Message 24th October 2019
In this extraordinary Missionary month of October, we enter the 150th year of the completion of the mission of Father Claret on earth. The official inauguration of the anniversary of his call to heaven is envisaged on 25th January in Santiago de Chile together with all the Major Superiors during the celebration of the 150th year of the arrival of Claretian Missionaries to the “young vine” of America. The conclusion of the Jubilee year would be in Vic on 24th October 2020. However, we shall take off from this special missionary month to prepare a meaningful period of internalization of the missionary spirit of our Founder. I urge you to make use of the program of the spiritual itinerary prepared by the General Prefecture of Spirituality to grow closer to our Founder and nurture the missionary spirit that we too have received. How exciting it is for us to think of ourselves as those, in the words of Father Claret, “whom the Lord had given the same spirit that motivated me” (Aut 489). Without this spirit, we may make lot of noise, but not God’s voice for his people like our Founder.
On 24th October 1870 at 8.45 am, our Founder was called to his heavenly abode. The touching description of his last days by Father James Clotet shows how deep was his intimacy with the Lord. Our Founder, a naturally endowed designer, teaches us the beauty of living for the Lord and the art of dying in the Lord. His long-desired goal of shedding his blood for the love of Jesus and Mary and of sealing the truths of the Gospel with the very blood of his veins (Aut 577) was realized in a mystical way in his last days in exile in Fontfroide in France.
Our Founder has left us two beautiful gems that reveal the core of his life. In this jubilee year, we shall nurture our life and mission each day from them. We will do well to have them inscribed in our hearts to imitate his faithfulness to the Lord and keep them written in our rooms as a mirror reminder.
The first is the apostolic prayer of our Founder which declares the mission of his life.
“O my God and my Father, may I know you and make you known; love you and make you loved; serve you and make you served; praise you and make all creatures praise you. Grant, my Father, that all sinners be converted, all the just persevere in grace, and all of us attain to eternal glory. Amen.”
The second is the definition of the missionary which is the best description of his own life and a program of holiness that he has left to us:
A Son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a man on fire with love, who spreads its flames wherever he goes. He desires mightily and strives by all means possible to set the whole world on fire with God’s love. Nothing daunts him; he delights in privations, welcomes work, embraces sacrifices, smiles at slander, and rejoices in suffering. His only concern is how he can best follow Jesus Christ and imitate Him in working, suffering, and striving constantly and single-mindedly for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls.
I hesitate to add anything to these spiritual jewels by way of comment or explanation. What is important is to fan the fire of God’s love within us by being close to our Founder. Father Claret’s life testifies that the flame of God’s love spreads wherever a missionary goes, be it to a village or a town, to distant island or to a royal palace. It is the fire, unlike other passions, that goes on burning without burning us out.
Let us keep returning to the spiritual treasures of our Founder to draw apostolic force to be truly God’s mission in the world.
I wish the whole Claretian Family, friends and lovers of our Founder a very joyful feast of St. Anthony Mary Claret.
Fr. Mathew Vattamattam, CMF