Saturday, October 24, 2015

Saint of the day: Anthony Mary Claret

The following comes from St. Patrick's Church:

Today we remember St. Anthony Mary Caret. Born in Sallent, Spain, December 23, 1807; died in Narbonne, France, October 24, 1870; canonized 1950.

"When I see the need there is for divine teaching and how hungry people are to hear it, I am atremble to be off and running throughout the world, preaching the Word of God. I have no rest. My soul finds no other relief than to rush about and preach."

"If God's Word is spoken by a priest who is filled with the fire of charity--the fire of love of God and neighbor--it will wound vices, kill sins, convert sinners, and work wonders."

"When I am before the Blessed Sacrament I feel such a lively faith that I cannot describe it. Christ in the Eucharist is almost tangible to me. . . . When it is time for me to leave, I have to tear myself away from His sacred presence."

--St. Antony Claret

As the son of a weaver, Antony became a weaver himself and in his free time he learned Latin and printing. At the age of 22 he entered the seminary at Vich, Catalonia, Spain, and was ordained in 1835. After a few years he began to entertain the idea of a Barthusian vocation but it seemed beyond his strength, so he travelled to Rome to join the Jesuits with the idea of becoming a foreign missionary. Ill health, however, caused him to leave the Jesuit novitiate and he returned to pastoral work at Sallent in 1837. He spent the next decade preaching parochial missions and retreats throughout Catalonia. During this time he helped Blessed Joachima de Mas to establish the Carmelites of Charity.

He went to the Canary Islands and after 15 months there (1848-49) with Bishop Codina, Anthony returned to Vich. His evangelical zeal inspired other priests to join in the same work, so in 1849 he founded the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (the Claretians), dedicated to preaching missions. The Claretians have spread far beyond Spain to the Americas and beyond.

In 1850, Queen Isabella II, appointed him archbishop of Santiago, Cuba. The people of this diocese were in a shocking state, and Claret made bitter enemies in his efforts to reform the see--some of whom made threats on his life. In fact, he was wounded in an assassination attempt against his life at Holguin in 1856, by a man angered that his mistress was won back to an honest life.

At the request of Queen Isabella, he returned to Spain in 1857 to become her confessor. He resigned his Cuban see in 1858, but spent as little time at the court as his official duties required. Throughout this period he was also deeply occupied with the missionary activities of his congregation and with the diffusion of good literature, especially in his native Catalan. He was also appointed rector of the Escorial, where he established a science laboratory, a natural history museum, and schools of music and languages. He also founded a religious library in Barcelona.

He followed Isabella to France when a revolution drove her from the throne in 1868. He attended Vatican Council I (1869-70) where he influenced the definition of papal infallibility. An attempt was made to lure him back to Spain, but it failed. Antony retired to Prades, France, but was forced to flee to a Cistercian monastery at Fontfroide near Narbonne when the Spanish ambassador demanded his arrest.

Anthony Claret was a leading figure in the revival of Catholicism in Spain, preached over 25,000 sermons, and published some 144 books and pamphlets during his lifetime. His continual union with God was rewarded by many supernatural graces. He was reputed to have performed miraculous cures and to have had gifts of prophecy. Both in Cuba and in Spain he encountered the hostility of the Spanish anti-clerical politicians.

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