Ex Abundantia Cordis
Hernández Martínez, José
Rome: Secretariat of the Heart of Mary

Hernández Martínez, José M. Ex Abundantia Cordis: a Study of the Cordimarian Spirituality of the Claretian Missionaries. Rome: Secretariat of the Heart of Mary, 1991.

American Catholics may be familiar with the popular journal U.S. Catholic, published by the Claretians, a congregation of priests and Brothers, founded by St. Anthony Mary Claret. The congregation's official title is the "Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary." The text in the "Office of Readings" for October 24, the feast of St. Anthony Mary Claret, indicates the intensity of the Marian charism the founder bequeathed to the congregation: "The man who burns with the fire of divine love is a son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and wherever he goes, he enkindles that flame; he desires and works with all his strength to inflame all men with the fire of God's love. Nothing deters him . . . ."

After Vatican II, Claretians, along with many Marian congregations, wished both to revive their original Marian charism and to interpret it in accord with the biblical and theological orientations suggested by the council. At the 1985 Claretian General Chapter, a project was undertaken of "updating, both in theory and in our lives, the Marian dimension of our charism." A first step in this renewal was a questionnaire to all the members of the congregation, consisting of two questions: "How do you live your spirituality of the Heart of Mary," and "What suggestions would you offer for renewing and promoting the spirituality among Claretians and among all Christians" About one fourth of the members responded.

The author of this study, Fr. José Hernández Martínez, was asked to analyze the responses and develop the study. The responses to the first question, which were usually stated in personal terms related to life experiences, were presented in the form of an "itinerary" of Marian living: the determinative influences of family and early years of religious formation (which for many of the respondents corresponded to the preconciliar period). The responses were also divided into beliefs (mother, model, disciple); attitudes (filial, protective, formative); and practices (short prayers, rosary, liturgy).

Two chapters describe how the Heart of Mary was central to the religious experience of St. Anthony Mary Claret, and the way the charism was interpreted in the history of the congregation. Another two chapters situate the Marian charism within the context of contemporary biblical and theological currents.

The last two chapters provide "guidelines for the renewal of our missionary life." The Heart of Mary, understood as the core of Mary's personhood and her fundamental attitude of love, is the symbol influencing prayer, community living, and the apostolate. The Marian charism, nourished through prayer, study, liturgy and also through community experiences and environment, is integral to the total vocational response. For the Claretian, the Heart of Mary provides a spirituality which motivates, inspires, sustains, and is the key to translating the Gospel in daily living.

--Thomas A. Thompson, S.M.

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