“As regards the foundation of Jaca, I do not know what to tell you, I always give advice with fear concerning the things you ask me about the Congregation because I remember the caution with which saint Ignatius acted with regard to the Company by not interfering with those who were governing. I have no doubt you must have spoken with the consultors (…) I will pray to God and the Most Holy Virgin that you may make the right decision”.

(Carta al P. José Xifré, 11 julio 1867, en EC II, p. 1172).EVERYONE HAS THEIR RESPONSIBILITY

Jaca is a Spanish city in the aragonese Province of Huesca. When the members of the Congregation of Missionaries of Claret became a bit numerous, many bishops asked the General Superior to establish a community in their dioceses. But some preferred to go directly to Claret, in which case he would refer the request to the General, Fr. Xifré. In this case – as in other cases – it was Xifré himself who consulted Claret about a request that he had received. But in spite of being the Founder, Claret – with exemplary discretion – preferred not to meddle in the decision of the government: it is not up to him.

One of the things we frequently experience in life is “when one pokes their nose”, or when an authority encroaches into another’s responsibility. In the case under examination, Claret let the competent authority decide. One thing is to give advice when you are consulted, another is to interfere.

Sometimes it also happens in the families, for example, when parents want to be in charge of the life of their adult children. It is not easy for some parents to accept that their children have reached the age of majority, forgetting that they themselves would not have liked it if their parents had wanted to determine their life. It is always a positive thing to ask for advice, especially from ones parents; and it’s obvious that a father or a mother would give the best advice they believe to be appropriate. A different thing would be to try to “rule” – even with the best goodwill – their adult children.

Do I, in my ordinary life, offer gladly and respectfully the pieces of advice that I consider appropriate, prudent, fruit of my personal experience and useful to those who consult me? Am I a meddler who tries to rule others’ house? Or maybe, I err on the side of indifference towards those who are perplexed or disoriented?