FOURTH PHASE (1831-1841)
Vocation of Apostolic Missionary : Clarification of ‘Homo Apostolicus
P. Jesús Bermejo
In the first stage of search and being an extrovert, Anthony child, adolescent and young man had two very strong and determining experiences as we have seen:
1. Strong experience of God, or in general, of Christian religion experienced in a lively way.
2. Strong experience of natural world with all the values and demerits, relativity and danger. Now through manifold deceptions in aspects very much affecting in his sensibility and the parenthesis of a presumed religious vocation, he enters into a new stage of illumination and confirmation of his vocation, also through a triple experience:
a) The strong impact of the reading of the Bible (Aut 113-120) which will have its climax at the end of this stage with the ritual of the ordination to the deaconate similar to the experience of ‘quid prodest’. The Word of God caught his heart and inflamed himself. For his reason he could say with St. Paul: ‘Caritas Christi urget nos'(2 Cor.5:14).
b) The beautiful vision of the Tortadés house (Aut.95.98). An experience of not a natural world, but of the supernatural world, only accessible to the eyes of faith, but here seen with his own eyes, and above all experienced in his own body with the confirmed effects which he himself indicates as he is relating it in Autobiography.
Now his missionary vocation will come up with irresistible force: ‘Ever since I lost the desire to become a Carthusian – which God had used to uproot me from the worldliness – I not only thought about becoming holy myself, but I was continuously trying to imagine what I could to do to save the souls of my neighbours’ (Aut 113). He knows that he has to become a priest, but yet he doesn’t know what type of priesthood he should embrace ( he says therefore: what I could do – as when we ask ourselves: what am I going to do when I become a grown-up? What will I do as an adult?) And ‘how I could do’ means what style of life and what means and options his missionary life will have?
c) The enlightenment during the ordination to deaconate (Aut 101)
1. Initial Grace : The Irruption of the Word
Once the ground has been prepared and decision is taken to embrace the priesthood and not the life of the recluse the fruitful action of the Word of God intervenes. The begin of this vocational experience – so intense that it can be compared with the great prophetic vocations has to be situated at the beginning of his stay although he while redacting the autobiography speaks first about the visión of the house of Tortadés. He does the same in his ‘Resumen of Life’. He says in the Aut.: ‘Ever since I lost the desire to become a Carthusian..’ In 1830 these desires disappeared definitively.
The Word of God actuated as ‘arrow’ to break the crust of the worldliness which covered the heart of Claret, and as ‘dissolvent’ to do away with the concupiscence which invaded and corroded that heart which was getting more passionate to vanity and pride, not to sin. Another effect of the Word of God will be the ‘reconstruction of the Christian’ broken into pieces by such series of worldly experiences. At the same time he will be reconstructed psychologically because reconstruct the Christian is to reconstruct the man in his dignity, equilibrium and fullness.
In those years, from 1830 to 1834, and afterwards till he frees himself totally from the parochial obligations to dedicate himself completely to evangelize, the Word of God will have another decisive effect: ‘to create the evangelizer’, constructed according to the Gospel to be able to proclaim the Gospel with the preaching, which is realized through the ‘Word of Christ’ as St. Paul says(Rom.!0:17).Claret was well aware that he himself needed to be fully evangelized, impregnated with the Gospel, to be the word capable of actuating in the others as arrow, dissolvent reconstructing the Christian personality he had to incarnate in himself reading and meditating it assiduously in the heart, in such a way that his preaching, rooted in the Word could be a sort of overflowing of the Gospel, force of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16).
Something very important and transcendental in the life of Claret is his passion for the Holy Scriptures which made him assimilate and preach it and made him to propagate it. In this, in fact, he was a pioneer in his times. We can say that Fr. Claret is a man of one Book only and this Book is Bible. Therefore his whole spirituality is eminently biblical. His books and his sermons, his prayers and his own mystical experiences emanate from the Word of God source and goal in everything.
This explains his biblical apostolate, not so frequent in his times. He makes a carefully edited version of Vulgata, propagates the Gospel, recommends with insistence the reading of Bible to priests and lay people. He goes always in front with his example. Bible with a very small print never fails to be in his small luggage. In his resolutions and plans there never fails a time devoted to read various chapters from the Holy Scriptures to nourish his mind and the heart and to be a man not only evangelizer, but also fully evangelized. Biblical quotations abound in his books – sometimes literal and other times more or less explicit references. In all his books and booklets, beginning with the Autobiography there is a real biblical subtract rather difficult to find in the spiritual authors of his times.
Fr. Lobo says about Claret in his letter to Fr. Xifré on 22nd January 1880: ‘He never excused himself in reading daily two or three chapters from the Bible, and with this practice, with the exception of the psalms he succeeded to conclude happily every year. He preserved this custom right from his ordination to priesthood.’
2. How did Claret read the Holy Scriptures?
1.Assiduously ( perhaps not so much in the Jesuit novitiate since his Bible was removed immediately and given back only at his departure from Rome due to sickness – Aut 151)
2.Charismatically: from the perspective of his missionary vocation
3.In an ingenuous way: in a pure and simple search for the will of God.
4.Under the action of the Holy Spirit and with the attitude of humble docility to Him.
5.With Christ, in Christ and through Christ the Evangelizer of the Father.
6.Meditating on it continuously in the heart.
7.Assuming it as norm of evangelical life.
8.Assimilating it as continuous nourishment of spiritual ity and missionary life.
9.Using it for evangelization of the poor in his preaching and in his writings.
Fr. Casals speaks about his innate inclination, or better expressed his most noble passion for the Holy Scriptures (‘Devoción a la Sagrada Escritura’: Ilustración del Clero, 1934, 237). The Saint himself says: ‘I have always been very strongly attracted to the Holy Bible'(Aut 113). Speaking about the novitiate in Rome, he mentions the Bible ‘to which I was so attracted to'(Aut 151). He states that he used to read it daily from the days of his seminary where Bishop Corquera had instructed that the seminarians read three or four chapters daily from the Bible. Various times he says that he devotes himself to reading the Bible when he gives the account of his conscience to Fr. Xifré: ‘I read the Scripture'(Aut 637), or he makes the resolution to read it. ‘I will read the Holy Bible until time for meditation'(Aut 645). He affirms that he prefers it to the newspapers because he reads the truth in it (Aut 399). He used to carry with him a small Vulgate edition of small print. He used to carry in Rome a Bible of small print to read every day during the journey (Aut 151). Only during the novitiate the Bible was removed and returned only when he departed due to ailment (Aut 151). He read the Bible also using the best commentaries: Calmet, Cornelio Alápide, Tirino, etc.
3. He Recommends it Often in his Writings:
• To priests: the first place will be reserved to reading the Holy Bible. Every priest should insist every day in three things: Bible, Theology and Ascetical Theology and it should not be omitted except for a grave reason (Carta Pastoral al Clero, 1855, pp.23-24); ‘…without neglecting the reading of 2 chapters from the Holy Bible in the morning and two in the afternoon..'(Apuntes de un Plan, 1857, p.85). To the Seminarians: The students are to read the Holy Bible in Latin, 2 chapters in the morning and two in the afternoon, and with this distribution in every year they will read the whole Bible (Apuntes de un plan, pp.89-90). In ‘the well-instructed seminarian’, besides indicating the Bible as necessary material in the priestly carrier (vol.I, 1860, p.202) he indicates what the seminarian has to do every day: ‘Read also every day the Holy Scriptures starting with the Holy Gospels and Acts of the Apostles’ (ibid. p.345). During the retreat: read every day two chapters from the Holy Bible and from the ‘Imitation of Christ’ noted there (ibid.pp.358,361).
While speaking on the means to obtain the ecclesiastical spirit he says: the sixth means is the reading of the Holy Scriptures and books of piety’.(vol.II, 1861, p.274). While speaking about the way of conserving the ecclesiastical spirit he says: you will engage yourself in the study of the Holy Bible’ (vol.II, p.278). Speaking on the books which a good priest has to obtain for himself he indicates in the first place the ‘Sacred Bible (Biblia Sacra) of the Religious Library and various Commentaries: Lamy, Jansens, Wouters, Torres Amt, Scio, Trino, Cornelio Alápide, Dutripon y Duclot'(vol.II, p.388-399).
• To the Missionaries: The book every priest should have is the Bible. Every day he should read one chapter from the NT. In the missions: At 12 they will take meals reading a chapter from the Bible and another from Kempis (CC 1857, no.117). During meals they may read some part from the Holy Bible or Imitation of Christ if the circumstances permit (CC 1865, no.69). The missionary students: chapters from the Holy Bible can be added lo the spiritual reading according to the disposition of the superior'(CC appendix of 1862, no. 27; CC 1865 no.94).
• To the women: they should learn the psalms from the age of 7 years and later the Wisdom Books and the NT. Reaching the 701 year the girl child should learn by heart the Psalter, until! the age of puberty they should take care that the Books of Solomon, the Gospels, the Apostles and the Prophets become the treasure of their hearts(Mss. Claret X p. 714)- This quotation is taken from St. Jerome. To the Soldiers: He prepared a liliputan edition with four chapters for those who left for the Moroccan war: one from each Gospel (Advice given by a mother to his son at the time of farewell going to the war in Africa and the Holy Gospels, Barcelona, 1860).
• To the Members of St. Michael’s Academy: He imposed on them the obligation to read the Gospel: ‘Every day read a chapter from the Gospel'(Plan of St. Michael’s Academy). And he writes in their Rules: Every member will read every day or at least weekly a chapter from the Gospel according to St. Mathew, translated and with notes by the Archbishop of Cuba (Art.4, ibid. p. 28). Claret not only advised and ordered to read the Bible, but worked hard to propágate it: In 1856 he published ‘El Santo Evangelio según San Mateo’ with notes.
In 1862 he published the ‘Biblia Sacra Vulgata’ (Librería Religiosa, 894 pp.) and he gave copies to each seminary as a gift in 1863. He made arrangement that the Religious Bookshop publish the Bilingual Bible with the commentaries of Scio in 6 volumes and presented one copy of it to all priests in his diocese: ‘Every day you will read 4 chapters from the Holy Bible, two in the morning and two in the afternoon; and as we provide the Bible translated by Scio to all, the reading of the Holy Bible will occupy the first place’ (Carta Pastoral al Clero, 1855, p.23). The edition of Scio was published ¡n the years 1852-1853. There is no wonder that the writings of the Saint are filled with literal quotations from the Bible and references.
4. Scriptural quotes in the Autobiography:
• From OT: 3 from Genesis, 3 from Exodus, 1 from Numbers, 2 from III Book of Kings, 1 from Job, 16 from the Psalms, 1 from the Proverbs, 2 from Wisdom, 2 from Sirach, 13 from Isaiah, 1 from Jeremiah, 3 from Ezekiel, 1 from Joel, 1 from Sophonias.
• From NT: Mt: literally 14, alluding 18; Mark 4 and 2; Lk 9 and 3; John 10 and 16; Acts 9 and 0; Rom. 2 and 2; 1 Cor.3 and 3; Gal.l and 1; Eph.l and 2; Phil.3 and 1; I Thess.l and 0; 1 Tim.l and 1; 2 Tim.2 and 1; Tit.l and 0; Heb.2 and 1; James 2 and 1; IPet.O and 1; Un 2 and 1; Rev.2 and 0. Total: OT: 49; NT: 78 literal and 55 allusive = 133 quotations.
Since the autumn of 1830 Claret begins to perceive the call of God forcefully through the Holy Scriptures. Already before, the text Mt. 16:26 had taken him out of the tepidity in Barcelona: This phrase impressed me deeply.. It was like an arrow which went through my heart’ (Aut 68).
The Word of God uproots him from the world and gives him impetus to the prophetic-evangelizing mission every time with more insistence and clarity from 1831 to 1839. Different experiences provoked the emergence of his apostolic vocation and its later development and confirmation, among them, prayer, reading of the Lives of the Saints and spiritual readings; but the contact with the Bible was the determining factor. ‘What moved and stimulate me most was reading the Holy Bible, to which I have always been very strongly attracted. There were passages that impressed me so deeply that I seemed to hear a voice telling me the message I was reading’ (Aut 113). ‘In many passages of the Bible I felt the voice of God calling me to go forth and preach'(Aut 120). An extraordinary charismatic phenomenon is at play here. The force, insistence and persistence of the movements and his prophetic character give proof of this. The Saint applies the same expressions which he used to denote his mystical phenomena: 1 understood…, God gave me to understand…( Compare Aut 114-119 and 680-681, 687). During 9 years he went on receiving impulses and illuminations above all from the Bible. One could affirm that it was the Word of God which made out of Claret an Apostle of the Word.
5. The Word of God:
• pushed him to consecrate himself totally to the apostolate;
• made him foresee prophetically his ministry and the sufferings caused to him;
• made him see the efficacy and force which God was going to confer on his mission with His presence.
The Saint has left 3 lists of these texts of vocation partly coinciding and partly diverging: one in the Autobiographical Document IV: ‘This I understood as a student’ which might go back to 1831-1835. In his ‘Resumen of Life’ written in 1856; and in the Autobiography: nos. 114-119, written in 1861. The Saint says: ‘There were many such passages, but the following stand out’ (Aut 114). Globally taken we can divide them into 2 categories: prophetical and evangelical. But we are facing a surprise in two ways:
1. The texts from OT abound more than those of the NT.
2. In the Autobiography he has excluded the evangelical texts and this fact makes us know that the prophetic texts above all awakened in him the vocation.
We can say however, that he sees these texts not under the perspective of Old Testament or Jansenism but in a New Testament and Christological perspective. In fact, the principal text is Isaiah 61:1: ‘Spiritus Domini super me et evangelizare pauperibus misit me Dominus et sanare contritos corde’. God made him understand this text in a very particular way (Aut 118b). And this is the text which Christ is applying many times to himself to justify his mission (cf. Lk.4:18). Contemplating Christ, the Preacher, Claret saw himself invaded by the Holy Spirit like him sent to preach. Here he has felt himself personally involved in the mystery of the mission of Jesus. This word is for Claret ‘substantial word’ which has touched the most intimate fibres of his being and goal. The other texts make the modalities of his vocation clear: Is.41:9
• Gratuity of the vocation (Aut 114) Is 41:10
• Providence of God about his future in stock (Aut 115)
Is 41:11-13 – Enemies, persecutions and confirmation of the assistance of God (Aut 116)
Is41:16- Effects of his mission (Aut 117)
Is 41:17-18 – Recipients: mission directed to the needy and poor (Aut 118)
Ez. 3:17 – Mission of the Sentry (Aut 119)
Ez.3:18-19 – Obligation to announce the message(Aut 119)
Nevertheless, it seems strange that Claret has not indicated such important texts as he gave in the Doc.Autob. IV and in his ‘Resumen of his life’: ‘I have to be busy in my Father’s affairs’ (Lk.2:49) and ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head'(Lk 9:58). There exists besides another detail: Claret has identified himself more with the Prophets of the OT than with the Apostles themselves with the exception of St. Paul. Everything seems to indicate that Claret had the conscience of an extraordinary prophetic character as Prophet chosen by God in a crucial moment of the Church, to respond to determined historical circumstances and demands. Claret seems to feel as Prophet of OT and NT. Those of the OT anticipate: those of NT are discovered and realize themselves. But they coincide in the essential:
Extraordinary character of their vocation
• Conscience of speaking in the name of God
• Desire of interior purity
• Clairvoyance in judging the situation of the people and indicating the remedies
• Return to the sources: to simplicity and poverty
• Insistence in recording the primacy of love
• Invitation to the consecrated so that they may Uve their consecration
All these appear in Claret in a very significant way:
- 1.Extraordinary character of his vocation: not only for the mode of being called (through biblical lights and graces), but also for the extraordinary mission confided to him: regenerate the Church, to be Father of the Apostles.
- 2.Conscience of speaking in the name of God. He feels himself elected as instrument of salvation: arrow in the hands of God and Blessed Virgin (Aut 156, 270), minister of Mary (Aut 270); Donkey loaded with jewels, horn…. ‘ I am like a donkey loaded with jewels, like a stick in the hands of God, to whom it has pleased to make me a priest and missionary’ (Aguilar, F., Vida…p. 104). ‘Do you know what I think of myself: that I am the jawbone of the ass in the hands of Samson; God is Samson, 1 the jawbone’ (Letter of Luis Sauquer to Fr. Clotet, 11 Feb. 1880; HD I, p. 149). The numerous prophesies which were escaping to him speaking, preaching or even writing give witness to this prophetic spirit in the sense not so much of foreseeing the future: the earth quakes and cholera in Cuba, the facility with which he used to read the consciences of his penitents, etc.
- 3.Desire for interior purity: in himself can be seen through ascetical effort maintained all along his life; in others, through the expression on the sinners away from God as also the desire to conserve the beauty of the Church.
- 4.Clairvoyance in judging the situation of the people and in indicating opportune remedies: this remains clear in the study of the society in different parts and situations through which he passes in his life and in the apt application of apostolic, effective and modern means. He had clairvoyance also to see what God was asking from the Church of the future: the total apoliticisation of the clergy, the apostolate of the lay people, the necessity of the Councils, the creation of Secular Institutes, the more efficacious influence of the Blessed Virgin in the Church, return of clergy and religious to a tenor of more evangelical! life by means of an efficacious reform.
- 5.Return to the sources: to simplicity and poverty. This is precisely one of the fundamental preoccupations of Claret: Although being capable of leading a rich and luxurious life, he prefers to lead a simple and poor life to incredible extremes: clothing, footwear, journeys, accommodation etc.
- 6.Insistence in reminding the primacy of love: that is demonstrated in his insistence of speaking of love of God and fraternal charity, and in the apostolic zeal of the missionary.
- 7.Invitation to the Consecrated so that they may live their vocation: think about his life with the missionary community in Cuba, the norms given to the Congregation founded by him and his efforts to re-establish the common life in the cloistered convents of Andalusia, and restore the community life of the clergy with his ‘Rules of the Institute of Secular Clergy who live in community'(1B64). The vision of the Angel of the Apocalypse in 1855 and the prophetic intuitions of Mother París came to ratify this prophetic vocation of the Saint which partly found place in his ‘Notes of a Plan’ published in 1857.
In summary: through the lights and graces received from the Spirit in the reading of the Bible, Claret grasped the overall meaning, depth and breadth of his missionary vocation in the contemplation of Christ, the Evangelizer, the Son anointed and sent, incarnate of the Virgin Mary, offered to the salvific will of the Father, Servant destined to proclaim the Good News to the poor with the preaching, testimony of his own life and suffering. Claret sees himself in the Une of the Prophets, Apostles and great Missionaries as prophet of modern times, raised by God to be apostle, evangelizer and father of apostles.
6. Grace of a Mild Light Enlightening All: The Vision of the ‘Casa Tortadés’
It is a kind of Tabor experience which confirms him in his vocation. There exists a surprising parallelism between the experiences of his youth in Barcelona and this vision. In those ‘the natural world’ revealed itself to him and in this vision ‘the supernatural world’ reveals itself to him. Here there is a woman but is not seductive or tempting (‘She is a warm and yet she doesn’t give you any evil thoughts; on the contrary, she has taken them all away from you’ Aut 96), but just the opposite: protective and saving. Here he meets friends who do not deceive (Saints: one is St. Stephen) but protect; there the waves conquered by Mary; and here a group of demons conquered also by her.
As the messianic vocation of Jesus was submitted to the temptation of the evil one, also that of Claret is sifted through the demon who wanted to burn it still as a blossom. But a glorious supernatural intervention prevents it.
The vision of the House of Tortadés (Aut 95-98) which should have occurred in February 1831: It deals with a decisive moment of clarification and strengthening of vocation, not only for having been confirmed in chastity (Auto 98) but due to apostolic significance which it contained (Lozano, Mystic and Man of Action, pp.73-81).
It is the second temptation against this virtue. The first one at least theoretically should have been stronger (Aut 72) because: he had the object (wife of his companion) right in front of him; for being a young man and less defended and more vulnerable as he was in a state of tepidity. This temptation should have been more violent because the devil caused it to get him away from his vocation The temptation -Claret himself says- was terrible (Aut 95); in fact all natural and supernatural means failed. He overcame that of Barcelona by invoking the Blessed Virgin; but this not at all, al least in the beginning.
Reality of the Phenomenon
The Saint himself tries to affirm that it was not dealing with a dream or an illusion and gives three reasons:
1. He was well awake. ‘I am quite sure that I was neither asleep..'(Aut 98)
2. He was well clear in his senses. ‘..nor suffering from dizziness or anything else that could have caused a state of illusion'(Aut 98)
3. He perceives the effects of the vision well. ‘I felt free of the temptation'(Aut 97).
‘….from that moment on I was free from temptation against chastity. If later there have been any such temptations, they have been so insignificant that they hardly deserve to be called temptations’. (Aut 98).
‘The temptation disappeared completely and he was no more affected by temptation against chastity; and the veracity of this good effect was given him to understand by the ‘truth of the cause which was not an illusion’ (Doc. Aut.VIII; EA p. 427).
Another effect was the joy: ‘filled with joy so deep that I couldn’t grasp what had been going on within me’ (Aut 97). The visión disappeared and the young man stayed so consoled and he was filled with so much joy… (Doc.Aut.I: EA p.410). ‘Thus the vision and temptation concluded, and the student stayed very joyful and animated’ (Doc.Autob. II EA, p.414).
Supernatural Character of the Phenomenon
The extraordinary character could be stated:
1. Through the way of insinuating, motive without being given;
2. Through the intensity, where the ordinary means of resistance could suffice;
3. Through the way of overcoming it: the Virgin overcomes it in him;
4. Due to the results: joy, confirmation in chastity;
5. For the presence of the demons, Saints and the Bl.Virgin.
Importance of the Phenomenon
It deals with the typical initial vision as the prophets, apostles, saints had to be collocated in their way and give them the spiritual physionomy.
a) For Claret: he gave it much importance, because he relates it four times in his writings:
• in the ‘Resumen of his Life’: 1856(Doc.Autob.VllI: EA, p.427) in a very short summarized way.
• In 1856 in ‘Origin of Trisagion'(Vic 1856, example for the 7th day) and with small changes in ‘Method of Evangelizing’ (Santiago de Cuba 1857, pp.63-67 reproduced in Doc.Autob.I, EA pp.408-411).
• In 1861 in the Autobiography, with few changes with regard to the example published in 1856 and 1857: here in the first person, there in the third person. In the Autob. He relates it with less details: colour, dimensions etc.
• Towards 1865 in third person to preach about it in sermons of retreats. He gives many details and already interprets the vision of the Saints and demons in apostolic key. (Mss. Claret II, pp.227-230: Doc.Autob.II: EA pp.411-414).
We know that he preached about it in Escorial to the seminarians, always in the 3rd person. It is hinted in one of the outlines of the spiritual exercises on chastity: ‘My example. Blessed Virgin appeared’ (Mss.Claret X, p.469). Testimony of José Fernandez Montana (PIM sess.4)
Testimony of Antonio Barjau: ‘The Servant of God had preached many times about this happening and I myself heard him and in spite of his preaching about it in the third person, commonly the listeners attributed it to him ‘(PIV, session 33; cf. PAV.session 15,18,48, 118, 126, 128, 131). Also Francisco de Asis Aguilar writes about it: “The face of Father Claret got enlivened gradually as he was referring to this event; his eyes seemed to search or contemplate still the Blessed Virgin; his voice was moved, and one could notice something extraordinary in him. We who were close to the preacher saw the firmness with which he was speaking, the vividness with which he was describing the pain of the adolescent and his efforts to resist the temptation and the joy in seeing the Bl.Virgin made us all believe that the adolescent was none else than himself although he would be silent about it due to humility. We shared about our sentiments with one another as we came out of the chapel”. (Vida… p. 29)
It is to be taken into account that the times he narrates this incident he does it almost identically, with small changes not affecting the substantial content.
b). The Phenomenon in itself
It doesn’t seem that Claret would have given an apostolic interpretation to the event, at least until his ordination to the deaconate, when already 3 years have passed. And probably he never took time to analyse its meaning. Perhaps he thought that it was a reward for his Marian devotion of the infancy and those first years of seminarian. One has to understand this grace naturally as a passive purification of his entire sensuality and affectivity.
But it is much more:
Here the filial nature of his devotion to the Blessed Virgin appears: Spiritual infancy: ‘.. .I saw myself as a beautiful white child kneeling with hands joined'(Aut 96). ‘I saw myself crowned with roses in the person of that little child'(ibid.) This evoked his devotion which he had in his infancy to the Mother of God. Claret would maintain this filial attitude during his whole life. AS a youth he proposes ‘to read and study the life of St. John the Evangelist and imitate him. He saw to this effect that this son of Mary, given by Jesus from the cross, had distinguished himself because of his virtues, but singularly due to his humility, purity and charity, and thus this young student was also practising them'(Doc.Autob.II: EA p.413). The attributes he uses the most while speaking of the Blessed Virgin from the beginning of the Autob. Until the last Resolutions of his life is that of Mary, my sweet Mother. But the most important fact is that his concept of Marian filiation is born from this vision in an apostolic key considering the evangelization as collaboration of the evangelizer in the fight of the Virgin against Satan and his descendence. Precisely in this period his apostolic vocation had started to be revealed through the reading of the Holy Scriptures.
God grants permission to the demons to test the solidity of Claret’s vocation. His vocation is confirmed in the fight. The future of the apostle and all his apostolic undertakings of evangelization are placed at risk. Yielded to the temptation would have meant failure for the work of God taking root in him. But the Bl.Virgin intervened in him to save him from sin, save his vocation, to make it emerge with force and confirm it in a definitive form. The grace of confirmation in chastity has an evident vocational intention. It need not be explained just as a reward, but as a preparation. Liberating him from intimate fights the Lord put him in disposition of consecrating himself with all
his psychological energies to his apostolic vocation(Lozano, Mystic..p.77).
‘The liberation from the temptations against chastity gave him a great freedom of spirit for the apostolate. The perfect purity which the Immaculate just gave him would provide an expansion and a generosity and unlimited fecundity to his zeal'(EA pp.411-412)- From this experience comes out the Claretian concept of apostolate as collaboration in the fight of the Blessed Virgin against Satan and his descendants. And the vision itself is a fight which reflects the vision of the Song of Songs as seen by Lozano: ‘Who is this coming like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the Sun, majestic as bannered troops'(Song of Songs 6. 10 – cf. Lozano, Mystic.p. 75).
Claret saw in this vision besides the Bl. Virgin and the child kneeling ‘a group of Saints’ in prayer., among them St. Stephen, and ‘a great crowd of demons in battle array, like soldiers who fall back and close ranks after a battle’ (Aut 97). The last words of the narration are shouts of triumph through the realized battle: ‘Glory to Mary, Victory through Mary'(Aut 9g).
7. Grace of Clear and Distinct Vocational Enlightenment: At the Ordination to Deaconate
Claret was ordained to deaconate on 20th December 1834. And it was a day of vocational revelation. It was on this occasion that he understood the full meaning of the supernatural intervention of the Bl. Virgin in the house of Tortadés: ‘At the ordination the Bishop read those words of St. Paul in the Pontifical: ‘For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the Sovereignties and Powers who originate the darkness in this world..’ At that moment the Lord made me understand clearly the meaning of the demons I saw during the temptation…’ (Aut 101).
It is to be noted that he speaks of ‘clear understanding’. Not only the enemies were revealed to him but also the tactic to overcome them. It was granted to him to experiment in himself the plan of divine mercy to defeat the serpent through the Woman: destroy the power of the demon and his followers through the Immaculate and her descendents. Mary enters in his vocation not only as Mother who forms him, but also as force of the powerful and omnipotent arm who lets out like an arrow drawn against the enemies of God (EA.p.411).
The entire apostolate of Claret will be developed under this spirit of combat, fight and war against the enemies of God. Some significant events:
• The atmosphere of war, already in his infancy, against the French, and later the Civil War above all in the Catalan period and at the end ‘the Matines’.
• The temptation at Vic: Mary Victorious and the demons like soldiers who withdraw
• The ordination to deaconate: Our fight is not against…. :’
• The apostles described in the key of persecution and war (Aut 223 ff.)
• The ‘Long Live’ and ‘death’ cries before the Missions (Aut 269).
• The biblical vocational texts which speak about persecutions.
• The prayers he wrote during the novitiate in Rome (Aut 154-156; 157-164)
• The prayer he used to recite before starting the mission (Aut 270-272) and the exorcism he used to practise (Aut 273).
Fr. Lozano (Mystic..p.78f.) saw the relation existing between the narration of the temptation – vision of Vic and the enlightenment of the ordination to deaconate on one hand and the prayer he used to recite before the mission, on the other: Texts of the Prayer Elements of the Prayer-Enlightenment
I am ‘Son’ and your minister formed by you
Against ‘Satan’, Prince of this world, Who has made an alliance with the flesh
May the ‘Victory’ be yours; you shall overcome… Crush the pride of Satan
You areQueen of the ‘Saints’. Command them To pray for me
I begin to do battle, not only against ‘flesh and Blood’, but against ‘rulers of darkness’, as The Apostle says
I saw myself as a ‘ child’ white and very Beautiful kneeling
Aut 95, 97
I saw a crowd of ‘demons’. I felt a terrible temptation
Victory through Mary! A special grace from Mary
I sawabafld of ‘Saints’… in an attitude of. Prayer.. praying and interceding for me
At the ordination the Bishop read those words: Our battle is ‘not only against flesh and blood,. But against Principalities and Powers, against the powers of darkness..’ The Lord made me Understand clearly the meaning of demons I Saw during the temptation
In both we find the text of Eph. 6:12: ‘Our battle is not against…. ‘ and other coincidences: Satan made an alliance with the Flesh, Victory through Mary, intercession of the Saints, battle against the princes of darkness and Marian sonship.
The light received in the ordination to deaconate is very important from the vocational point of view, since he comes to reflect on the vision of Vic and lights and graces received in the prophetic texts which impressed him so much. It is the moment of the apostolic investiture at the time of receiving the Gospel as weapon of battle: the double-edged Word which wounded himself and enlightened also and was destined to pierce through the heart of the sinners. Claret remains anointed by the Holy Spirit, with the imposition of the hands and is sent against the evil spirit. He remains thus incorporated to the descendents of the Virgin to whom he would entrust himself as son and priest (Resolutions 1843 – EA p. 523) so that she may send him as apostle (Aut 160-161) and send with all force of the arm as arrow placed in her powerful hand (Aut 270).
He grasped the meaning of the vision at the House Tortadés during the ordination ceremony to deaconate. In this liturgical act he will understand that he should be like St. Stephen: – man ‘full of grace and power'(Acts 6:8) ‘full of Holy Spirit’ (Acts 7:55).
He should be like him also man of the Word, in such a way that those of the Synagogue could not resist the wisdom and the spirit with which he was speaking (Acts 6:10). Claret receives the unction of the Spirit in the ordination with the laying of hands, and from the Bishop he receives the Gospel: the Word he has to proclaim without fear, as witness and messenger of truth, guarantee of presence and of the power which God himself will give to his voice.
8. Apostolic Imapact
Fight boldly against the powers of the evil, against the soldiers who fall back and close ranks again after a battle (Aut 97), fighting and winning with Mary: Victory through Mary (Aut 98).
9. General Decision
Dedicate himself for the salvation of the neighbour: ‘Ever since I lost the desire to become a Carthusian… I not only thought about becoming holy myself, but I was continuously trying to imagine what I could do to save the souls of my neighbours’ (Aut 113).
10. Formative Parenthesis
Now formation for mission is still lacking to him after the priestly ordination (13 June 1835). His stay at Sallent serves him to continue his formation., studying the years of career until he finishes them and doing as a missionary the charge which was entrusted to him as assistant pastor and administrator of Sallent. Obligation to finish the studies was the only factor which was braking his missionary longings His plan of life and action is clearly missionary.
Characteristics of this period: passing from ‘homo faber’ to ‘homo apostolicus’, flight from the world, self-denial, fertile earth, Word of God, call, consecration and sending to evangelize the poor, future mission as apostolic fight.