he said to the disciple, 'Here is your mother.' And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.”

? MS 73: In the forge of her Heart, Mary as the collaborator of the Spirit teaches us to proclaim the “greatness of God” and to “rejoice in God our savior” (cf. Lk 1:46). As first


disciple, she teaches us how to listen to the Word (cf. Lk 1:38), to keep it in our heart (cf. Lk 2: 19) and to take care of the needs of others (cf. Jn 2:3). As mother at the foot of the Cross, she conforms us with Jesus (cf. Jn 19:26), prays with us for the coming of the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14) and the arrival of the final victory against Evil who wants to destroy the creation of God (cf. Rev 12). Therefore, a son of the Heart of Mary ?s “only concern is how he may follow Christ and imitate him in praying, working, enduring and striving constantly and solely for the greater glory of God and the salvation of humankind” (CC 9).

? GPF 13: “...Our mission and hence the whole formative itinerary that prepares us for it must always spring from real conformity with Christ the Evangelizer...In this process, Mary, the Mother of Jesus and of the Church, the Formatrix of Apostles, plays an essential role. Hence we commit ourselves to her that we may be conformed to the mystery of Christ and may cooperate with her in her maternal role in our apostolic mission. Only thus will we be able to become truly missionary men who are on fire with charity and spread its flames wherever we go.”

3. Points for Reflection

  • ?  Mary’s simple “Yes”/ “Fiat” made her what she is in the history of salvation. It is her willingness to fully submit to the will of God so that He could restore the humanity into communion with Himself. This made her the perfect disciple and model of discipleship.

  • ?  As Mary became “Theotokos” / “God-bearer”, bringing Christ to the humanity, we are called to cooperate with her in her maternal role in our apostolic mission (CC8) – becoming God-bearers ourselves.

  • ?  St. Anthony Mary Claret, our Founder, at very early age was attracted by this maternal role of our Mother and allowed her to be his all after Jesus (Aut 5). The joy of being in Mother’s presence was so fulfilling and rewarding that he was never tired of it (Aut 48-50) – a true sign of disciple who learns. He experiences her maternal protection in times of dangers (Aut 71-72). Through the formative years, Claret goes through the experience of Forge, allowing himself to be formed in the forge of her mercy and love as an apostolic missionary (Aut 270), desiring nothing but love of God and neighbour (Aut 447).

    ?Being convinced of his personal experience, Father Claret wanted to found Congregation of Missionaries who would be and would be called Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Aut 488). Our missionaries were convinced of this filial bond – she continues to be our Patroness. In India definitely we have grown as Claretians. We still need to bear more witness to the personal and collective experience of being Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

? We are in the month of May, dedicated to Mother Mary. The effect of COVID-19 is widespread and the whole world is looking for a solution. In the history of the Church there are numerous occasions when people, countries and towns have been specially consecrated to Blessed Virgin Mary to seek her protection. Let’s revive our filial


devotion and charismatic traits that our Mother intercede for the whole world to be

saved from this pandemic.
? Pope Francis reminds us, “St. Anthony Mary Claret, as a founder, gave you a beautiful

name: “Sons of the Heart of Mary.” Allow all of the dimensions of your lives to be profoundly marked by this “cordiality” which inspired Mary’s beautiful hymn of the Magnificat; and express the motherliness of the Church, Merciful Mother, who never tires of waiting, accompanying and forgiving.”

4. For Personal Meditation:

  • ?  What are my personal experiences of Marian devotion?

  • ?  As a Claretian have I understood my Cordimarian identity?

  • ?  How does my daily living bear witness to being Son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,

in personal and community life?


Fr. Xavier Pereira CMF

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General Theme for the Jubilee Year
“Alive to the Spirit of Fr. Claret: Remember, Rejoice, and Rejuvenate”
General Objective for the Monthly Recollections

“Remembering the blessings of the Lord for the fifty Years, being grateful for the growth achieved through pioneers and contribution of all the members, we rejoice in the Claretian vocation and move forward with strength and renewed vigour to face the emerging frontiers after the example of Claret.”

1. Introduction

Specific Theme for the Month of April

“Missionaries in the Forefront”

The XXV General Chapter Document, “Witnesses and Messengers of the Joy of the Gospel” begins and ends with the phrase “We are Missionaries,” emphasizing the missionary identity of each Claretian. The specific theme of this month’s meditation, “Missionaries in the Forefront” is closely related to the contents of this document. The document enumerates six charismatic traits without which our missionary “activities will lose fragrance and they’ll be like plastic flowers” (Fr. General). The charismatic traits invite us to carry out our mission: 1) rooted in the Spirit, 2) inflamed by the Word of God, 3) assuming the mission as a community, 4) reaching out to the poor with the joy of the Gospel, 5) collaborating with other people, and 6) with an openness to the whole world (cf. MS 34-75). I would strongly recommend that each member of the Claretian Major Organisms in India read the II and III parts of the document,“Witnesses and Messengers of the Joy of the Gospel” (Nos 34-75) as part of this month’s recollection and evaluate his personal life and mission in its light.

2. Readings

1. Mathew 28:18-20: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

2. MS 65: “We resolve to be – with Jesus – a Congregation “going forth” (cf. Mk 1:38) which receives the call of the Church to the pastoral-missionary and ecological conversion: we commit ourselves to form – under the guidance of the Spirit – communities of witnesses and messengers; we will take care to be men of deep spirituality who – open to the recommendation of Pope Francis to the Congregation – adore our God the Father “in spirit and truth” (cf. Jn 4:23) and embrace the processes of transformation that the Spirit grants us. And all of this, we want to live in the joy that is born of God (cf. Aut 444, 754), which Mary, our mother, experienced (cf. Lk 1-2) and which is characteristic in receiving the Gospel. There will not be privations and adversities (cf. CC 9, 44) that will prevent us from living and proclaiming the beatitudes of Jesus. The Spirit of our Father and our Mother will speak for us.”

3. Points for Reflection

1. Jesus Christ was the greatest missionary, sent by the Father, to proclaim his love and salvation for his people. Jesus was aware that he was sent by the Father to reconcile the people with God and bring salvation to everyone. At the age of twelve, Jesus told his mother that he must be busy with his Father’s business (cf. Lk 2:49). During his public ministry he openly told his disciples that “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work” (Jn 4:34). He completes the works of the Father through his suffering and death. After his resurrection he sends his disciples to continue the same mission of doing the will of the Father. As missionaries we participate in the same mission and so must be aware always that we are missionaries, called and consecrated, to continue the mission of Jesus, in the footsteps of Fr. Claret, our Founder.

2. St. Claret considered himself as a missionary formed in the forge of Mary’s immaculate heart, an arrow of her arm, sent against the world, the devil and the flesh (cf. Aut 270-271). He was motivated by the deep desire for the salvation of the sous. He says that “the power of this idea has made me work in the past, still makes me work, and will make me work as long as I live, in converting sinners, in preaching, in hearing confessions, in writing books, in distributing holy cards and pamphlets and in having familiar conversations” (Aut 9). Claret was supported in his apostolic works by a deep apostolic spirituality. He was a contemplative in action. Amid the activities so absorbing and varied, he lived an intensely contemplative life.

3. We live in a time of transition and changes. It is important that we recognize and acknowledge the rapid changes and paradigm shifts that are taking place in our society and prepare ourselves to answer the needs of the emerging situations. As missionaries in the forefront, we need to explore ways and approaches to make the Gospel understandable and acceptable to our generation. When I am writing down these reflections COVID 19 is ravaging the world and our beloved country. We are experiencing one of the biggest crises of our life time. As missionaries what is our response to this situation? What would have been the response of Jesus? What would have been the response of Claret? Our methods and approaches should be relevant to the struggles and visions of our people.

4. As Indian Claretians we can be very proud of our legacy. Our presence in majority of the Indian States as well as in many other countries all over the world loudly proclaims that we are missionaries in the forefront. We need to keep up this spirit and for that I would propose the following things to do.

i. To remind ourselves constantly the “definition of a Claretian missionary” and meditate on it to rekindle and remain “on fire”, “to spread the flames” and “to set everyone on fire with God’s love.” (HAC 32).

ii. To live our missionary vocation with enthusiasm, with joy and with more passion, constantly kindling the fire of God’s love poured in our hearts by the holy spirit (cf. Rom 5). Take continuous efforts to get rid of all that extinguish the fire or douse our enthusiasm.

iii. To redefine our life style and approaches to the mission in the light of the emerging challenges and demands. We should not bury ourselves on the sands of worldliness and bow before the attracting idols of power, position, possession and the likes. Our vocation is not for satisfying our desires or fulfilling our plans but to transmit God’s love to his people.

iv. To be creative and imaginative to find answers to the vexing problems in human hearts, the worldliness and godlessness of many and the indifference of those who think that religion has lost its meaning. Our life must prove that faith in God is still relevant.

iv. To radiate the joy of the Gospel in today’s world so that we really become “the epiphany of divine love for the world” as St. John Paul II described of the consecrated people.

4. Points to Ponder

1. Do you see traces of our charismatic traits in your personal and mission life?
2. We are missionaries and how can we live our missionary vocation in today’s situation?
3. Do you see any dichotomy between your inner life and action, between your commitment

to community living and commitment to your apostolate? 4. Is my life seen by the people as ‘the epiphany of divine love’?


Fr. A. Alex cmf

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General Theme for the Jubilee Year:

“Alive to the Spirit of Fr. Claret: Remember, Rejoice, and Rejuvenate”
General Objective for the Monthly Recollections:

“Remembering the blessings of the Lord for the fifty Years, being grateful for the growth achieved through pioneers and contribution of all the members, we rejoice in the Claretian vocation and move forward with strength and renewed vigour to face the emerging frontiers after the example of Claret.”
Particular Theme for the month of March 2020:

Living Together – A Contrast Community

‘In a polarized society, where different cultures experience difficulty in living alongside one another, where the powerless encounter oppression, where inequality abounds, we are called to offer a concrete model of community which, by acknowledging the dignity of each person and sharing our respective gifts, makes it possible to live as brothers and sisters’ (Apostolic letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to all consecrated people on the occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life). The religious are called to challenge the world with its counter cultural life-style. They are to be an antidote to the growing culture of individualism. But today, to be frank, shallow friendships and fragile relationships mark not only our society but also the Church. As a result the Church is losing her power to transform the world.
a) John 17:9-11:- I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.
b) Autobiography Numbers 606,607,608,609:- I owe God endless thanks for providing me such good companions… I had something to learn from all of them because they gave me such a good example in all virtues, especially humility, obedience, fervor, and a constant readiness to work. They gladly set themselves to do whatever I asked… Those who visited us couldn’t help noticing that our house was like a beehive, with every one coming and going at my request, and all of them quite content and happy… I often wondered how it was possible for so much peace, joy, and harmony to reign for so long a time among such a large group. I always ended up saying the same thing, "This is the finger of God.''
1. Jesus prays for his disciples that they may be one. It shows that a Christian community is a gift of prayer. “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Ps 126:1). He stresses the point that we are of God –‘they are yours’. He prays for those who belong to him in a special way and not for those who are the lovers of the world. He does not expect us to come together as a community with worldly aims. It is said that there are many who live on the mountains and behave as if they were in the town, and they are wasting their time. Our entire perfection lies in the unity of the spirit – ‘that they may be one.’ The formation of a community is our first mission. What is more important – our community or our commitment? We can’t neglect the fact that a great many of the saints in the Church are those who devoted their lives to prayer. Jesus does not ask us to serve the Church at the expense of our soul. It must be possible to contrast a religious community with an NGO.
2. According to St Claret it is not I or You or We who make a community but God. A community is not a set of private rooms where people are interested only in their own welfare or their own vision. On the other hand, it is a place of togetherness in spite of differences, of people united in love and open to all other people. It is a place of belonging where each person can grow to become fully him. It is a belonging for becoming, a way of life that helps each person to grow to human fulfillment. Diversity is not a wall that prevents us from each other but a bridge to learn from each other. Jean Vanier writes: "In spite of all the trust we may have in each other, there are always words that wound, self-promoting attitudes, situations where susceptibilities clash. That is why living together implies a certain cross, a constant effort, and an acceptance which is daily and mutual forgiveness." To love then is to see in the other, the heart of the person hidden under all that annoys us. Living together makes our life ‘a sacred pilgrimage’ and it makes a contrast with the secular world.
3. Some of the present-day challenges to the living together are, -1) a tendency to middle-class stagnation, strangulated by comfort; 2) lack of understanding between the young and the old; 3) sexual problems; 4) too much accommodation with the consumerist ideals of the modern world, too many cars, expensive holidays etc.; 5) money and finance – the activities which have kept the religious congregations going have too often taken us away from our foundational ideas. Religious superiors have spent too much of their time thinking about fund-raising and management; 6) Sustainability – survival by hook or by crook - remains the most critical question. St Claret proffers a few antidotes to these challenges – a) to pray together and to have lunch and dinner together; b) to do annual retreat with all necessary care; c) to avoid exclusive friendship; and d) not to attend to anonymous accusations (Autobiography – Numbers. 610-613)
Points for Personal Reflection:-
It is worth reflecting on Pope Francis’s numbering of the diseases of the Roman Curia (2014 Address).
1. The disease of thinking we are “immortal”, “immune” or downright “indispensable”, neglecting the need for regular check-ups.
2. Another disease is the “Martha complex”, excessive busy-ness.
3. Then too there is the disease of mental and spiritual “petrification”.
4. The disease of excessive planning and of functionalism.
5. The disease of poor coordination.
6. There is also a “spiritual Alzheimer’s disease
7. The disease of rivalry and vainglory.
8. The disease of existential schizophrenia.
9. The disease of gossiping, grumbling and back-biting.
10. The disease of idolizing superiors.
11. The disease of indifference to others.
12. The disease of a lugubrious face. Those glum and dour persons who think that to be serious we have to put on a face of melancholy and severity, and treat others — especially those we consider our inferiors — with rigour, brusqueness and arrogance
13. The disease of hoarding.
14. The disease of closed circles, where belonging to a clique becomes more powerful than belonging to the Body and, in some circumstances, to Christ himself.
15. Lastly: the disease of worldly profit, of forms of self-exhibition.

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General Theme for the Jubilee Year

“Alive to the Spirit of Fr. Claret: Remember, Rejoice, and Rejuvenate”

General Objective for the Monthly Recollections

“Remembering the blessings of the Lord for the fifty Years, being grateful for the growth achieved through pioneers and contribution of all the members, we rejoice in the Claretian vocation and move forward with strength and renewed vigour to face the emerging frontiers after the example of Claret.”

Specific Themes for the month of February Making sense of our vows today

Introduction: As consecrated life is a gift (cf. Mt 19:11), so also ‘the evangelical counsels are a gift of the Holy Trinity’ (VC. 20) to make this way of life attractive and powerful. Therefore, our life as consecrated persons is meaningful and witnessing in so far as we constantly and consciously make our choices according to the richness that we experience from these gifts. God has given these precious gifts to us and His power is hidden in them. How about uncovering these gifts and experience the fragrance and richness that can transform us and others? There is fear in many of us to uncover these gifts. The reason is perhaps we look at them as something not glamorous and not so relevant in the present context. But the fact is that, God made His transforming power freely and abundantly available in these gifts. They are indispensable to our life as missionaries just like the three stones in the fire-place are necessary to balance a cooking pot. Readings: Phil 3:7-8 “Yet whatever gains I had; these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. Constitutions We aim to attain conformity to Christ by professing religious vows in a missionary community. We also pursue this conformity by the practice of other virtues and express it according to our gift in the Church (CC. 39).

Reflection: 1. St. Paul recounts the total turnaround in his life that took place at the time of his conversion. The person of Christ eclipsed all the privileges and positions he enjoyed before. This is a deep personal experience of being transformed into the likeness of the one he encountered (cf. Gal 2:20).

2. The evangelical counsels are the most powerful equipment that that God has selectively given to us consecrated persons to witness and bear fruits for his Kingdom here on earth. Therefore, we remain fit and ready as long as these gifts are part of us as armours in our striving against the false propaganda of the present days. Our Father Founder mentions in his writing that the observance of the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience along with preaching and administration of sacraments are the most powerful means of attracting society to the path of righteousness (Works of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Vol. III, P. 489).

3. If the Lord directs us what not to take and what to take (to be poor) in our missionary journeys (cf. Mk 6:8-9), it is because he knows best what we really need in order to be effective and fruitful as we work in his vineyard. The mission is his and so we need more discernment (listening – obedience) before we employ anything however good they appear to be, so that we may not be lost in the ocean of endless cravings (unchaste life). True and lasting contentment comes from Him.

4. The world should be seeing the evangelical counsels in the life of a missionary more with their eyes than hearing with their ears or knowing with their minds. And so, let us pray together with our Father Founder, “O my Jesus, give me your holy grace so that I may imitate you perfectly in practicing all the virtues. As you well know, I can do all things with you and absolutely nothing without you” (Auto. 437). For personal reflection: Do we find joy and satisfaction in living our vows? What are the things that hinder us from cherishing the wealth that is available in these gifts? Are we proceeding the opposite direction or towards perfection that these gifts offer to us? As local communities and as a Congregation, what are the measures we need to take in order to help one another be enriched by the divine wealth that these gifs offer to us?

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General Theme of the Meditations for the Jubilee Year “Alive to the Spirit of Fr. Claret: Remember, Rejoice, and Rejuvenate”

General Objective for the Monthly Recollections
“Remembering the blessings of the Lord for the fifty Years, being grateful for the growth achieved through pioneers and contribution of all the members, we rejoice in the Claretian vocation and move forward with strength and renewed vigour to face the emerging frontiers after the example of Claret.”

Particular Theme for the month of January 2020 Nothing Daunts Us – From Shades to Light

We have been blessed with this New Year 2020. Surely the past year was eventful in its own way…we had many reasons to be grateful and many causes to regret. However, the year is far gone and we have the fresh opportunity to be what we want to be…Witnesses and Messengers of the Joy of the Gospel.
This month we concentrate on leaving behind all that hinders our growth and move forward with new enthusiasm as joyful missionaries…From Shades to Light.
We have just Celebrated Christmas which reminds us: the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned. God is our reason and He is our Light.
Father Claret is our inspiration who faced many a shades in his life but was never weighed down by them; so he was able to say, nothing daunts a Son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Mathew 10: 16-20: 16 See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. 19 When they hand you over,
do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Address of the Holy Father Pope Francis to XXV General Chapter: To “give thanks for our past” is to give thanks to God for the testimony of many of our brothers who, sustained by their faith, lived their vocation with a profound joy – some of them even up to the point of martyrdom. This also calls us to recognize the merciful hand of God who, regardless of our weaknesses and inconsistencies, continues to work marvels in the midst of the people of God.
“Living the present with passion” is fundamental to the missionary project in the Spirit of St. Anthony Mary Claret, who placed as his model in his Coat of Arms Caritas Christi urget nos (“the Love of Christ Impels Us). To love as Jesus loved should challenge each of our pastoral options.
“Embracing the future with hope” means not to allow yourselves to be dragged down by discouragement. Do not be afraid. It is the Lord who sends you. Always place your eyes on those who await the proclamation, and those who need your witness in order to feel the merciful presence of God in their lives.
1. The Church very often remind us “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church”. This is not to highlight the sufferings and negativity, rather to encourage us that our faithfulness in times of trials and difficulties will not go in vain. The Church stands witness to this.
2. Jesus our Lord and Master has taught us that the way to the Kingdom is narrow and many do not dare to travel it. Jesus himself chose the path full of challenges and surprises; because that was the correct path.
3. For Father Claret preaching the Word of God and saving souls was important, come what may. In imitation of the Master and the Apostles he was not afraid by the calumnies and the persecutions that he faced. He braved them all and even desired to be a martyr for the sake of Christ. (Aut. 227, 465-467)
4. The Paschal Mystery is basically the process of dying and rising, death and new life. We see this all around us and in our own lives. Our life experience teaches us that many a good leaders have emerged from very difficult and challenging circumstances.
During the initial years, our congregation was subjected to suppression, expulsions, exile and martyrdom but our pioneers were firm in their faith and commitment. Their zeal for evangelization and salvation of souls has spread to different continents.
5. Today vocation to religious and priestly life is faced with challenges on various fronts and we as Indian Claretians are no exception to this. At the same time we have inherited a great legacy of braving the toughest storms. It will only need our willingness to overcome the setbacks of spiritual lethargy, lukewarmness of community life, growing individualism and so
on. When we set our sight on the goal to be achieved, even the toughest path will not stop us but only strengthen our resolve.
Let us remember then the words from Vita Consecrata (110): “Not only do you have a glorious history to recall and tell, but also a great history to build! Set your eyes on the future toward which the Spirit impels you, so that he may keep doing great things with you”.
For Personal Reflection:
Do I have an aim to be accomplished?
What challenges do I face in my religious and priestly vocation?
How do I find encouragement for my life in the example of Christ and Father Claret?
When my fellow Claretian is met with difficulties, do I help him overcome it?

Fr. Xavier Pereira CMF

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General Theme of the Meditations for the Jubilee Year
“Alive to the Spirit of Fr. Claret: Remember, Rejoice, and Rejuvenate”

General Objective for the Monthly Recollections
“Remembering the blessings of the Lord for the fifty Years, being grateful for the growth achieved through pioneers and contribution of all the members, we rejoice in the Claretian vocation and move forward with strength and renewed vigour to face the emerging frontiers after the example of Claret.”

Particular Theme for the month of August 2019
Eucharist: Our Source of Life and Communion

The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian life and as religious it is the center of our life and mission. We are people privileged to celebrate or participate in the Eucharist every day. In his Apostolic letter, Mane Nobiscum Domini, St John Paul II, says “The Eucharist is a mode of being which passes from Jesus into each Christian.” We celebrate the Eucharist, over all, to unite ourselves with the Lord. We welcome his word, we join with his sacrifice and praise to the Father, through him we build up a community of brothers. The Eucharist goes beyond the actual celebration: it extends throughout the day. Holy Father Benedict XVI, once said to the youths, “Bread and wine become his Body and Blood. But it must not stop there; on the contrary, the process of transformation must now gather momentum. The Body and Blood of Christ are given to us so that we ourselves will be transformed in our turn. We are to become the Body of Christ, his own flesh and blood. We all eat the one bread, and this means that we ourselves become one. God no longer simply stands before us, as the one who is totally other. He is within us, and we are in him. His dynamic enters into us and then seeks to spread outwards to others until it fills the world, so that his love can truly become the dominant measure of the world.”
1. Constitutions, 35: “In the first place, every day we should wholeheartedly celebrate the mystery of the Eucharist, keeping close to Christ our Lord as he proclaims the words of life, offers himself for his brothers and sisters, honours his Father and builds up the unity of the Church. We should cherish conversation with Christ our Lord by visiting and worshipping him in the Holy Eucharist …. Through our celebration of the Eucharist and our praise of God, we will receive the strength we need in order to grow in Christian life and become more productive in our ministry.”
2. John 6:56-58 “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”
1. The Constitutions invite us to celebrate the Eucharist daily and to receive the strength necessary for our life and mission. Living our religious vocation and remaining faithful is a daily challenge. Where can we receive the strength to face the challenges? The Eucharist gives us “the necessary strength to grow in the life of Christ.” The Eucharist helps us to see reality as God sees it. It widens our point of view. Celebrating together helps us live from a Eucharistic perspective, to be encouraged by the Word of God and to become “bread” for others in the “existential Eucharist” of our daily life. In the Lord’s Prayer we ask God: “Give us each day our daily bread.” The Eucharist is the only bread that we need and receiving this bread daily, with our own brothers and sisters, helps us to become more productive in our life and mission.
2. Eucharist is an encounter with the risen Lord. He is recognized in the breaking of the word and the sharing of the bread. As every encounter with the Risen Lord, Eucharist also leads to an experience of being sent on a Mission. Hence the Eucharistic celebration is popularly called the “Holy Mass,” a variant of the Latin word Missa, which is derived from the word missio meaning mission. It is mission because the faithful are sent forth, after the celebration of the mystery of salvation, to fulfil God's will in their daily lives. Hence, everyone who participates in the celebration of the Eucharist is sent forth to preach the good news of God's Reign that God loves every person, to create communities of Jesus' disciples that live the contrast values of God's Kingdom, and to bring repentance and reconciliation to the sinful and violently fragmented world. In short, it is to build a new humanity where God reigns in love, where justice and equality flourish, and freedom and fellowship blossom.
3. Eucharist played a pre-eminent role in the mystical experiences of Claret, both as a source of illumination and as a means of mystical transformation. He was given a number of his mystical graces by way of the Eucharist. The Mass and visiting the Blessed Sacrament were the spiritual high points of his entire day, and it was during these visits that he received many of his inner locutions. He says, “When I am before the Blessed Sacrament, I feel such a lively faith that I can’t describe it. Christ in the Eucharist is almost tangible to me. I kiss his wounds continually and embrace Him.” The Eucharistic Lord blessed our founder with a great Eucharistic grace to preserve the Lord in his heart continuously. About this experience he says, “On August 26, 1861, at 7.00 in the evening while I was at prayer in the church of the Rosary at La Granja, the Lord granted me the great grace of keeping the sacramental species intact within me and of having the Blessed Sacrament always present, day and night, in my breast. Because of this I must always be very recollected and inwardly devout. Furthermore, I must pray and confront all the evils of Spain, as the Lord has told me….” cf. Juan Maria Lozano, Mystic and Man of Action (Claretian Publications, Chicago 1977), pp. 289, 291
4. In the tradition of the Church and in the practice of our Founder there are two practices which help us continue a Eucharistic tone in our missionary life: visits to and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The Constitutions ask us to develop these practices with “great devotion”. The daily encounter with the person of Christ, through visits and adoration to the Blessed Sacrament can direct our life towards God and –like Claret– impel us to work so that God may be known, loved, served and praised. The Eucharist makes this possible in our lives. Communion with the Lord will help us to develop communion with our brothers and will produce in us fruits of new life and our mission will have a new vitality. Jesus tells us: “As long as you remain in me and I in you, you bear much fruit; but apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).
5. As priests we are privileged “to act in Christ’s person” whenever we celebrate the Eucharist. We should not fall into the temptation when presides over the Eucharist that we are the ones who preside, bless and send. It is Jesus who blesses, breaks and gives us his Body and Blood. The celebration of the Eucharist signifies a double commitment for priests: on one hand, to share in the death and life of Christ and, on the other hand, to awaken in others the remembrance of the Lord’s presence. The one who blesses the bread and the wine becomes food for others, accepts to be broken and given in the ways of life. Only those who become bread, servants like Jesus, can awaken in others the remembrance of the Lord’s presence. Deeds are always more eloquent than words.
Questions to Ponder
Do I enjoy celebrating the Eucharist with my community?
Do I joyfully believe that the Lord gives us the gift of living as brothers whenever we share his word and his body and blood?
How is the Eucharist helping me to face the challenges of life to grow personally?
In what way is the Eucharist making my ministry more fruitful?
Do I live the Eucharist as the most important moment of my union with Christ?

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General Theme for the Jubilee Year: “Alive to the Spirit of Fr. Claret: Remember, Rejoice, and Rejuvenate”

General Objective for the Monthly Recollections: “Remembering the blessings of the Lord for the fifty Years, being grateful for the growth achieved through pioneers and contribution of all the members, we rejoice in the Claretian vocation and move forward with strength and renewed vigour to face the emerging frontiers after the example of Claret.”

Theme for the month of November 2019: Walking with the Young

Youth is an original and stimulating stage of life, which Jesus himself experienced, thereby sanctifying it (Christ Lives, Apostolic Exhortation) and in the Church it is always possible to encounter Christ “the companion and friend of youth”. But many young people experience today an eclipse of God. The growing culture of relativism teaches that anything that is pleasurable and profitable is good. But, a thing is good when it attains the purpose for which it was made. Therefore we are to make the youth reflect on, “Why were we made? What is the purpose of living?” Life is a mission; every man/woman is a mission. Let them remember their mission which is the true reason of their life on earth. To be young is a grace, a blessing. It is a gift that we can squander meaninglessly, or receive with gratitude and live to the full (Christ Lives). The Church has to appreciate and encourage the goodness found in the young and make them convinced that ‘Christ lives’ and that he is the way, the truth and the life. And only he can give what their heart truly seeks. Let them rejoice over the gift of youthfulness that finds meaning in Christ. Pope Francis observes that young people are not just the future of our world. They are its present; even now, they are helping to enrich it. Therefore they are to be rejuvenated in the Spirit. Readings:- a) Luke 24: 13-19:- Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” “They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. b) Autobiography Number 289:- Despite all I knew about the predominant local vices, I  didn't begin talking about them at the very outset; on the contrary, I saved such topics for later. I waited until I had won my audience over, and then instead of being offended  when I told them about their vices and little idols, they took my advice and mended their ways. I had noticed that at the beginning of a mission many came for the novelty of it, to see what I was going to talk about. If they had heard me reprehending them for their cherished vices, they would have been cut to the quick, and in their irritation they would have gone off upset, never to return, wishing a plague on the missionary, the mission, and
everyone attending it. 

Reflections:- 1) Jesus walks with the youth who are going away from Jerusalem (from faith, hope, morality etc.). At the beginning they take him as an outsider, a stranger. But Jesus continues walking with them and exhibits his condescension and humility. He incarnates his teaching into the language of the youth. He turns to be their companion - encountering, interacting and knowing their inner aspirations. He brings out from the core of their heart the Name – Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus churns the heart of the youth to bring out the goodness hidden within and they would later invite him to stay with them. He made them remember everything they had already heard of him, rejoice over the fact that he is alive and thereby rejuvenated their slackened spirit. Today we live in a world where it is difficult for the youth to believe in the God manifested in Christ Jesus. Christian leaders cannot simply be persons who have well-informed opinions about the burning issues of our time. Their leadership must be rooted in the permanent, intimate relationship with the incarnate Word, Jesus and they need to find there the source for their words, advice, and guidance.

 2) St Claret, our Father Founder, knew the art of accompaniment. He teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other. Every young man/woman should be treated with maximum respect, irrespective of what he/she is. Youth is an age of difficulty; it is unstable; easily deceived; very apt to slip; and requires an exceedingly strong bridle. Claret used ‘love’ as the bridle to control the youth. He  teaches us that a mature Claretian is a man of love. Saint Augustine says, “We love only that which is beautiful.” If we want to win the youth, we are to be beautiful in their sight, we are to be young. According to
Shepherd of Hermas, (a 2nd c. Church Father) the Church does not become older in the course of the years. On the contrary it grows younger, because she is forever moving toward the Lord, meaning she is going toward the spring from which youth, newness, refreshment, and the strength of life stems. Being close to the Lord makes us young and relevant to the youth of our time.

 3) Henri J. M. Nouwen in his book In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership says, “Many priests today increasingly perceive themselves as having very little impact or irrelevant. They realize that fewer and fewer young men feel attracted to follow in their footsteps. The secular world tells us, God, the Church and the ministers have been used for centuries to fill the gaps of incompetence ( of doctor, politicians, engineers etc. ), but today the gaps are being filled in other ways, and we longer need spiritual answers to practical questions... But beneath all the great accomplishments of our time there is a
deep current of despair. While efficiency and control are the great aspirations of our society, the loneliness, isolation, lack of friendship and intimacy, broken relationships, boredom, feelings of emptiness and depression and deep sense of uselessness fill the hearts of millions of people in our success-oriented world... There is moral and spiritual poverty behind the contemporary facade of wealth, success, popularity and power. The life of sex, drugs, and violence prevails among the youth. But the cry arises from them, Is there anybody who loves me; is there anybody who really cares?” We must allow ourselves
to enter into a deep solidarity with the anguish underlying all the glitter of success and to bring the light of Jesus there. 

Points for Personal Reflection:-
1) Do I see ‘accompaniment of the youth’ as a vocation I received?
2) Am I a ‘man of God’ and there by attractive to the youth, or a ‘man of the world’ and
thereby unappealing to them?
3) How can I make the young believe that ‘Christ lives’?

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General Theme for the Jubilee Year

“Alive to the Spirit of Fr. Claret: Remember, Rejoice, and Rejuvenate”

General Objective for the Monthly Recollections

“Remembering the blessings of the Lord for the fifty Years, being grateful for the growth achieved through pioneers and contribution of all the members, we rejoice in the Claretian vocation and move forward with strength and renewed vigour to face the emerging frontiers after the example of Claret.”

Specific Theme for the month of October

Claretians: Men on Fire with Love

Introduction: As the discovery of ‘fire’ has been so important in the process of human growth and development, so also the experience of a ‘self-giving love’ can overwhelm a person for radically self-giving choices and activities. To be ‘men on fire with love’ is the hallmark of the Claretian existence in the Church and in the society. This was the experience lived and shared by our Father Founder St. Anthony Mary Claret. In the autobiography numbers 438 – 448 he speaks of the importance of the virtue of love for missionaries, particularly in 441 he writes, “In truth, the fire of love acts in a minister of the Lord in much the same way that material fire acts in the engine of a locomotive or a ship…” Readings: Jer 20:9 If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. Works of Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Vol. III, p.143 For love is so very ingenious, that it is not content with loving and serving God according to what it already knows. Rather, the understanding – keeping with the precept, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your mind” – keeps figuring out and inventing ways in which to love and serve God. Reflection:

1. Divine Love should be always the motivating force present in all of us, if we are to bring in effective changes in the lives of the people. This love engages us endlessly to be creative and resourceful. The experience of this love will keep us moving even in the desert. And, devoid of this love, we will be good only in appearances and expressions; but deep within we will be either tasteless or empty.

2. Our Father Founder has set a very good example for us of how to be ‘men on fire with love’. Excellence in manufacturing while at Barcelona, healing ministry in Viladrau, attention from the Queen and recognition from ecclesial authorities didn’t diminish the zeal that kindled in him. Even at the dead bed he was not sad that he was going away; but he was worried whether the missionaries have gone or not for the mission assigned.

3. Men on fire with love will always be motivated with different outlooks and standards of dealings and executing assignments. People in our mission challenge us to employ our creativities that are induced with divine love. Those who don’t have this virtue will give excuses of not having time or that the laws already set do not permit them to do something more. Father Claret saw opportunities to witness and share God’s love with the sinners, in the lawlessness of the Cuban society at that time and even in the confine of the palace.

4. Love is the most powerful force that can move a person and every living creature for the best. But, at times the immaturity of our emotions and over concentration to be in the headlines of the news can be big hindrances for divine love to operate in and through us. We become opaque and dormant; like the Vikram lander, unable to respond and so never serves the purpose nor accomplish the mission even after reaching such heights. For personal reflection: What good would all our knowledge of love do to us, if nobody employs us to practice it? What gain do we make by letting go those who needed us the most? Why do you think a mother puts up with so many annoyances and impertinences from her children? In our own situations, what are the ways and means we take in order to grow in divine love?

Fr. Phrimsing Rapsang cmf

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General Theme of the Meditations for the Jubilee Year

“Alive to the Spirit of Fr. Claret: Remember, Rejoice, and Rejuvenate”

General Objective for the Monthly Recollections

“Remembering the blessings of the Lord for the fifty Years, being grateful for the growth achieved through pioneers and contribution of all the members, we rejoice in the Claretian vocation and move forward with strength and renewed vigour to face the emerging frontiers after the example of Claret.”

Particular Theme for the month of September 2019  Agents of Love and Life

Introduction: This month we focus on the Love and Life that we have received and shared through our life and mission in India for the past 50 years. Jesus came into the world to reveal and to be the Love that the Father is. Thus he declared, “I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). Claret had well understood, even from his childhood, that the virtue an apostolic missionary needs most of all is love. He considered himself formed in the forge of our Mother’s mercy and love. Our Constitutions remind us that love for God and for our brothers and sisters is the first and most necessary gift which marks us out as true Disciples of Christ. Hence our entire missionary life is grounded and shaped by this love. Readings: John 13: 34-35: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” CMF Constitutions, 10: As Jesus Christ in one with the Father and the Spirit, we missionaries should be one with Them, so that the world may come to believe in Christ. We should imitate 2 the communion of life that prevailed among Christ and the Apostles, and among the faithful of the early Church, who were united, heart and soul. Love for God and for our brothers and sisters has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit and builds up our communion. It is the first and most necessary gift which marks us out as true disciples of Christ. Hence our entire missionary life is governed and shaped by this love. “That They May Have Life” (TMHL), 4-5: 4. At the dawn of the 21st century the Church invites us to “start afresh from Christ”, “to put out into the deep”, to enter into a “time of renewed ‘creativity’ in charity” (cf NMI, 50; SAC, 10). Jesus’ words “That they may have life” inspire our response to the Church’s call. Our vocation and prophetic mission places us at the service of life. 5. Life is exuberant and fruitful in nature and in humanity: “God saw all he had made, and indeed it was very good” (Gen 1:31). The Creator, “lover of life” (Wis 11:26), has entrusted us to defend it and cultivate it. The appreciation, defence and passion for life is manifested today in many ways, as for example, in those persons and organizations that work on behalf of the poor, for human rights, and for peace. Reflections: 1. Called to Love: In Christ we find the fullness of love, and in him is revealed the true dignity of each person – we are created in love and for love. Jesus’ incarnation is the mission of love, which is translated into the manifestation of Trinitarian love through the acts of solidarity, compassion, mercy, love and kindness. One important aspect of love is to return to the source of love – God. Thus Jesus invites people to repentance and forgiveness. While one turns to God, he necessarily takes his brothers and sisters along. Marching together is the real Christian love that we are called to. 2. Love leads to Life: As Jesus goes about preaching and establishing the Kingdom of God, he focuses on restoring the dignity of the person in the sight of God and the neighbour. Therefore he commands the disciples – “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another”. During his ministry Jesus continued to surprise people by the way he welcomed and treated people of different backgrounds. For him all are children of God and that is how all must be treated. Our love must go beyond any boundaries or limitations that the world enforces. 3. Claretian Mission of Love and Life in India: Indeed inspired by the apostolic zeal of Father Claret, our pioneer missionaries in India took up the challenge of missionary evangelization. From the very beginning our missionaries, along with the formation of new members, ventured into the territories beyond languages and cultures spreading the Good News of love and brotherhood. Today when we look back at our ministry as agents of love and life, we can be surely thankful to God and our senior members, who according to our charism responded to the signs of time to be effective in missionary interventions. The young missionaries today too are engaged in varied ministries that promote life and love. Our ministries to the destitute, abandoned and homeless; to the terminally ill and affected by leprosy, HIV, AIDS; to the blind and affected by 3 other disabilities; to the alcoholics and addicted; to the tribal and poor children; to the broken families and troubled youth, etc. and the many parishes where we administer the Sacraments of God’s grace. All these bear witness to the love and life that God has promised to all his children. Our growth in India is itself a loving history. Today we have grown into five organisms; missionaries originating and living together from different languages, cultures and colours. 4. Missionaries going forth in Love and Life: The dead do not celebrate. It is the living who celebrate the life and love. This Golden Jubilee celebrations must inspire us to be even more enthusiastic to give our best in the service of the least. Our recent General and Provincial Chapters have reminded us that there are several pressing issues of humanity that we perceive in the world today that we as missionaries need to respond to. While we rejoice at the little we have done, there is ever increasing need for us to go out in support of those who have been denied their share of love and life. As Jesus invited people to enter the Kingdom of God, it is those with positive attitude that made all the difference. Our past experiences may have been varied, but we can always start afresh with Christ. Our missionary enthusiasm and willingness to walk the talk will make the difference in the way we contribute in promoting love and life. For Personal Reflection: What in Christ urges me to do in life? Does the Claretian Charism make me enthusiastic? What is that inspires me most from the Claretian contribution in India? How much have I personally contributed towards love and life? How can I make this Jubilee Celebration meaningful for me and others?

Fr. Xavier Pereira CMF

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General Theme of the Meditations for the Jubilee Year

“Alive to the Spirit of Fr. Claret: Remember, Rejoice, and Rejuvenate”

General Objective for the Monthly Recollections “Remembering the blessings of the Lord for the fifty Years, being grateful for the growth achieved through pioneers and contribution of all the members, we rejoice in the Claretian vocation and move forward with strength and renewed vigour to face the emerging frontiers after the example of Claret.

” Particular Theme for the month of August 2019

Prophetic Messengers of the Word


The XXI General Chapter, held in the year 1991, defined the Claretians as “hearers and servants of the Word”. The next chapter, held in the year 1997, dealt with the prophetic dimension of our missionary life, with the objective “to make our heritage a prophecy.” Claret was a great hearer and servant of the Word, formed in the school of the Prophets and the Apostles (Auto 214-223). He followed Jesus, a prophet mighty in words and works before God and the whole people (Lk 24:19), has left us as an inheritance a style of life and a way of exercising the ministry in which the prophetic dimension is strongly underlined. Thus, the prophetic dimension of the service of the Word is part of our patrimony The post synodal exhortation “Vita Consecrata” which speaks of the life and mission of religious, highlights prophetic witness as a response to the challenges of the contemporary world. We live and work in a period of paradoxes and contrasting realities and our response to this challenging situation could be fruitful and beneficial only if we act as prophetic messengers of the Word. The Jubilee year is an opportune time to remember and rejoice over the prophetic legacy of our Congregation, of our Father Founder, and of our own elder brothers in India and to rejuvenate ourselves with more vigour and enthusiasm to be prophetic messengers of the word. Readings Mark 8:27-29 (cf. 6:14-15): “Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi and on the way, he asked his disciples, “Who do the people say I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah, and still others, one of the prophets. He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah” (Mark 8:27-28). In Prophetic Mission, 22. “The Church exhorts us to fulfil our prophetic service (cf. VC 73) and asks us to cultivate an in depth experience of God: to discern in the light of the Spirit, the challenges of our time; and to translate them into courage and daring into options and projects that are coherent both with our original charism and with the demands of the concrete historical situation (cf. VC 73). We need, then, “a solid spirituality of action, seeing God in all things and all things in God” (VC 74). Reflections 1. The two questions that Jesus asked his disciples have a lot of significance for our lives. Who do the people say I am? The disciples of Jesus were aware of the people’s perception of Jesus. They perceived Jesus as a prophet. Who is a prophet? A prophet is the spokesman of God, who communicates God’s will to his people; a man who represents God to his people; a man who reveals God to the people. When Jesus resuscitated the son of the widow of Naim, the people glorified God and said, “A great prophet has risen among us! God has come to visit his people” (Lk 7:16). As prophetic messengers of the word we are invited to be the spokesmen of God, to communicate his will and to reveal God, his love and justice, his compassion and forgiveness to people. The second question, who do you say that I am? has a direct link to us. Peter responded saying that “You are the Messiah.” What would be our response today? Intellectual responses that may come from our catechism and other studies may not suffice. We need to look into our lives, our orientations and motivations, our aspirations and agendas and our commitments and omissions, and all need to be analyzed to give a genuine response. The response should come from our heart. Our response is important because our commitment to the service of the Word is rooted in this response. 2. As prophetic messengers of the Word we need to cultivate a spirituality centered around the Word. Our Father founder followed a spirituality centered around the person of Christ, the incarnate Word and the written Word, the scriptures. Claret found his vocation as an apostolic missionary from the contemplation of the Word of God. Everyday he read a number of chapters from the New and Old testaments; and throughout his life, from his youth till his death, he chose the life and passion of Christ as the regular theme of his meditations. His lifestyle and approach originated from the imitation of Christ found in the Gospels. His response to the social and political realities of his time were initiated by his knowledge and application of the Word. Let Claret be the model and inspiration for our life and mission. 3. We live and work in a period of time in which the future seems to be very bleak and uncertain. Nobody seems to know where are we heading to? Intolerance, religious bigotries, death of democratic institutions, disintegration of family system and values, destruction of ecosystem, irresponsible use of social media and mass media, growing consumeristic culture, increase of inequality and corruption, and many other social evils pervade our society. As part of the society, often we too are either perpetrators or victims of these evils. These are challenges that can be unsurmountable or opportunities for a prophetic messenger of the Word. How do we look at these challenges? Do we have concrete plans to face these challenges? 4. It is encouraging and inspiring to look back our life and mission for the last fifty years in India. The pioneers of our Congregation in India have made a strong and robust foundation for different aspects of our life and mission that we could be very proud of. We have grown enormously in numbers. We are present in sixteen states and union territories of our country. Indian Claretians are working in the missions of the Congregation in all the five continents. Our ministries in the parishes, in our educational institutions and in the centers of special ministries are appreciated. Our missionary service of the Word through our mission centers, parishes, educational institutions, preaching ministry, Mass media communications, social services and special ministries present us as genuine servants of the Word. Our special ministries like our fight against female infanticide (Claretian Mercy Home, Karumathur), ministries for the differently abled people (Leprosy and HIV projects, Project Vision, Manasu), deaddiction centers to fight against alcoholism and drug addiction in different places, to name a few, are prophetic ministries that really reveal God’s compassion and love to the people. Let us thank the Lord for he has made us instruments to bring his blessings to many people. At the same time there are many other emerging realities, political, economical, social and religious, that cry for our attention. The migration of people from rural to the urban centers or from states to states, the all-pervading and amorphous use of digital technology, the unsustainable abuse of our ecological system, could be some of the burning issues we can think of creatively addressing during this Jubilee year. 5. The Jubilee is also an opportune time to look at ourselves as individuals. Each Claretian is an heir to a prophetic lifestyle and mission. It is my personal response to God’s call that made me a religious and a member of the Claretian Missionaries. I have a personal responsibility to cultivate elements that can sustain me as a religious and prophetic messenger of the Word. I would suggest the following elements: • Constant discernment to know the light of the Spirit to fulfill God’s plan in my life. • To root my availability and commitment on a solid spirituality centered on the Word of God. • To cultivate attitudes and approaches in imitation of Jesus Christ and Claret to respond to the needs and challenges of our time. • To strengthen my fraternal communion with the other members to exercise our ministries not as individuals but as communities. • To strive to see God in all things and all things in God. For Personal Reflections What is the image of Jesus whom I follow as my model and norm of life? Is my lifestyle and approach to ministries rooted in the word of God and to the social realities? Do I make use of the growing technological developments for the spread of the Gospel and to the advantage of human development? I am living in a world of digital technology and information explosion. Am I able to use them for good or have fallen a victim of its evil tentacles? Do I have a concrete plan to live my life as a prophetic messenger of the Word?

Fr. Alex Ancheles cmf

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Meditation - July 2019

General Theme of the Meditations for the Jubilee Year
“Alive to the Spirit of Fr. Claret: Remember, Rejoice, and Rejuvenate”
General Objective for the Monthly Recollections
“Remembering the blessings of the Lord for the fifty Years, being grateful for the growth achieved through pioneers and contribution of all the members, we rejoice in the Claretian vocation and move forward with strength and renewed vigour to face the emerging frontiers after the example of Claret.”
Particular Theme for the month of July 2019
Remembering Our Origins
‘Then you are to sound the trumpet far and wide on the tenth day of the seventh month, on the Day of Atonement. You shall sound it throughout your land. ‘You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family. ‘You shall have the fiftieth year as a jubilee… it shall be holy to you.” – Leviticus 25:9-12.

For the Jews, whatever reverses, disorders, or inequalities, happened among them, the fiftieth year, the year of jubilee, brought all back to the original social state as instituted by Moses. The Hebrew equivalent of the term jubilee means ‘a trumpet or a ram’s horn’. The jubilee year is a time to blow the trumpet, ‘to shout with joy’ or to be ‘jubilant’ with a view to awaken the world. Let us try to awaken the world to the light of what God has done in our Congregation and lives.

Let us return to the foundations of our Congregation, our presence in India, and our own vocation. This return will make us conscious of who we are, where we have come from and where we are heading to. This Jubilee is a moment of grace for remembering and feeling we are with the Church, in a large family. Pope Francis points out three steps that may help us in our mission – to root ourselves in a firm foundation, to grow, and to mature.

a) Mathew 28:10, 16-20: Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
b) Autobiography Number 35: My God, you have been so good to me! I have been very late in understanding the many great graces you have given me. I have been a useless servant and have not properly invested the talent you have entrusted to me. But Lord, I give you my word that I will work. Be a little patient with me. Don't take my talent away; I'll invest it wisely now. Give me your holy grace and your divine love and I give you my word that I will work.

1. What is the significance of returning to Galilee? Galilee is the place where everything began. They are to return there, to return to the place where they were first called. There he had called them, and there they had left everything and followed him. To return to Galilee means to reread everything, to be rejuvenated and commence a new journey fearlessly: ‘Do not be afraid.’ Let us reread everything – the personal call we received from Jesus, His miracles in our lives, our life in the Congregation, our defections, even the betrayal. With Claret let us also remember how good God was to us. Rejoicing let us pledge Him our loyalty and seek His grace to be rejuvenated in our mission.
2. We form part of a great Claretian Family. The life, teachings and example of our Father founder St Antony Mary Claret constitute an extraordinary spiritual heritage not only for us but also for the whole Church (Pope Benedict XVI). Pope Pius XI (on the occasion of his beatification in 1934), “Among the providential men that God sends to His Church in extraordinary circumstances……among the greatest men of the 19th century arose Anthony Mary Claret.” Pope Pius XII (on the occasion of his canonization in 1950), “Claret had served the Church up to the end of his life more than anyone.”
Claret identified himself as a missionary, consecrated and configured with Christ. He had a prophetic vision of the world, of the Church and of the urgent needs of his time. Claret was a child of his time and he endeavored to give an appropriate response using the most effective methods and he stirred up this same vision and this same response in others. Let us remember our great Father Founder, the co-founders who were after his spirit, and the great pioneer missionaries who made us what we are today. Let us thank the Lord for the gift of the Claretian Charism in the Church. Let us strive to achieve an authentic understanding of our original spirit, so that adhering to it faithfully, our religious life may be purified of elements that are foreign to it and freed from whatever is outdated. Let us try to know and faithfully maintain the spirit and goal of our founders, as well as our own sound traditions. The starting point for every Church reform has been a movement to return to the sources.
3. Let us remember and rejoice over the origin of our Congregation on the terrain of India. It was the result of the foresight of Bishop Sebastian Vayalil, first bishop of Palai (in Kerala), and the then Superior General of the Congregation V. Rev. Fr Peter Schweiger, who were eager
in missionary endeavors. Bishop Sebastian Vayalil came to know about the Claretians through Fr Alexander Cherukarakunnel, from the diocese of Palai, who was studying in Rome and had a few Claretian friends. In 1960 Bishop Sebastian went to Germany and talked with Fr Francis Dirnberger who was the Vice Provincial and formed a clear plan regarding the starting of a branch of the Congregation in India. In 1961 the Bishop sent 5 diocesan seminary students for formation to Germany. In 1962 he sent other 6 students. Around 30 students were sent this way. In 1968 Frs. Joseph Madavath and Mathew Pazhayemkottil and in 1969 Frs. Mathew Njayarkulam and George Vachipurackal were ordained. The foundation stone for our first house in India, Claret Bhavan, (in the diocese of Palai) was laid in 1970 and in 1971 this house was inaugurated. It was constructed under the supervision of Rev. Fr Joseph Madavath and with the help of the German Province. We know how our Congregation has grown in India within a short span of time. Some planted, some watered but God has given us the growth. Let us remember, rejoice and rejuvenate the original spirit.
4. Let us remember the origin of our own vocation. : Each vocation in the Church has its origin in the compassionate gaze of Jesus (Pope Francis). Let us remember how God reached out to us personally. God’s call is always personal. Let rejoice over the moment ‘when Jesus looked at me’. As missionaries we are not called to make epic gestures nor to proclaim pompous words, but rather to witness to the joy that comes from the certainty of being loved by Jesus. Pope Benedict XVI, “If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great…He takes nothing away and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life”. Let us rejoice over our missionary vocation and rejuvenate our initial spirit and love.

Points for Personal reflection:
- Can I say that I am after the spirit of Claret?
- Do I remember and appreciate the great work of my predecessors?
- Do I try to discern the Will of God in my life?
- Am I thankful for all the graces I have received?
- Am I faithful to my Claretian vocation and striving to fulfill the aim for which this Congregation has been established in the Church?

Fr. Bibin Vadakkekunnel cmf

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The shepherds of the Lord in the Church in India, dear brother Claretians, brothers and sisters, Fifty years back when a middle aged German missionary, late Fr. Franz Dirnberger, came to India with a few newly ordained young Indians to open the mission in India, nobody must have thought of such a growth of the mission in India in the past 50 years. There were antecedents to the opening of the mission: the friendship between an Indian student Alexander Cherukarakunnel and and a German Claretian Rudolf Mainca, the hospitality received by the bishop of Palai, Mar Sebastian Vayalil, in the Claretian house when he went to Germany for the Eucharistic Congress in Munich (1960), his contact with Claretians in Rome when he went to Rome for the preparation for Vatican II (1961), selection of seminarians for Claretians from his own seminary who were sent to Germany (1961).

We have still the first Claretians with us, Fr. Joseph Madhavath, Mathew Njayarkulam, Kuriakose Thekkilakattil, George Vanchipurackal, Cyriac Njayarkulam and one of the pioneers, Fr. George Nedumpalakunnel, was called to the home of the Father. I rejoice for the 16 ordinations in India this year of whom three are ordained here today. Three of them are assigned to the province of Central America.

Missionaries from India are now present in over 18 other countries. I like to share a few of my sentiments and reflections on this occasion: 1. An affirmation of our faith: When I glance through the gift of vocations and the dedication of the missionaries from India in different peripheries and platforms of missionary commitment, I can only repeat what St. Claret said of his missionary community in Cuba, “This is the finger of God”. It is the work of God and not a matter for us humans to take pride in. 2. Gratitude for our vocation: When the Lord works many beautiful things through us, it is an affirmation of his faithful love and fulfilment of promises, in spite of our limitations and failures. God’s love in us provokes generous response from us in the measure we cooperate with His grace. I am grateful to the Lord not so much for the many institutions that we have, but the good that they do to thousands of people especially those most in need of our service. I am grateful to my brothers who dare to venture to the peripheries present in every platform of missionary service with creative fidelity to our charism. I am grateful for all the friends, collaborators, benefactors, all of you who form part of this charismatic family in different ways. 3. Deep sentiments of humility: I feel myself small and humble in front of the greatness and goodness of the Lord as I recall our journey in the last 50 years. This goodness and greatness is shared through so many people who mediated it, who have been patient with us in those moments of our impertinence, rudeness and arrogance. We have not always been up to what we are called to be: witnesses and messengers of the joy of the Gospel. Jubilee is a time to take a balcony view of what is going on in us and among us and return to the foundational spirit with renewed enthusiasm and commitment. Biblical meaning of Jubilee is to return to the original design of the Lord for his people. 4. Embracing the presence with responsibility: We have graces and shadows to reckon with as we celebrate this Golden Jubilee. We want to be a congregation going forth to the peripheries, a congregation which walks with and accompanies the people of God. As a congregation we want to make our own in our individual lives and in our communities the core values of responsibility, accountability and transparency to become more credible. It is a necessity and a collective task to make the Kingdom of God an experiential reality among us. In the midst of social, cultural and personal impeding factors to grow in these values, we need the grace of the Lord as honest and timely feedback from each other to grow towards integrity of life and mission. 5. Dreaming with God for a radiant future. As missionaries we dream God’s dreams for our future. There are a good number Indian Claretians in their fifties. I invite my brothers in India to renew the freshness of our charism and dream big and dream together as Pope Francis repeatedly tells the people. He would say, “Don’t be parked cars, but dream freely and make good decisions. Take risks, even if it means making mistakes. Don’t go through life anesthetized or approach the world like tourists”.

This jubilee years should be a time of recapturing the foundational spirit and give it fresh expressions. I like to offer three images to help the process. 1) Be connected to the control tower. As we grow in numbers and more communities, it is all the more important to get connected to the control tower of our missionary life: our spiritual life and Christ at the center. We need holy Claretians, not just experts in different fields. At a given time there are about 9, 700 planes in the air carrying 1,3 million people. They are safe as long as they are in communication with the control tower and follow its directions. It is dangerous to get out of its track and be on its own. We shall me men who adore the Lord in the Spirit. It is also a special contribution to the universal Congregation from this land of spirituality. 2) Install effective antivirus to safeguard our vocation. We take care of our computers and iPhones well and keep them from hackers by installing antivirus. In this jubilee year, we should identify the viruses that tend to paralyse our missionary vitality and install effective antivirus. Pope Francis speaks of spiritual worldliness, clericalism, power abuse and lethargy, pastoral individualism etc. We need to install programs in us that keep the fire in us to burn. 3) Keep the missionary antenna in a receptive mode. We are in the midst of the Changes and there is no use glorifying the old good days. We need to be alert to the opportunities present amidst the changes. Authentic innovation and creativity in all that we do comes from a spirit tuned to the holy Spirit. The best future is what we can co-create with the Holy Spirit as partners of God’s work for the Church and the Society.

I wish the Indian Claretians such a future that radiates love and joy of the Lord. Heart of Mary is something very much in the core of our charism. “tenderness of God’s love present in the heart of Mary is a gift to her sons too. I wish that the jubilee year is a time to live the dream of our founder with joy. With these words, I am happy to declare the opening of the golden Jubilee of Claretian presence in India.

Mathew Vattamattam CMF

Superior General

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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

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XIFRÉ YEAR: 19 February – 03 November 2017, 1817 – 2017, Bicentenary of Birth

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 …”

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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

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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



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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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