Saint Anthony Mary Claret



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EC, II, p. 360). He himself was the first to carry out all of these faithfully (cf. Autob. n. 765).

2500 Autob. n. 698.

2501 Autob. n. 699.

2502 Cf. Autob. nn. 702-708.

2503 Leaflet # 25 aimed at uprooting the abuses surrounding the burlesque “Burial of the Sardine,” which some were celebrating not on Shrove Tuesday, but on Ash Wednesday, thus detracting from the penitential spirit of the day. In the second part of the leaflet, Claret stressed the laws of fast and abstinence. (More information on this Spanish festival is available on the Internet.)

2504 Blessed Alan of Rupe or of the Roche. Dominican friar born in Bretagne in 1428. He was a teacher of Theology (1473), author of the work “The Apologia of the Psalter” (1475) and apostle of devotion to the Rosary, which he wanted to call “Psalter of the Virgin,” expanding it into three parts, each one with five mysteries; joyful, sorrowful, and glorious. He died a holy death in Zwolle (Holland) on September 8, 1475 and is known as “blessed,” but this has not yet been confirmed officially.

2505 Claret set forth his high opinion of Bl. Alan of Rupe in El santísimo rosario explicado [The Holy Rosary Explained] (Barcelona 1864) pp. 145-146.

2506 His quest to purify his dynamic temperament, which inclined him to action for action’s sake, affected not only his external activities, which he always kept within the channels of canonical mission, but even his internal initiatives, which he wanted to come from above. It should be remembered that for Claret, the Immaculate Conception was above all the mystery of God’s power against the forces of evil.

2507 (nn. 793-795)

2508 Cf. Autob. nn. 793-795.

2509 On July 16th he was at the Royal Estate of La Granja. From the Autobiography (nn. 754, 756, 761), we know that he was experiencing union with Jesus Christ and was longing for transformation in Christ. The grace mentioned here may be an answer to his ceaseless entreaties. In a number of earlier texts, he had viewed himself as a child in the presence of God. Now he asks for much more: he wants to be as loving as the Son. This filial experience appears continually in his writings from this period.

2510 Cf. Jn 2:3.

2511 Cf. Jn 2:7.

2512 Claret regarded love as the virtue most needed by a missionary. Love was his stimulus and his yearning: “I know, my Father that I do not love you as I ought, but I am quite sure that a day will come when I will love you as much as I desire to do, because you will grant me the love I ask through Jesus and Mary” (Autob. n. 445). In the midst of these raptures, he was very far from any sort of illuminism or quietism. In order to attain to the fullness of love, he must perfectly fulfill God’s will, even in the least and most ordinary things. Since he was temperamentally inclined to great ventures, he must have felt constrained at having to pay attention to perfection in small things. Here again, the Blessed Virgin, his directress, guided him along the straight path of holiness. The advice given him is also reflected in the Resolutions for this year (cf. Autob. nn. 790-791). In fact, he was dealing with several matters of major importance, such as the management of El Escorial and the Hospital of Montserrat in Madrid.

2513 Since the date is the same, this unfinished note probably refers to the same grace related in the next paragraph.

2514 The grace of the Eucharist within him, which led him to live the life of Christ, not only made him desire to love as the Son loved, and to work as Christ his Master did, but also to be immolated as Christ the Victim had been immolated. On May 11th he offered to work and even undergo death, and the Lord accepted his offering. From an ascetical point of view, we know how much he did to share in the sufferings of Christ: cilices and disciplines, fasting three days a week, never eating meat or fish, or drinking wine. Despite all these efforts, he received this reproof, which he regarded as a great grace. Along with this interior humiliation, the outward defamation campaign against him continued and would increase to the bitter end. At this high stage in his spiritual development, these means are inexplicable merely as a form of personal purification. We find the real explanation in the Autobiography: “What could Jesus have done for the glory of his Father and the salvation of souls that he did not do? Ah, I can see him hanging dead upon the cross, scorned by all. For this reason I, even I, with the help of his grace, am resolved to suffer pains, fatigue, contempt, mockery, complaints, slanders, persecution – even death. Thank God I am already suffering many of these things, but I am encouraged to say with the Apostle: ‘Therefore, I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain salvation’” [2 Tim 2:10] (Autob. n. 752).

2515 “One day he told me,” writes Don Vicente de la Fuente, “that, calculating the letters he received from one day to another, they came to about a hundred per day. He finally reached the point of only opening certain special ones, since he would have needed the whole day just to read them, and it would have been physically impossible to answer them all” (Aguilar, Francisco de Asis, Vida de Claret, p. 290). Besides, he knew that nine out of ten were requests for positions and favors, while others contained insults, caricatures or untimely and unsolicited advice. A good view of the letters received by the Saint, although many have been lost, can be seen in Bermejo, Jesús, Epistolario pasivo de San Antonio María Claret. I (1838-1957) (Madrid 1992) XXVIII+902 pp; II (1858-1964) (Madrid 1994) VIII+822; III (1865-1870) (Madrid 1995) VIII+738 pp.

2516 Cf. Autob. n. 798.

2517 Cf. Mt 2:13-14.

2518 Cf. Lk 2:51. - In the Autobiography (nn. 620-624) he speaks of this deep dislike for being in Madrid. To some extent, it pleased him not to be attached to the things of this world, but he could also see the dangers in his situation, and how hard it was to keep his balance as he walked the tightrope of visits, protocol, envy, ambition and spiteful gossip. The Lord wanted him to suffer in silence.

2519 The poor besieged him: “His house seemed like a poorhouse. Rarely did we go there without finding people who had come there to explain their needs, which could hardly be attended to with ordinary alms. But during the hour when he held audiences, there was such a concourse of beggars and needy people, that it was sometimes hard work to wade through them just to make it to the staircase” (Aguilar, Francisco de Asís, op. cit., p. 292).

2520 Fr. Carmelo Sala says that Claret spent some 95,000 reales a year on spreading good books through the Librería Religiosa alone, not counting printing expenses with the firms of Aguado, Olamendi and others. Through Fr. Joseph Xifré, he urged his Missionaries to buy books charged to his own account, to distribute them during their missions (cf. HD, II, pp. 489-490).

2521 From the handwriting, it appears that this last statement was added at another time.

2522 Letter written in Madrid on December 25, 1866 (EC, II, p. 1091).

2523 Claret’s apostolic endeavors at El Escorial were a very heavy cross for him to bear. To external opposition was added the internal discontent of some who were seeking their own interests. In the stirring up of this discontent, the Saint saw the handiwork of Satan, who wanted to harm a work that was doing so much good. The case to which he refers must have been particularly serious. It was not by chance that he felt the intervention of St. Michael and heard his voice. In Claret’s apostolic mission, St. Michael held a very prominent place. Claret named him co-patron of his Congregation and had placed under his care the Academy of St. Michael, an organization that was the precursor of today’s lay apostolate, particularly, the Secular Institute of Cordimarian Filiation and the Lay Claretian Movement.

2524 He was at El Escorial from December 27, 1866 to January 7, 1867. In a letter to Mother Antonia Paris, he remarks that he had been happy to be “away from this Babylon of Madrid. In this Court, people really oppress me. There is nothing to do but offer it to the Child Jesus. Oh, how I want to leave the palace! Like the Orient Kings who fled Jerusalem, I desire to go and worship Jesus in Bethlehem, and I would love to be walking along the road of the missions. It was for this that the Lord reared me, and not to be a palace lackey. For me, the Royal Palace is my exile, my torment” (January 9, 1867: EC II, pp. 1109-1110).

2525 He was in Segovia, making a retreat and preaching it to his Missionaries. This decision to stay faithfully in his post would cost him exile and new persecution during the 1868 Revolution.

2526 Fr. James Clotet wrote: “Divine Providence was no doubt preparing her [the Queen] to resign herself to suffer the terrible blow which threatened her close by. It calls to mind a superior general of sisters from an institute which is very big in Spain that a very virtuous and enlightened person of the Lord had a vision of the sort in which Fr. Claret was like a propped-up beam to sustain the edifice of the Spanish monarchy. Someone told this to the Servant of the Lord and he answered: Yes, certainly, I am a beam, but old and rotted, which doesn’t work” (Vida edificante de... Claret [Madrid 2000] pp. 677-678).

2527 Cf. Eph 6:6-7.

2528 These words are a remembrance of the doctrine of the Virgin to Mother María de Jesús de Ágreda, which he applied to himself (cf. Spiritual notes: Royal Confessor, 16).

2529 Acts 22:10: Lord, what would you have me do?

2530 In a note dated December 8, 1870, less than two months after the Saint’s death, his chaplain, Fr. Lorenzo Puig, states: “When our Venerable Founder was in Madrid, near the beginning of 1868, on one occasion he was humbly prostrate on the floor, offering himself to God, whom he fervently begged to deal with him according to His pleasure, and to manifest to him what He wanted or what was according to His will. While he was in the midst of these prayers and offerings, he clearly and distinctly heard a voice telling him: ‘Write!’ He understood this to mean that he should write little books that could be distributed more easily. And to this end, he wrote a number of them, up to the time when the Lord took him off into glory” (MSS Claret II, 205). Underneath this testimony is the signature of Fr. James Clotet, who notes: “This revelation of which he speaks took place in December of 1867” (ibid.).

2531 One result of these urgings was his last short work on the Rosary: Remedios contra los males de la época actual aplicados por medio del santísimo rosario [Remedies Against the Evils of the Present Age, Applied by Means of the Most Holy Rosary] (Barcelona 1870), 54 pp.

2532 The Living Rosary, to which Claret belonged, “is a pious association made up of groups or choirs of 15 people who make a commitment to pray daily one of he 15 mysteries which is assigned each month. It was organized in 1664 by Fr. Juan Martínez of the Prado. But it is rightly known by its principal promoter, the Venerable Paulina María Jaricot, who organized it in France in 1826.” (Llamera, Marcelino, Libro del Rosario. Doctrina y práctica [Valencia 1949] lección 44). The end of the association is “to facilitate the practice of the Rosary to people who by reason of their age or situation are not able to practice it very well.” It is very appropriate to introduce devotion to the Rosary to children and also to people who are very busy or little accustomed to prayer. (cf. Anónimo, Asociación del Rosario viviente aprobada por el Papa Gregorio XVI, reprinted in Vic by Ignacio Valls in 1837, 12 pp.; [Sidera, Juan], Rosario perpetuo y rosario viviente: “Arxiu Claret”-Vic, II, 1988, p. 178).

2533 Cf. letter to Mother María Antonia París, Madrid, July 1, 1866 (EC, II, pp. 1018-1019).

2534 This chapel was in the church of the Hospital of Montserrat in Madrid, where he lived. The chapel had been restored and enlarged, thanks to the efforts of the Saint (cf. Aguilar, Francisco de Asís, Vida de Claret, p. 286).

2535 This vision probably related to the transforming union or mystical marriage which, according to St. John of the Cross, is characterized by this type of luminous phenomena: “This union resembles the union of the light of a star or candle with the light of the sun, for what then sheds light is not the star or the candle, but the sun, which has absorbed the other lights into its own” (Spiritual Canticle, stanza 22, n. 3).

2536 The Saint revealed the deeper content of this laconic entry in a letter to Fr. Currius: “In article 9 [of Remedies Against the Evils of the Present Age] you will read what a voice told me..., a low, rapid voice that charged me to see to it that people say the rosary, attend Mass, and receive Communion frequently and devoutly” (letter written in Rome, October 2, 1869: EC, II, p. 1424; cf. Remedios de los males de la época actual... [Barcelona 1870] art. 9, pp. 52-54).

2537 This day - October 12, 1869 - the Saint was on a retreat which began on the 5th and ended on the 14th. One can note a gradual progress in the sequence of these mystical graces. On November 25, 1858, the Lord had granted him a love of slanders and contempt. Now, He grants him a love of his slanderers and persecutors. But the Saint’s ascetical efforts to rejoice in slanders and to love his enemies began still earlier. In 1856, he had wholeheartedly forgiven his would-be assassin at Holguín, Cuba.

2538 Claret’s own copy of the Works of St. Teresa is kept in the library of the Claretian Theologate in Granada, and we also have his handwritten notes on the passages that impressed him the most in this chapter. The one most closely related to the grace he received here is the following: “I think the most certain sign that we keep these two commandments is that we have a genuine love for others. We cannot know whether we love God although there may be strong reasons for thinking so, but there can be no doubt about whether we love our neighbor or no. Be sure that in proportion as you advance in fraternal charity, you are increasing in your love of God” (MSS Claret XIII, 299; Santa Teresa de Jesús, Moradas quintas, cap. 3, n. 8: Obras de la gloriosa Madre Santa Teresa de Jesús, fundadora de la Reforma de la Orden de Nuestra Señora del Carmen de la primitiva observancia... Printed by Don Joseph Doblado [Madrid 1793] II, p. 85). Ex libris. Claret made two pencil marks in the margins. The same text in : Obras de Santa Teresa de Jesús..., LR [Barcelona 1852] III, pp. 198-199). See English text online at Christian Classics Ethereal Library: <http://www.ccel.org/ccel/teresa/castle2.ix.iii.html>.

2539 Meditation 27 deals with “the wonderful love Jesus showed his enemies as he hung upon the cross” Spiritual Exercises... Explained [Madrid 1859], pp. 344-356).

2540 Gal 2:20. And I live, now not I; but Christ lives in me. Claret’s love of enemies is explained by the presence of Christ within him.

2541 Cf. Lk 23:34.

2542 This idea of Jesus’ looking maternally on the Jews is not found in the Meditation just cited. It is something that welled up from deep within the Saint. In his Resolutions for 1864, he stated that he wanted to have a mother’s heart for his neighbor (cf. also Spiritual Notes, Royal confessor, n. 8).

2543 One of these authors is Blessed John Duns Scotus (1265-1308) known as the Subtle Doctor. Claret indicates the same in another place: cf: Spiritual notes, Royal Confessor, 14. Humility.

2544 Thou art all fair, O Mary: Cf. Songs 4:7.

2545 In the days of his great apostolic undertakings, Claret had looked to the Immaculate Conception as the power of God against the Serpent. Now he contemplates her in herself, as “all fair,” both in soul (through humility) and in body (through virginity). Looking to his own case, he recalled that the Blessed Virgin had granted him the gift of bodily purity, and now asks her to grant him the most thoroughgoing humility (cf. Spiritual Notes, “Royal Confessor,” n. 14).

2546 This text was also published in Constituciones y textos sobre la Congregación de Misioneros. Ed. de J. M. Lozano (Barcelona 1972) pp. 634-635; and in Claret, Escritos Marianos (Madrid 1989) p. 98.

2547 Regarding the beautiful statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary which was in a side chapel of the church of St. Adrian in Rome, today it is found in the Chapel of Relics in the Claretian General Curia.

2548 Ascension Thursday fell on May 26th. This note was found among the Saint’s Marian sermons, which seems to indicate that he had written it to be preached, probably to his Missionaries in Prades. The “soul” was doubtless the saint himself. Claret always felt that he was the instrument of Mary in the apostolate. The symbol he once used for this was the arrow. Here, the symbolism used expresses a greater closeness and belonging. The action of Mary in the Church will become visible through the action of her Missionary Sons. This immanence of Mary in the apostolate provides the groundwork for a Marian mysticism of an apostolic type (cf. Lozano, Juan Manuel, Mystic and Man of Action, Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Trans. by J. Daries, [Claretian Publications, Chicago, 1977]) pp. 299-300.

2549 Cf. Eph 5:23.

2550 In another place he had written: “No one is able to be saved without the help of the grace that comes from Jesus, as the head or body of the Church; and Mary who is like the neck which holds it together; in other words, the body connected to the head in such a way that the head directs the body through the neck; thus, the graces of Jesus pass through Mary and are communicated to the body or to the devotees; who are the living members.” (Letter to a Devout Client of the Most Pure and Immaculate Heart of Mary, in Works, III, p. 592).

2551 Among the ex libris of Claret one can find: San Francisco de Sales, Introducción a la vida devota, trans. by Francisco Cubillas (Madrid 1771) 360 pp.; Rodríguez, Alonso, Ejercicio de perfección y virtudes cristianas (Barcelona 1861) 3 volumes; Scaramelli, Juan Bautista, Discernimiento de espíritus (Madrid 1804) 324 pp. Directorio ascético, trans. by Pedro Bonet (Madrid 1806) 4 volumes; Directorio místico (Madrid 1817) 2 volumes. On the other hand, you will not find any work of Bernardino de Castelvétere, although we know that he recommended his Directorio ascético-místico, trans. by Fr. Pedro Bach (Vic 1847) 2 vols.

2552 In this text the Father Founder “reaffirms his conviction: the Congregation is particularly linked to the Mother of God (he calls it her Congregation, that is, the Congregation of the Virgin) and has a particular mission to serve as an instrument of this maternal action on behalf of souls redeemed by Christ” (Lozano, Juan Manuel, The Claretians. Their Mission and Spirit in the Church, Claretian Publications [Chicago, Illinois 1980]).

2553 Claret left Rome, most likely on Wednesday, July, 20 1870, and traveled to Prades, France, where his Missionaries had taken refuge from the Spanish revolution, and where the Saint arrived on July 23 at 11pm. A few days later, hounded in France by the emissaries of the revolutionary Spanish Government, he took refuge in the Cistercian monastery of Fontfroide, where he arrived on Saturday, August 6th, Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

2554 Cf. Lk 23:34, 43, 46.

2555 Cf. Lk 23:44.

2556 Lk 23:34.

2557 Cf. Mk 15:34. – This meditation on the abandonment of Jesus should have comforted him. Three days later he wrote a letter which touched on this feeling of abandonment: “I am a mysterious being…, I am like a fugitive…, like one hiding from justice” (letter to Fr. Joseph Xifré, Fontfroide, August 15, 1870: EC, II, p. 1485).

2558 Cf. St. Teresa of Jesus, The Way of Perfection, chap. 1, n. 2.– To Claret, in the solitude of the monastery the only avenue left open to him was prayer. See note 89

2559 Although this paragraph is written in sequence, it must have arisen from a new prompting.

2560 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord your God set you free. – For St. Anthony Mary Claret, this passage was like a call to his everlasting homeland.


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