St. Anthony Mary Claret: A Contemplative in Action
Though no conflict exists between contemplation and action, their harmonious blending is hard to achieve. Burdened with too many things to do, not a few active religious lament about their lack of time for prayer and contemplation. But bereft of the spiritual backing, action seems to seek personal achievements and glory and lose the divine quality of compassion. If consecrated people are to be, as Pope John Paul II described, “The epiphany of divine love for the world”[i] they need to draw divine compassion from the source itself. It is through contemplation and union with the divine, that consecrated people are impelled and made ‘free to love and free to serve.’ The life and work of St. Anthony Mary Claret is an outstanding model for the harmonious integration of contemplation and action.
Claret was one of the greatest missionaries of all times who brought about great spiritual renewal in Spain, Canary Islands and Cuba in the 19th Century. He stands out as an excellent example for missionary zeal blended with the spiritual intensity of a mystic. Essentially he was a mystic in action. We highlight how he achieved this ideal to show how consecrated people can be both intensively active and contemplative at the same time.
1. A biographical sketch
Claret was born in Sallient near Barcelona in 1807. He was the son of a small-scale textile manufacturer. His father would have liked him to be at his factory but God had a different plan for him. His experiences during his studies in Barcelona led him to realize the futility of worldly possessions and achievements. Having discerned his vocation to priesthood, he joined the diocese of Vic and got ordained as a priest in 1835. From the very beginning he felt that he was called to go beyond the confines of a parish. His heart was going out to the whole world. He writes in his Autobiography, “As the parish was not my final goal, I felt a deep desire to leave it and go to the missions in order to save souls, even if it meant undergoing a thousand labours and even death…. In many passages of the Bible I felt the voice of God calling me to go forth and preach. This same thing happened to me while I was at prayer. Thus it was that I determined to leave the parish and go to Rome, to present myself to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith so that they could send me anywhere in the world.” (Aut 212, 220)
Because of his thrust for mission he undertook a tedious journey to Rome to meet the bishop in charge of Propaganda Fide and present himself to be sent anywhere in the world as a missionary. As the bishop was not in Rome at that time, he joined the Jesuit novitiate as an easy way of becoming a missionary as Jesuits were going to foreign missions. The brief experience with the Jesuits was very enriching for his future apostolate. While in novitiate, “… the flame of zeal for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls took fire in my heart and totally consumed me…” (Aut 153). But God had a different plan for him; he wanted him not as a Jesuit but as an apostolic missionary in Spain.
There was a great need for a prophet of the Lord in Spain. Catalonia was passing through severe crisis: in the aftermath of the civil war, the clergy were greatly reduced in number, and the church was subjected to a great deal of persecution by the new liberal government. Though basically a believing community, Christians were embattled in their beliefs by a number of hostile forces. Claret tells, “The Lord wanted me to preach the word of God to these people, while the devil was hard at work trying to corrupt them with dances, theatres, military manoeuvres, platoons, books, evil magazines, etc…. Everywhere you turned you could see nothing but scandals and outrages, and hear nothing but blasphemies and lies. It seemed as if all hell had broken loose.” (Aut 458-459)
After a process of discernment he returned to Spain and started his itinerant preaching without getting tied down to any one parish. Holy See granted him the official title of the “Apostolic Missionary” in 1841. In 1843 he started his intense apostolic preaching and parish missions through out Catalonia. He made the resolution, “I will spend my total working time hearing confessions, catechizing, and preaching publicly or privately as circumstances permit.”[ii]
As he extended his preaching of mission to Canary Islands and found the quest for the Word of God among the people so intense and the number of preachers so few, he invited other priests to join him in his effort. With five others who shared his vision, he founded the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1849 in order to bring the Good News to the people. It was then that he was made the archbishop of Cuba and though unwilling, he had to leave behind the newly formed Congregation and go to Cuba. There too he worked tirelessly as a missionary and brought about radical changes in the life of the people. He was a great social reformer who fought against the practice of slavery in Cuba and used all available resources for the betterment of the poor people. His tenure of six years saw social, moral and religious renewal of the people of Cuba.
Claret came back to Madrid as Queen Isabel II wanted him to be the spiritual animator for her and the royal family. But before accepting the role of Confessor to the queen, he made sure that he would not be hindered in his mission of preaching the Word whenever it was possible. It was the time of revolutions in Spain. Though he never interfered in the political matters, he was the target of calumnies and persecutions. Finally he had to live in exile in the monastery of Cistercians at Frontfroide in France and died there in 1870 on October 24. Though as he had desired, he did not die a martyr, he died abandoned and hidden away in the infirmary of a monastery. But what the monks witnessed was the death of a saint.
2. As an “Apostolic Missionary”
The title “Apostolic Missionary” was awarded to him by the Holy See and this title captures what he essentially was. He went around the breadth and width of Catalonia in Spain, and Canary Islands preaching the Word of God. He did it always walking, going from one parish to other as an itinerant preacher. He never carried with him money but depended on God’s providence. He writes in his autobiography about the style of his mission and the hardships he had to suffer during his itinerant preaching throughout Catalonia: “During that whole seven years, I was on the go from one town to another. I travelled alone and on foot. I had a canvas-backed map of Catalonia that I always carried with me, and on it I would mark the distances I travelled, as well as any resting places. I would walk for five hours in the morning and another five in the afternoon. Sometimes I had to walk through rain, other times through snow, or under the broiling sun of a summer’s day. … in trying to cross the drifts I would sometimes get buried in snow-filled ditches.” (Aut 460). Demonic powers too arrayed against him and persecuted him terribly and tried to dissuade people from listening to his preaching. But Claret experienced visible protection of the Blessed Virgin, angels and saints, “who guided me through unknown paths, freed me from thieves and murderers, and brought me to a place of safety without ever knowing how.” (Aut 464)
Even when he became an archbishop and later the Confessor of Isabel II, he remained essentially as an apostolic missionary who made use of all occasions to preach the Word. While in Cuba he travelled the length and breadth of the country four times and preached the missions in all parishes. While accompanying the queen in her official journeys, Claret would get into parishes and preach the Word of God.
It is not only by way of direct preaching alone that he communicated the gospel. He made all means possible for the proclamation of the gospel. Amidst the continuous preaching expeditions, he found time for writing many books also. He helped in the foundation of different Congregations to promote the work of the kingdom. Printing, publishing and free distribution of books, pamphlets, medals, etc., were his other ways of service to the Word.
3. Apostolic spirituality and practice of virtues
He was supported in his apostolic works by a deep apostolic spirituality. He was a contemplative in action. Amid the activities so absorbing and varied, he lived an intensely contemplative life. In fact, for Claret, life was not divided into two water-tight compartments: one, the apostolate, dedicated to sanctifying others; the other, prayer, mortification, recollection, in a word, asceticism – dedicated to sanctifying oneself. He understood that the apostolic life as a divine vocation demanding total consecration. According to him, apostolate demands, for its very existence, an intense life of prayer and mortification. On the other side, an authentic ministry itself is highly sanctifying because of the harsh asceticism and renunciations involved in the work of the kingdom. Claret shows that action is not a hindrance to personal sanctification but it is the milieu in which an apostle is sanctified. The Claretian Father Paul Vallier wrote, “I regard our Father as a great Saint…. The faithful confidently invoke him as a protector of the interior life, and he will be considered as a model of this interior life by all those who, like their Father, are obliged by their ministry to follow an active life.”[iii]
His aspiration was to be a genuine apostle: a holy apostle. He practiced and advised others to practice those virtues, which he considered essential to any missionary to be truly productive. He says, “The apostolic missionary should be a model of all the virtues; he should, in fact, be virtue personified. Following Christ’s example, he should first practice, then preach.” (Aut 340)
He strived to achieve the various virtues needed for a missionary, starting with humility. He says, “I knew that if I was to acquire the virtues I needed in order to become a truly apostolic missionary, I would have to begin with humility, which I regard as the foundation for all other virtues.” (Aut 341).
He practiced poverty with the same fervour as that of St. Francis of Assisi. He writes, “I had nothing, wanted nothing, refused everything. I was content with the clothes I had on and the food that was set before me. I carried all I had in a bandanna. The contents of my luggage were a full-year breviary, a sheaf of sermons, a pair of socks, and an extra shirt – nothing more.” (Aut 359). He never carried any money with him, even to buy food during his travels – in fact many a time even beggars shared their food with him. He reports, “Once I was travelling from Igualada to Barcelona. As I was passing the King’s Mill Inn, at noon, a poor man took pity on me and asked me into the inn, where he spent four quarters to buy me a plate of beans. I ate them gladly and arrived perfectly well in Barcelona that same afternoon.” (Aut 366)
Other virtues he insisted for the missionary were meekness, modesty, mortification and love of God and neighbour.
4. Springboard of his Mission
Claret was, according to the spirit of the times, motivated by the deep desire for the salvation of the souls. God has instilled in him a thirst for the salvation of the souls from the very early days of his life. He writes in his autobiography
“The first ideas I can remember date back to when I was five years old. When I went to bed, instead of sleeping… I used to think about eternity… Then I would shudder and ask myself if those who were so unhappy as to go to an eternity of pain would ever see an end to their suffering…. This troubled me deeply, for I am by nature very compassionate.” (Aut. 8-9)
In yet another place he writes, “I tell you quite frankly that whenever I see sinners, I grow restless, I cannot quiet down, I cannot be consoled, my heart goes out to them. … Charity urges and impels me; it makes me run from town to town shouting, “sinner, my son, look where you’re heading; you’re about to fall into hell. Stop!” (Aut 211-212)
This fervour for the salvation of human kind made him go to any extent that would prevent a sinner from eternal damnation. Later another thought added to his zest and zeal for the mission viz. the desire that nobody should offend the heavenly Father by sin. He says, “In time I felt a further stimulus for zeal, the thought that sin not only condemns my neighbour but is an offence against God, my Father. This idea breaks my heart with pain and makes me want to run like…. If a son had a very kind father and saw that he was being maltreated for no reason at all, wouldn’t the son defend the father?” (Aut 16-17)
No worldly goals attracted him. About the inspiration for his activities he writes, “Whenever I went to a town, I did so without any worldly goal in mind: my only aim was to glorify God and save souls….You know that men nearly always do whatever it is they do for one or another of the following reasons: 1. Gain or money 2. Pleasure 3. Fame. I have not come to preach a mission in this town for any of these reasons. Not for money, because I don’t want a penny from anyone and I won’t take one. Not for pleasure, for what pleasure could I get out of wearing myself out from early in the morning until night? If some of you have to wait your turn for three or four hours to go to confession, you get tired. I must be there all morning and afternoon; and at night, instead of resting, I have to preach – and not for just one day, but day after day, for weeks, months, and years. Just think about that, my brothers and sisters. May be I do it for fame? Hardly. You must be well aware of the calumnies I’m exposed to. One person may praise me, but another makes all sorts of charges against me, as the Jews did against Jesus…” (Aut 199-201)
5. At the service of Jesus and Mary
Claret had a constant awareness of his mission as coming from God and he saw himself as just a steward. He affirms that he was a mere instrument in the hands of the Triune God. He was a servant, a slave of his great Lord Jesus and an arrow poised in the mighty hand of Mary his Mistress to be sent against all the evils. In the resolutions of the spiritual exercises for 1843, Claret considered Jesus Christ as commander in whose army he enrolled himself to collaborate in the warfare with the Blessed Virgin Mary against forces of evil.
He was like a servant; and a servant cannot do what he likes. If he is arbitrary in his actions he is not doing the will of his master. “You know already that I have no proper will; I am the slave of my mistress, Mary most holy, and a slave cannot have other will than that of his mistress whom he serves.”[iv]
Using the example of a dog, Claret defines his apostolic and prophetic duties: “The dog watches by day and redoubles his vigilance by night. He guards the person and property of his master. He barks at and bites all those he knows or suspects are planning to harm his master or his master’s interests. I should strive to be always vigilant, and denounce vices, faults, and cry out against the enemies of the soul.” He again says, “The dog is a so faithful an animal and so constant a companion to his master that neither misery, poverty, hardship, nor anything else can separate him from his master. I should be the same: so faithful and constant in serving and loving God that I might say with the Apostle that neither death nor life nor anything else can ever separate me from Him.”[v]
Mary was a constant companion in his life from the beginning to the end. His relation with Mary becomes explicit when he tells in the beginning of his autobiography, “Later, out of devotion to Mary Most Holy, I added the sweet name of Mary, my mother, my patroness, my mistress, my directress and my all, after Jesus.” (Aut. 5) Lozano observes, “The presence of the Mother of God is manifest in Claret’s mystical life in three ways: as a mediating influence alongside her Son, as the Saint’s spiritual directress, and as the object of mystical contemplation.”[vi] Various notations the Saint has left us describe as many as twenty-six heavenly locutions, thirteen of which came from Christ, eight from the Blessed Virgin, three from both of them together, and two from individual saints. He had the experience of Mary handing him the Infant Jesus. Virgin Mary powerfully made her presence felt in his apostolic vocation through apparitions. Mary guided him with instructions: “More prayer… more mortifications… be patient… spread devotion to the Rosary…” Mary once said to him, “I wish to make use of you.”[vii] No wonder he considers himself to be merely an instrument in the hands of Mary. Even the founding of the Congregation is attributed to her intervention and named it as the Congregation of the sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Hence Claret’s apostolate has a special relationship of dependency on the Immaculate Virgin.
6. Contemplating Jesus and Imitating Him
Claret had a burning desire to imitate Jesus to the smallest detail. This became a great obsession for him. He would gather as many data as he could from the Gospels and read between the lines and find out what Jesus would have felt, thought and did on different occasions in order to imitate his attitudes. He says, “I will always keep my gaze fixed on Jesus Christ.… So I constantly thought on Jesus… I meditated on his words, his sermons, his actions. I used to ask myself in every situation, and still do, how Jesus would have done it. I would recall Christ’s teaching on the matter and meditate on it constantly.” [viii] He adds, “I meditated on his words, his sermons, his actions; on the way he ate, dressed, and travelled from town to town.” (Aut 356) According to Lozano, the biographer of the saint, Claret’s entire religious experience stems from a personal, existential contact with the Lord Jesus. It is the love of Christ that impelled him to imitate Christ faithfully: “Jesus Christ loves poverty, insults, and suffering; and so I love them, too.”[ix]
Lozano observes that Claret belongs to the long line of Christological ascetics who extend back, in the West, to St. Bernard, and especially St. Francis. “For him, imitating Christ meant literally not having a penny in his pocket and travelling on foot, like his Lord, without provisions because he had suffered hunger and thirst along the roads of Palestine. It meant having only one change of clothes and refusing even an extra pair of shoes, since Jesus had recommended this and sticking up edifying conversations with passers-by, as Jesus had done with the Samaritan woman. Imitating Christ meant preaching simply and using numerous comparisons, as he had done, and following his example of silence in the face of slander. When Claret was the queen’s Confessor, it meant not buying a house in Madrid because the Son of Man, who was poorer than the foxes and the birds of the air, had nowhere to lay his head.”[x]
In the book Claret has written for young girls, Well-Instructed Schoolgirl, Dorothy, the heroine, explains how from the time she rises until the time she retires, she is continually thinking about Jesus and imitates him in his actions. [xi]
- Centrality of the Word of God
In Claret there is a harmonious blending of two fundamental traits of Christian spirituality – the contact with the person of Christ, the Incarnate Word, and contact with the written Word, the Scriptures. At the very core of Claret’s spirituality we find the Word of God. He found his vocation from the contemplation of the Word of God. Everyday he read a number of chapters from the New and Old Testaments; and throughout his life, form his youth till his death, he chose the life and passion of Christ as the regular theme of his meditations. He considered this meditation on the Gospels as the basis of asceticism. He instructed priests, “Every day the priest must study his lesson, that is, read at least one chapter of the Holy gospel, and attend class, that is, meditate. Thus, every day he should make an hour, or at least a half hour, of mediation on the life, death, and passion of Jesus Christ.”[xii] It was his reading the Gospels that gave him his rule of life. It was his Word of God in the Scriptures that continually sculpted and moulded the image of the Lord in his soul. Claret’s imitation of Christ starts in the Gospel and continually reverts to the Gospel.
“Praying to God and rowing to shore” was Claret’s attitude through out his whole life.
Jesus was the absolute model, especially in the aspect of prayer and apostolate. The contemplation of Jesus revealed to him that “By day He preached, and cured the sick and by night He prayed” (Aut 434, Lk 6.12). The example of his Lord and Master clarified Claret’s apostolic life. He too did the same: praying and working. He was convinced that the apostolate is the prolongation of the mission of Jesus, establishing the Kingdom of God in this world: and an Apostle rooted in prayer and communion with the Lord only could do it.
Prayer became increasingly the first means of the apostolate. It is only logical that an apostle, conscious of being only an instrument in God’s hands, should frequently turn his glance toward the source of grace. He made his environment sacred by means of ejaculatory prayers, following the example of St. Ignatius, and enjoined the practice of making a brief examination of conscience at the stroke of every hour.
Solitude enveloped Claret in the midst of his intensely active life. By disciplining his eyes and tongue he abstained from all unnecessary or useless contacts with the external world.
In the Well-Instructed Seminarian he writes about himself in third person, “This cleric is ever-mindful of the words of St. Paul: in God we live and move and have our being. Thus he is always in the presence of God, whom he fears as a Lord that always beholds him, whom he loves as a Father… .”[xiii] His confessor Carmelo Sala tells, “As regards his sense of the presence of God, I must remark that it was continual; he always seemed as if withdrawn from the things of this world.” Fr. Clotet says, “One day, while he was telling me that this state could be practiced anytime and anywhere, he remarked, ‘I know someone who is at times more recollected in streets and squares than he is at payer.’ As I listened, I had no doubt that he was speaking of himself, although in the third person.” His ecclesiastical vicar in Cuba remarks, “His relationship with God was familiar and continual, and he never lost sight of Him.”[xiv]
To create a harmony between Mary and Martha was indeed a preoccupation throughout his life, especially during the period when he was the Confessor to the queen.
His life at Madrid provided him with more time for inner reflections since he did not any more have a tight schedule like in Cuba. In his resolutions of 1857 he writes, “I will have a chapel fabricated in the centre of my heart, and in that I will adore God day and night with a spiritual worship. I will pray continuously for myself and for others. My soul, like Mary, will be at the feet of Jesus listening to his words and inspiration, and my flesh or body, like Martha, will be going around with humility and solicitude undertaking everything which it knows to be for the greater glory of God and for the good of my neighbours.”[xv]
Experience taught him that silence is most important for advancing in perfection. Claret would speak only out of necessity and then too he used only the minimum words possible. “I will spend the nights in prayer; the mortification will be continual and in everything; the presence of God, permanent.”[xvi] Again it is the example of the Word Incarnate that motivated him in keeping silence.
Continuing the earlier image of the dog and his master in relation to apostolate, he also takes from it a lesson regarding prayer and contemplation, and walking in the presence of the Lord: “The dog’s greatest joy is to be in his master’s presence and walk along beside him. I shall strive always to walk joyfully in the presence of God and my Master.”
Claret received the gift of the habitual presence of God. Though towards the end of his life he experienced more frequent and intense mystical experiences of God’s presence, it did not hinder his active work in any way.
9. Eucharistic Mysticism
Eucharist plays a pre-eminent role in the mystical experiences of Claret, both as a source of illumination and as a means of mystical transformation. He was given a number of his mystical graces by way of the Eucharist. The Mass and visiting the Blessed Sacrament were the spiritual high points of his entire day, and it was during these visits that he received many of his inner locutions. After the Holy Mass he had many intense experiences of union with God and he felt himself totally annulled. He says, “When I am before the Blessed Sacrament, I feel such a lively faith that I can’t describe it. Christ in the Eucharist is almost tangible to me. I kiss his wounds continually and embrace Him.”[xvii] Others too record Claret’s ecstasies during Mass, how he was seen surrounded by rays of light, and seeing him transformed. Father Juan Martin Alonso says, “While he was celebrating Mass, his face became glowing and transparent, like that of a child. I noted this a number of times, especially when he was celebrating a Pontifical Mass.”[xviii] As if as a reward for his fervour for the Eucharistic Lord, he was blessed with a great Eucharistic grace to preserve the Lord in his heart continuously. About this experience the saint himself says, “On August 26, 1861, at 7.00 in the evening while I was at prayer in the church of the Rosary at La Granja, the Lord granted me the great grace of keeping the sacramental species intact within me and of having the Blessed Sacrament always present, day and night, in my breast. Because of this I must always be very recollected and inwardly devout. Furthermore I must pray and confront all the evils of Spain, as the Lord has told me….”[xix] More than a personal mystical experience, it had a larger apostolic implication. Claret felt within him, along with the divine life, a surge of apostolic energy drawing him to collaborate in the growth of the whole Mystical body of his Lord by working for his church.
We have a long list of the ascetic practices of Claret: Particularly, examination of conscience, practices of piety, strict discipline, external and internal mortification of senses, doing everything with upright and pure intention, meditation on the Last Truths, reading of the scriptures and the lives of saints, mental and vocal prayer, and abstention from meat and wine. He led a rigid life of apostolic asceticism in the style of an ‘oriental ascetic’.
He writes in Autobiography for the edification of his readers, “I followed a regular plan of life. Every year I made a ten-day retreat, a practice I have followed ever since I joined the seminary. Every eight days I received the sacrament of reconciliation. I fasted on Thursdays and Saturdays, took the discipline on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and wore the cilice on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.” (Aut 107)
“I resolved that in my outward bearing I would be modest and recollected; that in my inner being I would be continuously and fervently absorbed with God; that in my work I would be patient, silent, and long-suffering.” (Aut 419)
To work and suffer for Christ was his ambition. In every situation he would look for suffering for the sake of Christ. For example while narrating his journey to Rome to present himself to Propaganda Fide, he says, “Since my voyage to Rome was not intended as a pleasure trip but one in which to work and suffer for Jesus Christ, I felt that I ought to look for the humblest and poorest place aboard so as to have a better chance of suffering. With this in mind, I bought a ticket for standing-room on the deck near the bow, which was the poorest and cheapest passage. After I had gone off by myself to say my rosary and other devotion, I looked for a place where I could rest a bit and could find nothing more suitable than a pile of coiled rope, which I sat on, resting my head on an artillery piece in the battery on one side of the ship. In this position, I meditated on how Jesus might have rested when he set out in the boat with his disciples.” (Aut 130-1)
While all the private and personal acts – his prayers and mortifications- were oriented toward his apostolate, the most intense and joyful apostolate for him was the practice of direct asceticism, like all those journeys he undertook on foot, the hunger, heat, cold, and fatigue he felt along the roads of Catalonia; having to accept the help of beggars; the endless meekness and patience he showed when the crowds pressed about him or besieged him in the confessional; the mortification in eating that he undertook to edify others; or the sleep he deprived himself of to be able to spend the greater part of the night writing.
- Configuration with Christ crucified.
On November 25, 1858, God infused in Claret a love for being persecuted and slandered. He had a dream that night. “I dreamed that I had been jailed on a charge I was innocent of. Because I considered it a gift from heaven to be treated like Jesus I was silent, as he had been. Nearly all my friends had abandoned me, as had the friends of Jesus, too. One of my friends wanted to defend me, as Peter had wanted to defend Jesus, but I said to him, “Don’t you want me to drink the chalice my Father has prepared for me.”[xx]
There was even physical attack on him: In 1852 at Holguin, in Cuba, a man who was unable to appreciate Claret’s good works attempted to kill him. While Claret was in the midst of the crowd his enemy stepped forward, as if to kiss his ring, and suddenly his arm flew back and he got out the dagger he was hiding and brought it down upon the saint’s head with all his might. As Claret had his head down, instead of slitting his throat as the enemy had intended, the dagger slashed his face across the left cheek, from the ear to the chin. In fact this was the same man who was freed from the prison a year earlier on Claret’s recommendation. The very next year he did him the favour of wounding him! Claret says that it was indeed a favour – a great favour from heaven – which brought him the greatest joy and for which he thanked God and the Blessed Virgin Mary continually. (Cf. Aut 584) For Claret it was a missed chance of martyrdom! He says, “I can’t describe the pleasure, delight, and joy I felt in my soul on realizing that I had reached the long desired goal of shedding my blood for the love of Jesus and Mary and of sealing the truths of the gospel with the very blood of my veins.”[xxi]
Of course, Claret forgave the man who tried to kill him. When he heard that he was sent to jail, he pleaded with the Captain General of Havana for his release and offered to pay the expenses of his deportation to his birthplace, the Canaries.
Claret was persecuted and slandered, especially during his life in the royal court. The newspaper cartoons of those days show how much he was the target of the revolutionaries who were deadly against the Church and priests. Claret silently suffered all those calumnies for the sake of the Lord with the inner joy of participating in the similar experiences of his Master. His death in exile away from his followers, gave a fitting finale for his desire to conform to the Lord. On his tombstone is inscribed the last words of Pope St. Gregory VII, “I have loved justice, and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile”
As noted by Fr. Clotet, his companion in founding the Congregation, Claret was a zealous Apostle, lover of evangelical poverty, and above all a passionate “Lover of Jesus Christ”. He is indeed one of the greatest missionary saints of modern times who teaches us how to be a true contemplative in action. Jesus was always the source and inspiration of his works. The slogan that he appropriated was St. Paul’s words, “The love of Christ impels us” (2 Cor 5.14). When our apostolate springs up from the love of Christ there is necessarily the integration of contemplation and action. It is not the acts of mere social concern, but action born out of the love for Christ that makes a person an apostle. St. Anthony Mary Claret shows us how to reach out to humanity while being totally rooted in Christ.