the spirit of st. anthony claret

in my spiritual life as a claretian missionary, i am always renewed in faith by st anthony claret’s example and experience of God. there are three aspects– the Word, the eucharist, and mary– of st. anthony’s life that i would like to share leading up to his feast day on october 24th.

Servants of the Word

“The love of Christ impels us” was st anthony’s motto as the bishop of santiago, cuba. Jesus’ love is our foundation and motivation. the power and presence of Christ was at the center of st anthony’s spirituality. this love exists to be shared and the key was in luke 4: 18ff:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

the mission of Jesus was st anthony’s mission. therefore, we claretians are servants of the Word. we cannot do this mission without the wisdom and courage that comes as gift from the Spirit. who are our brothers and sister who are poor? who is being held captive today? where is there blindness in our world? who is being oppressed? the spirit of st anthony calls us to respond as jesus did. the love of Christ urges us forward with the good news to those in need and the Spirit enables us to share the love of God in ways that are urgent, timely and effective. st anthony was a missionary and desired to spread the love of Christ to all– we are to go and do likewise.

centered on the eucharist

the power of Christ in the eucharist was manifested in st anthony’s life in many ways. it culminated in a unique grace through this spiritual encounter:

“On August 26, 1861, finding myself at prayer in the church of the Holy Rosary, at La Granja, at seven o’clock in the evening, the Lord granted me the grace of conserving the Sacramental Species within my heart.” (therefore) “I now bear within me day and night the adorable Eucharist. I must therefore be always recollected and cultivate the interior life…”(it was confirmed by) “Afterward, while I was saying Mass, Jesus Christ told me that He had indeed granted me this grace. . . .”

st anthony became a type of “human tabernacle of Christ.” the real presence of Christ was in his always in his heart. isn’t this communion in its ideal? isn’t this eucharist at its best? we become one with Christ; we become more like Christ in our lives and actions. this spiritual, eucharistic grace of st anthony indeed shows us that he is a saint. not primarily because of the unique miracle of Christ’s presence within him. but because of a life well lived sharing the real presence of Christ outwardly shown in this grace.

marian flavored

st anthony did not name us after himself but named our congregation “the missionary sons of the immaculate heart of the blessed virgin mary.” mary’s heart, as seen in the scriptures, helps us treasure jesus. mary’s heart is wounded in love as symbolized by the sword that pierces it. as described in st anthony’s autobiography # 342, we are shaped like white hot iron in the forge by hammer blows on an anvil. the fire of love for jesus and mary is given as gift: mary places the child jesus into our arms to love.

these spiritual highlights of Word, eucharist and mary culminate with the ideal of a claretian missionary. st anthony says,

“For a Son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a man on fire with love, who spreads its flames wherever he goes. He desires mightily and strives by all means possible to set the whole world on fire with God’s love. Nothing daunts him; he delights in privations, welcomes work, embraces sacrifices, smiles at slander, and rejoices in suffering. His only concern is how he can best follow Jesus Christ and imitate Him in working, suffering, and striving constantly and single-mindedly for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls.”

if someone asked you what you would want written on your tombstone, how would you respond? st anthony claret requested these words on his grave marker, “I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile.” there is a lot more to st anthony’s life than a concise phrase on his tombstone. these three aspects– Word, eucharist and mary– of the spirituality of st anthony brought him to strive for justice-love and stand actively against evil. but the cost is rejection in this world. for st anthony, it was a humiliating exile as part of his calvary. what is mine? what is yours?

Lord, through the intercession of st anthony claret, may we have the courage and wisdom to do your will as we share our gifts in love in the mission of jesus today. may the eucharist make our hearts one with yours and may we have the heart of mary to be compassionate and kind to all we will encounter this day. amen

a good summary of st anthony’s life is here:

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