Weekly Reflection - 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 21, 2018

St. Anthony Mary Claret

The words of the Gospel kept resounding in St. Anthony Mary Claret’s heart: “What good is it for man to win the world if he loses his soul?” Anthony decided to enter the local diocesan seminary in the city of Vic at the age of 21. The town soon became too small for his missionary zeal, and the political situation—which was hostile to the Church—limited his apostolic activity.

Back in a parish of Catalonia, Claret began preaching popular missions all over. He traveled on foot, attracting large crowds with his sermons. Some days he preached up to seven sermons in a day and spent ten hours listening to confessions. He dedicated all his apostolic efforts to Mary.

The secret of his missionary success was LOVE. In his words: “Love is the most necessary of all virtues. Love in the person who preaches the word of God is like fire in a musket. If a person were to throw a bullet with his hands, he would hardly make a dent in anything; but if the person takes the same bullet and ignites some gunpowder behind it, it can kill. It is much the same with the word of God. If it is spoken by someone who is filled with the fire of charity—the fire of love of God and neighbor—it will work wonders.”

His popularity spread; people sought him for spiritual and physical healing. Aware of the power of the press, in 1847, he organized a Religious Press with other priests. Claret began writing books and pamphlets, making the message of God accessible to all social groups. The increasing political restlessness in Spain continued to endanger his life and curtail his apostolic activities. He left Spain to preach in the Canary Islands, where he spent 14 months. He returned to Spain to begin the organization of an order of missionaries to share in his work, today known as Claretian Fathers and Brothers. Days later, he received a new assignment: he was named Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba. Among his great initiatives there were trade or vocational schools for disadvantaged children and credit unions for the use of the poor. He wrote books about rural spirituality and agricultural methods, which he himself tested first. He visited jails and hospitals, defended the oppressed and denounced racism. He began to experience persecution, so that when preaching in the city of Holguín, a man stabbed him on the cheek in an attempt to kill him. During his 6 years in Cuba he visited his extensive Archdiocese three times and records show he confirmed 100,000 people and performed 9,000 sacramental marriages. Claret was called back to Spain in 1857 to serve as confessor to the Queen of Spain, Isabella II, for eleven years. He had a natural dislike for aristocratic life. He loved poverty and the simplest lifestyle. He accepted in obedience, but requested to be allowed to continue some missionary work.

In France, Claret joined his missionaries who were in exile. There he died on October 24, 1870 at the age of 62. As his last request, he dictated to his missionaries the words that appear on his tombstone: “I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile.” His remains are venerated in Vic. Claret was canonized in 1950 by Pope St. Paul VI.    

—Condensed from Claretian Missionaries of UK and Ireland, http://claret.org.uk
























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