TH1RD PHASE (1828-1830)
The Presumed and Longed Religious Vocation: Predominance of ‘Homo Religiosus’ and ‘Fugamundi’
1. Initial Grace: ‘Quid Prodest’ (Aut 68)
The worldly experiences with its corresponding deceptions, had not been enough so that Claret would take a radical decision. A determining element had been his contact with the Word of God, not read but evoked in the Eucharistic celebration: ‘In the midst of this whirligig of ideas, while I was at Mass one day, I remembered reading as a small boy (in the pious book ‘Bon Dia’of D.Pedro Roquer?) those words of the Gospel: What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?(Mt.!6:26)'(Aut 68).
The Spirit is once again in action, not only to remind him of the Word read in his infancy, but also that his Word is a penetrating weapon which succeeds to break the crust of the worldliness which had taken power of his heart and tarnished his mind. The force of this Word is impressive like those passages from the Prophets which determine his missionary vocation. The power and impact of this passage is revealed by Claret himself: This phrase impressed me deeply and went like an arrow to my heart'(Aut 69). It is interesting to see that the word ‘arrow’ is used by Claret to indicate his apostle himself as arrow in the hands of Mary (Aut 270). This impact and this profound impression leave him disconcerted without knowing what turn to take. ‘I tried to think and reason what to do, but to no avail’ (Aut 68). Later, after having decided to surrender himself totally to God, he would ask advice and his decision once confirmed will begin to be effective with the study of Latin like in his infancy to return to the path of sacerdotal life.
The crisis has been overcome thanks to 3 means of discernment, which he himself would inculcate in those who desire to make a suitable vocational discernment.
• Reflection (enter into oneself like the prodigal son)
• Prayer (which opens the heart and mind to the will of God)
• The advice (to see the divine will in an adequate mediation and not to suffer from imaginations which could become dangerous).
2. Reaction and Radical Decision: Fugamundi’
In this moment he decides to offer himself entirely to God. But he has to leave the manufacturing for this purpose. The deception in 3 levels (money, love and freedom threatened by the death and possible damnation) leads him to take a radical decision: break definitively with the world, flee from it and die to it in a Carthusian monastery: ‘Disenchanted, weary and bored with the world, I considered leaving it for the solitary life of a Carthusian… ‘(Aut 77).
We could ask how being so active he decides to enter a life of solitude and enclosure, totally contemplative. The reason is that those of passionate temperament are extremes and radical minded in their resolutions. The greatest contempt for the world will lead thém to the greatest abandonment of the world. Here the religious vocation, supposed, imagined and longed for emerges in such a violent way that his priestly and apostolic vocation is put into danger. Now the ‘homo religiosus’ had prevailed over the ‘homo faber’ and wants to prevail over the ‘homo apostolicus’.
But also this was providential because the Lord wanted him dead in an evangelical way to the world so that he could live in a wider and more committed way in apostolic nearness regarding the world, realizing this experience of interior desert. God did not want him as worldly and purely contemplative, but apostle: for that purpose he made him know the world and desire the contemplation to prepare himself for the apostolic action. God not only granted him the character most suitable to his evangelizing mission, but also uproots him sociologically and spiritually from the world, and at the same time he is placed in contact with the technique which would be useful for him in the task of evangelization. He would apply the same technique which the world used to propagate evil for the diffusion and penetration of good.
• Receive the permission of his father (Aut 77-78) who reacts in an admirable manner, with a great Christian spirit, and ask permission from a wise and holy person: Fr. Canti (Aut 81). His entrance to the seminary of Vic on 30th Sept. 1829 was considered by him as something provisional, not a definitive one. His decision was to become a Carthusian and he had to maintain it at any cost(Aut 77). This is the reason why he did not go for an interview with Bishop Corcuera ‘because I was afraid that he might upset my plans for becoming a Carthusian'(Aut 81). He asks advice and he is convinced by the reason given by Fr. Canti: If the Lord Bishop knows that it is God’s will that you enter the Carthusians, far from opposing you, he will be your protector (Aut 81).
• Intensive study – The objective is: to become a Carthusian and Anthony directs his studies for this purpose (Aut 77); above all he needed the study of Latin (Aut 79).
• Intense spiritual direction by Fr. Bach (Aut 85) – The direction with this father of St. Philip Neri confirms him more and more in his supposed and cultivated vocation of a Carthusian, which was his cherished dream (Aut 85).
• Very strict plan of life, more of a Carthusian than of a seminarian if we consider the strictness of his spiritual life and his penances (Aut 86-87). The idea and the desire to embrace the religious life constitute a decision which in no way seemed irrevocable as he was cherishing this idea all throughout the first year of philosophy (1829-30). He continues with the firm idea of becoming a Carthusian kept alive with the help of a devotional picture of St. Bruno, Founder of the Carthusian Order. He speaks often about it with his Confessor, who comes to convince himself of the seriousness of the project. What he planned becomes a reality with letters of recommendation to be carried by Anthony and with the trip to the Carthusian Monastery at Monte Alegre at the end of July 1830 (Aut 88-89).
4. Providential Crisis
The idea so much cherished and consulted is about to become a reality. That is why he says that he undertook the journey quite happy (Aut 89). He was about to realize his dream; but the Providence intervenes through a natural phenomenon: ‘A hurricane came up, so dreadful that I was terrified’ (Aut 89). This storm gave rise to a suffocation which Anthony attributed to his weakness in the chest as he had studied so much that year as he stated earlier: ‘ Without slacking off in my studies to which I applied myself to the utmost of my ability'(Aut 87). A negative vocational sign emerges then: the sickness. His reflexive spirit helps him understand the will of God at this moment: ‘I thought, ‘perhaps God doesn’t want you to join the Carthusians’. This thought alarmed me greatly. What is certain is that I didn’t have the will to go on..” (Aut 89).
He understood the meaning and his interpretation of this episode is given in the following way: ‘After that first year of philosophy I no longer thought about becoming a Carthusian and realized that that vocation had only been temporary. The Lord had been calling me away so that I would come to detest the things of the world and, once detached from them, might remain in the clerical state as the Lord has given me to understand since ‘(Aut 93).
This does not mean that Claret was a feather-brained person. On the contrary, these things were so much reflected and thought about. The crisis of identity carne up thinking about his delicate health, evident sign for him that God did not want him in this type of life.
There is no doubt that God had given him this temporary vocation with some special aim; take up with more detachment the things of this earth, until reaching the total separation from the world, to perceive a major attraction for the renunciation, mortification and things of this world (Palacios, J.M., Los signos vocacionales..)
5. Humble and Trustful Acceptance of the Will of God
He decides to continue in the Seminary to become a simple priest, renouncing the ideal of Carthusian radicalism (Aut 93) and awaiting for the will of God to become manifest with more clarity (Aut 93).