12. The Easter Mystery in Our Communities

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” – John 12:24-26.

“As images of God and members of one body, we should love one another, thus fulfilling the Lord’s precept; ‘This is my commandment, love one another as I have loved you.’ Fraternal love such as this involves the practice of all the virtues: ‘love is patient and kind; love is not jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude, and it never seeks its own advantage; it does not take offense or store up grievances. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing but finds it joy in the truth. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.’’ Let us be concerned for one another, then, and help bear one another’s burdens. – Constitutions 15.


Who among us does not want to “live forever” as Jesus promises, or yearn that we love “one another as He has loved us”?

Mural Inst Past Celam Medellin Col 1977In this module, we propose to reflect on the call to holiness which resonates in a peculiar way at this time in the Church, the world and constitutes one of the fundamental objectives of our Congregation.[1]

The profession of the evangelical counsels is “our specific way of accepting the mystery of Christ lived in the Church.”[2] Our consecration is part of the life and holiness in the ecclesial community, and at the same time a particular gift of the Spirit in which we are called to grow and mature; because of this quest, it enables us to prepare to be configured with Christ who is poor, obedient, and chaste so that we may be transformed by him personally and communally.[3]

The total offering of ourselves for the experience of Vows in the Congregation, the assiduous contemplation of Christ and the anointing of the Spirit enables us to participate fully, in his life, death and resurrection; so that we are able to cooperate with him in his work of salvation.[4]

1. Some Resonances of “Gaudete et exsultate”[5] in the Congregation

Gaudete et Exsultate makes “the resounding call to holiness once again, seeking to embody it in the actual context, with its risks, challenges and opportunities” in the hope that “the whole Church will dedicate itself to promoting the desire for holiness.”[6]

The Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis unfolds in five framed chapters with a prologue of biblical resonances that invites one to experience the joy and delight and to walk entirely in the presence of the Lord, and ends with an epilogue dedicated to Mary, icon of holiness of the Church.[7]

The first chapter clarifies that holiness, “heroic, ordinary, and communitarian”, is a universal yet individual appeal and actively engages all the baptized.[8] The second warns of “gnosticism and neopelagianism;” two elitist, intellectual and voluntarist attitudes considered “subtle enemies” when understanding and living holiness in the Church.[9] The third chapter indicates fundamental questions in following Jesus Christ and proposes the Beatitudes as a model of holiness and a path of authentic happiness.[10] The fourth chapter notes “some characteristics of holiness in today’s world,”[11] and the fifth teaches that “combat, vigilance, and discernment” are part of this path.[12]

The third chapter of Gaudete et Exsultate is titled “In the Light of the Master” and proposes what we consider the “supreme rule” of our life: “the following of Christ, as proposed in the Gospel.” [13] We know that when we frequent the school of the Word and turn our attention to Jesus and his community of disciples, we discover that “the Christ of Claret is the Christ of Claretians” [14] and learn to follow him on the paths of the mission.

From listening to the Word, five fundamental aspects emerge in the Constitutions on which to shape our lives with that of Jesus and imitate him so that we may attain the perfection of the Father, love for one another as he loved us, pray without being discouraged, guide our lives by his apostolic standards, and participate in his happiness by living in the spirit of the Beatitudes.

Both Gaudete et Exsultate and our Constitutions speak of the Beatitudes as demonstrating the particular way of living as Jesus lived and the paradox that entails the path to happiness and freedom which he proposes to us and which we assume as our own:

  • Poverty and detachment free us to seek and choose lasting wealth.
  • Meekness disarms all the germs of hatred and allows us to welcome others unconditionally.
  • Empathy moves us to sense the pain of others and partake of their feelings.
  • Quest for justice makes us tenacious in the struggle to include those discarded by the world order.
  • Life seen in the key of mercy makes us like God our Father, the treasure of our lives.
  • Serenity, creativity, sensitivity and dexterity of the peacemakers help us to build peace and social friendship by privileging unity and encounter over divisions.
  • The uncomfortable situation of those who choose justice in an unjust and violent world and the radicality in following Jesus are our proposal for life and the path we choose to travel; the cross and life valued and embraced.

2. The Following of Christ and the Marks of the Cross

“Accepting every day, the way of the Gospel, even if it brings us trouble, this is holiness.”[15]

Sometimes our path of following Jesus Christ presents some situations that become a burden to us, causing us anguish, helplessness and makes us suffer. We feel unappreciated, misunderstood or alone, and we see that changes do not come and prayers are filled with anxiety and silence.

Looking at Christ crucified can give us a light that allows us to discover how even in these circumstances, God visits, sustains and accompanies us. How many times have we taught others? Why is it so difficult to apply this to ourselves?

2.1. Injuries hurt us

Sometimes our cross resembles the sting of which St Paul speaks to the Corinthians; a situation that leads him to value himself and God more appropriately, with more humility .[16] They are situations that we cannot face alone and that, the more we intend to hide them, the more evident they become as St Athanasius says, that which is not assumed is not redeemed.”

And it often happens that when we are wounded, unintentionally or on purpose, we often also hurt others and ourselves because the barriers with which we seek to protect ourselves, place us in the opposite direction of what we want to live, of what we are called to be: Joyful witnesses of the Gospel, followers of Jesus in a community of disciples.

Therefore, name what hurts us and share it with a brother who can understand and help us; allow others to pat our shoulders so that we can assume or integrate our lives by giving it greater solidity, or learn to contemplate who we are with the gaze of Jesus, with confidence and mercy, and this can lighten the weight of our cross.

2.2. Inconsistencies don’t let us grow

On other occasions, we carry the cross of certain psychological inconsistencies related to immature, unconscious fixations or personal tendencies, addictions or difficulties of a moral order, one’s own or from outside although not necessarily pathological. This fragility hinders our ability to follow Jesus and impedes our spiritual growth because it does not allow us to live according to the criteria of the Gospel or to choose Christ above all else; to follow him as we would like or how we openly proclaim him.

It becomes necessary for us to live these situations transparently and to face them in fraternal dialogue. While they have a direct impact on us, they can also affect third parties inside and outside of the community.

It is imperative that we be willing to accompany the brothers who suffer from this type of situation or that we allow ourselves to be accompanied, spiritually or psychologically, by someone who helps us to discern what type of condition holds us back and what is the best way of proceeding. We will be able to discover the influxes of the unconscious in our spiritual life and work on them through spiritual accompaniment and proper therapeutic help. When we do not react in time, our dynamism weakens, the calls and options, which we believe as worth giving up in order to follow Jesus in the Congregation, cease to make sense.

2.3. Illness limits us

Sometimes the cross can be an illness that affects us.

When the ailment is physical, it imposes itself, and although the cross is heavy, we have tools or hopes that stress the need to be positive so as to move forward; and the process of identification with the suffering Christ seems easier to objectify and confront. Nonetheless, when the illness affects our psyche, everything becomes more complex and difficult to cope, both personally and communally.

The Constitutions tell us how and where to move forward in the footsteps of Jesus when an illness impacts our lives.[17] As we confront this direction, some brothers who have embodied these values take on a transforming struggle, acceptance and dedication to God till the end of their lives.

Our request and interest, the visit and fraternal dialogue, or working with and encouraging, even though the use of new technologies when it is not possible to do it personally, gives us the opportunity to share the weight of our crosses, like Simon of Cyrene, who helped Jesus on his way to Calvary.

2.4. Old age resuscitates us in life

The experience of the cross can be presented as an example of the consequences of the passage of time and old age; when we begin to withdraw from the areas of responsibility and decision-making.

Like all the other stages of life that we go through, aging is not a simple process, but carries certain tensions; meaning that we solve some tasks positively and develop certain qualities. Since we gradually retreat to the margins of the community and move away from the lifestyle to which we were accustomed, we become aware of the detachment that influences these limited relationships; and at times, we may feel or experience some form of abandonment, loneliness and isolation.

According to Erikson, older people must resolve the tension between an integrated self, in which life is seen as totally meaningful, and despair, in which one would like to walk by taking another path, but there isn’t time. Havighurst, for his part and from the same perspective, indicates the following tasks as typical of old age:

Each one of us is confronted with declining strength and health, retirement and economic support, death of peers, thus establish an affiliation with a specific group. We make our self flexible to adopt and adapt to social roles and establish habitats of a satisfactory life. The quality to cultivate this type of wisdom is not just a consequence of many years.[18]

2.5. Difficulties in community invite us to mature

Sometimes the cross has to do with the difficulties in community that are never lacking. Our Constitutions point out that love for God and love for brothers and sisters is the first and most necessary gift of the missionary community. The XXV General Chapter presented it as an “evangelizing word.”[19] However, there are times that the community climate is vitiated and the familiarity to which we are called is difficult to achieve.

As we have already addressed, more simply, such issues in the previous brochures -the service of authority or leadership in the community, its organization, the transformation of conflicts and forgiveness, reconciliation in the missionary community, – we don’t need to return to these points right now. In any case, it is important to emphasize that the community is a gift that we build on every day with our attitudes and, therefore, it is also an invitation to mature on a human level and as missionary disciples of Jesus in the community.

2.6. Persecutions because of the mission place us in the perspective of the Beatitudes

Finally, the experience of the cross can come as a result of the desire to follow Jesus whom we profess and the mission we serve. Among us, persecution and harassment are nothing new. When preaching the Gospel, the first fruits in our founder and father, St Anthony Mary Claret, would also be a characteristic note of our missionary identity.[20]

The Holy See, in responding to a request from our Congregation, has established that on the first of February, we should honor the memory of the Claretian martyrs; our brothers who offered theirs lives forgiving their persecutors for the love of Christ and Mary, the Congregation, the missions, the workers and all mankind for being faithful to the Gospel.

Going through these passages of anguish, tribulation, and death because of the Kingdom of God, with our heart anchored in Jesus and his Word, we are not only a congregational experience of the past; it is also a characteristic note of the church of our day and, with distinct characteristics, of some current contexts where the Congregation shares “the hopes and joys, sorrows and trials of the people, especially those of the poor, we readily offer to join efforts with all who are striving to transform the world according to God’s plan.” [21]

3. “To Live in Christ” or What Holiness is About in “Gaudete et exsultate”

“We have this treasure in earthen vessels…for while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.””[22]

Just as the cross is manifested in our lives, the resurrected life of Christ is also presented. Therefore, the exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate teaches us that “the life in Christ” is built day by day. Now, what is the holiness of which the Pope speaks? The holiness referred to by Pope Francis presents five characteristic notes that we summarize below:

  • The first is to cement our lives in the Love of God. This characteristic increases our trust in God and helps us mature so that we can endure the adversities and difficulties of life; it dilates our patience, makes us constant and tenacious in the pursuit of good, widens our ability to welcome others and detracts from all forms of violence or desire for superiority.
  • The second is serene joy and good humor. Both are a consequence of the above and a sign of our fundamental choice for the Kingdom of God that “is justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”[23] It is the joy of those who abandon the passing of the Easter Mystery and, because of this, “create communion, divide and share,” ignite other people and “make us able to enjoy with the good of[24]
  • The third characteristic is the audacity and fervor or “apostolic zeal,” that moved our Fr. Founder. “Apostolic audacity and courage are constitutive of the mission” proper to those who live driven by the Spirit, shaped in the image of Jesus, urged by their compassion and content in St Paul’s phrase to the Philippians: “I can do all things in him who strengthen me.”[25]
  • The fourth characteristic is that it creates communion as a result of embarking on a journey of friendship with a God who is Mutual affection, fruitful by the encounter with the Risen Jesus in his Word and at the table of the Eucharist, is called to transform our communities into a “theological space in which to experience the mystical presence of the Risen Lord;”[26] in areas of care, where small details save and sustain us.
  • The fifth characteristic is the constant prayer that permeates our interests and guides them to the attainment of what makes us happy, in the search for God’s will in our lives.[27] This prayer opens our interiority to the gift of God’s Spirit who dwells in us, who probes our hearts, draws us to him and “intercedes for us with ineffable groans.”[28]

Based on these interpretive keys, to be holy is to walk entirely in the presence of the Lord who is a source of joy and cultivates our friendship with him.[29]. To be holy is to open us confidently to God’s action by the Spirit to be fully human like Jesus.[30] To be holy consists in us being “good stewards” of the grace received at baptism so that we may bear the fruits that God hopes to see in each of us and thus contribute to the beauty of the Church.[31] To be holy is that we give ourselves to others by giving life as a prophetic witness, even in martyrdom.[32] To be holy is that we live the present moment from the key of love and charity that fills with meaning the small gestures that sometimes go unnoticed.[33] To be holy is that we live our lives as a mission by bringing to fulfillment God’s dream in us.[34] To be holy is that we live with evangelical simplicity,[35] that we grow in the proposal of the Beatitudes,[36] that we lead a life pleasing to God in the key of mercy.[37] To be holy is that we may always choose life so that we may have life and life in abundance.[38] To be holy is that we live from the logic of the cross, in community, open to transcendence, like Mary.[39]

In this context it is good that we ask ourselves how we are living in our choosing to follow Jesus and whether we have responded to the bold calls of the Church these past few years: to go to the peripheries, to live in a key of mercy, to welcome migrants into our homes, to be transparent in the management of the goods, to give accountability of what we do with them, to care for the flock that has been entrusted to us by banishing any type of abuse, to understand the mission as a synodal process, to promote the culture of the encounter, to care for the common home, to work at different levels for including the discarded of the system, for pastoral conversion, to be missionary disciples of the joy of the Gospel, to be holy.

The XXV General Chapter adds to all these calls, other appeals that come to us from the world and the Congregation and appeal to our identity. Confronting them allows us to grow personally, communally and organizationally; placing us before God’s dream for us; helping us to stand, so as to continue walking and taking advantage of the opportunities offered to us.

Conclusion: Combat, Vigilance, Discernment and Fraternal Accompaniment.

Both the mission and the call to holiness are rooted in our status as baptized and are intrinsic to it. “I am always a mission; everyone baptized is a mission” from the beginning to the end of our lives, Pope Francis teaches.[40]

With our Claretian profession, we respond radically to this common vocation and begin walking together. Holiness is proposed as an ideal to be achieved and as an invitation to continue walking on this path. This endeavor requires “permanent combat, strength and courage” to resist the harassment of the Evil One, so much as to allow us to be transformed by the Spirit and be rooted in Christ; remaining united with him and knowing that he fights beside us and for us.[41]

In this struggle, spiritual discernment is an extraordinary gift that we must plead for and at the same time, an art that we must learn and cultivate by incorporating into prayer the teachings of human sciences and of the Church. In this way we will be able to discern what comes from God. We will know ourselves better. We will respond with filial diligence to God, and continue to walk together, in a community of missionary disciples.[42]

Solidarity and fraternal accompaniment are called to become increasingly relevant in our lives as a result of the vocation we share, the reciprocal love that we are called to cultivate, the care and concern that we owe ourselves and as a testimony to what we teach others.[43]


For Personal and Communitarian Reflection

What wounds in my life history have been or are difficult to accept, integrate, heal and redeem? How do they affect me today?

How do we help each other overcome the inconsistencies that limit our ability to follow Jesus in community? What things or attitudes help us to make a commitment to our self and to our brothers?

What is the hardest thing to accept when others want to accompany us or when it is our turn to accompany them, when it is our turn to carry the cross of sickness? Why do you think it is difficult? What attitudes do we need to correct these situations?

How do I predispose myself to welcoming the brothers with whom I live? What attitudes of mine injure the missionary fraternity and need to be reviewed? How does it help me in community building to recognize my qualities and boundaries sincerely? How can I improve dialogue so that it positively helps build a more fraternal and evangelizing community?

How do we specifically support our brothers who are persecuted or slandered because of their mission? What is our attitude towards them? How do we let them know we are interested in how they live, and suffer because of the Gospel they preach?


[1] Cf. CC 2.

[2] VC 16.

[3] Cf. LG 42-44.

[4] Cf. CC 39.

[5] Cf. George Lanithottam CMF, “The nature, manifestations and challenges of Christian holiness. A summary reading of the apostolic exhortation Gaudete and Exsultate“. In Claretianum ITVC, n. s. 10, t. 59 (2019) 275-295.

[6] Cf. GE 2; 177.

[7] Cf. GE 1-2; 176-177.

[8] Cf. GE 3-34.

[9] Cf. GE 35-62.

[10] Cf. GE 63-109.

[11] Cf. GE 110-157.

[12] Cf. GE 158-175.

[13] Cf. CC 4 § 2.

[14] Cf. Claretian Missionaries, Declaration of the XXI General Chapter “Servants of the Word”. Rome 1991. Number 14, 1; Claretian Missionaries, Our Missionary Life Project. Comment to the Claretian Constitutions. Volume I, Fundamental Constitution. Rome 1991. Page 87.

[15] GE 94.

[16] Cf. 2Co 12, 7-10.

[17] Cf. CC 45.

[18] UNIVERSITAT DE BARCELONA. VILLAR, F. Teaching Project. Chapter 12. Adult Development and Aging from a Point of View Socio-contextual. Available at: <http://www.ub.edu/dppsed/fvillar/>. Access: 21 Jul. 2018. Page. 760-761.

[19] CC 10; MS 46.

[20] Cf. Aut. 494; CC 44.

[21] CC 46.

[22] 2Co 4, 7. 11.

[23] Ro 14, 7.

[24] GE 128.

[25] Flp 4, 13.

[26] GE 142.

[27] Francis devotes a whole chapter of his exhortation to discernment, arguments that we’ve already addressed in the sixth Brochure of this publication.

[28] Cf. Ro 8, 26s.

[29] Cf. Gen 17, 1; GE 1, 2, 4, 8, 17, 54, 107.

[30] Cf. GE 8, 24, 63, 136.

[31] Cf. GE 8, 9, 15, 18.

[32] Cf. GE 4, 5, 8, 9.

[33] Cf. GE 4, 8, 18, 54, 109.

[34] Cf. GE 19-31, 58.

[35] Cf. GE 59-62.

[36] Cf. GE 63-65, 69-94.

[37] Cf. GE 96-97.

[38] Cf. Jn 10, 10; GE 108-109, 112-115.

[39] Cf. GE 174-175, 139-145, 147-157, 176.

[40] Cf. Francisco, Baptized and Envoy: the Church of Christ in mission in the world. Message from the Holy Father Francis for World Mission Day 2019. Vatican City, 2019. Available in: http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/es/messages/missions/documents/papa-francesco_20190609_giornata -missionaria2019.html – Access: 16 Jun. 20.

[41] Cf. GE 158, 161-162.

[42] Cf. GE 162.

[43] Cf. CC 29; Aut. 441.