1858. Claret preaches to an association of men in the crypt of the Church of San Gines (Madrid).
1860. Like every Sunday of Lent, Claret directs an event on Christian doctrine: recitation, exposition, and response to objections, in the church of Montserrat (Madrid).
EARLY EXPANSION (1870-1899)THE FIRST FOUNDATION IN PORTUGAL
One of the houses in Spain allotted to the Province of Castilla was Ciudad Rodrigo (Salamanca), and from the pastoral work there arose the idea of founding in Portugal, specifically in Aldeia da Ponte, a small town near the Spanish border. The foundation became effective in May of 1898 by Fr. Xifre’s decision, although the first inhabitants were accompanied by the Provincial Superior, Fr. Isaac Burgos. Despite the difficulty of the language, the missionaries knew how to adapt to the new reality, soon extending their activity to a large area of the country until the political situation, starting in 1901, plunged the community into great tribulations.
Fr. Julian Butron arrived in June of 1900 at Aldeia da Ponte. The second mission he gave was in Vila Cha de Cangueiros. It was February 24, 1901. On March 3rd pleurisy ended his young life; he was 27 years old. He soon began to be venerated as a saint throughout the region, his grave being a place of pilgrimage.
SAINT PAULA MONTALFoundress (1799-1889)
Arenys de Mar (Barcelona, Spain). She was born into a simple family of artisans. It was a large and very Christian family. She spent her childhood and youth in her hometown, working since she was 10 years old and actively collaborating in the parish catechetical ministry with girls and young women. In 1829, at the age of 30, she founded the Congregation of the Daughters of Mary, Sisters of the Pious Schools, opening a school for girls in Figueras (Girona). Another seven personal foundations followed the Figueras school. She died in Olesa de Montserrat (Barcelona), on February 26, 1889. Although there is no evidence that Father Claret had a personal relationship with the foundress, despite being Catalan, there is evidence of the influence he had, during the life of the foundress, in the convent of Santa Isabel in Madrid, where Father Claret led Spiritual Exercises for the religious sisters all the years that he resided in the Hospital of Montserrat in the Plaza Anton Martin.
Imitation of Jesus Christ in Poverty
Since my voyage to Rome was not intended as a pleasure trip but one in which to work and suffer for Jesus Christ, I felt that I ought to look for the humblest and poorest place aboard so as to have a better chance of suffering. With this in mind, I bought a ticket for standing-room on the deck near the bow, which was the poorest and cheapest passage. After I had gone off by myself to say my rosary and other devotions, I looked for a place where I could rest a bit and could find nothing more suitable than a pile of coiled rope, which I sat on, resting my head on an artillery piece in the battery on one side of the ship. (Aut 130)
Thus I passed the whole night until the dawn came and with it rain that stilled the tempest. First I had been drenched with seawater and now I was being drenched with sweet rain-water. My entire luggage consisted of a shirt, a pair of socks, a handkerchief, a folding razor, a comb, my breviary, and a very small edition of the Bible… (Aut 132)
FOR PERSONAL REFLECTION
- How do you live your evangelical poverty?
- Does your simple and austere life express your trust in God’s Providence?
- What do you carry in your “bundle” on missionary trips?
“He emptied himself” “He humbled himself” “Taking the form of a slave” …
- Does this existential attitude shape who you are and what you do as a missionary?
his passion for the Kingdom – the great project of the Father—
and his compassion for humanity.”
(Josep M. Abella Batlle, Witnesses and Messengers of the God of Life, 7)