SEVENTH PHASE (1850 – 1857)
Pastoral Dimension : Missionary Pastor or Pastoral Missionary
P. Jesús Bermejo
- Special Grace
Claret receives a special grace the content of which we are not aware of, but is in connection with his pastoral mission, as he is doing mission in Gerona in April 1850: ‘During those days God our Lord made me understand some very special things for his greater glory and the good of souls.’ (Aut 498)
2. Apostolic Reaction
Make immediately a plan of pastoral action in Vic in Sept. 1850 which has the title: ‘Synoptic Plan of the duties of a good Prelate’ (copied by Fr. Clotet in his work: Vida edificante.., Rome, pp.261-69).
3. Pastoral Preparation
• Episcopal Consecration (Aut 499)
• Recruitment of missionaries for Cuba (Aut 502)
4. Operative Decision
Regenerate and re-christianize the island of Cuba using all possible means, both spiritual and social (Aut 510-572).
5. Crisis (Of identity?)
A crisis is caused by:
• the difficult situation of cult and clergy
• the numerous persecutions directed against him and his missionaries from the part of the civil and military authorities (Aut 518-520)
• by the unjust laws regarding the mixed marriages
6. Desire to Resign
The desire for resignation from the bishopric is there especially in the first years 1853 and 1854 (see his Resolutions for 1854, EA, p. 540). In his letter to Nuncio Brunelli, 20th April 1853 he urges him to support his resignation before the Holy Father and adds: ‘I was planning to write to His Holiness and the Queen to be able to resign and retire to my College of Catatonia, or to the Society of Jesus, if they accept me, because I am tired of being an Archbishop and I have already fulfilled my mission in
this Island.’ (Cartas selectas, p. 192) How to interpret this attitude?
‘With this mysterious phrase he doesn’t seem to indicate the intention of joining the Jesuits as his episcopal character would prevent it, but rather – in case his resignation is accepted – the desire to remain as a guest in the College of the Jesuits at La Habana with the aim of evangelizing the rest of the Island.’ (Cartas selectas, p. 192, note)
7. Reactive Decision
Continue fighting titanically to remove the obstacles which are placed against his pastoral action (already indicated such as: situation of Clergy and cult, concubinages provoked by the unjust laws etc.) above all by means of large and detailed expositions to the General Captain of Cuba, to the Queen, to the Ministers etc. (see Vol.I of Ep.Claretiano).
8. Characteristics of this Phase
Plan of life as missionary pastor (Reading of Scriptures, Lives of Saints, spiritual reading, prayer, celebration of the liturgy, examen, resolutions, etc.), attention to the evangelization, good of the diocese, to the clergy and people, social promotion).
EIGHTH PHASE (1855 – 1860)
Ecclesial Dimension: Fight for the Body of Christ Which is His Church
1. Special Graces
• The definition by Pius IX of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception (8 Dec.1854). Claret sees in it a confirmation of his idea of the apostolate as fight against the forces of evil, trampling the head of the serpent with Mary and like her ( cf. Pastoral Letter on the Immaculate: EE 435-485)
• The vision of the Angel of the Apocalypse (2nd and 23″1 Sept. 1855 EA pp.430, 646)
• The wounding at Holguin (1 Feb. 1856) (Aut 573-584); the Powers of Evil let loose at Claret.
2. Apostolic Reaction and Operative Decision
Continue fighting with the sword of the Word of God ‘to conserve the beauty of the Church and to preserve it from errors and vices’ contrary to truth and charity so that the Spouse of Christ be holy and immaculate without stain or wrinkles (cf. Eph.5:27).
The problem of the Church was not so much to keep the Pontifical States; but above all the conservation of the beauty of faith and revitalization confronted with the grave problem of unbelief.
3. Profound Crisis
Owing to the wounding at Holguin, a physical as well as psychological crisis is produced. His state of mind, crushed and undecided can be noticed from the correspondence of this period.
4. New Crisis (of Identity?)
His appointment for the office of the Confessor to the Queen (5 June 1857) which prevents him to give nourishment to his dominating passion: unceasing missioning and preaching (Aut 620-624).
• The publication of the book ‘Notes of a Plan to conserve the beauty of the Church and preserve it from Errors and Vices'(Madrid 1857). It deals with a plan of pastoral action at ecclesial level directed to the Bishops, but with the desire and intention of bringing to completion a profound renewal ‘in capite et in membris’ (in the head and members).
• The founding of the Academy of St. Michael (Aut 581-582) to ‘re-baptize the culture’ with three fundamentally lay hierarchies: writers, artists and propagandists.
• The creation of popular and parish libraries (1864). In the booklet he says with profound prophetic intuition: ‘In these last times it seems that God wants the lay people to have a greater role in the salvation of souls.’ Promotion of laity – promotion of women: their dignity, role in the family and parish apostolate.
6. Any Amount of Persecutions
It is happening above all in Madrid, to such an extent that he comes to write: ‘all heü has conspired against me’ (Aut 689).
7. Humble and Trusting Acceptance of the Will of God
• Continuing in the office of the confessor to the Queen for two reasons:
Thus he is advised, being told to him that this would be the will of God.
From the position of this office, he would be able to do great good for the Church at large.
But the Saint doesn’t give himself rest: at the same time he tries to continue with carrying on with his mission heaping up his desires for evangelization as Apostolic Missionary. The numbers of the Autob. 620-624 reflect this attitude quite well: ‘centrifugal and centripetal forces: …. The balance of these two forces holds them in their orbits. …. this will of God is the centripetal force that keeps me chained here like a dog on his leash.’ (Aut 623)
• With a detached and poor style of life (Aut 623-636).
• Intervening, with the Nuncio Lorenzo Barili, in the appointment of Bishops (Aut 630).
• Making use of all the opportunities which are offered for visioning, not only in Madrid, but also in his journey with the Queen through different regions of Spain.
• Writing books, booklets, leaflets etc. (Aut 637-640)
• Working in the reform and restoration of the Church. He sends Fr. Paladio Currius to Rome with a volume of his manuscript ‘Mi Libro’ which contained a plan of Reform of the Church to present it to Pope Pius IX. The family circle of Claret, above all Dionisio González and Paladio Currius came to believe (and seemingly they were convinced of it) that the Saint was predestined to be the Successor of Pius IX and finish from the top the reform of the Church committing the entire People of God to the primitive poverty, simplicity and evangelizing capacity. Conceited idealism or true apostolic ardour or burning love for the Church?
8. Characteristics of this stage:
Generous dedication in favour of the Church, active collaboration in the reform of the Church ‘in capite et in membris’; prophetic initiatives about the active apostolate of the laity in the Church.