“A son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a man who is consumed with love and who sets on fire everything in his path. He is a man who unceasingly expends himself to light the fire of divine love in the world. Nothing stops him; he places his joy in privations, he undertakes all works for the glory of God; he embraces willingly every sacrifice, he is happy in the midst of calumnies; he exults in torments. He can think of but one thing — working, suffering, and seeking at all times the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls, to imitate Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Today, October 24, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Anthony Mary Claret (1807-1870), monk, mystic, missionary, religious founder, social reformer, and “spiritual father of Cuba.” A priest for 35 years, he packed a lifetime of work into his vocation, inspiring all he met to the truth of the faith.
Saint Anthony was eager to undertake missionary work, and traveled throughout the world. During his mission work, he accepted no money and walked everywhere -- from town to town through rugged terrain. He had only one pair of shoes, one set of clothes and a few books. He neither ate meat nor drank wine, and slept only 3 - 5 hours per night. Always searching for manners to increase his penance, he was observed to allow swarms of mosquitoes to bite him, offering the misery as sacrifice to the Lord. He wore a hot cloak in the suffer to increase his suffering, and viewed the snowdrifts that he was forced to climb over and through in the winter as a test to increase his patience.
"No one tells me things as clearly and frankly as you do." During his service to the queen, he accompanied her to Paris in exile, and preached to the citizens there as well. There, she asked him, "Everybody is always asking me for favors, but you never do. Isn't there something you would like for yourself?" He replied, "Yes, that you let me resign." With that, the queen released him from his service to her.
Saint Anthony wrote and published over 200 books and pamphlets during his lifetime, as well as founded the Religious Publishing House, a Catholic publishing agency in Spain. It is estimated that he wrote over 25,000 sermons. He participated in the Vatican I council, where he was a staunch defender of the faith and of the doctrine of papal infallibility.
He died in exile, at the Cistercian monastery of Fontfroide in southern France at the age of 63, saying “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, into your hands I commend my spirit.” At the moment of his death, church bells throughout the city rang of their own accord. His remains were laid to rest at the monastery in Fontfroide. Fittingly, his tombstone was inscribed with the words: “I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile.” The body, exhumed twenty-seven years later to be translated back to Spain, was found to be perfectly incorrupt.
"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."
“A great soul born to unite contrasting elements, he was humble in origin, yet illustrious in the eyes of the world. Small in stature, but a giant in spirit. Modest in appearance, but very capable of instilling respect, also in the great ones of the earth. Strong in character, but with the gentleness of someone who knows the restraint of austerity and penance. Always in the presence of God, even in the midst of prodigious activity. Slandered and admired, Celebrated and persecuted, and among such great marvels, a gentle light that illumines all, his devotion to the Mother of God.”
Saint Anthony Mary Claret, during your life on earth you often comforted the afflicted and showed such tender love and compassion for the sick and sinful. Intercede for me now that you rejoice in the reward of your virtues in heavenly glory. Look with pity on me [or on the person afflicted with illness or whose conversion is desired] and grant my prayer, if such be the will of God. Make my troubles your own. Speak a word for me to the Immaculate Heart of Mary to obtain by her powerful intercession the grace I yearn for so ardently, and a blessing to strengthen me during life, assist me at the hour of death, and lead me to a happy eternity.
Father, you endowed Anthony Claret with the strength of love and patience to preach the gospel to many nations. By the help of his prayers may we work generously for your kingdom and gain our brothers and sisters for Christ. Amen.
Year 2: Day 297 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Social Justice; Hearts of Service
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."