Look At Claret For Inspiration during your Trials

(The excerpts quoted here are taken from the Autobiography of St. Anthony Mary Claret (numbers cited in brackets after each quote. Though these statements are better understood in the context it is written, nevertheless, they can offer us consolation and strength at different moments of our lives)

1. When you are tired and worn out with excessive apostolic work:

“On November 22, 1860 I was feeling very low at the prospect of having to take over the whole project of the Escorial. The burden of it robbed me of rest by day and of sleep by night. Because I could not sleep, I got up, dressed, prayed, and laid all my burden before God. In the spirit I heard the clear, intelligible voice of the Lord telling me, “Courage! Don’t lose heart; I will help you.” (691). (Escorial was a big educational and training project of Claret for Spanish clergy in the monastery of Escoral)

2. When Persecuted, misunderstood and hated for your prophetic commitment:

“This year I have been 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. At times my nature rebelled a little, but at once I calmed myself in resignation and conformity to God’s will. I considered he example of Jesus and realized how far I was from suffering what He suffered for me, and so I kept calm.”(798)

On October15, 1859, the feast of St. Teresa, there was a plot to assassinate me. The would-be assassin entered the church of St. Joseph on Alcàla street in Madrid. With evil intent he has just entered the church just to pass time, and he was converted through the intercession of St. Joseph, as the Lord let me know. The assassin came to talk with me and told me he was a member of a secret lodge that was backing him”. (688)

3. When you are very successful in your work and feel great about yourself:

“Of all the things I have studies and worked at during my life, I have understood none better than manufacturing. … I found copying patterns difficult at first, but by applying myself day and night, both on workdays and holidays to study, writing, and designing, I came to be successful at it. . when after much thought, I had managed to tae a design apart and put it back together, I felt such a sensation of joy and satisfaction that I would walk back home quite be side myself with contentment.

I leant all this without a teacher (58, 59). With regard to manufacturing, I had become adept not only in design, but also in presetting looms. News of my technical ability the Lord has given me spread though Barcelona. This moved some gentlemen to call on my father to ask him what he thought of our forming a company and starting our own factory. (62, 63).

Who would have guessed that God would one day use in the interests of religion the studies in design that I undertook for business reasons? And in fact, these skills have been most useful to me in the designing prints for catechisms and works on mysticism”. (56)

4. When an assignment contrary to your missionary aspirations is given to you:

“Thus we had begun and thus we continued, living together strictly in community. All of us were going out regularly to work in the sacred ministry…..I was called to the bishop’s palace. When I arrived there, he handed me a letter dated August 4, containing my royal appointment as Archbishop of Cuba. I was struck dead by the news. I said I would by no means accept and begged the bishop to be good enough to answer for me, telling them that I by no manner would accept.(492)

Even after prolonged reflection over the matter, I concluded that, even if I had the required knowledge an virtue, it would be wrong for me to abandon the religious library and the congregation, which were just coming into being….. they decided to work through my superior, the bishop of Vich, whom I always obeyed, and he, in turn, formally commanded me to accept. This order shook me deeply: on one hand, I didn’t dare to accept, on the other, I wanted to obey. I begged the bishop to allow me a few days of prayer to think things over before giving my answer, which he did. Then I called together Fathers Jaime Soler, Jaime Passarell, Pedro Bach, and Stephen Sala, all of them very wise and virtuous priests.. and begged them to commend me to God. I told them that I hoped they would be good enough to tell me, on the last day of the retreat I was about to begin, what I should do-whether to accept the appointment as the bishop had commanded or to oppose it completely. When the appointed day arrived, after conferring among themselves, they concluded that it was God’s will that I accept the nomination. And so I did on 4th of October, two months after I had been appointed”. (495, 496)

5. When you find your honest aspirations in conflict with what God asks of you at the moment:

I have such a deep longing to leave Madrid and go out to the whole world that I can’t tell you how much I suffer at not being allowed to do so; God only knows. Everyday I have to make acts of resignation to God’s will, for I know that He wills me to stay on here for the present. I resolve to be silent, but at best I speak and say that I’d like to leave (762).

6. When you can’t understand your own behaviour in spite of good will:

In all my life I have not suffered as much as here at court. I am like a caged bird that keeps looking through the bars of its cage for a way to escape, and I keep dreaming up ways to get out…. I sometimes ask myself, “What cause have you to be so upset? Everyone in the palace respects you; the whole royal family appreciates you and values your presence; Her majesty the queen loves you and dots on you. Well, then, what makes you have such violent feelings on the subject?” In truth, I have none. I can’t come up with a good reason for it. My only answer to the enigma is that the repugnance I feel is a grace God has sent me to prevent me from becoming attached to the prestige, honours, and riches of this world. For… it has kept me from envy and from setting my heart on the things the world holds dear”. (621, 622)

7. When your silence to slander is taken as evidence of your culpability:

“Thus it is that I have resolved never to vindicate, excuse, or defend myself whenever I am censured, misjudged, and persecuted because I would then be the loser in the eyes of God and of men. Yes, men would shape even the truth of my reasons into weapons to turn against me. (422)

8. When you have very many creative plans for work which you are not sure if your superiors will approve of:

“I had come to realize that a missionary must never thrust himself into an assignment. He should offer his services to the bishop, saying, here am I, send me.” But he should not go until his bishops sends him, because when he is sent, it will be by God’s sending. All the Old Testament prophets were sent by God. Jesus Christ himself was sent from god, and Jesus in turn sent his Apostles”.(195)

9. When you sense that you tend to be indulgent in food and physical comfort:

“While I was in Segovia on September 4, 1859 and while I was making my meditation, at 4.25 in the morning, Jesus told me, “you must teach your missionaries mortification in eating and drinking Anthony.”. A few minutes later the Blessed Virgin said, “If you do, you will have great results, Anthony.” (406)

“I am well aware that worldly people, who lack the spirit of Jesus Christ, ridicule or even condemn such mortifications; but I remember the teaching of St. John of the Cross concering this. He says that if anyone tell you that you can become perfect without practicing external mortification, you should pay him no heed. Even if he worked miracles to confirm what he says, you should regard them as illusions”. (412)

10. When you are impatient and irritated about your own limitations and that of others:

“It is better to do less with patience, meekness and amiability than to do more in haste, anger, annoyance, and unwillingness, for when people see this sort of behaviour they are put off and withdraw” (784). “I will always be pleasant with everyone, especially those who annoy me”. (786)

I will consider how useful meekness is, because humility pleases God, whereas meekness pleases our neighbour”. (783)

11. When you are discouraged and afraid of your missionary undertakings:

“The Lord told me both for myself and for all these missionary companions of mine, “You yourselves will not be the speakers; the Spirit of your Father (and of your Mother) will be speaking in you.” So true is this that each one of us will be able to say, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me therefore he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken hearted.” (688)

12. When you face antagonism against Church and religion on one hand and, on the other, feel discouraged and pained about the limitations of the Church:

“There is no telling how much propaganda they have made by both the written and the spoken word. One of the leaflets they have circulated everywhere as put within the reach of all reads like this: “What would become of the Catholic religion if we had to judge it by the conduct of most of its members, let alone that of its ministers! Look, if you doubt, at those ministers of religion and you will observe that they are steeped in worldly pleasures and involved in political intrigues…. They neither study nor teach morality, but dedicate themselves to the pursuit of their ambitions and disorderly appetites”… Priests abuse everything; nothing is sacred to them. They have profaned and debased everything: pulpit, confessional, conscience, family, all of society. They have been the ruin of everything”.

Impious men.. are doing incalculable harm by such teachings as well as by their actions and contempt with which they treat priesthood, the mass and sacraments, and other religious services.
I have often, or rather constantly, wondered what remedy there might be for such an evil. After much thought I have come to the conclusion that the remedy consists, on the one hand, of training a good, learned, virtuous, zealous, and prayerful clergy and , on the other, of catechising and reaching to both children and adults and circulating good books and pamphlets”. (729-735)

-Mathew Vattamattam