July 16 brings alive in us the seminary room in Vic in 1849 where our Founder and his five companions gathered in prayer for a new beginning. They were men, as Claret wrote, “whom the Lord had given the same spirit that motivated me” (Aut 489), They placed the flames of fire in their hearts together to “form a Congregation of Priests who would both be, and be called, Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary” (Aut. 488). The Congregation grew in numbers and welcomed Brothers, Students, and Deacons and went in mission to all the continents. Today we are responsible to keep the fire of our charism burning and spread its flames wherever we are.
On the Foundation day, our Founder took Psalm 22.4, “Your rod and your staff give me courage.” to motivate the group, referring to the cross of Christ (staff) and the intercession of Mary (rod). The power of cross and the accompanying presence of our Blessed Mother is a source of strength for us in our life and mission.
The life of our own Founder and the way he faced calumnies and persecution in his life prove the courage he derived from this “the rod and the staff”. Our martyr brothers drew strength from them in the hour of their martyrdom.
I have seen this strength in many Claretian Missionaries who lived through times of misunderstanding, crisis, false accusations, and various trials of life finding strength in the cross of Christ and the tender accompanying presence of the Holy Mother.
On the Feast of Foundation, I invite all Claretian Missionaries to take time to look into their hearts to treasure the fire of love that ignites our missionary life and fan it if ashes tend to cover it. Let us hold on to the staff and the rod that our Founder mentioned on the day of Foundation and face the trials of life with courage and integrity.
I wish many blessings to all our brothers who make their professions, renewal of vows, ordinations and jubilee celebrations on July 16.
Wish you all a joyful feast of the Feast of Mount Carmel, our Foundation day.
Fr. Mathew Vattamattam, CMF