Wish you all the love and joy of Christmas! Pope Francis in his apostolic letter Admirabile Signum on the nativity scene explains how it “summons us to follow Jesus along the path of humility, poverty and self-denial that leads from the manger of Bethlehem to the cross” (no. 3).
As I contemplate the babe of Bethlehem in this year 2019, the life of our Founder St. Anthony Mary Claret illumined by the mystery of Christ comes alive to me. In this 150th year of his birth in heaven, I invite you to meditate on how his life became an authentic crib for the incarnate Word.
At the center of Claret’s life is Christ (Aut 755) and Mother Mary is everything for him after Jesus (Aut 5). Claret recalled that Jesus introduced St. Joseph to him as one whom he could love and confide in (Aut 831). In his life he felt the presence of St. Michael and the guardian angels giving him protection (Aut 268-269). The poverty, simplicity, and humility of Jesus marked his lifestyle and itinerant preaching. In his autobiography, Claret presents many homely animals whom he appreciates for their virtues: the hen for the zeal for her chicks, the dog for his faithfulness, the ant for its hard labor, the donkey for its humility and the rooster for its watchfulness (Aut 664 ff). Then there are people of all walks of life to whom he preached the Gospel. The life of Claret culminating in Fontfroide sums up what he lived for: Glory of God and salvation of all people.
Contemplating the nativity scene in the life of Claret, we discover what it means to be a missionary… to become a home for the Word in the world. As sons of the Heart of Mary, we learn from Mary to give our flesh (humanity) to the Word, to become bread (Eucharist) for the life of the world. How wonderful it is for us missionaries to be a live crib for Christ in life!
I wish all the Claretian Family, our benefactors, and friends a very joyful Christmas and a grace-filled New Year 2020.
Fr. Mathew Vattamattam, CMF