Saint Anthony Mary Claret

Vocation to the Apostolate

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Vocation to the Apostolate


(Written between 1831 and 1835. Handwritten original in Latin: Mss Claret II, 165-166)

Introductory Note

This brief manuscript contains a series of scriptural texts in which Claret discovered his vocation to the apostolate. Because of the paper, ink and handwriting, it seems to date back to his seminary days. Much later, the Saint added in Castilian, as a sort of title: “I understood this when I was a young seminarian.”

After losing his desire to become a Carthusian, he began thinking not only of his own sanctification, but also what he could do to save his neighbor.1378 With this new direction planted firmly in his mind and will, he began discovering certain Bible passages that impressed him so strongly that he seemed to hear God calling him through them. This revelation of his apostolic vocation through the Scriptures is reminiscent of Francis of Assisi’s call to the ideal of poverty through his reading of the Gospel.

The texts that impressed Claret so powerfully were from the Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel. He transcribed them later in Autob. Doc. VIII and in Part II, Ch. 1 of his Autobiography, where he gives a brief commentary on each of them.1379

In the texts he chose (or rather, that chose him), the following elements stand out clearly: 1) the gratuitousness of his being chosen; 2) God’s acting through the one chosen; 3) the glory given to God alone; 4) the witness of condemnation against those who will not believe.

The numbers in the margin of the texts indicate the verses of the scriptural chapter cited by the Saint at the beginning of each passage.


Is c. 41. Esto lo entendí siendo estudiantito.

8. Et tu, Israel serve meus, Jacob quem elegi, semen Jacob, Abraham amici mei.

9. In quo apprehendi te ab extremis terrae et a longinquis ejus vocavi te et dixi tibi: Servus meus es tu, elegi te et non abjeci te.

10. Ne timeas, quia ego tecum sum; ne declines quia ego Deus tuus; confortavi te et auxiliatus sum tibi et suscepit te dextera justi mei.

11. Ecce confundentur et erubescent omnes qui pugnant adversum te; erunt quasi non sint et peribunt viri, qui contradicunt tibi.

12. Quaeres eos et non invenies, viros rebelles tuos: erunt quasi non sint et veluti consumptio homines bellantes adversum te.

13. Quia ego Dominus Deus tuus apprenhendens manum tuam, dicensque tibi: Ne timeas, ego adiuvi te.

14. Noli timere, vermis Jacob, qui mortui estis ex Israel, ego auxiliatus sum tibi, dicit Dominus, et redemptor tuus sanctus Israel.

15. Ego posui te quasi plaustrum triturans novum, habens ostra serrantia; triturabis montes et comminues et colles quasi pulverem pones.

16. Ventilabis eos et ventus tollet et turbo disperget eos et tu exultabis in Domino, in sancto Israel laetaberis.

17. Egeni et pauperes quaerunt aquas et non sunt; lingua eorum siti aruit. Ego Dominus exaudiam eos, Deus Israel non derelinquam eos.

Idem, c. 48

10. Ecce excoxi te, sed non quasi argentum, elegi te in camino paupertatis.

11. Propter me, propter me faciam ut non blasphemer et gloriam meam alteri non dabo.

Idem, c. 49 v. 3.

[Et dixit mihi: Servus meus es tu Israel, quia in te gloriabor].

Et dixit Mater ejus ad illum: Fili, quid fecisti nobis sic? Ecce pater tuus et ego dolentes quaerebamus te. Lc. 2 v. 48.

Et ait ad illos: Quid est quod me quaerebatis? Nesciebatis quia in his, quae Patris mei sunt, oportet me esse?

Vulpes foveas habent, et volucres coeli nidos, Filius autem hominis non habet ubi reclinet caput. Id. 9 v. 58.

Is ch. 41. I understood this when I was a young seminarian.

8. But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend.

9. You whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off.”

10. Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I have strengthened you and I have helped you, and the right hand of my just one has upheld you.

11. Behold, all who fight against you shall be confounded and ashamed; those who contradict you shall be as nothing and shall perish.

12. You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all.

13. For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you.”

14. Fear not, you worm Jacob, you that are dead of Israel! I will help you, says the Lord; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.

15. I will make of you a threshing sledge, new, sharp and having teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and crush them, and you shall make the hills like chaff.

16. You shall winnow them and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest shall scatter them. And you shall rejoice in the Lord; and in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.

17. The needy and the poor ask for waters, but there are none; their tongue is parched with thirst. I the Lord will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

Idem, c. 48

10. Behold, I have refined you, but not like silver; I have tried you in the furnace of poverty.

11. For my own sake, for my own sake will I do it, that I may not be blasphemed. My glory I will not give to another.

Idem, c. 49 v. 3.

[And he said to me: “You are my servant, Israel, for in you will I be glorified.]

And his Mother said to him: “Son, why have you done so to us? Behold, your father and I have sought you sorrowing.” Lk 2: 48

And he said to them: “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?”1380

Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head. Id., 9:58

Document V



(Written in 1843-40. Handwritten original: MSS Claret II, 281-282)

Introductory Note

In the Autobiography (94) and in Documents I and II above, Claret tells us of the Confraternities or Sodalities in which he was enrolled. The present Document rounds out these data.

In its material form, this Document is curious enough. It is written on the back of a folded page from the Saint’s old notes on philosophy, containing a syllogism to prove that the essence of things is necessary. Both from the handwriting and the subject-matter, it can be deduced that Claret wrote the data on the Confraternities in 1834. A year or two after he wrote the syllogism, he wrote the list of the Confraternities he belonged to, adding a note on the enrollment of three of his relatives in the Confraternity of the Rosary. Years later, he added the note of his entrance into the Jesuit Novitiate in Rome and the date of his receiving the cassock. In still later handwriting, and in different ink, he noted the date of his admission into the Congregation of Our Lady of Providence in Rome.


It seems to me that it was in 1819 that by the grace of God I was admitted into the Congregation of the Perpetual Rosary.

On November 11, 1831, I was admitted into that of Laus perennis.

And on June 9, 1833, I was admitted into and professed the same day in the Congregation of the Sorrows of Mary.

On October 6, 1833, I was enrolled as a confrere of the Most Holy Rosary.

In the year 1831, I was admitted into the Congregation of Saint Aloysius in the Seminary College of Vic.1381

On June 4, 1834, I was enrolled in that of the Heart of Jesus.

At my request, Manuel Claret, Mary Claret and Teresa Arbat were enrolled as confreres of the Rosary on April 20, 1834.

On October 29, 1839, I entered the Society [of Jesus] and on November 13th of the same year they gave me the cassock.

On March 14, 1840, I was admitted to the Congregation of O. L. of Providence, in Rome.

Document VI

Declaration Made on Entering the

Society of Jesus


(Witten in 1839. Latin original: Informationes

Novitiorum S.I. II [1825-1841], Letter “C,”

Archives, Jesuit Rome Province; Photo copy in : Mss. Claret, XVII, 9-10. Published in EC I, pp. 90-93). English trans. from the Latin original, as well as the first Castilian version, cf. SAMC, Escritos autobiográficos (Madrid 1981), pp. 420-422. For a critically annotated English edition, cf. SL, pp. 63-66.

Introductory Note

In the opening chapters of Part Two of his Autobiography, Claret tells how he began his quest for a universal apostolate and eventually entered the Jesuit novitiate in Rome. The present Document is the declaration he made on November 11, 1839, two days before he was invested in the Jesuit cassock.

The special interest of this Document is that it forms, so to speak, Claret’s first autobiography. Within the official framework of the declaration, he provides us with information on his birthplace, family and aspirations. He offers the data required for his entry into the Society (or, as he calls it, the “Company”) of Jesus. He mentions his parents, brothers and sisters, only to the effect that they are not dependent on him for support. He discloses some of his personal qualities, but only in order to establish that he has an apostolic vocation.

This passion for the apostolic ministry was an excellent recommendation for entry into an Institute whose Constitutions state that its aim is not only the glory of God and the perfection of its members, but also “to strive intensely (impense) to assist in the salvation and perfection of the souls of their neighbors.”1382 Alphonsus Rodríguez comments: “not just in any way, but impense, a word of vehemence, efficacy and fervor.”1383

By this standard, Claret could have been a great Jesuit, but God had destined him for other apostolic undertakings – indeed, to be the father of many apostles.1384
Ego Antonius Claret die 25 Decembris anni a Nat[ivita]te Domini 1808 in Parochia S[anc]tae Mariae de Sallent Dioe[cesis] Vicensis, in Provincia Catalauniae Regni Hispaniae baptizatus, pridie natus,24 filius legitimus et naturalis Joannis Claret Fabricatoris Textorum, et Josephae Clará Conjugum, Ambo viventes, et de mea subsistentia non indigent. Habeo duos fratres etiam fabricatores, gaudentes magna fabrica.25

Etiam habeo duas sorores alia est sponsata cum fabricatore, alia vero est domicella, sed cum Parentes et alios fratres vivos et potentes habeat non sum ei absolute necessarius.26

A prima [a]etate usque ad annum undecimum instructus fui in Doctrina Christiana, legere et scribere in Gipnatio publico ejusdem villae sub Antonio Pascual. In anno undecimo aetatis meae incoepi Grammaticam latinam sub D[octo]re Joanne Riera P[raes]b[yte]ro, et Magistro publico, per annum unum, qui cum tunc cessasset iste in docere, et ego in studere: et positus continuo circa Patrem meum, me docuit artem fabricationis usque ad annum decem et septem; et tunc instructionis causa missus fui Barcinonem, in qua arte fabricationis valde instructus evassi (si mihi loqui fas est).

Sed cum per annos tres ibi degissem, luce superiore, aperte vidi fallaciam rerum mundanarum, et sic re perpense, et mature considerata, decrevi relinquere omnia, et sequere Christum in statu clericali, quapropter studui Gramaticam latinam per alium annum sub D[omino] Francisco Artigas Magistro Reali in eadem civitate Barcinonensi.

Postea a Parentibus missus fui ad Seminarium tridentum Dioe[cesis] Vicen[sis] in quo per annos tres studui Philosophiam utens Autore Andrea a Guevara.27

In eodem Seminario studui per annos tres et unum extra seminarium, sed cum permissu, Sacram Theologiam D[ivi] Thomae.

Vidimus tractatus: de Deo et Attributis: de Trinitate: de Angelis: de Actibus humanis: de legibus: de virtutibus: de incarnatione, et de statu animae post mortem.

Studui Theologiam moralem per annos tres privatim cum consilio et aprobatione Yll[u]s[t]ris Vicarii G[enerali]s et Seminarii utens P. Larraga et Comp[endi]o Sti Alfonsii a Ligorio.28

Anno vero tertio Theologiae scholasticae finito, promotus fui ad sacrum Presbiteratus ordinem, sed cum zelo salutis animarum flagrassem, et privatim jam vidissem Theologiam Moralem, examinatus et aprobatus fui ad praedicationem et audiendas confessiones,29 et sic fui duobus annis cum duobus mensibus Coadjutor spiritualis, sive Vicarius, et anno uno et decem mensibus oeconomus Parochiae S[anc]tae M[ari]ae de Sallent Dioe[cesis] Vicensis.

Valetudine sum sanus,30 statura pussillus,31 et memoria non multo facilis.32

Valde pronus ad spiritualia exercitia presipue ad invissendos infirmos, ad audiendas Confessiones et ad populum exortandum, ita ut in iis sum indefessus ut per memetipsum vidi in his quatuor annis proxime praeteritis.
Romae 11. Novembris a. 1839.

I, Anthony Claret, was baptized on the 25th day of December, the Birthday of Our Lord, in the year 1808, in the Parish of St. Mary of Sallent, in the Diocese of Vic, the Province of Catalonia, the Kingdom of Spain, having been born the day before.1385 I am the legitimate and natural-born son of the wedded couple, John Claret, weaver, and Josepha Clará, both still living, but not dependent on me for their support.

I have two brothers, both manufacturers, each of whom has a large factory.1386

I also have two sisters, one of whom is married to a manufacturer, while the other, though single, has absolutely no need of my support, because her parents and other brothers are alive and well.1387

From early childhood until my eleventh year, I was taught Christian Doctrine, reading and writing in the town’s public school, under the direction of Mr. Anthony Pascual. When I was eleven, I began studying Latin Grammar under Dr. John Riera, priest and public teacher, for a year. But as the latter gave up teaching, I could no longer study, and directly had to join my father at work, where he taught me the art of weaving until I was seventeen. At that time I was sent to Barcelona to perfect myself in the art of manufacturing, in which I managed to do very well (if I do say so myself).

But after living there for three years, I could clearly see by a light from above the deceptiveness of the ways of the world, and thus, after long and mature thought, I decided to leave all things and follow Christ in the clerical state, and with this in mind I studied Latin Grammar for another year under Dr. Francis Artigas, a Royal Teacher in the same city of Barcelona.

Afterwards my parents sent me to the Tridentine Seminary of the Diocese of Vic, where for three years I studied Philosophy, using the text of Andrew de Guevara.1388

For three years in the same Seminary, as well as one year outside it with due permission, I studied the Sacred Theology of St. Thomas.

We covered the treatises on God and His Attributes, the Trinity, Angels, human acts, laws, virtues, the Incarnation, and the state of the soul after death.

For three years I studied Moral Theology privately, on the advice and with the approval of the Vicar General and the Superior of the Seminary, using the text of Fr. Lárraga, and the Compendium of St. Alphonsus Liguori.1389

After finishing my third year of Scholastic Theology, I was promoted to the Sacred Order of Presbyterate. But because I was burning with zeal for the salvation of souls, and since I had already studied Moral Theology privately, I was examined and approved to preach and hear confessions.1390 In this capacity I spent two years and two months as spiritual assistant or vicar, and a year and ten months as curate econome, of St. Mary’s Parish, Sallent, in the Diocese of Vic.

I am of sound health,1391short stature,1392 and not very facile of memory.1393

I am strongly inclined to spiritual practices, especially visiting the sick, hearing confessions and exhorting the people, in such wise that I am tireless in these works, as I myself have observed during these past four years.

Rome, the 11th of November, 1839.

Anthony Claret, Spanish Priest.

Document VII

Apostolic Missionary: Self Portrait


(Written in 1846. Barcelona: Balmes Foundation Archives.

I. Casanovas, Balmes. La seva vida, el seu temps, les

seves obres [Barcelona 1932] II, pp. 64-65, III, p. 657)

Introductory Note

This Document was discovered by Fr. Casanovas among the papers of Balmes and attributed by him on internal evidence to Claret, who must have written it in the Summer of 1846, at the time of his interview with Balmes in Vic, when both men were at the height of their activity. Claret had just finished his great mission in Lleida (Lérida) and Balmes had just finished his Filosofía Fundamental. The philosopher was interested in probing the activities of the missionary, whose preaching and miracles were fanning the flames of faith throughout Catalonia. On the basis of this interview, Balmes quickly jotted down the following note:

July 14, 1846, Conversation with the Rev. Fr. Claret

In the pulpit he never speaks of theaters. Nor of heresies. Nor of philosophers or the impious. He always presupposes faith. He starts from the premise that in Spain, impiety involves impiety regarding the faith. He has to assign numbers to those waiting their turn outside his confessional. They enter according to their number. Blasphemers. The sick say that they are healed; he says he only commends them to God, and knows of nothing extraordinary. In Viladrau for eight months. Studies in medicine.

Little terror, gentleness in all. Never uses examples that could give rise to ridicule. Examples, in general, from Scripture. Events of secular history. Never oppositions and things of that sort. Speaks of hell, but limits himself to what Scripture says. Same regarding purgatory. Doesn’t want to exasperate people or drive them crazy. Always has a catechetical part.1394

Besides this hastily written note, Balmes seems to have asked Claret for a résumé of their conversation, since the latter wrote a note (the present Document) including eight points that form a portrait of himself as an Apostolic Missionary, eager to reproduce literally the ideal that Jesus had traced out for his Apostles: seeking the Father’s glory in all things, poverty, meekness, evangelizing the people, healing.

Claret tried to use the interview to enlist Balmes for his apostolate to the masses. He suggested that Balmes write a novel, to bring his learned abstractions down to the level of the general public. Balmes took the suggestion seriously; among his papers several pages of the planned novel were discovered. In a letter to J. M. Quadrado (August 6, 1846) Balmes wrote: “Here’s another matter. Speaking the other day with our outstanding missionary, Mossèn Claret, he complained of the few works available to offset pernicious novels, and he spoke to me of I know not how many projects. It’s a rather delicate matter involving original compositions, if they are to reach the world as such. I told him it was a matter requiring much thought, and even added that I would write you about it. I ask you, then, what you think of the possibility, feasibility and literary as well as religious success of novels, legends and the like, in offsetting other works, as the holy missionary would like to do.”1395

Fr. Casanovas draws the following comparison between these two providential men:

They were like two hands building the temple of God, or rather, like the head and the heart of the Church in Catalonia... Balmes never took a step without calculating it in pondere et mensura, as if the great ideals that moved him depended on every little detail. Father Claret seemed not to attach any importance to what happened from moment to moment, even if it altered the course he had resolved on, as if nothing mattered but the inner fire with which he burned. Balmes wanted to control and guide events by dint of reason and prudence; Fr. Claret seemed to let himself be gently led by the flow of things, as if in the arms of divine Providence. Balmes glimpsed both the end and the means in a single sweeping glance, and knew how he would finish the moment he began; Fr. Claret seemed only to be enlightened by his supernatural end, as if he were always already at its term.

Nevertheless, they undeniably had a fundamental likeness. Their ideals were identical: to lift up a fallen world and bring it to God. The love of the supernatural was the very life of both, although in Claret it was a pure outpouring of the soul, while in Balmes it was intellectual light and power. We might say that Balmes sought God in all things, as befits a Christian sage, while Claret sought all things in God, as befits the higher wisdom of a Saint. They also shared certain kindred traits of character: heroic fortitude, constancy in work that overcomes the impossible, an almost original innocence – characterized in Claret by the simplicity of a dove, and in Balmes by the agility and prudence of a serpent....

Their activities coincided. Balmes moved all Spain by his writings, while Claret aroused the people of Catalonia by his apostolic preaching. Though they never collaborated and seldom met, each had the highest esteem and admiration for the vocation of the other, while neither felt the slightest desire to leave his proper field.1396


  1. The aim of my preaching is the glory of God and the good of souls.1397 I preach the Holy Gospel, avail myself of its comparisons and use its style.1398 I make people see the obligations they have towards God, themselves and their neighbor, and how they are to fulfill them.1399

  2. I accept no alms for preaching.1400 I only take what food I need to live on.1401 So as not to be a burden, I always go on foot.1402

  3. I have not garnered any interests on the books and papers I have written. For this reason I have never reserved the rights to them; as far as I am concerned, everyone can reprint and sell them.1403

  4. God is my witness that nobody gives me anything in hidden payment for my works, nor do I have any other aim than the one I have stated, nor do I hope for any recompense but heaven.1404

  5. By the Enrollment, I aim at nothing else but putting an end to blasphemy and, thank God, a great deal of good has been accomplished here.1405

  6. From holy pictures, crosses, rosaries, etc., I have gotten nothing. I only bless them and grant indulgences from the pulpit, in keeping with my faculties.1406

  7. People have never seen me angry1407 or talking with women.1408 With equal affability, love and kindness, I speak to poor and rich, children and grownups, the unlettered and the learned.1409 And although in the eyes of God I hold myself to be a great sinner, in the eyes of men, through God’s mercy, I can say: quis ex vobis arguet me de peccato?1410

  8. I visit and preach to those in prison. I visit the sick in hospitals and in their homes. And of the untold numbers who have come to see me or bring me to their homes, very many say that they have recovered their health. What afflicts me the most is to see myself surrounded every day by such a throng of people.1411 I put an end to quarrels and enmities, and bring peace to broken marriages...

Document VIII

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