We have no evidence that Claret made a retreat this year. He was probably unable to do so because of his Council tasks, and later, because of the illness that led to his death.
Nevertheless, he did make some resolutions. One group of them is undated; another group of homage-resolutions is dated generally in May, while the concluding aspiration-resolution is dated on Ascension Thursday, May 26, 1870.
Unlike previous years, there is no plan for his future, aside from the memorare novissima tua (Sir 7:36: “Remember your last days, and you will never sin”). The thoughts or maxims accompanying his resolutions are taken from St. Teresa. In view of the fact that he was awaiting death, and was absorbed in his particular examen on love, it is rather striking to find him adding the counsel: “Never cease humbling and mortifying yourself until death” (n. 6).
The”Homage” of May is the culmination of his strivings for perfection in ordinary things. He wants to actualize his love in every little thing he does, lavishing his attention and care even on their outward performance, in imitation of Jesus and Mary.
The “aspiration” for Ascension Thursday is a most fervent act of love. On other occasions, his desire to die and be with Christ was moderated by his awareness of the mission he still had to carry out in the Church Militant. Now that this mission was drawing to a close, his longings for final union could no longer be held back.
Three days later, on May 29th, he had a stroke, brought on by his awareness of the opposition being raised against the definition of papal infallibility. Even so, he rallied his strength and, on May 31st, delivered his address in favor of the definition. The stroke came almost as death’s answer to the aspiration he had made on Ascension Thursday.
For the glory of God, the good of souls, and my own mortification, I resolve:
Always to speak in Italian or keep my mouth shut, except when speaking with Joseph,2129 or during my talks,2130 or if some Spaniard is visiting.
Every day, to visit the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Every Wednesday, to visit the civilian and military Hospitals.2131
In omnibus operibus tuis memorare novissima tua et in aeternum non peccabis (Eccli 7:40).2132
In any work and at any time, examine your conscience, and having seen your faults, strive to amend with God’s help, and by following this course, you will reach perfection (St. Teresa, Counsels, vol. 1, p. 591).2133
What you meditate on in the morning, keep in mind throughout the day. And be very diligent in this, for there is great benefit in it (St. Teresa, Counsels, 31).
Never cease humbling and mortifying yourself until death (St. Teresa, Counsels, 50).
Always make use of frequent acts of prayer, because they enkindle the soul, melting it into tenderness (St. Teresa, Counsels, 51).
Exercise yourself greatly in the fear of the Lord, which leads the soul to be contrite and humble (St. Teresa, Counsels, 63).2134
In homage to the Blessed Trinity and to Mary in this Month of May: All the things I do, I will do each and every one as perfectly as possible.
The impelling cause will be the love of God. The intentional cause will be the greater glory of God. The final cause will be to do the will of God.2135 Great attention and painstaking care, being always inwardly aware in each thing, imitating Mary Most Holy. Doing each single thing well, even the most common and ordinary things.
Not only will I recall what Jesus suffered at each hour,2136 but I will also recall what Jesus would do and how He would do it, in order to imitate both the intention with which He worked, and the perfect way in which He performed whatever He did.
When I awake in the morning, I will think of Jesus, of how He awoke and offered Himself to His Eternal Father. I will rise promptly and offer myself and all my works to God.2137 When I say my prayers, I will think of how Jesus used to pray.
May 26, 1870. The Ascension of the Lord
The earth will be an exile for me.2138 My thoughts, affections and sighs will be directed toward Heaven.
Conversatio nostra in coelis est.2139 I will neither speak of nor listen to anything, unless it is about God and those things that lead to Heaven.
I have such a desire to go to Heaven and be united with Christ. Desiderium habens dissolvi et esse cum Christo.2140 Like Mary Most Holy, my sweet Mother.2141
I have to be like a burning candle: It spends its wax and its light until it dies.2142 As the members of the body long to be united with their head, and as iron filings long to be united with the magnet, so I long to be united with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and in Heaven.
St. Bonaventure tells us that one beholder loves God more than a thousand wayfarers do.
The Spiritual notes – fruit of reflection, prayer and reading- reveal to us the major lines of Claret’s spirituality. They are like the interior roots that give life to the progress to the path of holiness till reaching full maturity.
It has not been easy to put these note in order by dates. Nevertheless, by studying the Saint’s changing handwriting and the contents of the Notes, the editors have managed to fit them into at least three major periods of his life: Archbishop of Cuba (1850-1857), Royal Confessor (1857-1869) and Council Father (1869-1870). We have not found even a single note that could be assigned to his period as Apostolic Missionary (1843-1849). This is not surprising, since during that very busy period even his Retreat Resolutions, except those of 1843, are very brief. The work of traveling, preaching, and writing books and pamphlets left him little or no time for introspective writing.
From his period as Archbishop of Cuba, we offer some notes on the perfection required of a bishop and on the spiritually profitable way to govern a diocese. We have also added his account of how he distributed his devotions according to months, days, and occupations during the day. These notes reflect a norm he incorporated into the CMF Constitutions: “Let them do all things with an upright intention and true fervor of spirit” (II, n. 27).
The period as Royal Confessor is the richest, since he could often enjoy days of recollection in the tranquility of the Royal Estates of Aranjuez and La Granja. Although he still preached and wrote without allowing himself a moment’s rest, he could nevertheless follow a more regular and orderly schedule than he could in his days as Archbishop of Cuba or as a mission preacher in Catalonia and the Canary Islands. This regularity gave him a chance to focus on his ever-deepening inner life, which is reflected in the contents of the Spiritual Notes from this time: union with and dependence on God, the inner presence of Jesus, ways of imitating the interior life of Jesus, spiritual childhood, etc. However, there are also Notes on zeal and on the conversion of sinners.
From his period as Council Father and exile in France, there are a few notes which, though not lengthy, are interesting because they reflect his state of soul in, so to speak, the shadow of eternity.
The contents of the Spiritual Notes are quite varied. They do not form an organized body of teaching. Rather, they are file cards on which Claret jots down a thought, a suggestion, or sometimes a complete text that has impressed him deeply. Sometimes, too, they are special lights which he later sums up in a phrase in his Retreat Resolutions. Hence, if one wishes to penetrate the inner world of Anthony Mary Claret, it is most helpful to establish a correlation between his Notes, on the one hand, and his Resolutions and/or Lights and Graces of a given period, on the other.
Of the many books he read, two which made a deep impression on him should be singled out, since they may be less well-known today. The first was the Mystical City of God, by the Spanish Poor Clare and mystic, Mother Mary of Jesus, better known as Mary of Ágreda (1602-1665). As he read this work, he often felt that the counsels which Mother Agreda ascribed to the Blessed Virgin were addressed to him personally. The second was The Labors of Jesus, by the Portuguese Augustinian preacher and spiritual writer, Tomé de Andrada, better known as Thomas of Jesus (1529-1582). From this work, written during Thomas’ imprisonment in Morocco, Claret drew encouragement in the midst of his own great trials.
The Notes presented here are only a selection from the years 1850-1870. Almost all of them are taken from the Notebook containing Resolutions, Spiritual Notes and Lights and Graces; although a few taken from other sources are also included here. There are many more notes in sketchier form or of lesser biographical interest that are not published here. Another selection could easily be drawn from Claret’s Spiritual Exercises and Sermons.
Archbishop of Cuba
1. Trust and Fear
Claret XIII, 81-82MSS
St. Augustine and St. Thomas, commenting on St. Paul’s words: Idóneos nos fecit minstros novi testament,2143 state that when God chooses someone for a position or office, He gives him the talents required for it.2144
I know that I have not sought this dignity; rather, I refused it. Others have commanded me to accept it and told me that it was God’s will. Therefore I trust in God, who will give me the grace that I need.
But this does not overly assure me. Saul was called by God and failed.2145 David sinned.2146 Solomon...,2147 etc. Woe is me!
In Epistle 38, St. Bernard says: Joannes in principio cum electus esset ad episcopatum Constantinopolitanum voluit fugere, ne esset episcopus; postea vero ad hoc perductus est, ut, despectis omnibus episcopis, solus episcopus esse appeteret, et procuratet appellari.2148
Poenitet me quod constituerim Saul regem: quia dereliquit me et verba mea opera non implevit (1 Reg. 15, 11).
Cum parvulus esses in oculis tuis caput in tribubus Israel factus es, unxitque te Dominus in regem super Israel. Et missit te dominus in viam, et ai: Vade et interfice peccatores Amalec, et pugnabis contra eos usque ad internecionem eorum.
Quare ergo non audisti vocem Domini? (19)… Pro eo ergo quod abjecisti sermonem Domini, abjecit te Dominus ne sis rex (23).2149
Willful clinging to his own judgment, along with avarice, were the causes of Saul’s downfall. Let it serve as a warning to others.
Ah, my God! Never permit me to offend you. But should I sometime have the misfortune of falling into sin, look at me as you looked at Peter, and make me, like him, confess and weep for my sin,2150 unlike Saul, who made excuses for himself and, with his excuses, increased his crime, thus confirming and further kindling the wrath of God.2151
2. Perfection Required of a Prelate
MSS Claret II, 27-30
Tollite jugum meum super vos, et discite a me quia mitis sum, et humilis corde, et invenietis requiem animabus vestries. Jugum enim meum suave est, et onus meum leve2152
Bases of perfection:
With humility we please God; with meekness, men.2153
I know full well that I am the least, the most ignorant and the worst of all, and therefore I will treat all as my superiors.
Moreover, in each of my neighbors I will discern the person of Christ, and in truth, Jesus Christ accepts whatever is done for the neighbor as if it were done for Him.2154
But when one of my neighbors does me some service, I will think of myself as St. Peter did when he looked in wonder at Jesus, who wanted to wash his feet. Hence, he said to Him: Domine, tu mihi lavas pedes! (Jn 13:6).2155
If anyone should accord me any honors, I will tell myself: Non tibi, sed Archiepiscopo. Not for me, but for the ambassador, because he comes on embassy or in the person of his Lord, whom he represents.2156
The Prelate must not only do good, but do it with patience, gentleness and love, without any complaint. As Ecclesiasticus says in chapter 18: Fili, in bonis non des quaerelam, et in omni dato non des tristitiam vebi mali. Nonne ardorem refrigerabit ros? Sic et verbum melius quam datum. Nonne ecce verbum super datum bonum?2157 Hilarem datorem diligit Deus.2158
Fili, in mansuetudine opera tua perfice, et super hominum gloriam diligeris (Ecclus 3:19).2159 Moses was admired for the meekness with which he governed his people. David... Memento Domine David et omnis m [ansuetudinis eius].2160
Jesus, meeker than all,2161 with the woman taken in adultery,2162 with Magdalen,2163 the Good Thief,2164 Judas,2165 the other Apostles; under accusations, scourges – He even prayed for those who were putting Him to death.2166
Examples of St. Ignatius, St. Francis Xavier, [St. Francis] Borgia.2167 Philip II and [the cases of] the letters and the lamps.2168
To be meek, it behooves us to bear in mind the example of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints.
Our sins, too.2169
Iniuriam factam joco eludere.2170
In correcting others, bear in mind what St. Lawrence Justinian says: Frater mandante Domino corripiatur blande ac dulciter; nam mollibus potius quam duris sermonibus compungitur animus delinquentibus. St. L[awrence] Justinian.2171
Acquaviva: 1) A subject is willing to heed a superior who is kind. 2) If a superior grows peevish, he loses everything with a subject.2172
3. Means to Obtain the Graces to Govern a Diocese Well
MSS Claret II, 15-16, 23-25
Dedicate all time possible to the study of Sacred Scripture. Canons and Laws. Moral and [Dogmatic] Theology. Preachable authors. Mystical and Ascetical theology. Frequently read the lives of saints who have been most outstanding for their good governance and holiness, e.g., St. Francis de Sales,2173 St. Charles Borromeo,2174 St. Thomas of Villanova,2175 St. Augustine,2176 St. John Chrysostom,2177 St. Paulinus,2178 St. Nicholas,2179 St. Liguori2180 and St. Martin.2181
Fili, sine consilio nihil facias, et post factum non poeniteris (Eccli 32:34).2182
Ego, sapientia habito in consilio (Prov 8:12).2183
Consiliarius sit tibi unus de mille (Eccli 6:6).2184
St. Bernard says that a counselor should be prudent, so as not to be misled himself, and of good will, so as not to mislead you.2185
He who takes counsel, in some way puts himself in the hands of his counselor, as was the case with that king of Greece, who put his scepter in the hands of his Senators whenever they gave him counsel.
It much behooves a Prelate to inquire whether his counselors have these two endowments of mind and will, namely, prudence and good will, as Jesus did in the case of St. Peter.2186
The Avilan [St. John of Avila] says that God chooses to speak to us by way of other men.
Ecce ego vobiscum sum consulentibus.
Ecce ego vobiscum sum orantibus.
Ecce ego vobiscum sum studentibus.2187
Prayer to Govern Well
Domine, ecce quem amas infirmatur (Jn 11:3).2188
Trust, even when what we ask for is not granted. The Lord will doubtless grant us something better.
Domine, salva nos, perimus (Mt 8:25).
Et dicit eis Jesus: Quid timidi esteis modicae fidei? Tunc surgens imperavit ventis, et mari, et facta est tranquillitas magna.2189
I should say with Solomon (3 Kgs 3:7): Tu regnare fecisti servum tuum... ego autem sum puer parvulus, et ignorans egressum et introitum meum.
Et servus tuus in medio est populi quem elegisti, populi infiniti qui numerari et supputari non potest prae multitudine.
Dabis ergo servo tuo cor docile ut populum meum judicare possit, et discernere inter bonum et malum...
Placuit ergo sermo coram Domino quod Salomon postulasset hujuscemodi rem. Et dixit Dominus Salomoni: Quia postulasti verbum hoc et non petisti tibi dies multos, nec divitias aut animas inimicorum tuorum; sed postulasti tibi sapientiam ad discernendum judicium.
Ecce feci tibi secundum tuos sermones et dedi tibi cor sapiens et intelligens in tantum ut nullus ante te similis tui fuerit, nec post te surrecturus sit 2190
Plato himself, though a Gentile, knew that a governor needs divine help in order to govern well. If this is so (as indeed it is) for earthly rulers, according to the saying, per me reges regnant et legume conditores justa decernunt2191 how much more necessary will it be for a Prelate, in order to govern the Church, which is a heavenly kingdom – “simile est regnum caelorum.”2192 And to govern it well requires heavenly virtues, such as heavenly prudence, heavenly knowledge, heavenly moderation, heavenly piety, heavenly mercy and all other heavenly virtues. Therefore I must ask for them continually, so that I will be able to say with the Apostle: nostra autem conversation in coelis est.2193
It will be of no avail for a Prelate to have great talent and administrative ability, or to have had a brilliant academic career with an education in all sciences, if God does not help him. We see this in the case of Moses, of whom it is said that he was instructed in omni scientia aegiptiorum.2194 Nevertheless, he confessed that he was unequal and useless to his task. But the Lord told him: Perge igitur, et ego ero in ore tuo doceboque te quid loquaris (Ex 4:12).2195 Therefore every day I must say: Da mihi sedium tuarum assistricem sapientiam quae mecum sit et mecum laboret (Wis 9:4).2196Mecum sit to give me the strength to work; mecum laboret, to give due perfection to my works. Thus will the saying be fulfilled: Ecce ego vobiscum sum in operatione ecclesiasticae potestatis.2197
4. Means to Produce Fruit in Souls
MSS Claret II, 17.
Means Good Example
MSS Claret II, 19-22.
Oportet ergo episcopum irreprehensibilem esse..., sed suae domui bene praepositum, filios habentes subditos cum omni castitate.
Si quis autem domui suae praeesse nescit, quomodo Ecclesiae Dei diligentiam habebit? (Ad Tim 3).2199
On these words of the Apostle, St. Bernard says Non quo minimis domus tuae intendas, cum sis occupatus maximis.
Alium [oeconomum] pone, qui pro te moIat et solus implicetur (Id.).
Nam quaedam per te soIum agere debes; quaedam per te simul et per alios; quaedam per alios tantum, et in hoc postremo loco, sunt curae tuarum rerum temporalium. Praefice iis fidelem servum, qui non fraudet, et prudentem,qui non fraudetur et da illi auctoritatem, et facultatem pro libito agendi, cui omnes oboediant et nemo illi dicere possit: cur sic fecisti? 2200
The Venerable [Luis de] Granada says that as King Saul drew good and valiant captains from all parts,2201 so should a good Prelate acquire good and wise priests.
A bishop’s greatest achievement lies in choosing his household staff and sparing himself undue involvements, for if he goes wrong here, he will be all head, with no hands or feet. Cardinal Portocarrero, Abp. of Toledo,2202 was well served both in his household and in governance by Canon Terraca. The same was true of Don Pedro de Moya, Abp. of Mexico2203and his Secretary, Don Juan Salcedo.2204 The same was true of V. Palafox2205 and his Provisor, Don Juan de Merlo.2206
Residence – Even though he has good householders and helpers, he should not leave them completely on their own, lest what happened to Moses might happen to him. For while Moses was on the mountain speaking with God, his brother Aaron allowed idolatry and the shaping of the golden calf (Ex 32).2207 During Nehemiah’s absence, he left the priest Eliashib in charge of Jerusalem, only to find on his return that the latter’s whole regime had been one long thievery: the governor was loaded with wealth, and the people with miseries (II Esd 13).2208
The Prelate should be like a water wheel, which draws water by turning on its axis...; like the sun..., like a physician.
MSS Claret II, 79, 66, 65, 68.
For each day: the Saint of that day.
For each month: those of the following list:
January…… St. Michael………… St. Peter and St. Paul
February….. St. Gabriel and
St. Raphael………… St. Andrew
March…….. Holy Seraphim……. St. James
April……… Holy Cherubim……. St. John
May………. Holy Thrones……… St. Thomas
June………. Holy Dominations.. .. St. Philip
July……….. Holy Virtues……… .. St. Matthew
August……. Holy Powers……… .. St. James the Lesser
September… Holy Principalities.. .. St. Bartholomew
October…… Holy Archangels…… St. Simon
November….. Holy Angels………… St. Jude
December…. Holy Patriarchs,
Prophets, Martyrs &
Just of the O.T. ……. St. Matthias
b) Matter for Meditation
and December…………… Purgative Way
From Christmas to Lent… Childhood of Jesus
Lent……………………… Passion of Jesus
Easter Season…………… The Resurrection,
Ordinary Time…………… Private & Public Life of Jesus
Feast Days………………… Their Mystery
Prayer, directed to……………………… Annunciation
Study, reading, writing to the………..… Private Life
Pastoral visit, letters, etc., to the………. Visitation
Catechizing, preaching, hearing
confessions, etc., to the………………... Presentation, Purification
Rosary and other devotions, to the….… Assumption
Reciting the divine Office, to the……... Sorrows [of Our Lady]
At Matins and Lauds, Seraphim
I will think ……on Jesus’ Imprisonment: Cherubim
Prime and Dominations
Lesser Hours: Sexta, on…………Crucifixion Virtues
None, on……….. Death,
spear wound Powers
Vespers, on the……….……Descent from
Sat. Redeemer B.V. Mary Chastity Solitude Son of Mary of Mary
Sun. Brother H. Angels Purity Resurrection Predestination
7. Guardian Angel
MSS Claret II, 68.
I am a poor man accompanied by my Guardian Angel. Like a blind man, I see nothing, and my Guardian Angel warns me,2209 telling me: Now you are in such a place, at such a step. Now you are in the presence of God, of the Blessed Virgin, the Angels and Saints. Speak to them and petition them with attention and recollection.2210
8. [Love Alone]
MSS Claret II, 67.
Nunc: The present time.
I will live only for the love of God.
I will strive always out of love.2211
I will work always out of love.
I will suffer out of love.
I will die each day out of love.2212
I aim at nothing else in my works and sufferings than the pure love of God.2213
Who is God and what has He done for me?
Who is Jesus Christ and what has He done and suffered for me?
Who is Mary Most Holy and what has she done and suffered for me?
What should I do and suffer? Domine, quid me vis facere?2214