Formation Booklet- 10
Prefecture of General Formation
CHARISMATIC FOUNDATION OF THE CLARETIAN MISSION
by Jesús Bermejo, CMF.
English Translation Joseph C. Daries, CMF.
AAS Acta Apostolicae Sedis.
AG Ad Gentes, Vatican II. Decree on the Church’s missionary activity.
AH Archivo Històrico de la Congregaciòn de Misioneros Hijos del lnmaculado Corazòn de Maria (Madrid 1915), voI. I.
AN Archivo de la Nunciatura Apostòlica en Madrid. ASV Archivo Secreto Vaticano.
CCTT Constituciones y Textos sobre la Congregaciòn de Misioneros. Edition prepared by John M. Lozano, CMF (Barcelona 1972).
CER The Claretian in the Process of Congregational Renewal, Document of the 2Ofh General Chapter (Rome 1985). English translation, Joseph O. Daries, CMF.
DC Declaration on the Charism of the Congregation, Document of the l7th General Chapter (Rome 1968). English translation, Eugene Grainer, CMF.
EA St. Anthony Mary Claretl: Escritos autobiograficos. Edition prepared by José Maria Viñas and Jesus Bermejo, CMF, BAC (Madrid 1981).
EC St. Anthony Mary Claret: Epistolario Claretiano. Edition II, the Correspondence, prepared by José Maria Gil, CMF (Madrid 1970-1 987), 3 vols.
EE St. Anthony Mary Claret: Escritos espirituales. Edition prepared by Jesùs Bermejo, CMF, BAC (Madrid 1985). C. SSw.
EN Evangelii Nuntiandi, Apostolic Exhortation of Paul VI.
HD EI Beato Antonio Maria Claret. Historia Documentada de su vida y empresas, by Cristòbal Fernàndez, CMF (Madrid 1946), 2 voIs.
IPT Informative Process of Tarragona (on Ciaret) ~PV informative Process of Vic (on Claret)
LMT Letter to the Missionary, Theophilus. Eng. Tr. in SSW.
MCT The Mission o! the Claretian Today, Document of the l9th General Chapter (Rome 1979). English translation, Joseph C. Daries, CMF.
Mss Claret Manuscripts of St. Anthony Mary Claret (cited according to volume and page numbers)
SSW Selected Spiritual Writings o! St. Anthony Mary Claret. Joseph C. Daries, CMF. English Translation of EE.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Father Claret in His Historical Context
- A.The Political and Social Situation in 19th-Century
- B.The Religious Situation in 19th-Century
- C.Historic Challenges and Claret’s Response
- Authentic promotion of Liberal principles
Claret’s Response to the Challenges of l9th-Century Spanish Society
St.Anthony Mary Claret, Apostolic Missionary and Evangelizer
- I.Father Claret, Apostolic Missionary
- II.The Claretian Evangelizer
- A.The Apostolic Missionary according to Claret
- 2.Specific Meaning
- B.Claret, always an Apostolic
- C.Characteristics of
- D.Caret’s Evolution as an Apostolic
- 1.The Motives of Zeal
- 2.The Experience of Christ
- 3.The Experience of the World and of the Church
- a)Saving Human Being
- b)Saving Society.
- c)Saving the Church
- E.Caret’s Originality as an Apostolic Missionary
- F. Conclusion
Evangelization and Culture in Father Claret
- A.Some Characteristics of 1 9th-Century Culture
- B.Some Traits of Claret’s Evangelization in the Culture of His Time
- C.Outstanding Moments
- 1.In his ministry in Catalonia(1840-1848)
- 2.In his campaign in the Canary Islands (1848-1 849)
- 3.In his Cuban ministry (1851-1857)
- 4. During his stay in Madrid (1857-1868
- 5.During his stay in Paris and Rome (1869-1870)
The l9th General of the Congregation, celebrated in 1979, offered a panoramic vision of the Claretian mission today. In the light of the reality of the post-conciliar Church and the modem world, it delved into the experience of St. Anthony Mary Claret and the missionary tradition of the Claretians.
The validity of that Chapter’s Document was acknowledged and re-affirmed by the Chapter of 1985, which urged the Congregation to study it and apply it in the coming years:
‘The evangelising options and the programming of our missionary action, such as they appear in the MCT, must continue to inspire and guide the Congregation in the next six years. To make them more operative for the future, we ask that the General Government promote serious studies to deepen the doctrinal foundations of the options that define our missionary commitment and the consequences deriving from them for our evangelising action” (CPR 73-74).
The renewed awareness of the Claretian charism ed the Congregation to commit itself to a more missionary evangelization in the style of Claret, and more adequate for coping with the urgent needs of the Church.
“Our exigencies and options for evangelization form an integral part of Claretian spirituality. They shape it as a spirituality that is missionary, inculturated, prophetic, identified with the poor, and aimed at multiplying agents of evangelization. These same exigencies and options awaken within us attitudes of availability, exodus, itinerancy and docility to the Spirit” (CPR 52).
In this booklet we will study the distinct dimensions of the Claretian mission in the experience of St. Anthony Mary Claret, who was so radically committed in living the mission that the Lord entrusted to him.
First of all, it offers a panoramic vision of the social and ecclesial reality of the l9th century, and considers the urgent challenges of this age and the manifold evangelizing responses which St. Anthony Mary Claret, enlightened by the Spirit, learned to bring to them in the light of his missionary experience we can note his innermost concerns and how, throughout his life, in diverse situations and with varied actions, he stood in the service of evangelization, as a faithful continuer of Christ and the Apostils in lovingly communicating the Word of God which had won him and indelibly marked him.
We will then go on to study an important dimension of Claretian evangelization: inculturation. One of the most important conquests of our time has without doubt been a respect for the cultures and an esteem for the values that each of them contains. The multiformity of forms of it throughout history has led to the creation of manifold cultures or different continents. Each geographic zone has, generally speaking, its own idiosyncrasies: realities which define and distinguish it from the rest, values crystallized with the passage of centuries, its own language and literature, its own arts and crafts, its distinctive folklore and its different ways of dealing with God.
In recent times the Church, especially with the broadening of its missionary outreach, has seen the need to shine the light of the Gospel on this diversity of cultures, respecting in them all that is nof directly opposed to Christian doctrine and morality, and emphasizing those values that are in tune with the Gospel, so that this human richness may itself serve as a path and portal for the transmission of the saving truth that Christ sets before us and gives us.
The Claretians, in the vanguard of mission, following the spirit and praxis of St. Anthony Claret, are called upon to implement this necessary “turning toward cultures” in which we are immersed through the charism of evangelizing that we have received. And in this unavoidable task, as in so many other aspects of our missionary existence, we are guided by the experience of our Fr. Founder who, in his tireless evangelizing activity, strove, like St. Paul, to become all things to all people, in order to win them all for Jesus Christ (cf. I Cor. 9:22).
Another important aspect keenly felt today is the content of the saving message that Jesus brought to our earth. A key word reveals and at the same time conceals this from us. This word is liberation, a word that had been the object of incessant polemics in recent years.
Nobody denies that evangelization -and Christian reality as a whole- is liberating and indeed must be liberating. But liberating from what? And how? That is where the crux of the question lies: in the diverse optics and options that different and even antagonistic ideologies attach to the concept of liberation.’
In these pages, we will be able to appreciate in what sense and in what measure the evangelizing action of Fr. Claret was liberating and how the Claretians, intimately linked to his life and work in virtue of their common charism, should understand a reality which commits and launches us, who have been anointed by the charity which the Spirit of the Lord has poured forth into our lives.
In the last part of this work two further dimensions of Claretian evangelization are presented: evangelization from the viewpoint of the poor, and evangelization that multiplies evangelizers. In the context of today, both are themes of burning and impassioned relevance.
Sensitivity to poverty and to the “option for the poor” is roofed, now as never before, in the awareness of today’s Church. Fidelity to the Gospel, and more deeply to the person of Christ consecrated and sent to proclaim good news lo the poor, demands of us today that we bear a clear witness of evangelical poverty, like that of Jesus who emptied himself and took the form of a slave, becoming like us in all things except sin, and voluntarily opted for a real and radical poverty, having nowhere to rest his head.
In our time, the cry of the poor arises from a great part of humanity; and the poverty of modem people, in all their inner and outer complexity, has become a gladly inevitable urgency and challenge. In his milieu, Fr. Claret truly one of the poor of Yahweh, devoted his apostolic efforts to evangelizing the poor in order to lead them to God.
Secondly, we have a keener sensibility regarding evangelizers. All of the baptized are and ought to be, by their very essence and constitution, evangelizers. The fewness of laborers in the Lord’s vineyard was a challenge for St. Anthony Mary Claret. Inspired by God, he not only promoted new associations of evangelizers committed to the witness of the religious life, but also aroused in the Church a “mission awareness” among secular priests and the laity, with an extraordinary felicitous prophetic insight.
The presentation of his experience in these two fields will doubtless make us more sensitive to promoting evangelizing leaders who can infuse the People of God with new and life-giving sap, by their witness to and proclamation of the Good News of salvation.
Through this series of studies, the Prefecture General of Formation, sensitive to the demands of an initial and ongoing formation in keeping with the Claretian missionary spirit, wants to return to the origin of the institute and above all to the person who, inspired by the Spirit, gave life for a new family of evangelizers.
FATHER CLARET IN HIS HISTORICAL CONTEXT
A. The Political & and Social Situation in 19th century Spain
The last years of the l8th century witnessed the erosion of the structure of the ancient regime, made up of the following monolithic pairs: KING-NOBILITY and CLERGY-PEOPLE. The fall of traditional society would give rise, at least in theory, to a world-view of a democratic stamp.
The deep and definitive change came with the French Revolution (1789). This phenomenon would have a worldwide thrust and resonance, both of itself and by its consequences in the political, social and religious spheres.
The French Revolution had a core of positive principles -~ liberty, fraternity and equality- which, though fundamentally evangelical, were ill- understood and applied. Their strongly anticlerical and atheistic roofs gave rise to a new anthropocentric and materialist society that had its starting point in Hegelian idealism and Marxist materialism.
The first decade of the l9th century in Spain saw the outbreak of the War of independence against Napoleon. It would become a true national epic, but it has rightly been said that the French troops inoculated their foes with liberal ideology.
A new world was born. In it, man and his liberty triumphed, while the values of the spirit were pushed aside and were in many cases denied and persecuted. The Industrial Revolution began, and with its creative power carne the temptation to human self-sufficiency, to the point of thinking that people could do without and even deny God, founding a completely lay kind of society.
“In this epoch. ..men, led astray by new inventions and by the progress of science and technology, unthinkingly began to reject even God and the Church founded by Him, and attempted to lay foundations for society other than those laid down by Christ our Lord.”[i]
The l9th century was the era of revolutions and of political, social and religious restorations. its main characteristics were the following:
- Romanticism and nationalism;
- Industrial revolution;
The scientific and technological revolution, with a whole gamut of revolutionary inventions (for example, steam and electric power with al! their applications to locomotion and the media of mass communication: telephone, radio, television, etc.);
Secularization, stressing the value of man and the world: of laws that would lead people to affirm that nature is profane reality, with no need of a god to govern it from outside; of man as creator of science and technology; of the autonomy of human activities formerly linked to religion; of the autonomy of soda! structures, formerly seen from a religious perspective; and of political! autonomy, with a neat separation between Church and State.
These more-or-less sudden and accelerated changes ed more activist groups to polarize into irreconcilably opposed groups, thus giving rise, within their diverse ideologies –traditional vs./ liberal- to irate polemics and political, characterized by continual manifestos and above all to an endless series of civil wars. In the field of economics, the appearance of two antagonistic systems —Capitalism vs. Marxism– ed to what has come to be called the “apostasy of the Masses.”
The l9th century has been described as a huge heap of wrecks and ruins. in Spain it would be a century of intrigues, of political passions, of systematic persecution of the religious life and of the Church in General, of the confiscation of their goods (culminating with their ‘disamortization’ by Mendizàbal), of convent burnings and even the murder of religious during the unhappy summer of 1835.
Claret’s first biographer, a friend and contemporary, Don Francisco de Asis Aguilar, defines the l9th century as “one of those ill-fated eras that may be called dark nights in the history of virtue and civilization, in which one all-too-commonly finds a darkness o~ the understanding, caused by ignorance and religious indifference, a cooling of charity, produced by human selfishness and a corruption of manners, resulting from a lack of faith and of the holy fear of God.”2[ii]
In a reflection on the same century, the Spanish philosopher Julian Marias has stated that ‘lt was not what it was then thought to be: an epoch of plenty, opening on a broad future, but rather quite the contrary.” He speaks of a world “with a sense of coming to an end, of moving in a brittle and crumbling world that was falling apart, undoing itself, annihilating itself.. Beneath the facade of its abundance and wealth, there lay hidden a radical insufficiency, an absolute emptiness, an oppressive denial. Only a few clear-sighted and perspicacious spirits could perceive this.”
According to another present-day historian, Carlos Valverde, “to narrate the history of the mid years of the l9th century is to tell a tale of misadventures and misfortunes, of civil wars, of political! follies, of petty tyrants, of party struggles, of stillborn constitutions, of stupid persecutions, of intrigues, of instability on all levels and often enough, of out-and-out chaos.”
As one can readily appreciate, this series of completely negative judgments has been in part revised by more recent studies. It is true that the former social order was reduced to a heap of ruins; but it is equally true that some persons -and not a few—recognized saints today, took these same materials and used them to build up a new social edifice in which there is, or ought to be, room for a new man and a new Church to rise from the ashes of suffering, cleaner and more purified, poorer and more evangelical!. The l9th century was truly a century of revolutions, but also one of great restorations (especially religious ones); it was a century of exaggerated nationalism and dreamy romanticism, but also a century of ideological pluralism favouring genuine freedoms.[iii]
B- The Religious Situation in 19th-century Spain
Generally speaking, it can be said that the Church was under heavy fire from the political! power and adopted a frankly and often intransigently defensive attitude.
The tone was reactionary. The clergy kept a markedly conservative posture, wailing themselves off in an ivory tower of excessive conservatism regarding Catholic traditions and political institutions.
Moreover, they tended lo stigmatize anyone who even breathed airs other than those of tradition, and to view as good Spaniards only those who were and showed that they were fervent Catholics.
As a result of the defensive attitude of the Church’s shepherds (bishops and priests), pastoral practice was prevalently apologetical and routine.
One notable trait was the unconditional adherence of clergy and people to the Church and to the Pope. This was always true, but more so in 1848, when the Pope was expelled from Rome and had to take refuge in Gaeta and, years later, upon Spain’s recognition of the Kingdom of Italy.
But despite it all, there was a notable flowering of holiness in Spain that included eminent men and women. Some of them have already been beatified or canonized, while many are in the process of being beatified.
The religious if e was perhaps the institution most affected by the political and social situation, suffering its terrible consequences. With its ruthless persecution and systematic destruction through the suppression of religious houses, a great decadence carne over the religious life. In Spain, the disamortization of religious goods took place and was at once followed by the suppression of religious orders, starting in 1836.
However, the death-blow that the religious life had supposedly been dealt, was in fact reacted to with a slow restoration of the ancient religious orders and a rapid creation of new congregations, especially of women. In Spain alone there are some 90 of these, almost all of them from the second half of the l9th century.
Their apostolate was highly diversified, in keeping with the needs that kept emerging, basically in the areas of assistance, social improvement and evangelization, through educational and charitable work.
C.- Historic Challenges and Claret’s Response
As we pointed out above, in Spain and throughout Europe, a clash of ideologies arose between traditionalists and liberals.
Liberal ideology, as we know, had been conceived in the l8th century with the Enlightenment and took shape as a doctrine and way of life in the French Revolution of1789. If its great battle cry, the famous trilogy of liberty, fraternity and equality, had been understood and applied within an authentic Christian humanism, it could have gently and without trauma impregnated the Christian consciousness of the people. But the fact that it was marked by an anti-Church stamp (since it viewed the Church as monolithically set in an immovably traditionalist posture) and that its new ideology was imposed in a violent and revolutionary wave of blood, suffering and fear, meant that a genuine path to liberty that it aimed at initiating was nipped in the bud.
The Church was not only seen as retrograde, but also as oppressive, and this led liberalism to deprive it of liberty and try to stifle, oppress and even suppress it, in order to set up a new social system without Christian bases. Liberalism, whose attitudes, if adequately understood, could have been legitimate, outdid itself in committing incredible excesses. It claimed to want absolute freedom of thought, education, press, voting, religion and even, in a way, of love, by establishing civil marriage, which caused so many problems in the second half of the l9th century. Moreover, liberalism rightly sought adequate participation in democratic life, but often at the cost of freedom of conscience and with a view to political opportunism and sectarian interests..
With the predominance of reason over faith, the Church again began to tumble as in the time of Francis of Assisi, and needed new and strong pillars to shore it up. Fr. Claret would be a providential sign for renewing the face of the Church in his time.
Deeply immersed in this new world of technology and set in the midst of opposing and overtly hostile factions, Fr. Claret would have to evangelize this new society, and he would do it in a new way, without depending on power (political or armed) or possessions (the economic power of capitalism) or conventional wisdom (the florid oratory of preachers who sought applause, rather than the conversion of the people). His twofold support would lie, on the one hand, on the power of the Word of God and, on the other, on his own witness of evangelical and apostolic life. Returning to the early days of the Church, he would present the Gospel in its original purity, its human and transcendent vigour and its radical demand far conversion, and at the same time with a kindness that revealed the heart of the Father.
Like Balmes, Donoso Cortés and other enlightened minds of his century, Fr. Claret realized that deep down, liberal ideology had materialist and atheist roofs, that it counted on an elite to spread it among the masses, who were unprepared and defenceless because, with the suppression of religious orders, they were deprived of an adequate Christian formation, which was not supplied by schools that were increasingly laical and lacking in Christian principles. In 1848, Marx’s Communist Manifesto appeared, and with it, religious indifference and later the denial of God.
These deep convulsions in society fostered a strong ferment of secularization or laicization in institutions and mentalities. Hence, in 1847, Fr. Claret exclaimed with real anguish: “We must…set up walls and dikes, lest the great flood of impiety and indifferentism carry away the little good topsoil that still remains in the Lord’s vineyard.’[iv]
Although ha was not embroiled in politics, his study of reality, in Catalonia, in Cuba and later in his privileged post as Royal Confessor in Madrid, as well as his contact with politicians in Cuba and Madrid, had enabled him to view problems with great clairvoyance, so that he could foresee the coming of the September Revolution of 1868. He often said that while others viewed political intrigues from their seats in the theatre, he saw them on stage, from the wings.
On 12 January 1866, in a letter to Isabel II, Pius IX, after meeting the Saint and talking with him at least twice while he was in Rome, issued this judgment: “I saw Msgr. Claret, and recognized in him a worthy ecclesiastic, a man totality of God. And although politics are alien to him, he knows full well the distemper of politics and the malice of those who are Catholic in name only.”[v]
2.-The Authentic Promotion of Liberal Principles
Fr. Claret was not a man turned in on himself. He was not radically opposed to liberalism as such, but was pierced to the quick by some of its consequences. He did not feel overly upset at its radical anticlericalism, but was indeed pained by its systematic rejection of God and its tenacious struggle to build a totally atheistic society. But he would adopt as his own, at least in practice, some of the values which it contained.
He was not afraid of freedom; indeed, he fostered true Christian freedom –the freedom of the sons of God– in active and generous obedience to the only God and Lord.
He struggled, above all in Cuba, for the equality of all races and social conditions, by taking decisive action against the plague of slavery and against the false interpretation –a brazen abuse on the part of civil authorities– of the law of 16 April 1805, forbidding the celebration of marriages, without due permission, between white “of well-known nobility” and women of colour.
He strove to create authentic Christian fraternity, where all would be of but one heart and soul, by creating congregations of evangelical and apostolic life, and lay associations that lived according to the spirit of the primitive Church. Among the latter, the Academy of St. Michael stood out.
3.- Claret’s Response to the Challenges of 19th century Spanish Society.
How did Claret respond to the challenges of his time?
In Catalonia he saw a people divided and not evangelized for lack of evangelical and apostolic preachers, that is, of men who live the Gospel radically and preached it both in their life and in their words. His response was:
– Incessantly preaching missions himself and creating groups of evangelizers, including lay persons (Brotherhood of the Heart of Mary, Lovers of Humanity, 1847). This whole movement would culminate in the foundation of the Congregation of Missionaries.
His way of missioning, which he proposed to his followers, was that of Jesus: simplicity and clarity, as opposed to the florid style of renowned orators; “little terror, but gentleness in all,’ as opposed to the “fire-and-brimstone” style of preaching that fed on the state of civil war in which people were living.
– Employing modem media, above all the press, for evangelization, distributing books, booklets and leaflets by the bushel, in order to repay evil with good, as ho often said, echoing St. Paul. He did all this, convinced that “the word has been, is, and will always be queen of the world,’[vi]and that “society Is perishing for no other reason than that it has withdrawn from the Church’s word, which is the word of life and the word of God. Societies have become weak and are starving because they have ceased to receive the daily bread of God’s word. Every plan of salvation will be sterile unless there is a return to the fullness of the great, catholic Word.”[vii]
The evangelizer must have an in-depth understanding of his vocation and mission, of his dignity and of the responsibility that weighs on his conscience as a faithful and decisive transmitter of the Word of God. At the same time ho must also give the witness of an evangelical and apostolic life, above all in poverty, which is the most lively, visible and effective sign of evangelization. And he must give himself totally to this task, without limitations of place and time. Assuring a sound and committed clergy would be one of Fr. Claret’s chief tasks in Cuba. Ho was fully convinced that the impact of evangelization depends on the quality of the evangelizers.
Propaganda by way of books was born of his own experience: “The realization of how much good I have derived through good and pious books has prompted me to distribute them generously, in the hope that they will bring my neighbors, whom I love, the same happy results they brought to me.”[viii] The Religious Library was established in 1847 with this aim: to make books serve as so many more silent evangelizers.
In Cuba, propaganda became a veritable passion. In an account to the Bishop of Vic on the successes he had obtained during his first year in Cuba, he stated: “Another of the means I have used in order to do good are good books, which I either give away or exchange for bad books. Thus taking poison out of people’s hands and replacing it with the savoury and salutary bread, mainly, ‘The Catechism Explained’ and ‘The Straight Path’… [Given] the benefit they derive from them, I keep seeing to it that there is a copy in each household, even though they cost me many duros, which thus far have come to several thousands. But I hold it as well spent, so long as souls are saved, for this is what God has sent me to do, and not to amass or make money.”[ix]
In Cuba he became aware of the social consequences of personal sins: “In this land there are some forces of destruction and corruption that provoke the Justice of God.”[x] Among them were “the enlightened and teaching classes of the country, who not only do not have a shadow of religion, but rather a contempt and hatred against it and spare no means to impress and spread the same sentiments among the people, who are quite docile and humble, and can easily be misled because of the ignorance that there Is al present.”[xi]
Unbelief among the educated and civil authorities, along with ignorance among the populace, fostered underdevelopment and the persistence of slavery. Therefore, Fr. Claret began an offensive without quarter against this situation, which did not allow far a minimal standard of living, let alone for the development of a decent Christian life. His concrete responses to these challenges would be: continual evangelization by means of missions and the spread of books and booklets, clergy reform, struggling against slavery and far human advancement, with the publication of “Reflections on Agriculture” and “Delights of the Country,” setting up credit unions in parishes and creating the “Model Ranch” at Puerto Principe. To this he would add the promotion of teaching, by calling religious institutes from Spain and founding, together with the Servant of God, Mother Antonia Paris, the Teaching Sisters of Mary immaculate (today known as Claretian Missionary Sisters), on 25 August 1855.
While he was still in Cuba, starting with his vision of the angel of the Apocalypse (2 September 1855) and the attempt an his life at Holguin (1 February 1856), but above all when he was in Madrid, he grasped the headlong power of the new ideologies of a materialist and atheist stamp. The threefold lust, and especially the warship of the golden calf af self-sufficient wealth ‘is drying up the heart and bowels of modem societies,”[xii] leading directly to materialism, because the power of liberal thinking, inoculated through bad reading, corrupts the understanding and then the heart, “until one finally arrives at the stage of denying the very first truth, the existence of God, who is the origin of all truth: ‘The fool has said in his heart, There is no God.”[xiii]
Fr. Claret was shown that he was called “to confront all the evils of Spain,”[xiv]and that these evils were Protestantism, or better put, de-catholicization, the republic and Communism,[xv]as well as ~he four archdemons,” as he was given to understand in the second vision of the angel of the Apocalypse (23 and 24 September 1859). The first archdemon “will promote the love of sensual pleasure”; the second, “the love of gain: the golden calf; the third, independence of reason”; and the fourth, ‘independence of will.”[xvi]
Claret’s response. to these snares would still be the evangelization of the people, but with the great additional insight of the Academy of SI. Michael, destined to carry out an indepth “consecratio mundi” by multiplying evangelizers and reformers in the very sphere where ideologies take shape —among intellectuals and artists— and are later spread to the masses. “in order to set up a front against the newborn humanism on a popular level, he wrote and published Summer Evenings in La Granja and the Railway, and by means of short works spread the devotions that were most directly opposed to present evils: the Trisagion, against pantheism; the Mass, against the denial of the divinity of Jesus Christ; the Rosary as a way of incorporating life’s ups and downs in the mysteries of Jesus and Mary, as opposed to a materialistic conception of existence.”[xvii] For the spread of good reading, he founded Popular Parish Lending libraries in 1864.
Fr. Claret was a man of his time, fully immersed in the problems of the modem world, deeply concerned with the concrete problems of an epoch that was crucial for the destiny of humankind. Yet in some ways he prophetically anticipated our own times and, through his life and mission, is still spurring on our evangelizing action today.
Present-day society Is facing, more acutely and radically, the same problems that the l9th century faced; and these are precisely the challenges that are confronting the Church and evangelizers in a truly dramatic way.
There is a host of challenges, running from atheism to secularism to religious indifference, and passing through problems of justice and peace, underdevelopment and new types of slavery. And these challenges, which are born of the rapid pace of change n our age and of the lack of the light of the gospel, are urgently crying out to the Church for concrete responses and more urgently spurring us on as Claretians, who are situated by vocation and mission in the vanguard of evangelization, according to the spirit and example of St. Anthony Mary Claret. A study of the reality that surrounds us and of our own apostolic zeal can and should give rise to an adequate response to these excruciating and dramatic challenges.
ST. ANTHONY MARY CLARET, APOSTOLIC MISSIONARY
I. FATHER CLARET, APOSTOLIC MISSIONARY
The vocation of Claret -and of every Claretian– is dazzlingly clear: it is born of the Word and it is totally oriented toward announcing the Word of salvation.
Our Founder tells us of his own experience in number 113 of his Autobiography: “Ever since I lost the desire to become a Carthusian –which God had used to uproot me from worldliness– I not only thought about becoming holy myself, jut was continually trying Io imagine what I could do to save the souls of my neighbours.”
What would he do? Evangelize; for that is what he had been call to do, like Jesus and the Apostles. And he had to do so first by the coherent witness of an evangelical and apostolic life, and then by the Word, proclaiming the Word of salvation to all human beings. His vocation was irreversibly oriented in this way when the Holy See granted him the title of “Apostolic Missionary” on 9 July 1841
How would he do it? Claret the Missionary understood the deep demands of his missionary vocation. Very early on, he realized that he had to evangelize:
- 1.Out of a radical option for God, by imitating Jesus in his contemplative and active life.
- 2.Moved by zeal which, as he told his Missionaries in 1865, “is and ardent and efficacious desire for the spiritual good and health of others, like that of Moses, St. Paul and above all Jesus Christ, Mary Most Holy, the Apostles, the Holy Fathers and Missionaries.”[xviii]
- 3.By submitting himself rigorously to a specifically Claretian “apostolic rule” which led him to live in truth, burn in charity and walk in mission. He left us an embodiment of this rule of life and action mainly in his Autobiography.[xix]
- 4.By always bearing in mind certain characteristics drawn from the example of Christ. These characteristics are as follows: an evangelization that is uninterrupted; universal (geographically, in its recipients and in its means); totally committed; attending to whatever is most urgent, timely and effective; dynamic, progressive, integral, aimed at the conversion and sanctification of others; multiplying new agents of evangelization; clear and simple in style; imaginative. This typically Claretian evangelization makes constant demands on the missionary’s creativity, sagacity, hard work, spirit of initiative, love-zeal and joy.[xx]
- 5.By undertaking determined options, which may partly coincide and partly differ from those which the Congregation Is undertaking today, according to the impulse of the Spirit, the needs of the Church, and the situations and challenges of the world.
II. THE CLARETIAN EVANGELIZER
A – The Apostolic Missionary according to Claret
Fr. Claret always considered the missionary’s vocation as the ideal, most lofty and effective vocation. Its dignity Is not only angelic, but divine, because the missionary becomes a helper of God [xxi] and a saviour of the world along with Christ.[xxii]It was also the most acceptable and most glorious task of Christ who, as “the head and model of all other missionaries,” has entrusted “this sublime, holy and divine ministry” to the Apostles and to apostolic missionaries.[xxiii]“Ask yourself, then, Theophilus, whether there can be any honour like the one Jesus Christ bestows on us by accepting us into his apostleship and sharing with us the title of saviour of the world.”[xxiv]To collaborate in the salvation of our neighbour, he goes on to say, is “a grand work of charity. ..a greater work than if you were a very rich man and gave all your money to the poor…, because one soul is worth more than all the riches in the world.”[xxv]
This conviction was deeply roofed in him throughout his life.
In Cuba, facing the difficulties that civil authorities set in the way of his pastoral action, he said: “The day I find my mission blocked… will leave my post [as Archbishop] and not regard it as any loss…, since all need, as a missionary, is to be poor, to love God, lo love my neighbours and to win their souls and at the same time, my own.”[xxvi]
The same idea appears during his stay in Madrid: “Being a missionary,” he writes to Fr. Ramonet, ‘is more than being a pastor, more than a canon… The danger is those states are more and greater, and the fruit harvested is less than in the Missionary’s state.”[xxvii]‘It will stand a priest in better stead lo have been a missionary than to have been a canon.”[xxviii]
In 1862 he stated: “In no other state is more glory given to God and as much merit gained as in that wherein we leave all things to follow Jesus Christ, to spread his Reign and to save sinners: this to the greatest charity, and this is the office of the perfect missionary.”[xxix]
Later, in 1865, he again states that the “dignity” of the missionary is “divine” and that his “holiness should be in keeping with his dignity.”[xxx]And toward the end of his life he kept praising this highest of vocations, stating that it is a beatitude worthy of the highest reward.[xxxi]
The tradition of the Congregation has also understood the greatness of the missionary life in this way. It suffices to cite one significant text: “Your very high calling…is the same as that of the
2. Specific Meaning
St. Anthony Mary Claret obtained for himself the title of Apostolic Missionary “ad honorem” on 9 July 1841.[xxxiii] We do not know what faculties were granted him, but they must have been like those he requested for his companions in 1845[xxxiv]
Fr. Claret never considered this title as merely honorary or juridical, but rather as the richest and deepest definition of his being and identity. He attached a theological and evangelical meaning to it, in order to indicate a distinctive style of life: a la apostòlica, a life like that of the Apostles with Jesus, in rigorous gospel poverty, shared fraternally with the brethren.
By the word “Missionary,” he meant his specific function: evangelization, the prophetic service of the Word, renouncing, so far as it depended on him, the other functions of the priestly ministry:
governance and the ordinary administration of the sacraments.[xxxv] The term “Missionary” undoubtedly has a Christological connotation. Christ was sent to proclaim the good news to the poor, and he is the head and model of all other missionaries.’[xxxvi] Fr. Claret understood his own missionary function in and from Christ: anointed and sent like Him, he was called to be conformed with Him, to live in intimate converse with Him, to imitate Him, to witness to Him until death and to proclaim His message of salvation. And it is in this light that we must understand the more typically missionary traits, attitudes and virtues of Jesus the Evangelizer.[xxxvii]
All of this explains why St. Anthony Mary Claret always lived and understood his missionary life in, and in continuity with, Christ the missionary, and why his gaze was always fixed on the Christ of the public life. “Claret’s preferences obviously ran in the direction of the public life of Jesus: his preaching, conversations and night-long prayer; his sweat, hunger and thirst along the dusty roads of Palestine — all those acts whereby the humanity of Christ revealed the mystery of Gods love for men.”[xxxviii]
In the case of Fr. Claret, the adjective “apostolic” refers more immediately and directly to the Apostles, called to share friendship and closeness with Jesus and to preach the Good News to the ends of the earth. It alludes, as we have indicated, to a style of life centered in poverty, itinerancy and fraternity in the service of evangelization, understood as a biblical and prophetic service of the Word.
B – Claret, always an Apostolic Missionary
For Fr. Claret, the apostolic vocation was not something episodic or transient. He was so intensely and radically an apostle, that the apostolic can be found on all levels of his personality and in all stages of his life. For St. Anthony Mary Claret, missioning or evangelizing was not an exterior activity, but the most authentic expression of his vocational personality. For him, being a missionary was something substantial, because he considered himself to be a missionary in Christ. He felt united to the missionary Christ as to his Head, conformed with the Son in mission.”[xxxix]
This is the trait that both his biographers and the tradition of the Congregation have always highlighted, because it is the trait that most forcefully appears in his personal profile. In his personality, the apostolate always has an all-embracing function. “As a pastor, missionary, prelate, confessor, as a director of souls, pedagogue sociologist, writer and spiritual master. as a founder of religious orders-he geared everything toward the apostolate.”[xl]
St. Anthony Mary Claret was an Apostolic Missionary not only in the busy itinerant days of his ministry in Catalonia and the Canary Islands, but also in situations of government and of greater stability. “Obliged, for the greater service of the Church, to accept the episcopacy and later the role of royal confessor, he lived these situations as an apostolic missionary, both by the importance he gave to evangelization, and by his poor and fraternal lifestyle.”[xli]
In Cuba, he was more a missionary than an archbishop,’ wrote Fr. Palladi Currius, “for he used no more than the burden of the latter.’[xlii] Against the General tendency of the age, that converted the episcopacy into a merely bureaucratic function,[xliii] he delegated ordinary government affairs to his most faithful collaborators, reserving the treatment of only the highest cases to himself. Thus he could dedicate the greater part of his time and energies to missionary preaching. His pastoral visitations were, first of all, a time for living with and directly preaching to the people God had entrusted to him.”[xliv] The idea that he then had of an Apostolic Missionary shows his essential traits: uprootedness and availability, common life, missionary preaching and continual need for renewal.[xlv]
In Madrid, without slighting his duties as royal confessor, he devoted a great part of his time to evangelizing all sorts of persons, and transformed his travels with the royal family into true popular missions.
On being appointed President of EI Escorial, he thought of converting it into a center for evangelization and for the formation of evangelizers, as an inter-diocesan seminary, a university college, and as a mission and retreat house of international scope.[xlvi]
In Paris, where he had been exiled by the revolution, and later in Rome, during the First Vatican Council, he continued to be an Apostolic Missionary by his poor and fraternal lifestyle, by his tireless preaching and by his yearnings ‘to fly” to America, “the young vineyard,” as he used to call it.[xlvii]
Near the end of his life, as a recapitulation of it all, he stated that he had fulfilled his mission, because he had been faithful to the two principal characteristics of an Apostolic Missionary: preaching and poverty [xlviii]
C – Characteristics of Mission
Above all, universality in space, out of faithfulness to the command of Jesus: “Go into the whole world and preach the Gospel to all creatures” (Mk 16:15). To the apostolic missionary, “the Lord, besides the one talent of his priesthood, has entrusted another four talents, namely, the four corners of the world.’[l]
He gave the following as his motive for renouncing the nomination as Archbishop of Cuba: “I would thus [by accepting] be tying myself down to a single archdiocese, whereas my spirit goes out to all the world.’[lii]Only obedience was able to subdue him into accepting the appointment, but only on the supposition that I may thus provide more fuel for charity, for the love of God and of my neighbours in which I desire to be set aflame.’[liii]
Nor could he be content within the bounds of one nation. His desire was ‘to be off and preaching throughout the world.”[liv] He also desired that his Missionaries should have this same universality, by boldly stating that the aim of the Congregation was “the salvation of all the inhabitants of the world.”[lv]
This universality must also be understood in terms of time and dedication. During his years as an itinerant mission preacher in Catalonia, apostolic work so completely absorbed him, that he sometimes did not have time even to eat. Every day of the year was missioning.”[lvi]
“His work,” says a Chapter Book of Tarragona, ‘is unfathomable, for from four in the morning until bedtime, he hardly has time to recite his breviary and eat what is necessary, since he keeps going from confessional to pulpit and from pulpit to confessional.”[lvii]
It was the same in the Canary islands. He wrote: ‘I deprive myself of all repose and rest night and day.”[lviii] “Hence, I’m doing it alone, like a desperado, preaching and hearing confessions day and night.”[lix]
He followed the same dizzy pace in Cuba, from which he wrote to his friends: “We have to suffer much and work very much.”[lx] He speaks of “continual labours[lxi]” and of “continual pastoral visits,”[lxii] and says of himself, “Every day I am preaching and hearing confessions and giving audiences whenever they call me, day and night.”[lxiii]
A newspaper of the time describes him as follows: “The zealous Shepherd, like the sun, is always making the rounds of his sacred ministry, spreading light and warmth throughout the diocese by his word, his action and his example.”[lxiv]
In Madrid, he wrote: “I am preaching all day long.”[lxv] And the same could be said of his stays in Paris and in Rome, where he was always engaged in preaching, catechizing, hearing confessions or writing.
The Congregation of Missionaries, called to follow in his footsteps, was born of this longing for universality in space and time of Claret the Missionary.
This universality also extended to the recipients of his ministries, without any sort of discrimination or exclusion. He wanted to convert and evangelize everyone: hierarchy and people, poor and rich, learned and uneducated, priests and laity,[lxvi] religious and soldiers, children and the elderly, evangelized and evangelizers.
The same universal character appears in his use of the means for evangelization and human advancement. “Claret chose to make use of all means available… there was no means that he let pass by.[lxvii] And he prescribed the same for his Congregation: “Let them avail themselves of all means possible.”[lxviii] But in each set of circumstances he kept adopting the means that were most effective in responding to ‘The urgent needs and challenges that he met in his evangelizing mission”[lxix] These means were always in consonance with the missionary service of the Word: means of penetration, of consolidation or of growth
Universality always implies total availability in the service of evangelization: as regards place (free from all entrenchment) and as regards time (free of other occupations that might hinder or limit it).
2 – Evangelization
Claret’s whole life was geared to evangelization. Hence ha devoted all his energies to the missionary proclamation of the Word, urged on by the charity of the Spirit, aware of the quasi-sacramental importance of the Word and of the people’s need to be evangelized. Since he regarded the ministry of the Word as being ‘at once the most exalted and invincible of all ministries,”[lxxi]he accorded it a place of privilege above the other priestly roles of sacramentalization and governance: “His vocation was not to direct, but to found; not to govern, but to preach. in this respect, Claret’s vocation exhibits a markedly Pauline stamp.”[lxxii]
Facing a society in an advanced stage of becoming de-Christianized, he pushed for sowing the Word that converts and transforms. “A universal evangelizer in the lifestyle of Jesus with the twelve and in a fraternity like theirs.”[lxxiii] From the first glimmering of his apostolic vocation, Claret understood evangelization as a service in the most biblical and prophetic sense of the word, especially in the Servant Songs of Isaiah and in St. Paul.[lxxiv] “Above all he looked to Christ, the prototype of the Servant, and took Him as his model in the practice of evangelization.’[lxxv]
Fr. Claret was above and before all else -we could even say exclusively– an Apostolic Missionary, an evangelizer. This is his charism and that of the Congregation. “Being a missionary in the style of Claret means being directly and primarily oriented toward tasks of evangelization.’[lxxvi] “Evangelization is our service -a service to mankind, the world, the Church and the building up of God’s reign. We know, too, that we have opted for a missionary form of evangelization, one ‘in the style of the Apostles’ (Cf. DC 10).”[lxxvii]
D. Claret’s Evolution as an Apostolic Missionary
Fr. Claret’s missionary vocation was born of a deep experience of God, above all through His Word, and of a strong experience of the world in his life, there was a process of clarification until he realized that the Lord wanted to associate him in His evangelizing mission. There was also a process of evolution in clarifying his mission in the measure that his experience of God and of the world deepened bit by bit, the characteristics, contents and means of his mission took on a clearer profile. And thus, his personal horizons, as well as those of the Congregation, kept broadening.
1. The motives of zeal
As Fr. Lozano has observed, there was a primary evolution in the motives of the Saints zeal .[lxxviii]From an anthropological concern –human salvation–[lxxix]he moved on to a theological concern: the glory of God, the offended Father.[lxxx]in all of his vocational texts,[lxxxi]as well as in the prayers he wrote during the novitiate [lxxxii] both motives are closely linked, although when he wrote the Autobiography he stated that the anthropological motive still motivated him strongly.[lxxxiii]But in the last years of his life the motive and aim of his apostolic action was above all to please the Lord present within him.[lxxxiv]
2 The experience of Christ
In Claret’s life, there was also an evolution in his experience of Christ. Through a process of internalization he became more fully conformed with Him: in prophetic unction, in apostolic sending, in the grace of sonship, in tireless preaching, in redemptive sacrifice. “He moved on from encounter to external imitation: from external imitation to living His inner attitudes, and from this to full transformation: Christ lives in me.’[lxxxv]
3 – The experience of the world and of the Church
With prophetic foresight, St. Anthony Mary Claret devoted himself “to studying and gaining a thorough knowledge of the maladies of this social body.”[lxxxvi]And so he counselled anyone who wanted to dedicate himself to evangeiizattofl.[lxxxvii]This led him to live his evangelizing mission with a keen eye for the signs of the times:
“The evangelization of St. Anthony Mary Claret was never disassociated from the prophetic vision of the signs of the times. in his thirty years of service to the Gospel -from 1841 to 1870- he passed through quite diverse historical circumstances, but was always alert to discover the most urgent needs and for employ the most opportune and effective means.’[lxxxviii]
The historical context in which the mission of Fr. Claret unfolded must be understood in the broader context of the universal history of his age.
Fr. Claret would face all the challenges of his age from a missionary perspective.
a) Saving human beings
During the first stage of his missionary life, Claret had to deal with human beings divided by civil war and a weakened faith:
- by Liberalism, which persecuted the Church and suppressed religious orders, thus reducing the number and quality of evangelizers;
- by Jansenism, which terrorized consciences and led to coldness in the faith;
- by indifferentism and Sectarianism, which hindered the witness of the religious life and the proclamation of the Gospel;
- by Pantheism which “depersonalized” God, and by Mechanization which depersonalized man, converting him into a mere worker and even one more machine;
Human beings gradually lost their religious roofs and became so puffed up with their conquests that they began losing their sense of God and fell into atheism.
The people still kept their faith (Claret always assumed faith in his listeners),[lxxxix]but they lived in ignorance and fear. Preachers -whenever they did preach-disconcerted the people, either because they preached to themselves instead of announcing the Word of God, or because, infected with Jansenism, they either terrified the people or led them into a barren and harmful sentimentalism.
Facing this situation, Claret undertook an evangelizing offensive. His ideal was to save human beings. To do this he adopted three main means: preaching to move and convert, retreats to raise up evangelizers and the press to maintain the faith. In order to evangelize the people, be adopted the language of the people: a simple and clear language, full of comparisons and similes[xc]and fully evangelical: “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. Airways has a catechetical part.”[xci]His word converted and transformed because it was backed by an indefatigable zeal and by the witness or a pure and transparent life.
As he was giving norms for the sanctification of all walks of life in his writings, he was also raising up agents of evangelization. As early as 1845, he wrote to Pope Gregory XVI, asking for special faculties for his priestly collaborators: “.. the Heavenly Father…in His great mercy has now deigned to call other truly zealous evangelical workers, ready and resolved to follow the same tenor of life and apostolic labours as the Petitioner, so that they can thus spread to other Provinces of Spain to sow the Word of God.”[xcii]Toward the end of this period (1847), he saw the need to incorporate the laity into the tasks of evangelization and began to draw up his first sketches for associations of the laity. This gave rise to the idea of the “Fraternity of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Lovers of Humanity,” which did not prosper, because the Archbishop of Tarragona withdrew his authorization for it.
In 1849, after long missionary experience, Fr. Claret projected his own spirit by creating a Congregation of Apostolic Missionaries, fully consecrated to evangelization, “so that it might be for the Church, for its prelates and for souls, what the heart is for the body.”[xciii]Thus his spirit, which went out “to all the world,[xciv]could be incarnated and prolonged throughout space and time, because he “desired to spread it throughout the world” and “vehemently yearned to preach and catechize everywhere until the end of time.”[xcv] Several! reasons moved him to do so:
-the great lack of evangelical and apostolic preachers;
– the peoples great desire to hear the Word of God;
– the many requests he received to go and preach the Gospel;
Obviously, the Congregation was not born merely of the Founder’s “thought,” [xcvii] but of divine inspiration.[xcviii] “Thus was formed the first group of missionaries totally free for universal, itinerant, uninterrupted evangelization, and living in a truly poor and apostolic style of common life,”[xcix]whose aim was “the salvation of all the inhabitants of the world.”[c]
b) Saving society
The Cuban stage is very significant in the personal and apostolic experience of Fr. Claret. To begin with, it violently shook up his apostolic ideals. His elevation to the episcopate overturned ‘all of the apostolic plans”[ci]that he had made, because it tied him down to a single archdiocese, whereas his spirit went out to all the world.[cii]To be a residential bishop ran counter to his vocation as an itinerant apostle. But this deviation from his vocation would prove to be only apparent, because in this new situation he would remain faithful to his essential calling as an Apostolic Missionary.
In Cuba his experience of God and of the Church as a community would be enhanced and his prophetic vision of reality would be keener, due mainly to three important events that led to a deep transformation and broadening of his apostolic perspectives: the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (8 December 1854); his vision of the angel of the Apocalypse (2 September, 1855); and the attempt on his life at Holguin (1 February 1856).
Within his apostolic vocation, he gave an eminently missionary interpretation to his episcopacy. He could not rest content with an ordinary governance: he had to reform, establish and, above all, evangelize. This was, moreover, imposed on him by the surroundings he had to face.[ciii]
The religious and social panorama was by no means comforting. Here, Fr. Claret could face the social consequences of personal sins: man exploiting man and destroying the faith. This is how he saw the situation: “In this land. ..there are some forces of destruction and corruption that provoke the Justice of God.. They are of three classes: native-born petty Lawyers, slave owners and Spaniards.”[civ]Among the first, “not only is there not even a shadow of religion, but rather a hatred and contempt for it, which spares no means to impress and imbue the same sentiments on the people.”[cv] “The slave owners are…enemies of Missions, religion and morality.”[cvi]And as for the Spaniards, “they worship no other god than greed,”[cvii]living in indifference and concubinage.[cviii] Writing to the Queen, he remarks: “Fortunately, I believe that among the people in General there are not many errors to combat, but there are indeed many vices to extirpate.”[cix]“For alas, morals are quite corrupt here.”[cx]“On this island, indecency is in full bloom.”[cxi]To all this, one would have lo add ignorance and indifference: “Religion is not known well and it is practiced less.’[cxii]“The number of clergy in my vast diocese is quite reduced, and besides being reduced, it is not very enlightened in general.”[cxiii]
Faced with a situation like this, St. Anthony Mary Claret did his best to save society. His work would be deployed on two fronts:
religious promotion and social advancement.
His prophetic vision of reality drove him to continue being an Apostolic Missionary, “preferring to discharge his duties from a saddle on mule back rather than from an armchair in his study,”[cxiv] so that the six years he spent on the island were one ongoing mission.[cxv] His preaching, as in Catalonia, was based on the goodness and mercy of God. “He never descends from the pulpit,” wrote a contemporary journalist, “without leaving souls in the sweet expectation of hope, or without lavishing on them the consolations of divine mercy.’[cxvi]
His evangelization was accompanied by the creation of new parishes, the spread al good reading, and the promotion al a good and holy clergy. He worked for the social advancement of the people, always with a marked religious thrust.[cxvii] He wrote books on agriculture, founded credit unions and struggled for the advancement of youth and of the family, by creating the House of Charity or Model Ranch in Puerto Principe, and saw to it that jails should have a functioning trade school for the advancement and rehabilitation of prisoners.
While the Archbishopric al Cuba was, on the one hand, “a very heavy and bitter burden” for Fr. Claret,[cxviii] it was also, on the other hand, a fruitful experience for himself and a very positive one for the people that the Lord had entrusted to him.
c) Saving the Church
Toward the end al his Cuban period and during his years in Madrid, Claret acquired a new experience of Christ and of the Church. He now experiences Christ not only the Evangelizer but also the Redeemer, who creates and saves His Church through His sacrifice. He now began to fully grasp the mystery of the Church as the community of salvation and the Body of Christ. At the same time he discovered the deep meaning of the vision in Vic and of the words he listened to during his ordination to the Diaconate.[cxix] He saw that the principalities and powers of darkness had become incarnate in modem ideologies: German idealism, leading lo Hegelian Pantheism, the Rationalism al Renan, the Positivism al Comte, the Scientisrn and Historical Materialism of Marx. These were the “powers al darkness’ against which the Church must doggedly fight.[cxx]
Reading these signs of his time with prophetic enlightenment, Fr. Claret proposed to save the Church and, from within it, society. In order to respond to these challenges he thought out an apostolic strategy on the level of the universal Church. He wrote his “Notes of a Plan to Conserve the Beauty of the Church”: an ambitious program of reforms, which foresaw the celebration ecumenical councils and assemblies of bishops, inculcated the clergy living in community, the Church being independent from political powers and, above all, being poor.
Personally, from the privileged post he occupied, he led an offensive of reforms, running from the election al bishops and the renewal of social structures by means al the Academy of St. Michael and Popular Parish Lending Libraries and passing on through the formation of youth and of priests. In carrying out this work, with a great sense of timeliness, he made use al EI Escorial, converting it into a lively centre of reform and of Christian renewal.
Moreover, Claret’s prophetic vision al this time was an anticipation al the future. He saw that God was going to ask the Church in the future to assume some important options, among which would be, a totally apolitical stance by the clergy, the inclusion of the laity in the apostolate, the need to hold Church councils, the creation of Secular institutes, the return of the clergy to a more evangelical and poor life, and the influence of the Virgin in the life al the Church.[cxxii]
During this period, while he was writing the “Rules far Secular Clergy Living in Community” (1864), he worked for a new openness to the presence and activity al the laity in the apostolate.
Here he contemplated the agents al evangelization in a unified vision as an organization made up of priests and laity united in the same gift of grace, bound together in the charity of the Heart of Mary and spread out into three orders, not dependent on one another hierarchically, but committed to an evangelizing mission with complementary charisms and functions: prophetic priesthood and religious life, a priesthood of sacramental ministry and governance, and a secular apostolate, with or without consecration, in the world.[cxxiii]
The Congregation of Missionaries was to be the propelling care of this great evangelizing movement. With the Revolution of 1868, this project was stopped in its tracks, but Claret’s insight is still valid, since he was convinced that “in these last times, it seems that God wants the laity to play a great role in the salvation of souls.”[cxxiv]
In the final stage of his life, the Fr. Founder kept opening up new apostolic channels. Above all, when he was making the definitive draft of the Constitutions, he adverted to the need to broaden the fields and media of evangelization.
As late as 1864 we find him stating that the aim of the Congregation consisted “in preaching missions throughout the world and giving retreats to all classes of persons, especially priests, students and nuns.”[cxxv] In contrast, in the Constitutions a11865, he says that they should use all means possible, indicating some of the main areas: catechesis, preaching, retreats, confession and direction of seminaries.[cxxvi]
In 1869 he especially recommended teaching.[cxxvii] He did so again in a note written either in this or the following year: ‘It would also be desirable that in each mission house there were a missionary devoted to this teaching, especially if he is of a bent to do so.”[cxxviii]
As far back as his Catalan period, the press had held a major place among the apostolic means used by St. Anthony Mary Claret, and he would always remain faithful to this extremely important medium.
Two elements define Fr. Claret’s attitude regarding the means of the apostolate: universal openness and a preference for those that are more strictly missionary. His prophetic vision kept leading him to a greater balance in each concrete circumstance of time and place.
E – Claret’s Originality as an Apostolic Missionary
St. Anthony Mary Claret began by modifying the traditional concept of Apostolic Missionary, not regarding it as a merely juridical title, but bestowing on if a rich theological and evangelical meaning. He adopted a lifestyle rooted in apostolic tradition: poverty, itinerancy and evangelization. But finding himself in a modem juncture of events and having a strong gut for adapting to it, he developed his vocation with new, and in a sense, revolutionary characteristics. He introduced into his apostolate the most advanced techniques of his day, especially the new means of locomotion –steamboats, trains, machines– at publicity –the press, arts, libraries– and of human advancement –credit unions, model farms, etc.
At the same time he raised up care groups of evangelizers and, above all, with keen prophetic insight, he saw the urgent need to involve the laity in strictly evangelizing tasks, thus genially anticipating some of the advances of the Church of our time.
Despite the reverses and countertrends that he had to bear, Fr. Claret was always faithful to his original vocation as an Apostolic Missionary.
“Officially,” his field of action seemed to grow smaller every time. He had to leave the Society of Jesus, which was opening up universal horizon for his missionary longings. Afterwards he had to limit himself to Catatonia and the Canary islands. When ha wanted to travel on into the interior of Spain, he was confined to the limits of a diocese, and later, to a single person as confessor of the queen. But his missionary zeal knew how to break through all moulds. Through his docile acceptance in obedience, God kept opening new horizons and new channels of apostolate. His vision grew ever broader: from the individual he passed on to the community and from this he went on to the universal Church. He could be “tied like a dog to a post,” but the Word of God could not be chained; it had to run its course through the most opportune and effective means.
At the end of his life he could boast that he had fulfilled his mission in perfect fidelity lo the two most typical notes of the Apostolic Missionary: poverty and preaching [cxxix] And this is and will ever be his chief claim to glory in the Church of God.
EVANGELIZATTON AND CULTURE IN FATHER CLARET
A – Some Characteristics of 19th-century Culture
At the beginning of the l9th century, the “new culture” born of the French Revolution (1789) was being forged in almost all of Europe and hence also in the Americas. This culture which started with an intellectual elite began spreading among the masses, sometimes abruptly, but usually by a slow and subtle process of osmosis, strongly abetted by the efforts of politics and the press.
As regards religion, as we have pointed out, this emerging culture was impregnated:
- – with Liberalism of a radical stamp, which in Spain persecuted the Church and suppressed religious order, thus reducing the number and quality of evangelizers, as well as their temporal power, due to disamortization;
- – with Jansenism, which filled the consciences of simple folk with terror and brought about a gradual cooling in faith;
- – with Indifferentism and Sectarianism, which hindered the witness of religious life and the announcement of the Gospel;
- – with Mechanization (galloping technology), which tended to depersonalize human beings, reducing them to mare robots of production;
- – with theoretical and practical Atheism, which grew as man grew ever prouder of his conquests, leading him to lose his religious roots, and with them, his sense of God and of life.
This led to an ever-increasing break between culture and faith and to an ever-stiffer opposition to Gospel values. The “official” Church spent many energies in defending traditional values, while maintaining a hard-line conservatism. It was very late in grasping the problem, and its reaction, which was more condemnatory than conciliatory, failed to link the Gospel with the new culture on the basis of some of its inherently good values.
For in fact, l9th-century culture possessed some positive assets that facilitated the creation of modem society. Outstanding among these were:
- – better communications, which could readily lead to communion;
- – the process of socialization;
- – the longing for liberty;
- – the progressive recognition of the dignity of the human person.
B – Some Traits of Claret’s Evangelization in the Culture of His Time
- 1)The first trait, without a doubt, was Claret’s closeness to the people, his natural bent for contact with them, not only because he had been born of the people and always had a popular soul, even amidst the pomp of the court, but also by personal choice and by the circumstances in which ha unfolded his mission. “He never waited for the people to come to him. Rather, whether he was in Catalonian towns or Cuban villages or the royal palace or the suburbs, he sought them out with truly paternal concern, like a new St. John of God binding up the social wounds of his time.”[cxxx]
- His respect, esteem and promotion of all the values of the people, so long as they were not opposed to the Gospel, but were or could be a bridge to them: language, literature, music, folklore, usages, customs, etc.
- 3)His pastoral attention to the circumstances in which ha found people, taking up and sharing not only their physical problems, e.g., those of the sick in Viladrau or the victims of earthquakes and cholera in Cuba, but also their ideological! problems, e.g., those caused by Jansenism in the Canary islands or by the new ideologies of an atheistic stamp in Madrid.
- 4)His use of the language of the people, his. way of expressing himself in popular speech characterized by simplicity and clarity, and by the constant use of popular images and comparisons, for which the Lord had given him a special gift,[cxxxi] acknowledged by all to be without peer.[cxxxii]
- 5)His use of modern techniques for the spread of thought: the press, illustrations, etc.
C – Outstanding Moments
– In his ministry in Catatonia (1840-1848)
He studied the ills of the social body in depth, in order to be well acquainted with them,[cxxxiv] and he gave a concrete and modem response to them: “As I was giving missions, I ran into all sorts of needs, and as each new need arose I wrote a booklet or pamphlet on the subject”.[cxxxv]
He preached in Catalan, unless he was told otherwise. Ha asked Mossèn Pare Cruells in which language he should preach the ‘Sermon on the Light’ in Manresa: “Please tell me if the sermon on the light should be in Catalan or in Castilian.”[cxxxvi] He used to say that people were being preached to in Castilian and going to hell in Catalan. He held that he should preach in the language of the people, just as he should use local currency to pay his bills.[cxxxvii] And he did so in a simple style. He would often say: “I would rather be criticized by grammarians than misunderstood by the uneducated.[cxxxviii] Referring to Fr. Claret’s preaching, the great Catalan poet, Jacint Verdaguer wrote: “Des dels bracos de la mare m’enamori d’aquella predicaciò tan catalana i senzilla, com ardenta i feridora” — From my mother’s arms I fell in love with that preaching, as Catalan and simple as it was burning and piercing.[cxxxix]
He wrote in Catalan the Cami dret (1843), the Catecisme explicat (1848), the Advice to series for all classes of people, a host of leaflets, etc., and he arranged and spread the Manà del Cristia, composed by Fr. Xifré. In his Advice to Young Ladies, written in Castilian,[cxl] we read: “Every day you will say your morning and night prayers, which are at the end of this booklet. As you can see, they are very short, so you should never omit them. I have put them in Catalan, in accord with the way you usually say your vocal prayers.”[cxli] And so these prayers appear in Catalan of the end of the booklet.[cxlii]
He began using modern techniques, above all in the press. In a culture of rapid transit, when people were more on the move, he wanted books to be small, so that they could easily be carried from place to place, and illustrated, like leaflets, and that they be adapted both in language and presentation, to each group of persons.
He carried on a campaign of peacemaking and reconciliation amidst the flames of hatred and disunity fanned by the relentless dynastic struggle between the Carlist upholders of purblind traditionalism and the Isabelline defenders (and often radical ones) of Liberalism.
2- In his campaign in the Canary Islands (1848-1849)
He recognized the simple kindhearted less of the people, so that he was completely taken by the islanders. Shortly before he returned to the mainland, he wrote movingly of the Canary islanders “They have so stolen my heart that the day I have to leave them to mission elsewhere, in keeping with my ministry, will be deeply felt by me.“[cxliv]
He saw the possibility of creating some groups of Nuns in their Own Homes, and he urgently besought his friend, Canon Caixal, to print and send him some copies of the little book he had already written and left ready for the press.[cxlv]
In 1848, in the city of Las Palmas, while he was waiting to receive the “Catechism Explained” (written and illustrated by Claret), which was being published in Barcelona and would eventually appear in December of that year as the first publication of the Religious Library, he wrote and published the “Very brief Catechism, containing only what is indispensable for every Christian to know.” As he wrote to Caixal: ‘I am anxiously awaiting the illustrated Catechism. I have been obliged to publish one for the people here, for they are poor even in catachism.”[cxlvi] He wrote it at the suggestion (and perhaps the mandate) of Bishop Bonaventura Codina, and finished in a vary short time. He stated its purpose to the bishop in the presentation of the little work: ‘To do away with the evils that necessarily arise from ignorance of the truths of our holy faith and of the moral principals that ought to govern human actions.. for the benefit of the faithful of these isles, and especially of country fo1k.”[cxlvii]
A small detail indicates his sense and capacity for communicating with people. One day while visiting St. Martin’s Hospital in Las Palmas, he saw one of the interns weaving. Claret approached him, laid aside his cloak and sat down at the loom, “handling the shuttle quite well,” as some eyewitnesses avowed. Afterwards he told the Sisters, “I, too, learned to do this when I was a young man.’ And he proposed that they buy a loom to save time and work, offering to teach them how to run it. In fact, under his direction, some of the Sisters and girls learned to ply this craft handily.[cxlviii]
On his return from the Canary islands, when the Religious Library was well under way, this sense of inculturation grew even keener in Fr. Claret. He impressed on Caixal the need to give the publications a modem look: “I must repeat something that I’ve told you other times, and that others have pointed out to me, that you should give the books an interesting title, because there are soma people whose taste is so caught up in novelty and immorality, that all they need to do is look at the sad title of a book in order to sneer at it and criticize it; but if it is dressed up in the frock of the day they will read it. And perhaps they will be like a fish who sees the bate as a tasty morsel and gladly goes on to swallow both it and the hook, and so is caught. This happened with the Confessions of St. Augustine. Young people of both sexes have been converted by reading this book, although they originality picked it up out of curiosity to learn about the sins of the Saint. Hence I beg you to do likewise’[cxlix]
4- In his Cuban ministry (1851-1857)
He became adequately informed on the situation of Cuba in October of 1850, when he went to Madrid to receive the Pallium from the hands of the Nuncio, Giovanni Brunelli. He tells us that on October 2Ofh he spoke with the Attorney General, Don Lorenzo Arrazola, for more than two hours, mainly on the subject of Cuban affairs.[cl] “Some time before came to Cuba, I strove to become informed as to the state of my diocese …” [cli]
He wanted the presentation of books to be adapted to Cuban tastes. He writes to Caixal: “Part of what Rosalia brought us was spoiled by being water-logged, and part has arrived in good shape. They brought us the Camino Recto, freshly printed, but with two different bindings. Some were good enough, but we disliked the others because of their dark, funeral and ugly colors, ill printed and poorly furnished. Please advise the binders that Americans are very fond of bright and brilliant colors, such as rose, bright red, light or canary yellow, bright carmine, bright blue or mottled. Hence, they should always apply one of these colors on the edging and Moroccan or some other bright color on the spine, since these people simply have to have pretty things. Don’t forget this, because I’ve told you about it before, and judging from the ugly and quite unpleasant things you sent us, I can see that you have forgotten it”[clii]
A year earlier, after asking Canon Caixal for the nth time to sent him copies of the Camino Recto and the Catecismo Explicado, he told him: “I would also like you provide rather deluxe bindings for some of the books and rather simple bindings for the rest, but in more cheerful colors, since those you sent me couldn’t be sadder. Here, people like bright, cheery colors, such as white, pink, bright blue and yellow.”[cliii] On another occasion he asked him to bind some copies of the Camino Recto in reddish or gilded morocco, like the other time, since the ladies are very fond of that style.’[cliv]
While asking Canon Caixal to issue a reprinting of the Camino Recto, he earnestly requested that “instead of the image of the Virgin on p. 188, have them replaced with one of the Virgin of Charity, to which they have a greater devotion.”[clv]
He was also concerned about the armed forces, for whom he asked some books from Fr. Manuel Batlle: “I would like you to send me a packet of the little books on The Daughters of the Heart of Mary and also on Soldiers.”[clvi]
He was concerned lest pernicious doctrines against faith and morality should infiltrate into his diocese. He was as watchful as possible to avoid this, as he wrote to the Governor of Santiago: “I have learned that some boats from North America have brought in some books and leaflets that are not only contrary to the Catholic religion, but some of them are subversive and contrary to public tranquility. And while I am warning the clergy and people both in speech and in writing to be on guard against this pernicious reading and to give me any copies of it that they find, I am also relying on your Excellency’s zeal and religion to do your part in enforcing the terms of the law on this matter.”[clvii] Two weeks later he wrote a pastoral exhortation forbidding the members of his diocese to read Protestant Bibles and other books and papers “infected with the errors of the Protestants, for it is greatly to be feared that reading them will contaminate your faith.”[clviii]
He was perfectly aware that America is not Europe. This is something that would seem obvious to us today, but it was not so in his times, given the prevailing ideology of the day. When he was trying to arrange for two or three Teaching Sisters to come to Cuba from the convent in Tarragona, he wrote to Canon Caixal, in answer to one of his requests: “You tell me that there should be water in the house. You don’t know what you are asking. The houses here are not like those in Europe. You have to realize that we are in a new world where everything is new for Europeans: houses, people and customs.”[clix] On another occasion he tells him: “You must realize that this country is quite different from Europe.’[clx] And the following year, lets drop a phrase that neatly sums up his thought: “In the new world, everything is new. All plans made in Europe cannot be put into practice in America.”[clxi]
He fully immersed himself into Cuban reality, to gain an in depth knowledge of it that would enable him to evangelize it adequately. On 24 May 1852, he wrote the Queen: “Lady, I have made the rounds of a great part of my vast diocese, and I have felt with my own hands the wounds that it is suffering. I have studied the illness in its results..”[clxii] “I have not left a parish unvisited or a ranch where a holy mission has not been given, either by myself or by my companions.”[clxiii] “In the three years that I have been working on this island,” he tells the Captain General, “I have furthered all the good that lay within my reach, as a Spaniard and as a missionary bishop. Perhaps there is no inhabited corner of my diocese that I have not visited. Thus I can say that I know my sheep and that all of them know me, and that there is no ill that I have not felt and studied in order to apply the remedy to it, insofar as it concerned me.”[clxiv] He followed up this knowledge that he had gained with a search for opportune means to carry it out in his pastoral work: “Since we have been charged with the governance of our diocese in order to fulfill the will of the Lord, we have discoursed day and night concerning the most opportune means for obtaining the happiness of all the souls that the Lord has entrusted to us.”[clxv]
He strove to study and benefit from popular religiosity:
He worked insistently as President of the League of Friends of the Country, and spoke of his activities as follows: “We procured a workshop for poor boys, and saw to it that prisoners in jail were taught reading, writing, religion and a trade of some sort. With this in mind we had workshops set up in jail; for experience had taught us that many men turn to crime because they have no trade and don’t know how to make an honest living.”[clxvii]
Regarding agriculture, he took a great interest in a field of such great importance in the life of the country. In 1854 he wrote a 22-page essay, Reflections on Agriculture, and in 1856, Delights the Country, a 312-page book of formation. At the model farm of Puerto Principe – a pioneering work in its kind- he himself planted several hundred trees, some native to the island, others foreign but adaptable to its climate.[clxviii] On one occasion he praised the use of coffee and hierba mate as a means to help do away with alcoholism.[clxix]
Another sign of inculturation was the creation of licensed credit unions, with their regulations, and the work which he called “La Rosa de Maria,” for poor youth.
The Latin American Bishops, meeting in Rome, stated in their petition to Pope Leo XIII for the beatification of Father Claret:
“We can quite rightly claim that the extraordinary Archbishop of Cuba was most celebrated for the practice of all virtues, and should be called a shining example for American Bishops. He always combined the wisdom and prudence of a pastor with the apostolic zeal of a missionary. He so loved America that, while he was living there, he never uttered the least complaint about the climate or the people and never praised his own homeland.”[clxx]
These words adequately reflect the constant attitude of the holy archbishop that he himself demanded of and inculcated on his missionaries in Cuba, when he gave them the following “very important counsels for bearing fruit”:
- Do not complain about the people.
- Do not complain about the climate, land, fruits, customs, etc. or even speak of them.
- Always maintain an unalterable meekness.
- Be disinterested, in such wise that they never see in us the least attachment to gain or to gifts.
- Be as chaste as angels, that there may not be even the slightest motive for suspicion regarding women, children, etc.
- We must be zealous, pious and devout, especially to Mary Most Holy.”[clxxi]
As regards native religious vocations, especially among women, of first he had some difficulty admitting them to the Claretian Sisters, since he did not consider them ready for the religious life in the group of future Claretian Missionary Sisters[clxxii] However, this by no means implied “any sort of prejudice for indigenous people.”[clxxiii]
But in this respect, as in others -and this admirably reveals his human flexibility- Fr. Claret kept evolving as he grew deeper in the knowledge of the reality in which he was immersed. In 1855, he no longer opposed native vocations. He tells Mother Paris: “As far the women who want to enter, I am of the opinion that their houses should provide the dowry… Here in Puerto Principe there are two or three single women who want to enter. One of them is 20. I have spoken with her somewhat, and have no doubt that if she is admitted she will prove beneficial”[clxxiv]
As for native vocations to the priesthood, he promoted them from the outset with good results, although some priests left much to be desired and gave him many headaches.
4. During his stay in Madrid (1857-1868)
– The missionary’s need to know human nature.[clxxv] “If a doctor wants to cure a sick man, he must first understand his symptoms and the nature of his illness. This is also true of a missionary who is a physician of moral illnesses. He must first of all know something about the nature of man, his moral ills and their causes, and then immediately proceed lo apply the proper remedies.”[clxxvi] He counselled Bishops: “Each bishop will have a canon or other priest of great learning, zeal and other virtues in charge of reading all the bulletins of the Kingdom and some of the principal newspapers, so as to be up to date on the most pressing and main events that are happening, of which he will inform the prelate..”[clxxvii]
He was accessible to the people, not only through his unaffected simplicity, but also by his manner of preaching, which was adapted to ordinary people. “The people -real people– always listened to him with respect and enthusiasm. They filled the churches where he used to preach in the capital, and learned more from one of Claret’s sermons than from twenty by other speakers… But they did not come in droves just to witness [the conversions that took place]. Rather, ordinary people understood him, since he spoke to the measure of their capacity. There was a special reason why his word was so effective even among literate and highly educated persons, and that reason was the holy fervor born of conviction, of charity, of simplicity, of the integrity of a pure and truly catholic conscience, that we designate technically as gospel anointing.”[clxxviii]
His sense of inculturation moved him to Christianize culture from within. For this, he created the Academy of St. Michael, aimed of bringing the light of the Gospel into the world of literature and the art. This same sense of inculturation led him:
- to write much, because the people had a hunger for reading;
- to give his works catchy titles, in keeping with the cultural and esteem for progress in his day and age: The Railway, Summer Evenings in La Granja, etc.
- to publish small-sized books, because people were more on the move and didn’t like carrying big books while traveling.
He recommended that seminarians study foreign Languages in order lo hear confessions and be up to date on modem ideologies. He wanted them to apply themselves to “the study of languages, especially French, English, Italian and German. As people travel so much nowadays, it becomes a necessity in order to administer the Sacrament of Penance to the many foreigners who ask to go to confession in hospitals, particular homes and not infrequently in churches. Moreover, there is a current need to know German, in order lo be able to confront the errors that come to us in that language.”[clxxix] In a note an this passage, he tells of his experiences in Madrid and Roma: “As I write these lines, I have spent three years in Madrid, and during these three years I have very often heard the confessions in French, Italian, English and German; hence I am aware of our need to know these languages. During my stay in Roma in 1839 and 40, I had the pleasure of meeting His Eminence, Cardinal Mezzofanti, who knew and perfectly spoke forty-three languages. And he began to learn these languages in order to hear the confessions of foreigners. Let us imitate this great example both in his application and in his intention.”[clxxx]
– We find another example of this attitude of adaptation and evangelical inculturation in a letter he wrote to Sister Dolores Pallés de San Estanislao, novice mistress of the Carmelites of Charity, on 24 April 1867. In it he says: “Regarding Christian Doctrine, the Nuncio would like all the sisters lo teach the catechism that the Lord chose my insignificant self to write. In Catalonia they will teach it in Catalan, and in Castile in Castilian. They will begin learning it in the novitiate. You can do this in your novitiate so that the novices may learn it and later teach it in the establishments to which they are sent. In the Religious Library of Barcelona They have reprinted this catechism, and you may order two hundred on my account, as a gift from me to your novitiate.”[clxxxi]
5. During his stay in Paris and Rome (1868-1870)
In this last stage of his life, we also find some traits of inculturation in his evangelizing mission:
In Paris, he founded the Association of the Holy Family for Spanish and Latin American émigrés: “God our Lord has chosen to make use of me to found some Conferences of the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, la help Spanish-speaking men, women and children who come here from the Peninsula or from America. Here, foreigners need protection, lest they lose hope and commit suicide (the other day I was horrified to read that in Paris some 1200 commit suicide every year). Far now, there will be two Conferences of the Holy Family: one for men, the other for women, the aim of which is to support, protect and provide lodgings for as many Spaniards as show up. All liked the idea quite well. At the last spiritual conference or sermon that I gave them, I explained the plan, we took up a collection to pay expenses for the church, and I told them that what was left over would be used to set up the Conferences of the Holy Family. A considerable sum was gathered, and we have done as we said.”[clxxxii]
This last social effort, based on a grasp of the reality and problems of emigration, admirably reveals Fr. Claret’s concrete and effective concern for perhaps the most abandoned people of his time.
In Rome during the years 1869 and 1870, we still find two traits of Claret’s eager concern for inculturation:
- In the retreat he made in the Eternal City from October 8th to l4th, 1869, he made the following resolution which he also dealt with in his particular examen: “Familiar conversations with the sick in civilian and military hospitals, along the streets, or whenever the occasion presents itself, the subject will be Religion, the Sacraments, the Holy Rosary, etc. I will address everyone, whenever the opportunity arises, but especially with girls and boys, soldiers…, giving them a medal, a holy card, etc.” [clxxxiii] To do this, of course, he needed to speak Italian clearly and fluently enough. Hence, his first retreat resolution for 1870 would be: “always to speak in Italian.”[clxxxiv]
- In order to carry out this apostolate of street evangelization, as circumstances might allow, be copied out in his own hand the main questions and answers from Bellarmine’s Catechism in Italian.[clxxxv]
One of the characteristics of Claret the missionary was his ability to catch the popular soul, to enter into communion and fellowship with the people, as a result of his gifts of human kindness and of his apostolic longings. His evangelization did not set out from a self-sufficient laboratory attitude that imposed its own methods and programs, but from an experience of reality.”[clxxxvi] Studying reality in order to evangelize is a constant in the apostolic activity of Fr. Claret from his youth on.[clxxxvii]
On the occasion of the beatification of our Saint, Cardinal Gomá wrote a beautiful pen-portrait of Fr. Claret, in which he said: “A man of great talent and burning heart, of magnanimous and enterprising spirit, of strong constitution and inexhaustible optimism, all of which he channeled into an unbending tendency: to win souls for God. His life, even though it was poured out so lavishly, was held as in a steel band, within these words of St. Paul, which are as indivisible as a thought and as vast as the sails of a spirit swollen with the divine thirst of zeal: ‘I become all things to all men in order to win them all for Jesus Christ.”[clxxxviii]
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Father Claret in His Historical Context
- D.The Political and Social Situation in 19th-Century
- E.The Religious Situation in 19th-Century
- F.Historic Challenges and Claret’s Respose
- Authentic promotion of Liberal principles
Claret’s Response to the Challenges of l9th-Century Spanish Society
St.Anthony Mary Claret, Apostolic Missionary and Evangelizer
- III.Father Claret, Apostolic Missionary
- IV.The Claretian Evangelizer
- A.The Apostolic Missionary according to Claret
- 2.Specific Meaning
- B.Claret, always an Apostolic
- C.Characteristics of
- D.Caret’s Evolution as an Apostolic
- 4.The Motives of Zeal
- 5.The Experience of Christ
- 6.The Experience of the World and of the Church
- a)Saving Human Being
- b)Saving Society.
- c)Saving the Church
- E.Caret’s Originality as an Apostolic Missionary
- F. Conclusion
Evangelization and Culture in Father Claret
- D.Some Characteristics of 1 9th-Century Culture
- E.Some Traits of Claret’s Evangelization in the Culture of His Time
- F.Outstanding Moments
- 1.In his ministry in Catalonia(1840-1848)
- 2.In his campaign in the Canary Islands (1848-1 849)
- 3.In his Cuban ministry (1851-1857)
- 4. During his stay in Madrid (1857-1868
- 5.During his stay in Paris and Rome (1869-1870)
[lxx] Cf. J. Xifré,Espritu de la Congregaciòn (Madrid 1892), p. 22; M.Alsina, Circular Letter of 14 October 1920: Annales CMF 17 (1919-1920) 660; G. Alonso, Clartianos: una comunidad, una rnisiòn (Buenos Aires 1976), p. 5.
[cxxxviii] Letter of Mariano Sanias to Fr. Jaume Clotet (3 April 1882), cited in the latter’s Resumen de la admirable vida del Excmo. e llmo. Sr. Don Antonio María Claret y Clara (Barcelona 1882), p. 254.
[clxx] “Iure meritoque proclamare possumus praestantissimum Archiepiscopum Cubanum extitisse celeberrimum in virtutibus omnibus exercendis et fulgidissimum Americanorurn Praesulum exemplum nuncupandum; sapientiam vero et prudentiam Praesulis cum Missionarii apostolico zelo sempcr oniunxisse; ita Americam dilexisse, ut, duro ibi permaneret, nullam levem querelam moveret nec de climate nec de aliis, neque patriam suam laudaret.” The document is dated Rome, 16 July 1899.