The language we speak comes from our homeland, which is often deeper and more suggestive than our political or cultural homeland itself. Through it, we name the world and people. In addition to traditional languages, each human group has its own language, its way of naming things and communicating. This edition of The Claretian Mission is dedicated to the language spoken by the Claretian Missionaries and many of those who are associated with us. It is not a language like Spanish, English, French or Portuguese. It is – if I may – a charismatic language. To be able to speak it fluently, you need a lot of practice and also a small dictionary that compiles the essential terms. This magazine of 2019 offers you that instrument.
We have collected the 30 phrases that we consider essential in our Claretian vocabulary, those which inspire, compel and sustain our missionary life. Most of them come from a short text written by Saint Anthony Mary Claret, our founder. We know it as the Definition of the Missionary because it describes the path that a Son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary must follow in order to imitate Jesus Christ in everything. Among the phrases taken from that Definition, you will find powerful verbs like to be on fire, desire, strive, welcome, rejoice, follow, pray, work and endure. And also, some nouns that evoke our identity: son, heart, fire and courage. Simply pronouncing them is enough to ignite the flame of missionary commitment in each one of us. All these words are loaded with emotions, memories, experiences, struggles, silences, failures and dreams.
Other words come from the reflection Pope Francis addressed to us for the XXV General Chapter (2015). Its verbs are dynamic and suggestive: adore, walk and accompany. They synthesize three processes of transformation. We adore God so we do not succumb to the temptation of idols. We walk with others so we are not prisoners of comfort. We accompany others – and let ourselves be accompanied – in order to emphasize that we are a people, that we are part of the Church and that we collaborate with all those who seek a better world. There are also words with strong repercussions: witnesses, messengers, anointed and sent. All of them constitute a symphony of nuances that allow us to interpret with beauty the noun that best defines us: missionaries.
The comments about each of these 30 phrases from our little Claretian dictionary have been written by Claretians from all over the world. Behind every phrase there are beautiful stories of mission. Most of them are connected to passion for God and passion for the most vulnerable human beings. We know that we will only be effective if we are “missionaries with Spirit.” The only way to show that it is possible to live as brothers is to be “missionaries in community,” walking side by side, “with the whole Church and those seeking the transformation of the world.” We live in a global world where borders and control make less and less sense. As missionaries, we are “open to the whole world in prophetic dialogue.”
Nobody reads a dictionary the same way they read a novel. Words only acquire meaning, beauty and usefulness when they are pronounced and heard, when they become a vehicle of communication, and when they produce emotions and seal commitments. I hope this edition of The Claretian Mission helps you to make this vocabulary your own, so that we can understand each other in a common language! The verbs to be on fire, pray, work and endure, for example, are intelligible in any country and continent. Everyone also knows what it means to be a son, to live from the heart or to draw near to a fire that warms, illuminates, purifies and burns. The Claretian dictionary is full of signs, but not hieroglyphs. Based on very human realities, it helps us understand the action of God in our world.
Claretian Missionaries do not want to be builders of the tower of Babel, we do not want to contribute to the confusion, noise and exclusion, we do not want to make language an instrument of dominance or separation. As missionaries, we were born on Pentecost. We are the fruit of the Spirit of Jesus that creates unity in diversity, that brings us out of our calm Upper Room and compels us to encounter men and women from all over the world. In reality, our language is the language of the Spirit. It is also the language of Mary, the mother of Jesus, the woman who spoke “from the heart.” Therefore, everyone can understand it.
Fr. Gonzalo Fernández Sanz, CMF
General Prefect of Spirituality