Missionaries in Community of Disciples

For a Claretian missionary to be in community of disciples, is not an option, but an essential feature that flows from the origins of our Congregation and charism. An important dimension of a Claretian vocation is being welcomed as part of the community of disciples.

This is why our Constitutions dedicate its first chapter to the issue of the Missionary Community. We, the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary are called to reflect the likeness of the apostles. We receive the gift of following Christ within a community life… this is why we are invited to imitate the communion of the Apostles with Jesus Christ. For a Claretian, his community is a necessary and essential gift, which defines the true discipleship of Christ. Fraternal life in community should be for each Claretian the first missionary word. We reflect the grace, which brings us together for the proclamation of the Word, and it isn’t given so that we live marginalised from others. This is the reason why the document; The Mission of the Claretian Today considers, “the first and principal understanding of the Claretian must be a deep communion with the brothers, called and sent like him, to be a witness and heralds of the Good News.”

The 25th General Chapter considers and confirms for all Claretians: “mediation of the mission, for a community of disciples-missionaries: with Jesus’ help, we move from the pre-eminence of the “I” to the primacy of the “we,” thus making us witnesses and messengers of the Kingdom. We are called to have one heart, soul and everything in common, yet maintaining our own individuality. The Gospel invites us to lay out and share what has been created for us. Our commonality, enrichens and strengthens our being. The missionary community – a precious gift, – enriched in the Eucharist, is a privileged space that allows and strengthens our personal fulfilment. Where there is so much sadness and dissatisfaction in this world, the missionary vocation offers true happiness which is given freely” (MS 26).

With this perspective, each Claretian missionary should considered that being in community as a disciple is a grace which must challenge one to promote the beauty of community life and to revive a fraternal alliance. We must be careful to avoid indifference, existence of groups lacking community life and apostolic individualism, or those who may turn their backs on each other and chose to avoid them. We are also called to cultivate listening, a sensitivity towards others, spiritual communication, fraternal relations and transparency in the sharing of our goods.

In the context of a Church in movement, each Claretian community must perceive itself as moving to meet the needs as servants. As Pope Francis states: “We need to help others to realize that the only way is to learn how to encounter others with the right attitude, which is to accept and esteem them as companions along the way, without interior resistance. Better yet, it means learning to find Jesus in the faces of others, in their voices, in their pleas. And learning to suffer in the embrace of the crucified Jesus” (GS 91). The community of the disciples is, “a mystical fraternity,

a contemplative fraternity. It is a fraternal love capable of seeing the sacred grandeur of our neighbour, of finding God in every human being” (GS 92). Being missionary disciple means to exist at the service of others. “An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others” (GS 24). There is no other way. “It has to do with “observing” all that the Lord has shown us as the way of responding to his love. Along with the virtues, this means above all the new commandment, the first and the greatest of the commandments, and the one that best identifies us as Christ’s disciples: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15, 12)” (EG 161).

To live as a missionary in community is a gift of the Holy Spirit that we receive and care for. We recognize that to live as a missionary disciple in community, in spite of all the limits, does support and reinforces our missionary vocation; helping to cultivate a creative fidelity that consolidates and deepens our missionary identity, reinterprets the charism in our contexts and urges us to joyfully live it.

Given that, in general, our communities are multi-generational and intercultural. it’s an imperative for each of us to recognize that it is the Holy Spirit who builds our communities and configures us as disciples in mission, in service of the people of God.

Consequently, today we are called to be in the world, and in particular, for young people who are witness to this gift, a parable of communion, an eschatological sign, and a word of evangelization and is captivating. This wouldn’t be possible if we fail to place the Eucharist as the center of our missionary lives, since it is the principal source of Christian life. When we participate in it, we becomes strong, robust, and prepared to give testimony. The Eucharist become the focal point of community as missionary disciples gather around the altar. We become one with Christ made visible in the appearance of Bread and Wine. Through vocational and shared listening of the Word of God, the testimony of the brothers encourages the joyful experience of the gift received, which are among many factors that should be valued.

As beloved disciples and messengers, we welcome Mary our Mother into our home, and that the Spirit help us to always see our fraternal life as a joyous and transparent of the Kingdom.

Fr. Gabriel Isaias Cassinda CMF
Angola-São Tomé e Principe