14 – A CLARETIAN READING OF THE WORD OF GOD PART I

Booklets on Claretian Formation. 14

General Prefecture of Formation 1994

 

A CLARETIAN READING

OF THE

WORD OF GOD

 

Part One

 

 

by Jesús María Palacios, CMF

Translated by Joseph C. Daries, CMF

 

 

 

                                                           Rome, 15 May 1994

 

 

 

                                                           PRESENTATION

 

            The present work has a formative aim. It hopes to offer Claretians, and their formation communities in particular, some pedagogical guidelines for doing a Claretian reading of the Word of God.

 

            More concretely, it means to offer a description of the characteristics and pedagogical orientations that define a Claretian reading of the Word of God according to our Father Founder and the tradition of the Congregation. It presupposes a knowledge of previous works and investigations, is often based on them, and mainly develops their formative aspects.

 

            To describe a Claretian reading of the word of God, we must turn to the sources of Claret and the Congregation: to Claret as our Father Founder, and to the Congregation as the active and dynamic heir and depository of his charismatic spirit. The Congregation has received Claret’s charism and spirit and has kept it by living it, deepening it and conserving it.

           

            Concretely, these sources are:

 

            * The personal experience of Claret, the biblical texts that awakened and shaped his vocation, and his teachings and recommendations to all sorts of persons, which he left us for reading the Holy Scriptures.

 

            * The keys that Claret transmitted to the Congregation for reading the word of God. These are found in biblical and pedagogical texts that refer to the founding, life, formation and mission of the Congregation, especially in the Autobiography, primitive Constitutions, and writings and notes on the Congregation.

 

            * The tradition of the Congregation, contained in the Constitutions, in adaptations added after our Founder’s death, in our General Chapters and in the traditions of the Congregation.

           

            Besides an introduction, the work has two parts, published in two study‑helps by the Prefecture General of Formation.

 

 

                                    ABBREVIATIONS FOR WORKS BY CLARET

 

AL       Ascetical Letter, Barcelona 1862, 52 pp. SSW 137‑174.

AP       Advice to a Priest, Vic 1845, 24 pp. SSW 288‑321.

APIApuntes de un Plan para conservar la hermosura de la Iglesia, [Notes of a Plan to Conserve the Beauty of the Church], Madrid 1865, 260 pp.

BPPLas Bibliotecas populares y parroquiales [Popular Parish Lending Libraries]. Madrid 1864, 32 pp.

CCTTLozano, J. M., Constituciones y textos, Barcelona 1972.

CIEl Colegial Instruido [The Well‑Instructed Seminarian], Barcelona 1861, vol. 2, 526 pp.

CIaLa Colegiala instruida [The Well‑Instructed Schoolgirl], Barcelona 1863, 64 pp.

COAntídoto contra el contagio protestante [Antidote against the Protestant contagion], Barcelona 1857, 62 pp; Vol. 3 of Colección de Opúsculos, 125 ff.

EAEscritos Autobiográficos, BAC, Madrid 1981.

EEEscritos Espirituales, BAC, Madrid 1985. Cf. SSW.

EPDExhortación pastoral a todos sus diocesanos [Pastoral Exhortation to all the members of his diocese], Santiago 1854, 10 pp.

EvMtEl Santo Evangelio de N.S.J.C. según San Mateo [Holy Gospel of O.L.J.C. according to St. Matthew], Barcelona 1856, 230 pp.

LEVL’Egoismo vinto (Selfishness Overcome), Rome 1869, 88 pp. Cf. SSW 443‑508.

LMTLetter to Missionary Theophilus, Barcelona 1858, SSW 411‑441.

MAMMemoria de la Academia de San Miguel [Memoir of the Academy of St. Michael], Madrid 1862.

PAMPlan of the Academy of St. Michael, Barcelona 1859, 46 pp. SSW 396‑410.

PBVPrólogo a la Biblia Sacra o Vulgata Latina [Foreword to the Holy Bible or Latin Vulgate], Barcelona 1862.

PClePastoral al Clero [Pastoral Letter to the Clergy], Santiago, Cuba 1852, 84 pp., and Appendix of 1855.

PEEPlan de Estudios de El Escorial, in Miscel nea interesante, Barcelona 1865, 338 pp.

PICPastoral Letter on the Immaculate Conception, Santiago, Cuba 1855, 38 pp. SSW 513‑570.

PSMMonasterio de El Escorial. Plan de estudios para los Seminarios, in Miscel nea interesante.

RFSRegulation for the Aspirants, Novices and Students of our Congregation and their respective Masters, 1862. Cf. Notebooks on Formation, nn. 1‑2.

RSCRules for Secular Clergy Living in Community. SSW 379‑384.

SSWSelected Spiritual Writings. English trans.. of EE.

 

A CLARETIAN READING

OF THE

WORD OF GOD

 

                                                                    Part One

 

 

                                                           I. INTODUCTION

 

            1. The Present Call of the Congregation’s

            General Chapters

 

            Recent General Chapters have asked that study, meditation and contemplation on the Word should hold a fundamental place in the lives of us (CPR 54) whose vocation among the People of God is to be ministers of the Word (CC 46), and that we should read it in a charismatic key, in the light of current challenges to our missionary service.

 

            Hence, our Founder’s practice of a daily and ‘vocational’ reading of the Bible and of welcoming it as God’s Word for the day, must become family traits that allow us to bear constant witness that we are hearers and servants of the Word. Initiation into the ministry of the Word, understood as a way of being, acting and signifying, must therefore be a core aspect of formation

(cf. SW 21).[1]

 

            2. A Claretian Lectio Divina?

 

            Claret had no methodology in the strict sense for reading the Word of God, such as the one we have presently drafted along the lines of the classic lectio divina.

 

            1) From a literal standpoint we cannot speak of a Claretian lectio divina, since none appears in our Founder or in any Congregational document or tradition. Yet we find references to “reading it [the Word] charismatically” (CPR 54), to Claret’s “”vocational reading of the Bible” (SW 14), to “our reading of the Bible in the style of our Father Founder” (SW 14.1), etc.

 

            2) Generally speaking, it can be said that we can find in Claret a clear charismatic inspiration and some pedagogical guidelines for his own and for the Congregation’s reading of the Word of God. He offers us, either by his life witness and way of acting or by his recommendations, some concrete and precise pedagogical guidelines for assimilating it fruitfully. He himself sometimes uses the word “method” or shows us glimpses of a method when he refers to how to read the Bible (reading it daily, reviewing it monthly in a group, monthly and yearly distribution of readings, memorizing, etc.). Although we will talk of this later on, we can recall a few testimonies here:

 

“Indeed, it would be useless to have books without reading or studying them; hence we exhort you insofar as possible to follow this method and order.”[2]

 

“Those studying philosophy and theology will read the Holy Bible in Latin, two chapters in the morning and two in the evening, and with this distribution they will read the whole Bible each year.”[3]

 

“Once a month they will meet, according to art. 31 of the Rule…each will give an account of himself and state whether he has read the chapter of the gospel.”[4]

 

“And we would like them to learn [the verses marked with an index‑fist or a dash] by heart and remember them ever after.”[5]

 

            3) Hence it is better to speak of a “Claretian Reading of the Word of God” that would include “a Claretian way” of reading the Word and some pedagogical constants proper of Claret and the Congregation.

 

                              II. The Personal Experience and Teachings of Claret

 

            1. Strong Motivation

 

            1.1. Claret states that “I have always been very strongly attracted” to reading the Holy Bible, which he “read every day.”[6]

 

            Since when did he have this attraction? He says “always.” Indeed, he must have read it since his childhood, since in the account of his conversion he says “I remembered reading as a small boy those words of the Holy Gospel, ‘What does it profit…? [Mt 16:26].”[7] Yet it was during his studies in the Seminary of Vic that Claret began to study the Scriptures more intensely, spurred on by the guidelines of Bishop Corcuera.[8]

 

            1.2. Apart from his studies as a seminarian, during his ongoing formation ‑‑which he highly esteemed and strongly promoted‑‑ the Bible always held a privileged place.

 

            In his Resolutions for the Retreat of 1850, in preparation for his episcopal consecration, he wrote:

            “I will always be occupied in study…, etc.”[9]

            In his Spiritual Notes as Archbishop of Cuba, he wrote:

            “Dedicate all time possible to the study of Sacred

            Scripture…”.[10]

 

            In the “Distribution of time” in his Retreat Resolutions for 1851, he assigns two hours for studying Scripture and one hour for other matters:

            “4. At 6:00, Sacred Scripture.

            5. At 8:00, Breakfast, Hours…

            6. At 9:00, Dogmatic and Moral Theology.”[11]

 

            1.3. Moreover, Claret stated that books are useless if there is no motivation to read them.[12] He denounced the lack of motivation in his surroundings and this moved him to act in order to act and help overcome it.

 

            To this end, the Bible should be the “most appreciated” book,[13] which holds priority over all others, however devout or pious they might be. In the Ascetical Letter he stated:

 

“The most pious reading that we can do is that of the Holy Gospel. And according to the rule, we should read a chapter every day.”[14]

 

            In his Pastoral Letter to the Clergy he asked that his priests learn and study books on theology and asceticism, but that:

 

            “The reading of the Holy Bible will occupy the first place.”[15]

 

            This priority of Scripture in Claret’s mind can likewise be deduced from the insistence with which he advises people to read it daily and from his recommendation to devote oneself to it in an “assiduous and attentive” way” and “with the greatest fidelity and care,” and to meditate “untiringly” on it, for no other book merits such special and privileged consideration.[16] Claret worked to distribute the Bible, making it easy to acquire and used it, in order to help counteract the “laziness,” as he used to say, of some of his brethren and countrymen.

 

 

                                                                          

 

                                       2. Under the action of the Spirit who anoints

               us to evangelize the poor.

 

2.1. Any reading of God’s Word must be done under the action of the Holy Spirit. However, the action of the Spirit is always charismatic, given as a gift. A charism. This charism is an experience of the Spirit who grants a distinctive, vocational way of being in the Church and in the world. It is the source of the spirituality, lifestyle and mission of the person who has received it; it is a distinctive form of being and acting in a charismatic key. The same happened to our Founder. In his Autobiography he tells us:

 

“In a very particular way, God our Lord gave me to understand those words: Spiritus Domini super me et evangelizare pauperibus misit me Dominus et sanare contritos corde.”[17]

 

            The Spirit acting in him “in a very particular way,” or in a charismatic way, is a prophetic Spirit to evangelize the poor and repentant, a Spirit to preach the Good News.[18]

 

            Claret himself explains the meaning of this Spirit when he speaks of the “ecclesiastical spirit”(or priestly spirituality), which is “none other than a sharing of the Spirit of God.”[19] The Holy Spirit which Jesus Christ received is the same spirit which each priest receives in order to live and work as a priest.

 

“Jesus Christ himself received the Holy Spirit, the priestly spirit, the spirit by which every priest must live and work. Here are the very words of the Holy Scriptures: Spiritus Domini super me. ‘The spirit of the Lord is upon me’ (invisibly in the hypostatic union and visibly in the baptism in the Jordan). Propter quod unxit me. ‘Therefore He has anointed me,’ as teacher, prophet, savior and lawgiver…”

 

“I shall not dwell one by one on the marvels worked by the apostles who, as soon as they were filled with the spirit of the Lord, began to speak. I shall only say something of the Apostle Paul, who was filled with the ecclesiastical spirit. As soon as he was called by Jesus on the road and was later enlivened by the spirit he received in Damascus, he did not stop to consult with flesh and blood, but filled with the fire of charity, he rushed about everywhere, as a vessel of election, spreading the name of Jesus, seeking nothing but the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls. He feared neither prisons nor chains. He was undaunted by scourgings, and death‑threats did not hold him back. We need do no more than read the Book of Acts and the letters he has left us, to see what a priest filled with the ecclesiastical spirit does. This same spirit is the one that animated all the Dominics, Vincents, Xaviers and so many other priests.”[20]

 

 

            2.2. Out of this vision and experience, the Spirit of the Lord made him understand the Scriptures, the Word of God: his reading would always be that of one anointed by the Spirit to preach, as we shall see later. In turn, this fidelity to reading the Word of God would enable him to obtain and keep this gift of the Spirit.[21] Within this perspective of the Spirit, Claret would unfold his vocation, his spiritual life, his lifestyle and his mission.

 

            2.3. How should we define Claret’s Bible reading under the action of the Spirit, anointing him to evangelize?[22]

 

            1) In its origin, it is a “spiritual” reading, that is, one that proceeds from the ‘divine spirit’ as an ‘inner motion’ from God.[23] It is not a reading originating from human knowledge alone; to read the books of Sacred Scripture rightly, “they should proceed with the simplicity of faith, …interpreting them not according to their own lights or seeking to draw subtle concepts from them, but with a view to proposing and explaining the sacred text with the simplicity (of faith).”[24] It is a reading in faith and from faith, proper of those who, filled with the Spirit of the Lord, are of God, for, as Jesus Christ our Divine Redeemer says: “He who is of God hears the word of God” (Jn 8:47).[25]

 

            2) It is a “motivating” reading that totally involves his person and spurs him on to act. A highly stimulating reading with a great emotional charge that impressed him, excited him and moved him to action in an irresistible way. He himself says:

 

“But what moved and stimulated me most was reading the Holy Bible… It went like an arrow to my heart… But the zeal of St. Paul has always awakened my deepest enthusiasm.”[26]

 

            3) It is a “vocational” reading in the broadest, total and overarching sense. First, it is a reading that addressed him personally, since “In many passages of the Bible I felt the voice of God calling me to go forth and preach”…”There were passages that impressed me so deeply that I seemed to hear a voice telling me the message I was reading”…”By these words I understood how the Lord had called me…”[27] It is a reading aimed at conforming himself to the will of God and being faithful to the plan God had for him. And secondly, a reading that enlightened him as to his vocational itinerary, both past and future.[28]

 

            He himself would share his experience with others and counsel them to read with a view to benefit from the Word of God, to obtain graces and gifts from the Lord and to obtain the graces needed in order to fulfill the obligations of one’s state of life.[29]

            2.4. Each Claretian must read the Word of God under this same distinctively charismatic action of the Spirit:

 

“The Lord told me both for myself and for all these missionary companions of mine, ‘You yourselves will not be the speakers; the Spirit of your Father and of your Mother will be speaking in you (Mt 10:20). So true is this that each one of us will be able to say, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; therefore He has anointed me. He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted’ (Lk 4:18).”[30]

 

            In founding the Congregation, Claret chose, as he tells us in his Autobiography, “a number of priests whom the Lord had given the same spirit that animated me.”[31] That is to say, among the many priests whom he knew and dealt with, he set apart those whom he saw had been given the same charism by the Lord. This, in effect, is a grace to be shared by the co‑founders and by all those who are called to the same Congregation.

 

            The gift of this charism implies a distinctive way of the Holy Spirit’s acting on the persons to whom the charismatic gift is granted. And hence, in this context, this gift involves a distinctive way of acting in the Church, not only in the Founder and in the co‑founders, but also in all of those called to share it. Thus the Spirit’s way of acting that was operative in Claret, was also operative in the co‑founders and continues being operative today in the Congregation. Full meaning is attached to Claret’s words in applying the text of Lk 4:18 to all his missionaries.

 

 

 

                                               3. The example of Mary, our Mother and

                                    Formator

 

            3.1. The Spirit of the Lord who stirred up Claret’s vocation and inspired him in reading the Word of God is not only the Spirit of the Father, but also of the Mother.

 

“The Lord told me both for myself and for all these missionary companions of mine, ‘You yourselves will not be the speakers; the Spirit of your Father and of your Mother will be speaking in you (Mt 10:20).[32]

 

            This “maternal spirit” was always present in the life and mission of Claret, an apostolic, missionary and at the same time deeply cordimarian vocation.

            3.2. There could not fail to be some reference to Mary in Claret’s reading, study and meditation on the Word of God. The Word, the Logos, became flesh in Mary, the most chaste, humble and fervent of mothers. Mary is Mother of the Word through her chastity, humility and fervor. These are Mary’s attitudes in order to receive the Word in her womb and give him to the world.

 

            In order to preach the Word, the priest and the missionary must have the Spirit of the Lord and must be chaste, humble and fervent, like Mary. In particular, Claret tells the missionary:

 

“Learn from Mary…, by your humility in studying the Scriptures and in praying to God, you will conceive what you must say: the Word that you must preach.”[33]

 

            4. In a Vocational Key

 

            We have already stated that the vocational key is one of the characteristics of Claret’s reading of the Word of God. Now I would like to highlight some other elements.

 

            4.1. Claret’s awareness of the biblical inspiration of his

            vocation.

 

            In the first place, Claret had a clear and explicit awareness that his vocation sprang from and was forged within the Word of God considered in an overall way, without excluding other determining factors such as prayer, the reality around him, etc. And in the second place, there are some concrete biblical texts that were in fact present both in the origin and formation of his vocation and in the shaping of his life and mission.

 

            1) Claret had a very clear awareness of the biblical inspiration of his vocation from the very first time he felt the Lord’s call.[34] In his writings, expressions of this sort abound. Here is a sample:

 

“But what moved and stimulated me most was reading the Holy Bible… In many passages of the Bible I felt the voice of God calling me to go forth and preach.”[35]

 

            Through the Word of God he most clearly heard the voice of the Lord who was speaking to him and kept calling him.[36] This fact doubtless explains his love for the Word of God, his appreciation for the Scriptures, his immense interest in spreading it and the eminently biblical content of his preaching.

           

            2) Biblical Vocational Texts

 

            Many biblical texts influenced Claret’s vocation throughout his life[37] as he himself tells us:

 

In many passages of the Bible I felt the voice of God calling me.”[38]

 

            Nevertheless, some texts influenced his missionary vocation in a more decisive way and defined it with greater clarity:

 

“There were passages that impressed me so deeply that I seemed to hear a voice telling me the message I was reading.”[39]

 

            3) This biblical awareness of his vocation led him to identify in a particular way with St. Paul.[40] He himself states this:

 

“But the zeal of St. Paul has always awakened my deepest enthusiasm. He went from place to place, a vessel of election, carrying the teaching of Jesus Christ. He preached, wrote, and taught in synagogues, prisons ‑‑ everywhere. He worked and made others work, in season and out of season. He suffered scourgings, stonings, persecutions of all sorts, as well as the fiercest calumnies, but he was never daunted; on the contrary, he so rejoiced in tribulations that he could say that he did not wish to glory, save in the cross of Jesus Christ.”[41]

 

            The very origin of Claret’s vocation bears a Pauline stamp:

 

“I was like Saul on the road to Damascus, but I was in need of an Ananias to tell me what to do.”[42]

 

            Claret’s expressions ‑‑”This phrase impressed me deeply and went like an arrow to my heart. I tried to think and reason what to do, but to no avail”‑‑[43] reflect the same situation of bewilderment in which Paul found himself at the moment of his conversion.[44]

 

            Throughout his life he had recourse to St. Paul in order to gain an     understanding of himself, to grasp the Lord’s plans for him, to understand the ups and downs that he had to undergo and to make overall sense of his life. Hence his numerous citations of Paul in his writings, especially in his autobiographical writings; hence, too, the times he counsels others to read Paul.

 

            He discloses to seminarians and priests the riches of the life and teachings of the Apostle of the Gentiles:

 

“We need do no more than read the Book of the Acts and the letters he left us, to see what a priest filled with the ecclesiastical spirit does.”[45]

 

            And he counsels bishops to “read and meditate on the Sacred Scriptures, especially Saint Paul.”[46]

 

            4.2. Aimed at proclaiming the Word of God

 

            Claret’s vocational call, his lifestyle, spirit and missionary action, seen in the light of biblical prophetism, appear as traits of a clearly prophetic vocation.[47]

 

            Hence, a fundamental aspect of Claret’s reading, study and meditation on the Word of God is its proclamation. It is a reading aimed at fulfilling Jesus’ mandate to proclaim the Good News to all peoples throughout the world.

            To carry out this proclamation, Claret pursued three lines of action: spreading the Bible, recommending daily Bible reading and preaching the Word of God.

 

            1) Spreading the Bible

 

            In the Dedication that Caixal and Palau devoted to Claret in the reissue of the Bible with comments by Fr. Scio, they stated:

 

“And Your Excellency deserves this dedication all the more, insofar as you suggested to us the idea of publishing it to end the sort of neglect that is noted in some of our brethren and countrymen in reading and meditating on the Scriptures, a neglect most often occasioned by not having such a precious book at hand… We also recall having Your Excellency’s concern to be able to offer the Spanish faithful an edition of the HOLY BIBLE which would combine the inexpensive and correct with the beauty and elegance of typographical art.”[48]

 

            Afterwards, he himself published reasonably priced and small‑sized, total or partial editions of the Scriptures, so that even the very poor could afford to acquire them. In 1856, he issued a popular edition of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew (Barcelona, Libreria Religiosa), annotated and with a foreword by himself. Rounded out by the first two chapters of Acts, it could be read, one chapter per day, in a month.[49] In 1860, he published a matchbox‑sized edition of four chapters from each of the Gospels, accompanied by some counsels for mothers of soldiers who were departing for the African front, as keepsakes that their sons could easily carry in their knapsacks.[50] In 1862 he published an inexpensive, handy‑sized edition of the Latin Vulgate for priests and seminarians, with a Foreword by Claret. In the margin, the Saint added index fists to indicate passages that all should memorize, and dashes, to indicate passages that those with better memories should learn by heart.[51] In 1864 he offered them a translation of the Handbook‑Concordance of the Scriptures by De Raz.[52] Finally, in 1864, in the Rules for Popular Parish Lending Libraries, in describing the list of books with which they should begin, Claret indicates the Holy Bible of Scio (6 vols.), the Gospel according to St. Matthew, which he annotated and published, and the Sacred History by Pintón.[53]

 

            2) Concrete recommendations for daily Bible‑reading.

 

            In this area, Claret showed a remarkable constancy and breadth of vision. His attitude can only be explained in terms of his great and impassioned love for the Bible and of his struggle against what he viewed as its misuses by Protestant proselytizers. Despite the negative milieu of his times and the “neglect [of the Bible] that is noted in some of our brethren and countrymen,”[54] he behaved like a true prophet.

 

            He recommends Bible reading to all without exception: bishops, priests, seminarians and faithful of all sorts and conditions. He recommends the daily reading of one chapter, or better still, of three or more chapters a day, so that the whole Bible could be read each year. And depending on the ability or need of the readers, he recommended that it for study, spiritual reading and meditation. There are countless texts in which Claret speaks of the need to read the Word of God daily.[55]

 

            3) Preaching the Word of God.

 

            We have already remarked that the Word of God shaped Claret’s personality in the style of Jesus and of the Apostles, in order to act as an Apostolic Missionary (cf. above, 4.1.).[56]

 

            More than this, the Word of God even shaped his style of preaching the Good News, which drew arguments and comparisons from the Scriptures:

 

“From the very beginning, the style I aimed at was that of the Gospel: simple and clear. To achieve this aim I made use of comparisons, likenesses and examples from history and experience, most of them from Scripture.”[57]

 

            Regarding the content of his preaching, we know that he touched on matters of faith and morals from a biblical perspective, grounding the demands of faith in the framework of God’s mercy and love.[58] He says:

 

“The aim of my preaching is the glory of God and the good of souls. I preach the Holy Gospel, avail myself of its comparisons, and use its style.”[59]

 

            Along these same lines, he told the (lay and priestly) members of the Academy of St. Michael that among the apostolic activities:

 

“The first means is the preaching of God’s Word, according to the precept of the Lord [he cites Mt 28:19‑20; Mk 16:15‑16]… It belongs to priests to put this first means at work…with assiduity and apostolic zeal.”[60]

5. Attitudes and Dispositions: “Read it devoutly, and with a mind to profit from your reading”[61]

 

            5.1. “Read it devoutly.”

 

            Devotion is an overall disposition for reading the Word of God that Claret often recommends, one that implies various other attitudes and dispositions.[62]

 

            5.1.1. With the simplicity of faith

 

            A fundamental attitude that Claret, quite logically, stresses, is faith:

“Let them enjoy proceeding with the simplicity of faith.”[63]

 

            Without this it is impossible to know the authentic and true value of the Word of God and thus it is impossible to penetrate the Lord’s thought and know His will. The Word of God must be read, studied and meditated on in faith, and not just in order to know more with a purely scientific and philosophical or literary mentality ‑‑”seeking to draw subtle concepts from them”‑‑ but rather, in order to learn God’s will and make it known.

            What is meant here is a “simple” faith that not only leads us to appreciate, but also to venerate Sacred Scripture as holy and as the Word written and preached.[64] The simplicity of faith will also lead us, from an apostolic point of view, to “propose and explain the sacred text with simplicity” that will make our preaching useful and effective.

 

5.1.2. In the tradition of the Church

 

“Let them [the books of the Bible] be familiar to all, and let them interpret them in the sense in which the Church, the Fathers and the common run of orthodox theologians have always understood and now understand them.”[65]

 

            1) Besides the ecclesial sense that Claret had in all aspects of his life and mission, one pastoral circumstance led him to insist on it regarding the reading and interpretation of the Bible. This was the Protestant peril, manifested both in the false interpretation of the Word of God, which endangered the faith of his flock, and also in the intense propaganda waged by Protestants, particularly in Cuba.

 

            “Therefore, beloved brethren and dear children, if you want to read the Holy Bible as translated by Fr. Scio, fine! We especially exhort the clergy to do so, as we have often said in word and writing. But read the genuine version with its notes, not an adulterated or truncated Protestant version.”[66]

 

            For Claret, the Word of God, which is the true bread of wisdom, must be scanned in a setting of truth and authenticity. And this can only be guaranteed by the true Church, that is, the Catholic Church: “The truth of the Bible,” he tells us, “will fall to the ground, unless it is supported on the pillar of the Church.”[67] Moreover, the written and transmitted Word of God can only be given by the Church, which is, at the same time, the depository of the incarnate and consecrated Word.

 

            2) To assure a reading of the Word that is within the tradition of the Church, on the one hand he recommended commentaries by the Fathers and other authors approved by the Church[68] and, on the other, he set about spreading the Bible in popular translations and in inexpensive but attractive editions.

 

            5.1.3. With humility and interior poverty

 

            For Claret, humility is an indispensable condition for understanding the Sacred Scriptures. From the wise and prudent of this world, and from the proud and haughty, God hides Himself. In contrast, He manifests Himself to the simple and humble. Hence, without humility, God will not reveal or manifest himself to man in His Word. Speaking at the First Vatican Council, he said:

 

“But why is it that the Scriptures are not understood?… 2. Because men do not have humility, as the Gospel says: ‘I thank you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the learned and clever, and have revealed them to the lowly” (Lk 10:21).[69]

 

Claret identifies the humble with Mary and with the poor in spirit:

 

“Learn from Mary, Theophilus…, and by your humility in studying the Scriptures and praying to God, you will conceive what you must say: the Word that you must preach. The Virgin wrapped the Word in poor swaddling clothes; you must wrap the Word in a simple and natural style… Jesus Christ himself gave thanks to the Father because the divine word was revealed or preached to the little ones, that is, the lowly.”[70]

 

And commenting on a text from the Gospel of Matthew, he says:

 

“[The poor in spirit are]… those who humble themselves before God, regarding themselves as truly poor in His presence, and listen to his divine words with reverent fear…”[71]

 

            5.1.4. With recollection and interior silence

 

“In silence and quiet of heart…a devout soul…learns to understand the hidden things of the Scriptures.”[72]

 

            Without recollection or interior silence, one cannot hear the Word of God. In silence and quiet of heart one can penetrate the “mysteries” hidden in the Scriptures and acquire the “science of heart” that this missionary needs so much.

 

Claret asks those called to the ministry of God’s Word to:

 

“Go apart for a while, as your Divine master did, to pray alone, in order to obtain by meditating on the sufferings of Christ crucified that science of heart without which your word would be like sounding brass and tinkling cymbal.”[73]

 

            To penetrate the mysteries and acquire the science of the heart, one must put himself in tune with God, not only intellectually, but affectively as well. Herein lies the fire of love and charity that breaks forth in one who prays in the depths to be transformed by the Word and to be “motivated” by it for preaching. This was the experience of Claret, whom prayer and the Word of God moved, aroused and spurred on intensely, filling him with apostolic charity.

 

            Spiritual dissipation, lack of modesty, an imagination filled with vanities, and continual and needless distractions, are grave obstacles to praying and meditating on the Word of God. This does not refer to the unavoidable distractions a person has because of plausible concerns about his assigned tasks, but rather to those that put him off‑center and lead him astray into interests foreign to his vocation.[74]

 

            Claret knew how to maintain this recollection and interior silence even though he was a most active and busy man who never wasted a minute and always had something to do for the glory of God and for his apostolic mission. For Claret knew how to keep God at the center of his life at all times and how to keep spirit, prayer and action united.

 

5.1.5. Above all with love of God: “He who is of God hears God’s Word (Jn 8:47)”

 

            Speaking at Vatican I, our Fr. Founder told the Council Fathers the reasons why the Scriptures are not understood:

 

“But why is it that the Scriptures are not understood? There are three reasons: 1. Because men do not have the love of God, as Jesus himself told St. Teresa.”[75]

 

            It was only logical for Claret, following the thought of John, to state that the love of God is the basis for understanding God’s Word, since charity makes us children of God and like God, and gives us the capacity to hear him, listen to him and understand him.[76]

 

            This love is fostered by contemplating God’s loving works, reading the Scriptures “in spirit” and being faithful to God’s will as a sign of love for Him.

 

            1) When one sets about reading, studying and meditating on the Word of God, he should do so not only according to the “letter,” but also in the “spirit.” What does Claret mean by reading “in the spirit”? “It is all based,” he tells us, “on the love of God and of neighbor.” The entire work of God, as reflected in the Bible, reveals love; all has been done out of love and all has love as its aim. All of it is the fruit of God’s love for man. Hence, “in studying these great works we must always keep the eye of our understand-ing and of our heart fixed on the love of God and neighbor.”[77]

 

2) The man who is faithful to God in everyday life will be able to grasp the voice of God; and the converse is true, because fidelity manifests the person’s love for the Lord, and this love, as we have said earlier, enables him to hear and understand the Lord’s voice. Fidelity enables him to hear God’s voice, and listening better prepares him to fulfill God’s will.[78] In contrast, when a man does not want to do God’s will, he is not interested in understanding the Scriptures, because these call him to conversion.

 

“But why is it that the Scriptures are not understood? There are three reasons… 3. Finally, because there are some who do not want to understand them, because they do not wish to do good.”[79]

 

            5.2. “And with a mind to profit from your reading”

 

            For Claret, as we already know, contact with the Word of God was a truly personal‑vocational challenge. He knew it by experience. Hence for him, one must have a positive attitude of letting oneself be questioned, in order that the Word of God may be efficacious. This is what he means by having “a mind to profit from your reading.” For our Founder, “profiting” has the following dimensions.

 

            5.2.1. Identification with Christ

 

            Citing Ex 25:40, Gal 2:20 and 1 Cor 11:1, Claret locates profit first of all in an absolute and radical identification with Christ from an apostolic viewpoint. Through the Word, the missionary must imitate Jesus to the point of becoming so identified with him that he reaches full and total conformity with him. This conformity will express the image of the perfect disciple who in his missionary action can present himself as a witness of the word he preaches and will be able to “say by his conduct, as the Apostle did, Imitatores mei estote, sicut et ego Christi ‑‑ Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”[80]

 

            Speaking of the practice of holy zeal, Claret proposes three means: prayer, good example and familiar conversations. In referring to good example, the power and virtue of which are incalculable, he refers to reading the Gospel:

 

“Here I will limit myself simply to urging you to read the Gospels, the lives of Jesus and Mary, and those of the saints. Let us imitate their virtues, and in so doing we will work wonders for our neighbor who sees and observes us.”[81]

 

            A second way of profiting from acquaintance with the Word of God, as a logical consequence of the foregoing, is the acquisition of an evangelical mentality through accepting the values of the Gospel and conforming one’s own conduct to the evangelical proposals of Jesus. Claret is very demanding and sets high goals for every Christian regarding the lifestyle he must lead if he really wants to become a disciple of Jesus. He must live like Him, even gladly accepting the pains and sufferings he has to bear.[82] He tells pastors and faithful alike:

 

“Divine Scripture is the level whereby every clergyman must adjust his actions and those of all the faithful, to whom by his office he must deliver the nourishment of the teaching of Jesus Christ.”[83]

 

            5.2.2. For the exercise of the ministry

 

“Read it every day, then, but read it with a mind to profit from your reading, and you will see by your own experience how by means of it God will favor you with his graces and will send you those helps you need in order to fulfill your obligations and duly perform the functions of the sacred ministry.”[84]

 

            As we have said above speaking of Claret (cf. 4.2 above), one fundamental aspect of reading, studying and meditating on the Word of God is announcing it. It is a reading aimed at fulfilling Jesus’ commandment to proclaim the Good News to all people throughout the world.

 

            Writing on seminary training, he tells the professors, and indirectly their students, that:

 

“with the reading of the Bible, which they [the seminarians] should read closely and meditate on tirelessly, let him [the professor] be assured that he will produce good disciples and fervent preachers, who will not preach themselves, but Christ crucified, as St. Paul says and as St. John Chrysostom, St. Bernard and St. Francis de Sales teach.”[85]

 

            1) In the first place, from reading the Bible, the missionary obtains the graces and helps he needs for the sacred ministry of preaching. God’s Word shapes him spiritually, floods him with God’s love and motivates him to announce it as Jesus did. That is, the missionary is evangelized by the very word he is going to announce. The Lord will enlighten the preacher and the Spirit himself will be speaking through his mouth.

 

            2) In the second place, the Scriptures also inspire Claret with the way to announce the Word effectively, that is, so that it can convert and transform people. One has to preach assiduously and zealously, with purity and rectitude of intention, with simplicity, without vain eloquence or “flowery rhetoric.”[86] The following text is a summary of his thought:

 

“If charity, necessity or the command of your superior calls you to the ministry of God’s Word, go apart for a while, as your Divine Master did, to pray alone, in order to obtain by meditating on the sufferings of Christ crucified that science of the heart without which your word would be like sounding brass and tinkling cymbal. Keep the word of God pure of contamination. Do not strive after high style, flowery expressions or other persuasive words of worldly wisdom (which only feed the pomp and vanity of one who is preaching to nobody but himself), but strive rather after heartfelt affections of the Spirit and of the power of God, as the Apostle did: in ostensione spiritus et virtutis (1 Cor 2:4), and not as it were to please men, but only God, who sounds the depths of the heart… If therefore you do not wish to be lost, but rather to gain great merit, you must imitate our divine Redeemer. Read the Holy Gospels and you will find the subjects he dealt with and the style he used…”[87]

 

            5.2.3. In order to acquire a suitable formation

 

            The suitable formation that Claret wanted of his seminarians was one that prepared them to be “good disciples [of Jesus] and fervent preachers.” For him, the objectives of a suitable formation were very clear: identification with Christ in order to announce the word of God. That is, that they imitate, identify and become conformed with Christ for the proclamation of the Gospel. He asked no more or no less of each priest.

 

            Now then, the important thing to know is the role that the Word of God, according to Claret, plays in a suitable formation. We can state that it is a fundamental and core role.

 

            1) In the first place, writing about seminary training, Claret told professors, and indirectly students, that:

 

“In the sacred Books, the professor will find the main things his students should know in order to become good and accomplished clergy. Let him tell them to love God dearly and to be lovers of mental prayer. And with the reading of the Bible, which they should read closely and meditate on tirelessly, let the professor be assured that he will produce good disciples and fervent preachers, who will not preach themselves, but Christ crucified, as St. Paul says and as St. John Chrysostom, St. Bernard and St. Francis de Sales teach.”[88]

 

            2) In the second place, from the very outset of their formation, the seminarians, whether studying rhetoric, philosophy or theology, must all have this same outlook. The Word of God will give the seminarians what they need for their formation: the Word of God read, studied and meditated on (cf. below). To be good priests they must take as models those who are presented in the Scriptures: models for life and models for ministry. The Word of God will thus become a formative nucleus of the first order:

 

“In order to advance in rhetoric, [the students] must have models to imitate; but what better models can be found than those in the Holy Bible, as both St. Augustine and Benedict XIV say? In this sacred volume both beauty and adornment of eloquence are found; in it the seminarian will find all he needs for his own advancement and the instruction of others. From which we may deduce that by studying these sacred books, the seminary students will emerge perfectly equipped for the ministry.”[89]

 

“When I dealt with rhetoric, I spoke of Scared Scripture; but I must now add that without sacred scripture, the scholastic in theology is like a child without a mother, a house without a foundation and a soldier without a weapon.. He also needs to be instructed in how to perform his ministries.”[90]

 

            3) In the third place, the Word of God, which must be read and meditated on under the action of the Spirit, is a source of priestly and missionary spirituality, that is, a source of the same Spirit who animates and enlightens the Word and animates and moves the seminarian. As we said above (II, 2.2.), the ecclesiastical spirit “is nothing else than a sharing in the spirit of God” which leads the person to perform his priestly functions gladly, easily, modestly and aptly.

 

            To acquire the “ecclesiastical spirit” (or priestly spirit as we would say today), Claret recommends to seminarians, among other means, “reading the Scriptures,” and that they might keep that spirit throughout their lives, he likewise tells them, “You will occupy yourself by studying the Holy Bible.”[91]

 

            4) From an academic point of view, we all know the interest he showed in fostering a serious study of Scripture and a in demanding a high level of proficiency in the seminaries of Cuba and of El Escorial.

 

            He wanted their libraries to be well stocked with good biblical commentaries and provided the means for this, as we shall see later. He required the study of Hebrew and Greek in order to broaden and deepen biblical studies. The Word of God that they studied must be integrated into their spiritual reading and meditation. This was a very important aspect in the overall pedagogy of Claret.[92]

 

                            6. Pedagogical means for advancing: “As best you can,

                 you will stick to this method and order.”

 

            We have already said that although he did not give a systematized methodology for reading the Word of God, Claret did give some precise orientations drawn from his own experience and some practical rules for profiting from reading it.

 

“Indeed, it would be pointless to have books if they were not read or studied. Hence we exhort you that “as best you can, you will stick to this method and order..”[93]

 

“In the first pages [of the Vulgate that he published] you will see how it ought to be read.”[94]

 

            6.1. Each one should have his own Bible

 

            The first thing he asks is that each student should have his own personal Bible. This is, understandable, an indispensable condition. Though this requirement mike strike us as obvious today, in his time it was a novelty. Moreover, he did not just require it, but did all he could to make it possible to fulfill this requirement: he published a portable and inexpensive edition, and on many occasions made gifts of it.[95]

 

            6.2. Reading, study, meditation

 

            Claret speaks, although not always in one and the same text, of there ways of approaching the Word of God:

 

“They should all apply themselves most faithfully and painstakingly to read, study and meditate on Sacred Scripture.”[96]

            Nevertheless, we can safely and truly state that on the whole, he recommended that reading, studying and meditating on the Scriptures should be practiced according to the different circumstances and states of people’s lives. Logically, study is mainly demanded of seminarians and priests devoted to their various ministerial functions. In a charmingly quaint way, seeking for a way to unify this ‘reading‑study‑meditation’ by identifying with Christ, he says that:

 

“Every day the priest will study this lesson, that is, he will read at least a chapter of the Holy Gospel, and every day he will attend class, that is, meditation, spending an hour or at least a half‑hour meditating on the life, passion and death of Jesus Christ.”[97]

 

            6.3. Every day, every year

 

            Claret’s pedagogical guidelines on the time and amount for reading the Word of God is very clear and constant.[98]

 

            The first element to be safeguarded in any circumstance is “the daily reading” of the Bible. Every Christian should read the Scriptures every day. I say “every Christian,” because for Claret, the personal reading of the Word of God is not just the privilege of a few. All, without distinction of ministry, sex, age or condition, should assiduously read it every day, even children.

The amount of daily reading depends on personal circumstances and the demands of one’s ministry in the Church. He asks priests and seminarians to read four chapters of the Bible daily. This will fulfill Claret’s ideal: to be able to read the whole Bible every year. He counsels the faithful in general to read one chapter a day.

 

            6.4. Memorizing

 

            Claret recommends that, if possible, many texts should be committed to memory. To this end, in his edition of the Vulgate, he places index‑fists and dashes alongside several texts. He himself used those in his own particular Bible.

            Why did he recommend learning texts by memory? For one pedagogical reason and for two special aims. The memory retains the text, and with the text, the idea. Every idea, as Freud says, is dynamic, above all when one loves or cherishes it. Memorized biblical texts are aimed at spiritual nourishment, the assimilation of the biblical message for oneself (e.g., Claret’s love for biblical prayers of aspiration); and at increasing one’s store for preaching.[99]

 

            6.5. Periodic review

 

            Claret was very fond of personal plans for all sorts of people, including a periodic review.[100] Part of these plans was to be the aspect of reading the Word of God with which we are dealing.

 

            On one occasion he counsels that this review be made in a group. In the Memoir of the Academy of St. Michael, in 1866, he sketches a method for the members to follow: “Once a month they will meet, according to article 31 of the rule… each will give an account of himself and tell whether he has read the chapter of the Gospel…”[101]

 

                               CONTENTS

                                                                          

Presentation ……………………………………………….       3

Abbreviations of Claret’s Works ……………………………… 5

I. INTRODUCTION …………………………………………… 7

   1. The Present Call of the Congregation’s General Chapters …. 7

   2. A Claretian Lectio Divina? …………………………… 7

II. THE PERSONAL EXPERIENCE AND TEACHINGS OF CLARET ……………. 9

   1. Strong Motivation …………………………………… 9

   2. Under the action of the Spirit who anoints us to

   evangelize the poor …………………………………….. 11

   3. The example of Mary, our Mother and Formator ……………. 16

   4. In a vocational key …………………………………. 18

       4.1. Claret’s awareness of the biblical inspiration

       of his vocation ……………………………………… 18

       4.2. Aimed at proclaiming the Word of God ……………… 21

   5. Attitudes and Dispositions: “Read it devoutly, and with a

       mind to profit from your reading.” ……………………. 26

       5.1. Read it devoutly ………………………………. 26

             5.1.1. With the simplicity of faith …………….. 26

           5.1.2. In the tradition of the Church ……….. … 27

             5.1.3. With humility and interior poverty ……….. 28

             5.1.4. With recollection and interior silence ……. 29

             5.1.5. Above all with love of God: He who is of

             God hears God’s Word” (Jn 8:47) …………………. 30

       5.2. And with a mind to profit from your reading ………. 32

             5.2.1. Indentification with Christ ………………. 32

                 5.2.2. For the exercise of the ministry ………….. 34

                 5.2.3. In order to acquire a suitable formation …… 36

   6. Pedagogical means for advancing: “As best you can,

       you will stick to this method and order” ………………. 38

       6.1. Each should have his own Bible ………………….. 39

       6.2. Reading, study, meditation ……………………… 39

       6.3. Every day, every year ………………………….. 40

       6.4. Memorizing ……………………………………. 40

       6.5. Periodic review ……………………………….. 41



    [1] (J.M. Lozano, Mystic and Man of Action, Chicago 1971, 73-98. M. Orge, “Biblical Inspiration and Basis of the Claretian Charism,” in Our Project of Missionary Life (OPML), Rome 1992, 185-275)

     [2] PCle, 32 ff.

     [3] API, 58.

     [4] MAM, 21.

     [5] PBV, Foreword.

     [6] Aut 113, 151.

     [7] Aut 68.

     [8] EA, note 2, p.150.

     [9] Retreat Resolutions, 1850 (B), in EA, p.533, text and note 64.

     [10] (Spiritual Notes, 3, EA p.593).

     [11] Retreat Resolutions, 1851, EA, pp.535-536.

     [12] Cf. Pcle, 32ff.

     [13] “Let them enjoy advancing…above all greatly appreciating the books of Sacred Scripture and holding them in great veneration.” (RSC, I.7, n.39).

     [14] Al, 11: SSW p.170.

     [15] PCle 32ff.

     [16] “Great, very great and indispensable is the obligation you have and will have so long as you live, of dedicating yourself assiduously and attentively to the study of the Holy Scriptures” (PBV).

“We warmly recommend to seminarians in theology the assiduous reading of Holy Scripture (CI, I.2, 16, 28).

“All, with the greatest fidelity and care, must apply themselves to reading, studying and meditating upon the Holy Scriptures” (RSC, I.2, n.15).

“…The reading of the Bible, which they – [the seminarians] should read closely and on which they should meditate tirelessly” (PEE, 154).

     [17] Aut 118b (LK 4:18, cf. Is 61:1.

     [18] Cf. MCT 58.

     [19] “They will know that they have achieved goodness…, if they have the ecclesiastical spirit, which is none other than a sharing of the spirit of God, which leads man to perform ecclesiastical functions gladly, modestly and aptly” (Internal Rule for the Students of El Escorial: EC II, pp.1101-1102).

     [20] (In the passage that stands between these two paragraphs, Claret states: “Other saints are anointed by the grace and gifts of the Holy Spirit, but Jesus Christ was anointed by the very Holy Spirit as the source and fullness of all graces, so that we might all receive of his fullness, as from a most abundant stream poured forth upon the apostles, martyrs, confessors and virgins. Evangeliare pauperibus mist me. ‘He has sent me to evangelize the poor little ones,’ such as sinners, who are the poor without grace, merits or the right to glory; such as those who are poor in worldly goods, because they are more humble than the rich. Sanare contritos corde. ‘To heal the broken hearted, ‘ those who by their sins and their ignorance of divine things are afflicted in spirit and sorrowful of heart, who desire the forgivenss of their sins, the knowledge of God, grace and slavation. Praedicare captivis redemptionem. ‘To proclaim ransom to captives. To those who are held captive by Satan because of their sins, I will preach and give freedom through the grace that I will impart to them, and they will dispose their hearts for it through repentance. Et coecis visum. ‘And I will give sight to the blind, not only bodily sight but also spiritual sight, for I will teach and enlighten those who do not know God or the way of their salvation.

“Now you can see, belowed seminarian, how Jesus Christ revceived the spirit and in what this spirit consists and why this spirit is given. See how true it is, as we have said, that it is not enough just to be ordained a priest. You have been given to understand this from what God chose to with Jesus Christ who, notwithstanding the fact that he was already full of all graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit at the moment of his incarnation, chose, before going into public life, to receive the Holy Spirit in the Jordan. We also see this truth manifested in the Old Testament as well as in the New… And in the new law of grace we see that the apostles, on the night of the last Supper, had all been ordained priests, yet they did very little until they had received the Holy Spirit. Such frailty! What little faith! But after receiving this divine Spirit, they were valiant, eloquent, powerful in word and work, they did wonders and converted the world” (The Priestly Spirit, SSW, ppp.343-345).

     [21] Among the means Claret proposes for obtaining and keeping the priestly spirit that the Holy Spirit bestows, he indicates “reading the Scriptures” and “studying the Holy Bible” (The Priestly Spirit, SSW, pp.347, 351).

     [22] In his “Biblical Inspiration and Basis of the Claretian charism, the late Fr. Manuel Orge defined it as a “spiritual, tropological or moral reading,” “characterized by an evangelical literalism” (Ch. 4 of OPML, pp. 185-275, cf. esp. pp. 195-196).

     [23] Cf. “The Pristly Spirit,” in SSW, p.339.

     [24] RSC, I.7, n.39.

     [25] MAM, 5.

     [26] Aut. 113, 68, 224.

     [27] Aut. 120, 114, Cf. also 115-120.

     [28] Aut. 101, 115.

     [29] Claret often wrote in this vein. Let the following examples directly illustrate his thought. Others like them will appear throughout his work. “Divine Scripture is the level whereby every clergyman must adjust his actions and those of all the faithful, to whom by his office he must deliver the nourishment of the teaching of Jesus Christ” (PSM, in Miscelánea, 163). “Read it with a mind to profit from your reading, and you will see by your own experience how by means of it God will favour you with his graces and will send you those helps you so need in order to fulfill your obligations and fully perform the functions of the sacred ministry” (PVB). “In the Sacred Books the professor will find the main things that it behooves his students to know in order to turn out to be good and accomplished clergymen. Let him tell them to love God dealy, to be lovers of mental prayer; and with the reading of the Bible, which they should read closely and meditate on tirelessly, let him be sure that he will produce good disciples and fervent preachers, who will not preach themselves, but Christ crucified, as St. Paul says, and as St. John Chrysostom, St. Bernard and St. Francis de Sales teach” (PEE, in Miscelánea, 154).

     [30] Aut. 687.

     [31] Aut. 489.

     [32] Aut 687.

     [33] “Moreover, the eternal Word should be considered as existing in three states: incarnate, consecrated and preached. Inorder to become incarnate, the Word chose the most humble, but also the most chaste and fervent mother, Mary Most Holy. And as Mary is the mother of the incarnate Word, so also, says St. Bernard, the priest is as it were the father of the Word consecrated and preached. Hence the priest must strive to be humble like Mary, chaste like Mary and fervent like Mary” (LMT 4.9: SSW p. 438). Learn from Mary, Theophilus. By your chastity you, too, must please God, and by your humility in studying the Scriptures and praying to God, you will conceive what you must say: the Word that you must preach. The Virgin wrapped the Word in poor swaddling clothes; you must wrap the Word in a simple and natural style. The preached Word should be treated the same way: Cum simplicibus sermociantio eius [Prov 3:32, ‘His communication is with the simple”]. Spritus Domini super me..evangelizare pauperibus misit me Dominus [Lk 4:18]. Jesus Christ himself gave thanks to the Father because the divine Word was revealed or preached to little ones, that is, the lowly” (LMT 4.10: SSW pp.438-439).

     [34] This phrase impressed me deeply and went like an arrow to my heart” (Aut 68).

     [35] Aut 113, 120.

     [36] “By these words…I understood how the Lord had drawn me safely out of the narrow escapes… the great enemies…that would arise against me, but the Lord told me… Through these words the Lord made me understand…” (Aut 114-118). “The Lord gave me a deep understanding of those words of the Apoclypse… The Lord told me both for myself and for all these missionary companions of mine… so true is this that each one of us will be able to say…” (Aut 685-687).

     [37] For the bilbical aspects of this section, the English-speaking reader is referred to J.M. Lozano, Mystic and Man of Action, pp.81-86, and The Claretians: Their Mission and Spirit in the Church, pp. 6-24; also to M. Orge, Biblical Inspiration and Basis of the Claretian Charism, in OPML, pp. 188-210. The Spanish-speaking reader is referred to A. Aparicio, Textos bíblicos en los que se inspira la vocación de Claret, Madrid 1985, 107-146; also to M. Orge, “La prdicacón profética de SAMC., Su inspiración bíblica,” in Servidores de la Palabra, Vic 1990, pp. 91-134. For the pedagogical aspects of the origin of Claret’s vocation see J.M. Palacios, Los signos vocacionales en San Antonio M Claret, Claretianum, 11 (1971), 97-131.

     [38] Aut 120.

     [39] Aut 113.

     [40] “It has been quite rightly said that many traits of St. Paul appear in St. Anthony Mary Claret, above all his impassioned love for Chirst and his apostolic fire, reflected mainly in the so-called definition of the missionary (cf. n. 494)” EA p.189, note 93.

     [41] Aut 224.

     [42] Aut 69

     [43] Aut 68.

     [44] Cf. Acts 9:1-19 and parallels.

     [45] “I shall not dwell one by one on the marvels worked by the apostles who, as soon as they were filled with the spirit of the Lord, began to speak. I shall only say something of the Apostle Paul, who was filled with the ecclesiastical spirit. As soon as he was called by Jesus on the road and was later enlivened by the spirit he received in Damascus, he did not stop to consult with flesh and blood, but filled with the fire of charity, he rushed about every where, as a vessel of election, spreading the name of Jesus, seeking nothing but the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls. He feared neither prisons nor chains. He was undaunted by scourgings, and death-threats did not hold him back. We need do no more than read the Book of Acts and the letters he left us, to see what a priest filled with the ecclesiastical spirit does. This same spirit is the one that animated all the Dominics, Vincents, Xaviers and so many other priests” (“The Priestly Spirit,” in SSW, p.345).

     [46] API, 84.

     [47] This theme has been dealt with amply and in great depth by M. Orge, “La predicación profética de SAMC., Su inspiración bíblica,” in Servidores de la Palabra, Vic 1990, pp.91-134, and by A. Aparicio, Textos Bíblicos en los que se inspira la vocación de Claret, in Sacerdotes Misioneros al estilo de Claret, Madrid 1985, 107-146.

     [48] The Holy Bilbe, I-IV., annotated by Fr. Philip Scio, Barcelona 1852, Dedicated to His Excellency, Don Antonio María Claret y Clará, pp.5-6.

     [49] EvMt.

     [50] Advice a mother gave her son on seeing him off to the war in Africa, together with the Holy Gospels, Barcelona 1860, 32 pp.

     [51] PBV, Foreword, and CI, 1.2, 16.2, note 11.

     [52] Barcelona 1864.

     [53] Bp, pp. 29-30.

     [54] Cf. note 48 above.

     [55] 1. General.

“Therefore, beloved brethren and dear children, if you wish to read the Holy Bible.. fine! We especially exhort the clergy to do so, as we have often said in word and writing” (EPD, 4).

“The Prelate should read and meditate on Holy Scripture, notably the letters of St. Paul and especially those addressed to Titus and Timorthy” (API 84; cf. also API 58).

2. Priests.

“Every day let them read four chapters of the Bible, two in the morning and two in the evening, so as to read it all in a year” (Claret, St. Vincent de Paul Clergy Conferences, Barcelona 1859, 22.

“They should all apply themselves most faithfully and painstakingly to read, study and meditate on Holy Scripture. On this holy task they must spend at least a whole hour, besides the time of mediation or morning reading we mentioned earlier (n.12); and to draw more fruit from it, they should add the explanation by the Church Fathers and by approved interpreters” (RSC, 1.2, n.15).

“Great, very great and indispensable is the obligation you have and will have so long as you live, of dedicating yourself assiduously and attentively to the study of the Holy Scriptures…Read the Bible every day, but read it devoutly and with a view to benefit from reading it…In order to read the whole Bible in a year, how many chapters must you read each day? Three or four. Hence we counsel you every day to read two in the morning and two others in the evening” (PBV; cf. also Claret, Rules to be Observed by One who would become a perfect Missionary, n.6: CCTT, 107; LMT, 4,10; SSW 435; PCle Appendix, 52; API, 105; PCle 32 ff; “The Priestly Spirit”: SSW, p. 358.

3. Seminarians.

“Besides the aforesaid books, they will have a Holy Bible, from which they will read each day, two in the morning and two in the evening” (Claret, “Modifications of the Statutes of the Seminary of Santiago, Cuba, Madrid 1854, 16).

“We warmly recommend to seminarians in theology the assiduous reading of Holy Scripture and we counsel them to read two chapters in the morning and two in the evening” (CI, I,2, 16, 2).

“During the day those studying grammar will read a chapter of Pintón (Sacred History) in the morning and another in the evening; and those studying philosophy and theology..will read the Holy Bible in Latin, two chapters in the morning and two in the evening” [Note added by Claret:] “To this effect an economic Bible has been printed and is available from the Religious Library” (API, 58).

4. The Laity.

“Every day, or at least once a week, each member will read a chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, translated and annotated by His Excellency the Archbishop of Cuba” (PAM 28 and 29).

“The most pious reading we can do is that of the Holy Gospel. And according to the rule, we should read a chapter of it every day. We must meditate on it and conform our conduct with the rule of morality which Jesus Christ gives us in it, for in it we find the truth, free of all error” (AL, in SSW, p. 170).

“Besides the books indicated (Catechism, Sacred History), it would be well for the girls to read the Sacrd Books, as the Holy Fathers Sts. John Chrysostom and St. Augustine ask. St.Jerome says, ‘When a girl reaches seven, let her learn the Psalms and until the age of puberty, let her heart’s treasure be the books of Solomon, the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles and the letters of the Apostoles.’ They wil also read the stories of Joseph, Tobias and Naomi, and the Canticles of Moses, of Dehorah and of Mary Most Holy” (Cla, 336-338 ff. Cf. also, MAM 21; PIC, in SSW, pp. 559-562; “The Solace of a Slandered Soul, Barcelona 1864, in SSW, pp.245-261).

     [56] Aut 428-437.

     [57] Aut 297; cf.298-299.

     [58] Aut 470. Cf. J.Clotet, Resumen de la vida admirable…, Barcelona, 1882, pp.268-269; J.Balmes’ opinion of Claret’s preaching in EA 423-424; Aut 297, 298-299; MAM 5.

     [59] Autob. Document VII, “Apostolic Missionary: Self-Portrait,” in EA, pp.424-425.

     [60] MAM 5.

     [61] PBV.

     [62] “The rest of the faithful should listen devoutly to God’s Word and practice what they are taught, and they will thus make it known that they are of God” (MAM 5).

     [63] “Let them enjoy proceeding with the simplicity of faith…greatly esteeming above all the books Sacred Scripture and holding them in great veneration. Let them be familiar to all, interpreting them not according to their own lights or seeking to draw subtle concepts from them, but with a view to proposing and explaining the sacred text with simplicity, in a manner suited to teaching, reproving, correcting and instructing in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pt I:20).” RSC I.7, n.29).

     [64] Cf. the texts cited innote 33 above.

     [65] RSC I.7, n.39.

     [66] EPD, 4.

     [67] “Besides the bread of life that is the Eucharist, the object of life and love, man also needs the bread of understanding, which is the truth, which we find in a special way in the Holy Bible. But we must seek it there as we ought, if we wish to find it… As God uses the Church to give us the Divine Word incarnate and consecrated, so he has chosen to use the Church to give us the verbum divinum scriptum et traditum, that is, divine word that is the bread of understanding. For this reason, Saint Paul calls the Church the “pillar and bulwark of the truth… The truth of the Holy Bible will fall to the ground…, unless it is supported on the pillar of the Church. That is why St. Augustine said that he would not even believe the Gospel, unless it were taught by the authority of the Church” (PIC, n. 64: SSW, pp. 561-562. Cf. also Antídoto contra el contagio protestante, Barcelona 1860, in Opúsculos, tome III, pp. 125-128).

     [68] “The Prelate should read and meditate on Holy Scripture, notably the letters of St. Paul and especially those addressed to Titus and Timothy, as well as the exposition of them given by the interpreters and Holy fathers” (API 84; cf. also API 58).

     [69] Discourse of Papal Infallibility, EA, p.491 f. Cf. also CI, 1,2,4,1.

     [70] LMT 4.10: SSW pp. 438-439.

     [71] EvMt, note on Mt 5:3, p.34.

     [72] Retreat Resolutions 1860, n. 9, in EA 557.

     [73] AP, n.25, in SSW p. 295. Cf. Also PCle, 32-39 ff.

     [74] “Another serious obstacle [to praying and meditating on the Word of God] is dissipation of mind during the day and little guard over the senses, since it is impossible for a person whose mind is full of vanities to meditate attentively and devoutly, nor can a person have a recollected spirit if he is always distracted, not by plausible concerns about his asigned tasks, but rather by curiosily, lack of modesty or other defects” (CI 1,2,4,1).

     [75] Discourse of Papal Infallibility, EA 491 f. He was alluding to Jn 5:39-42 and the Life of St. Teresa of jesus, 40.19.

     [76] “…The rests of the faithful should devoutly hear the divine Word and practice what it teaches them, and thus they will be given to understand that they are of God. Because as Jesus Christ our Divine Redeemer has said, “He who is of God hears God’s Word (Jn 8:47)” (MAM 5).

     [77] Cf. Cla, 336. Fr. Claret says that the school girl should know Bible History, but not just according to the letter, but also in the spirit of the History of Salvation that underlies it. This spirit is love.

     [78] “God dearly loves a man’s faithfulness in little things. God calls us by inspirations, readings, sermons, confessors, etc. He tells us, Si vis ad vitam ingredi…Si vis perfectus esse.. When a man is faithful… If he hears God’s voice and does not harden his heart… If he answers, Loquere, Domine, quid audit servus tuus… Domne, quid me vis facere?” (Aut. Doc. XVI.2, EA p. 463).

   [79] Discourse of Papal Infallibility, EA 492.

     [80] “[Jesus] is not only your master, but also your model and exemplar, since he first did what he later taught. And the Eternal Father tells each one of us: Inspice, et fac secundum exemplar quod tibi monstratum est. Look at Jesus nailed to the cross on Mount Calvary, and copy him within yourself until you can say: ‘I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me.’ Thus, when you have become a perfect disciple, you will be able to say by your conduct, as the Apostle did, Imitatores mei estote, sicut et ego Christi — Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. Every day the priest will study this lesson, that is, he will read at least a chapter of the Holy Gospel, and every day he will attend class, that is, mediation, spending an hour or at least a half-hour meditating on the life, passion and death of Jesus Christ” (CI I, The Priestly Spirit, SSW, p. 358).

     [81] LEV 10, SSW 505.

     [82] The Solace of a Slandered Soul, SSW, pp. 245-261.

     [83] PSM, in Miscelánea, 163-164.

     [84] PBV, Foreword.

     [85] PEE, in Miscelánea, 154.

     [86] “Always remember: “The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword…, as St. Paul says (Heb 4:12). In order to be able to cut, a sword must be both well honed and withdrawn from its scabbard… Just so, the sword of God’s word, in order to cut with both edges against the enemies of love of God and neighbour, must be well honed with purity of intention and withdrawn from the scabbard of human eloquence and flowery rhetoric…, just as I am now handing it over to you” (LMT: SSW, p. 437).

“Let them enjoy proceeding with the simplicity of faith…greatly esteeming above all the books Sacred Scripture and holding them in great veneration. Let them be familiar to all, interpreting them not according to their own lights or seeking to draw subtle concepts from them, but with a view to proposing and explaining the sacred text with simplicity, in a manner suited to teaching, reproving, correcting and instructing in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pt 1:20).” RSC I.7,n.39.

     [87] AP, n.25:SSW, pp.295-297. Cf. also PCle, 32-39 ff.

     [88] PEE, in Miscelánea, 154.

     [89] PEE, 150.

     [90] PSM, in Miscelánea, 163-164.

     [91] Cl, in SSW, pp. 347, 351.

     [92] PEE, 14, 149-154, 163-165, As he says elsewhere:

“As the Plan of Studies states, having a knowledge of both languages, Hebrew and Greek, is highly useful for understanding the Holy Bible” (PSM, Miscelánes, 164).

“So that all the seminary students of El Escorial may understand the divine Writings as much as possible, let them learn the Hebrew tongue” (PSM, 171).

“For the clergy, Greek is a sacred language” not only for studying Scripture but also the early Councils and the Fathers of the Church (PSM, 171).

     [93] PCle, 32 ff.

   [94] PSM, 164.

     [95] “Every student must have a copy of the Holy Bible that I published. In its first pages he will see how it ought to be read” (PSM, 164). For priests and seminarians, with a view (as he says) to “help you fulfill such holy duties,” in 1862 he had a Latin Vulgate printed, and gave five copies of it to every seminary in Spain “to be given to the most studious seminarians” (Aut 779).

     [96] RSC, 1.2, n.15.

     [97] “The Priestly Spirit, SSW, p.358. For other texts:

Spiritual reading:

“Each day… they will devote a time to spiritual reading. They will read three chapters of the Holy Bible (PCle, Appendix of 1855, p.52).

Study:

“Great, very great and indispensable is the obligation you have and will have so long as you live, of dedicating yourself assiduously and attentively to the study of the Holy Scriptures” (PBV, Foreword).

Meditation:

“In the Sacred Books, the professor will find the main things his students should know inorder to become good and accomplished clergy. Let him tell them to love God dearly and to be lovers of mental prayer. And with the reading of the Bible, which they should read closely and meditate on tirelessly, let the professor be assured that he will produce good disciples and fervent preachers, who will not preach themselves, but Christ crucified, as St. Paul says and as St. John Chrysostom, St. Bernard and St. Francis de Sales teach.” (PEE, Miscelánea, 15).

     [98] Cf. note 55 above.

     [99] “And that they may more easily be instructed in ecclesiastical discipline, they shall learn sacred Scripture by memory…” Modifications of the Statutes of the Seminary of Santiago, Cuba, Madrid 1854, 9; cf. also CI I, 1,2,23; also the Foreword to PBV and CI 1,2, 16,2, note 112.

     [100] EA, pp. 508-520.

     [101] MAM, 21.