In Cuba, in 1856, St. Anthony Mary Claret wrote this Résumé at the insistence of his confessor, Fr. Palladio Currius, and handed it to him in February, 1857.1412
This Document is essentially a listing of events and dates that Claret regarded as milestones in his vocation and spiritual life. Written some five years before the Autobiography, we could say that it contains the latter in germinal form.
It is interesting to note the various moments he chooses to list in the development of his mission and his inner life. Beneath each date, he notes his corresponding age at the time. In his Autobiography (n. 701), he partially corrected some of the slips he made here. From the larger work we can deduce that in the present Document he was counting the years he had completed, except in the year 1816, where he gives his age as 9, and in 1835, where he gives his age as 28. Both errors throw his chronology off.
Upon finishing this Résumé, he made a quick calculation to check the last date against the date of his birth. The results showed him as born in 1809, rather than the true date of 1807. This doubtless led him to correct the dates when he wrote his Autobiography.
In listing the Bible passages that affected him most deeply, he copied the same texts indicated in Document IV above, adding a few verses from Ezekiel.
I used to think frequently on eternity, and it made a greater impression on me then than it does now. Oh, how that forever made me shudder!1413 I greatly enjoyed praying to Mary Most Holy, and was more attentive and devout than now. What shame this causes me!1414 My First Communion, and I always received the holy sacraments with more devotion than now. What a shame!1415 God called me, and I offered myself to His most holy will.1416
I was almost always in the presence of God, and my desires were always to love and serve Him. I led a more interior life then, than now. How humbling!1417
The Blessed Virgin saved me from the sea, when the waves had carried me out into the deep.1418 The Blessed Virgin set me free from very strong temptations against purity, and I was without temptations for a number of years. How beautiful the Virgin was! What a crown of roses! What a garland! Patrons, St. Stephen and... What demons, what a host of them, how fierce!1419 Always, desires to work for salvation. To this I addressed all my daily prayers, studies and spiritual reading.1420 To this end I used to read the Bible a great deal. There were passages that made such a strong impression on me that I seemed to hear a voice that told me the same thing I was reading. There were many such passages, but especially the following:1421
===THE FOLLOWING TEXTS SHOULD BE DONE IN TWO COLUMNS===
Et tu, Israel serve meus, Jacob quem elegi, semen Jacob, Abraham amici mei. Isai. 41 v.8.
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 (v.9).
Ne timeas, quia ego tecum sum; ne declines quia ego Deus tuus; confortavi te et auxiliatus sum tibi et suscepit te dextera justi mei (v.10).
Ecce confundentur et erubescent omnes qui pugnant adversum te; erunt quasi non sint et peribunt viri, qui contradicunt tibi (v.11).
Quaeres eos et non invenies, viros rebelles tuos: erunt quasi non sint et veluti consumptio homines bellantes adversum te (v.12).
Quia ego Dominus Deus tuus apprenhendens manum tuam, dicensque tibi: Ne timeas, ego adiuvi te (v.13).
Noli timere, vermis Jacob, qui mortui estis ex Israel, ego auxiliatus sum tibi, dicit Dominus, et redemptor tuus sanctus Israel (v.14).
Ego posui te quasi plaustrum triturans novum, habens ostra serrantia; triturabis montes et comminues et colles quasi pulverem pones (v. 15).
Ventilabis eos et ventus tollet et turbo disperget eos et tu exultabis in Domino, in sancto Israel laetaberis (v.16).
Egeni et pauperes quaerunt aquas et non sunt; lingua eorum siti aruit. Ego Dominus exaudiam eos, Deus Israel non derelinquam eos (v.17).
Ecce excoxi te, sed non quasi argentum, elegi te in camino paupertatis (c. 48, 10).
Propter me, propter me faciam ut non blasphemer et gloriam meam alteri non dabo (v. 11).
Fili hominis, speculatorem dedi te domui Israel et audies de ore meo verbum, et annuntiabis eis ex me. Ezeq. 3 v. 17.
Si dicente me ad impium: morte morieris, non annuntiaveris ei, neque locutus fueris ut avertatur a via sua impia et vivat, ipse impius in iniquitate sua morietur, sanguinem autem ejus de manu tua requiram (v. 18).
Si autem tu annuntiaveris impio et ille non fuerit conversus ab impietate sua et a via sua impia, ipse quidem in iniquitate sua morietur, tu autem animam tuam liberasti (v. 19, etc., etc.).
In [ea], quae Patris mei sunt, oportet me esse. Lc. 2 v.49. 61
Vulpes foveas habent, et volucres coeli nidos, Filius autem hominis non habet ubi reclinet caput. Id. 9 v. 58. 62
But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend.
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.”
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.
Behold, all who fight against you shall be confounded and ashamed; those who contradict you shall be as nothing and shall perish.
For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Behold, I have refined you, but not like silver; I have tried you in the furnace of poverty.
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.
Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning for me (Ezk ch. 3, v. 17).
If I say to the wicked, “ You shall surely die,” and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that the wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand (v. 18).
But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you will have saved your life (v. 19, et., etc.).
Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?”1422
Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head. Id., 9:58.1423
==NORMAL TEXT RESUMES==
I was ordained a priest and made assistant curate. Two years.1424
Made curate. Two years.1425
Missionary of the Propaganda Fide.1426
I founded the Religious Library.1427
The Congregation of Missionaries.1428
Archbishop.1429 Knowledge... Angel of the Apocalypse, September 2, 1855.1430 Locution. Bene scripsisti de me, 5:30, July 12, 1855.1431 Freed from wounds in February of 1856.1432 1856
(Written ca. 1867. Handwritten orig.: MSS Claret II,
231-234. Publ. in Hist. Archives CMF I, 401-403)
In Document I, Claret aimed at teaching others to practice devotion to Mary. In Document IX, he wants to express his praise, thanks and love to the Blessed Virgin for the gracious love shown him through many graces she has obtained for him, and he wishes others to do likewise. His concern here is more mystical than ascetical.
Claret feels that he has been treated like a pampered child who has been the object of special providence in all the events of his life. Coincidences of certain dates that might seem casual to others, awaken in him feelings of gratitude and love, because he sees them as special graces from Mary, who has watched over him continually with a mother’s care. She freed him from bodily and spiritual death, and offered him to the Father first as a priest and later as a victim. He considered it an extraordinary gift that he was able to persevere in his apostolic vocation in the midst of life at the Royal Court.
He ends this catalogue of graces with a phrase similar to that with which the Beloved Disciple ends the Fourth Gospel: “These and many other things that might be told are all graces I have received from Mary Most Holy.” He then moves from contemplative admiration to apostolic exhortation: “Behold, then, all creatures, praise Mary, thank Mary, and all of you be very devoted to Mary.”
By its content, this Document must be dated prior to September 1868; by its handwriting, it seems to be from 1867.
In the Sacred book of Tobit, we read that the Archangel St. Raphael said, Bless the God of heaven, because he has shown you his mercy. For it is good to hide the secret of a king, but honorable to reveal and confess the works of God (Tob 12:7).
On this point, Fr. Scio says: “The good outcome of a prince’s plans and of his council’s resolutions depends on impenetrable secrecy. But this is not so of the works of God’s providence, kindness and power, which his faithful servants should reveal and publish, not only to show their own thanks, but also that others, seeing the great wonders He works for His chosen, may praise the Lord, put their trust in Him, and merit His protection in recompense for their fidelity in keeping His law.”1434
Hence, for the greater glory of God and of Blessed Mary of the Rosary, I will say that my parents, who are now in glory, instilled in me from early childhood the devotion to the Most Holy Rosary, bought me a pair of beads, and enrolled me in the Confraternity of the parish.
When I was still a very young man, they sent me to Barcelona. One Summer day as I was walking along the shore and bathing my feet, a great wave came in and swept me out to sea, some distance from the shore. As I had no notion of how to swim, I was astonished to find that I could not touch bottom with my feet, so that there was no way I could escape drowning. Blessed be the kindness and clemency of Mary Most Holy! For, having commended myself to this good Mother, she – not for any merits of my own, but out of her sheer mercy – drew me out of that imminent danger, so that not a single drop of sea water entered my mouth.
Besides this bodily danger, she freed me from two other threats that were even greater, one of them moral, the other spiritual. No shepherdess ever took greater care of her flock than Mary Most Holy shows toward the souls she has taken into her care.1435
Mary Most Holy protected me so well, that she always saw to it that I had very good companions and always lived in good households where the people, besides looking after my bodily needs, also attended to those of my soul by their good example. I had a good spiritual director, good and very wise teachers, all the books I needed and time to study. Thus it was quite clear that Mary Most Holy had a special providence for me and treated me as a very pampered son, not for any merits of my own, but out of her pious care and kindness.
On the second day of February – the day when she went to the Temple with her Son Jesus in her arms and offered Him to the Eternal Father1436 – it can be said that She herself presented me in the temple and offered me to the Eternal Father as a cleric, for this was the day when the Bishop gave me clerical Tonsure and when the Vicar General of Vic conferred on me the benefice of St. Mary of Sallent, a benefice I renounced when I was named Archbishop of Santiago, Cuba.
Here is yet another great grace from Mary: On August 4th, the Feast of St. Dominic, founder of the Holy Rosary, I was named Archbishop by Her Majesty the Queen and her Government. I turned down this appointment, but Her Majesty and the Papal Nuncio, then Signor Brunelli, kept insisting that I accept it. Finally, the Bishop of Vic formally commanded me, as my superior, to accept it. Out of obedience I complied on October 4th and was consecrated the following year on October 6th, the day on which we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Rosary that year. It was as if the Virgin was letting me know that this was not just a chance occurrence, and that it was not through any merits, talents or virtues of my own (for I had and have none), but only by the will of God and Blessed Mary of the Rosary, that I became an Archbishop.
The moment I was consecrated, I left for my assignment. And five years later, on the Vigil of February 2nd, the day when the Blessed Virgin presented her Son to the Eternal Father, she also presented me and preserved me from the death I should surely have undergone at the hands of an assassin. Not only did the Blessed Virgin save me, but she gave me such joy and happiness that I have never had the like on this earth. And this was all through Mary’s grace.
Thirteen months later, Her Majesty summoned me to be her Confessor and Spiritual Director. And one of the greatest graces I have received from Mary Most Holy is the fact that, notwithstanding Her Majesty’s great appreciation of me, I have never felt attracted to the Court, nor has my heart ever become attached to distinctions, titles and honors. The only favor I have asked of Her Majesty time and time again, has been to allow me to retire from Court and devote myself to Missions.
These and many other things that might be told are all graces I have received from Mary Most Holy, not for any merit of my own, but only out of her great kindness.
Behold, then, all creatures, praise Mary, thank Mary, and all of you be very devoted to Mary.
Imitating His Model, Jesus
(Written ca. 1864. Handwritten original:
MSS Claret II, 403-406)
This Document is interesting both in form and content. Unlike earlier Documents, which were written to set an example, this one is an intimate, personal meditation. Its aim is to summon up the Saint’s own determination to imitate the inner attitudes of Christ in the face of sorrow and humiliation. It presents the perfect imitation of Christ as the foundation of holiness. Holiness will be achieved in the measure of our conformity with Christ, who offered himself to bear heroic sufferings.
In order to spur himself on to the full imitation of Christ, Claret recalls the examples of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints. He stirs up feelings of gratitude and hope within himself, noting with fine psychological insight (n. 14) that hope moves us more powerfully than gratitude.
The Document is carefully organized: 1) Jesus, the model (I). 2) Mary, the perfect imitator (II). 3) The Saints, greater according to the degree in which they imitate Jesus more perfectly (III). 4) Motives for imitation: gratitude and hope (IV, 1-14). 5) Degrees of imitation (IV, 15-16): a) desiring humiliation and poverty, b) accepting them, c) rejoicing in them.
The original bears no date, but from its content we can initially place it between 1864 and 1868. It is not prior to 1858, because it mentions the appointment as Royal Confessor; not does it seem to be later than 1864, because after that the Saint was overwhelmed with atrocious slanders, whereas the tone of the present Document is rather one of preparation for the test to come. Moreover, it alludes to a state of economic well-being, which jibes rather well with the first years of Claret’s stay in Madrid when, though he lived in voluntary poverty, his income made it possible for him to distribute many alms. After 1868, however, he lived in such real poverty that he himself was in dire need of a helping hand from others.
I. Jesus Christ, when he beheld his humanity exalted to the most sublime dignity of the hypostatic union, made a continual act of the deepest humility and of the greatest love..., of the most knowing gratitude and the most heroic suffering.
He offered himself to undergo abjection and sorrow. He desired them, sought them and accepted them with joy, whenever the occasion presented itself.
Look at the life of Jesus from the Crib to the Cross, and from the Cross to the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.
II. The Blessed Virgin Mary imitated Jesus perfectly.
What humility, what love, what desire to suffer humiliations and sufferings...!
With what resignation and love she suffered humiliations and sorrows!
III. The holy Apostles, Martyrs and Confessors were greater to the extent that they loved and did likewise.
Suffering in silence and resignation.
Obeying with surrender of their understanding and will.
St. Teresa: Her desires to serve the Lord and suffer for Him. Her greatest gain was contradiction (p. 319).1437 Like soldiers longing for battle.1438
IV. What will you do?
For this, consider what you were, what you are and what you will be.
What were you?
You were ungrateful for so many favors and graces with which the Lord enriched you.
You were a sinner.1439
The Lord withdrew you from the sea.1440
The Lord took you out of Barcelona and brought you to Vic.1441
He gave you good Patrons, a good spiritual director, the Sacraments, good books, prayer, and devotion to Mary Most Holy.1442
He called you to the priestly state.1443
He made you a benefice-holder, associate curate, curate econome; He brought you to Rome so that you might learn.1444
He made you a Missionary.1445
He made you an Archbishop.1446
He made you Confessor to Her Majesty, an appointment coveted by the world, but not by me...1447
He has given you temporal means.1448
And what are you? Alas, an ingrate...!
And what will you be? I am destined to see God, possess God and enjoy God eternally. Hope makes a greater impression on men than gratitude does.
Love God out of gratitude and out of hope. Imitate Jesus.
Desire, seek, humiliation and sorrow. Avail yourself of poverty of spirit and real poverty. Don’t let your body flee from them. Embrace them when they come your way. Rejoice when you have the good fortune to suffer contempt, slanders, persecutions and sorrows.
Witness to the Truth
(Written December 12, 1864. Handwritten original: MSS Claret II, 329-336.
Engl. version: Autob. [Chicago 1976], p. 311 ff.)
St. Anthony Mary Claret tells us that in 1864 he was “much slandered and persecuted by all sorts of persons. I have been attacked by journalists and lampooned in pamphlets, parodied books, touched-up photographs, and in many other ways – even by the very demons.”1449 The Lord had prepared him for this, and would help him in the test. For his part, he wanted to suffer in silence, like Jesus and, as Bishop Aguilar stated in his 1871 biography of the Saint, “he forbade all his friends to defend him.”1450 Nevertheless, some of his friends persuaded him that as many were being led astray by this defamatory campaign, he owed it to them to make at least some sort of response.
As always, Claret sought some Gospel norm to guide him in this and, like his divine Master, he decided to speak “not to defend myself, but to bear witness to the truth.”
Faced with a regular bibliography of slanders, he was content to respond in the space of two small, folded sheets, and even these were not published during his lifetime. Still, Don Pedro de la Hoz, director of the newspaper La Esperanza, must have had these pages before him when he drafted the defense he published in his paper on January 24, 1865, which Claret cites in his Autobiography, nn. 853-856.
The Saint begins by setting his declaration in a scriptural context. He will tell the truth regarding his childhood, his studies and his ministries, but strongly stresses his abstention from meddling in politics and his reasons for doing so. He ends by reiterating his Gospel motivation: “I have written and published these lines only ‘to bear witness to the truth,’ as Jesus said before Pilate.”
From the point of view of his spirituality, this Document is one more witness to the degree of conformity with Christ that he had reached. He relies neither on worldly prudence nor on the morally justifiable prudence of defending his good name, but only on the heroic prudence of the Gospel, which he had accepted with all its radical demands.
Witness to the Truth, Given by His Excellency, Archbishop Claret
There is a time to be silent and a time to speak, says Solomon.1451 Thus far I have kept silent. But seeing that my silence may have led some astray, I shall speak briefly, because the truth needs few words. Like my divine Master, I shall speak not to defend myself, but to bear witness to the truth.1452 The Jews told Jesus that he was a Samaritan and had a devil.1453 Jesus answered, I am not possessed by the devil; rather, I honor my Father, whereas you dishonor me.1454 I say the same. I have had, thank God, nothing to do with the things my opponents accuse me of.1455 This is the truth about me:
I was born in the town of Sallent in the Province of Barcelona and was baptized at the font of St. Mary’s Parish Church on December 25, 1807.
I received my primary education in my home town, after which I was sent to Barcelona, where I stayed for four years. In that city, during my spare time, I studied drawing, for which I had a special liking, and which has since stood me in good stead for preparing religious prints.1456
As the parish of St. Mary’s in Sallent is located in the Diocese of Vic, the Bishop, who at that time was His Excellency Paul of Jesus Corcuera, sent me to continue my studies in his Seminary. I obeyed, and the yearly records show that I was approved for all my courses.1457
I was a friend and schoolmate of Fr. James Balmes and was ordained with him. At the same ordination ceremony he was the first of the deacons and I was the first of the subdeacons. He sang the Gospel; I sang the Epistle. I was ordained with a title of benefice in my own parish, St. Mary’s. On June 13, 1835, the feast of my patron, St. Anthony, I was ordained priest, and on June 21st, the feast of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, patron of the Congregation I belonged to in the seminary, I sang my first Mass.1458 I spent two years as assistant curate and two more as curate econome in the same parish of Sallent, a town fortified in favor of Isabella II. During these four years I was closely acquainted with Baron de Meer, then Captain General of Catalonia,1459 whom I frequently saw when he was lodging at the Claret house, which is the most prominent one in town. He was frequently accompanied by General Pavía, the Marquis of Novaliches,1460 and as both gentlemen are presently living at Court, they can vouch as eyewitnesses to the fact that I never meddled in political factions or parties, then or ever in my life, but was solely occupied with the ministry.1461
But as I felt drawn more each day to work for God’s glory and the salvation of souls, I went to Rome toward the end of September, 1839, with the intention of offering my services to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, that I might be sent anywhere in the world.
After I had been in Rome for some time, the heavy rains and humidity that year caused me such severe rheumatic pains that I was advised to return to Spain, which I did toward the end of March, 1840.1462
As soon as I arrived in Spain I began to feel better, so much so that a few days later my ecclesiastical superior saw fit to send me to the parish of Viladrau.1463 From there I began giving missions throughout Catalonia, until the beginning of 1848,1464 when I went with the Bishop of the Canary Islands and gave missions throughout his diocese until the end of May of the following year.1465
On August 4, 1849, by royal decree of Her Majesty, I was elected Archbishop of Cuba. At first I refused the election and continued to do so for two months. But seeing that my refusal was not accepted, I resolved to consult five wise and virtuous priests on whose judgment I relied implicitly, for their opinion and verdict on what I ought to do. Meanwhile I withdrew to make the strictest possible retreat for ten days, during which I begged the Lord to inspire these men with a knowledge of His holy will. At the end of the retreat they informed the bishop of their decision, whereupon the bishop commanded me to accept because it was God’s will.1466 I accepted on October 4, 1849,1467 and on October 6th of the following year I was consecrated. We sailed from the port of Barcelona on December 28, 1850 and arrived in Cuba in mid-February, 1851.1468 I returned to Spain toward the end of May, 1857, at the summons of Her Majesty.
As soon as I arrived I presented myself to Her Majesty, who informed me that she had called me to be her confessor and spiritual director. I realized what a difficult and delicate task this would be, and since then I have begged her a thousand times to set me free and let me withdraw. Seeing that I was getting nowhere in this, but rather that she wanted me to remain at her side more and more as time went by, I resolved to follow the plan of life I have faithfully kept during the seven and a half years I have been in Madrid. I chose to live outside the palace and have never come near it except when summoned by Her Majesty.1469
I have never meddled in politics. I look at and consider the march of events, but I say not a word.1470 I know that one cannot serve two masters.1471
During the space of seven and a half years, many government ministers have come and gone, and I have met many of them, especially when I have been on tour with their Majesties and Royal Highnesses. I have treated all of these men with respect and friendliness, but have never discussed politics with any of them. On one occasion one of these gentlemen met me in a railway station where I was awaiting Their Majesties. He suggested that I should say something or other to Her Majesty in favor of his party. I asked him to pardon me for not doing so, adding: “I look upon the nation in its present state as a gaming table with players seated on either side. An onlooker may observe the game, but he should be silent, and it would be very imprudent for him to make the slightest insinuation favoring one side or the other. I myself am a spectator, and as such I should not and cannot do or say anything in favor of you or anyone else in this matter. I do what I ought, namely, I work as hard as I can to see to it that Her Majesty be a good Christian and a good queen. For the rest, I care not whether she avails herself of the services of Peter, John or James in her government.”
I believe that all the ministers who have served during this long interval will do me justice in this respect.1472 If some men have spoken or written ill of my conduct, they have been from the lower ranks, and don’t know what they’re talking about. These I can only commend to God, as Jesus did on the Cross.1473
Because people of this sort have somehow gathered the false notion that I have prevented them from climbing to power and achieving their ambitions, they have taken all sorts of shots at me. They have spared no means or pains, but have mobilized everything they could against me. They have slandered my person, vilified my conduct and falsified my books.1474 I have personally seen and held in my own hands printed works with the same titles as my own, but whose text I would never have written. They have printed false photographs and other things so revolting that my pen balks at even beginning to describe them.1475
I have written and published these lines only to bear witness to the truth, as Jesus said before Pilate.1476 For the rest, I will keep the deepest silence, simply repeating what Jesus himself said: Haec est hora vestra et potestas tenebrarum. This is your hour – the triumph of darkness.1477 Document XII