1869. In exile in Paris, the local archbishop appreciates Claret very much and has granted him all his faculties; therefore, he has several apostolic projects.
CONSTITUTION OF THE INSTITUTE (1858-1870)THE DEATH OF THE FOUNDER
Father Claret arrived at the house in Prades on July 23, 1870, after the suspension of the First Vatican Council. This must have been an oasis of peace and joy in the midst of his sufferings. He saw prophetically how the Congregation would slowly spread throughout the world, but soon, on August 6th, he had to secretly leave his brothers due to the persecution and take refuge in the Cistercian monastery of Fontfroide, near Narbonne. He sensed that his death was already near. After several days of great uncertainty and slow and painful agony, he gave his soul in that monastery on October 24, 1870, at 8:45 in the morning. He could not even be buried in the church because of the French government’s prohibition. Providentially Claret was the first to die after the definitive approval of the Institute with the official votes cast and after having made the profession himself on October 8th. On his grave, now empty, it still reads: I loved justice and hated iniquity; for this I die in exile.
ATTACK IN HOLGUIN
On February 1, 1856, in the city of Holguin (Cuba), Saint Anthony Mary Claret was the victim of a failed attempt on his life. His pastoral visit to the area began that day. Although the attack was perpetrated by only one person, the investigations determined that it was a conspiracy to end his life. The experience of Holguin was the consequence of a life dedicated to following Christ, full of apostolic zeal, so that God would be known, loved and served by all creatures. Zeal for the Father’s house consumed Claret, persecuted for the cause of the Son, including even the razor of Holguin. After this, his blood having been shed, like a seal on the truths of the Gospel that he preached, made him grow in fidelity in the midst of persecutions and slanders that, as he himself said, would sculpt, carve, chisel, forge… his charismatic figure, capable of rejoicing in the torments of each day, for the glory of God and salvation of all men.
During those first three years in Barcelona, the fervor that I had had at home began to cool. True, I received the sacraments frequently during the year. I attended Mass on all feasts and holy days of obligation and daily prayed the rosary to Mary Most Holy and kept up my other devotions, but with none of my former fervor. My only goal and all my anxieties were about manufacturing. I can’t overstate it – my obsession approached delirium… (Aut 66)
Toward the end of my third year in Barcelona, obsessed as I was, whenever I was at Mass on holy days, I experienced the greatest difficulty in overcoming the thoughts that came to me. It is true that I loved to think and dwell on my projects… My efforts seemed useless, like trying to bring a swiftly rotating wheel to a sudden stop. I was tormented during Mass with new ideas, discoveries, etc. There seemed to be more machines in my head than saints on the altar. (Aut 67)
FOR PERSONAL REFLECTION
- Have you experienced some periods of spiritual dryness throughout your life?
- What are your main distractions when you meditate?
- What are the resources you usually use to overcome inner distraction?
- Share with a friend what you are most passionate about, what attracts you, what you care for most and what you neglect the most.
(St. John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle, XII.7)