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ST ANTHONY MARY CLARET, BISHOP AND CONFESSOR

ST ANTHONY MARY CLARET, BISHOP AND CONFESSOR

ST ANTHONY MARY CLARET, BISHOP AND CONFESSOR – MEMORIAL: OCTOBER 24

Anthony Mary Claret was born at Vich in Spain, of devout and honourable parents. He started life as a weaver, but afterwards became a priest. He was first engaged in parochial work, but later went to Rome to be sent on the foreign missions by the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. By the will of God, however, he returned to Spain and as a Missionary Apostolic travelled through Catalonia and the Canary Islands.

HE FOUNDED THE CONGREGATION OF THE SONS OF THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY

Besides being a prolific writer of fine books, he also founded the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Appointed Archbishop of the See of Santiago in Cuba, he proved, by his virtues, to be a zealous pastor. He restored the seminary, improved the education and discipline of the clergy, established social works and founded the Teaching Sisters of Mary Immaculate for the Christian education for girls.

THE TEACHING SISTERS OF MARY IMMACULATE 

Finally summoned to Madrid as the confessor and councillor in important ecclesiastical affairs for the Queen of Spain, he gave an excellent example of austere life adorned with every virtue. In the Vatican Council, he strongly defended the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff.

A STAUNCH PROMOTER OF DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED SACRAMENT 

He was a staunch promoter of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and her Rosary. At length, at Font Froide, in France, he died in exile in the year 1870 [on October 24]. Being renowned for miracles, Pope Pius XI added him to the list of the blessed and Pius XII to that of the saints.

PRAYER:

O God, who glorified blessed Anthony Mary, your Confessor and Bishop, because of his zeal for souls, and through him established in the Church new households of men and women religious, we beseech you to grant that, with his counsels as a guide, and through the merits of his prayers, we may continually apply ourselves to seeking the salvation of souls. Through our Lord…

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964 [bold headings added afterwards]

 

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“WE’RE BEING GOVERNED BY BARBARIANS”

“It seems to me quite barbaric that the Government should be considering reducing child benefit for larger families.

Under a proposal put forward by the think tank Policy Exchange, child benefit would be cut after the third child, and all state payments limited to four children. This, the think tank claims, would save £ 1 billion over five years. It would also contribute to the Government’s plan of cutting £ 12 billion from the welfare budget by 2020.

Larger families would see their benefits gradually reduced; and it would, in effect, ‘cap’ the number of children parents might have.

Regrettably, there is considerable public support for this measure: 83 per cent of Tory voters, and more than half of Labour and Lib Dem voters appear to agree that larger families should be deprived of child benefit.

But then the British public tends to be remarkably budget-minded when it comes to considering ethical issues. I once participated in a radio debate about the death penalty, and the majority of callers were overwhelmingly in favour – ‘because it would save money’!

We need to do something to reverse the growing prejudice against large families, who are often seen as ‘welfare scroungers’, rather than people deserving of support. And maybe the long-term, practical argument is the best one in this context: in an ageing society, large families are serving the future, not taking away from the present. Who will pay society’s pensions in times to come? The children born today.

Yes, it is sensible to suggest parents act responsibly in raising their kids and to provide for them as best as they can. But all families need social support, and that’s a message we ignore at our peril.”
– This article by Mary Kenny was published in “The Catholic Herald” newspaper, issue July 25 2014. For subscriptions please visit http://www.catholicherald.co.uk (external link).

 

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“SUBSIDING ON A DIET OF LOCUSTS AND WILD HONEY”

“Many of us tend to feel that we have a positive right to a pain-free and a happy life.”

“ADVERSITY HAS ITS USES

The image of John the Baptist which emerges from the pages of the Gospels is a somewhat grim one. Living in the wilderness along the Jordan River, subsiding on a diet of locusts and wild honey, clothed in a coarse garment of camel’s hair, he is the very epitome of austerity as he thunders out his call to repentance and charges onward to his martyr’s death in Herod’s dungeon.

John must have possessed an attractive personality beneath his wild exterior because he drew to himself a band of loyal disciples. But he is the complete ascetic, totally detached from the world’s attractions. As such, he is an everlasting rebuke to those of us who might be tempted to place too high a value on the good things in life.

PLACING TOO HIGH A VALUE ON THE GOOD THINGS IN LIFE

We would hesitate to say so, but many of us do tend to feel that we have a positive right to a pain-free and a happy life. In theory we admit that, as a consequence of original sin and our own personal sins, we have sacrificed any claim to special treatment on God’s part. Yet, when sorrow, sickness or financial stringency comes to us, we are inclined to feel cheated. ‘Why did it happen to me?’ we ask.

WE FEEL CHEATED

It is one of the paradoxes of life that very often the more of God’s natural gifts we possess, the farther we drift away from God. We might expect that having perfect health, plenty of money and success in our undertakings would give us a deep sense of gratitude and would expand our love for God to the bursting point.

A DEEP SENSE OF GRATITUDE?

Nevertheless, it would be difficult to find instances of persons who have advanced in sanctity as they have grown in wealth. It would be equally difficult to establish any correlation between freedom from sickness and growth in holiness; in fact, the lives of the saints indicate quite the opposite. And, to express it conservatively, persons who have achieved a high degree of success or fame are not necessarily the most prayerful, the most dedicated to the doing of God’s will.

THE GOOD THINGS OF THIS WORLD AREN’T BAD

This does not mean that the good things of this world are bad. The temperate use and enjoyment of the world’s resources are quite compatible with our vocation as Christians. But it does seem that the more fortune smiles upon us, the harder we have to labour to keep acute our sense of the spiritual.

OUR ULTIMATE ADVANTAGE

There are very few of us who cannot look back on occasions in our lives when we met with some seeming disaster which, from the vantage point of today, we now can see was to our ultimate advantage. At the time we were full of resentment against the workings of Providence; yet now we can see that we are a better person because of the blow which befell us. St Paul was not the first or the last person who had to be knocked to the ground in order to head him toward heaven.

SHARERS IN THE CROSS OF CHRIST

To the great majority of us, misfortune comes only occasionally. But there are other persons for whom suffering seems to be a life-long vocation. Some are afflicted with chronic illness, others are the victims of circumstances which result in continuing frustration or grief. Such sharers in the cross of Christ enjoy a privileged position. Their suffering constitutes a permanent sight draft upon God for limitless grace, wherever and whenever needed.

PRESERVING OUR SENSE OF PROPORTION

Whether we are among this favoured minority, or whether our own share of adversity is just average, it is important for us to preserve our sense of proportion. The distance in happiness between the person who knows nothing but misery and the person who has everything – health, wealth, success and love – is infinitesimal when compared to the distance between this world’s highest happiness and the bliss of heaven.

WE MUST ALL LOOK PRETTY WRETCHED

From the viewpoint of the angels and saints, who look upon the face of God and know what real happiness means, we mortals must all look pretty wretched, even at our most prosperous and most hilarious.

Assuming that our life is one long unbroken series of calamities, it still will be better to have lived than not to have lived, for the sake of the joy that is to come.”
– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966

 

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TRUE MIRACLES SURROUNDING THE MARVELLOUS ST POPE PIUS V

“THE HERETICS ATTEMPTED MORE THAN ONCE TO DESTROY HIS LIFE WHICH BAFFLED ALL THEIR HOPES OF PERVERTING THE FAITH…THEY PUT POISON ON THE FEET OF HIS CRUCIFIX…WHEN HE WAS ABOUT TO KISS IT, SUDDENLY THE FEET OF THE CRUCIFIX DETACHED THEMSELVES FROM THE CROSS…”

THE POPE OF THE GREAT COMBATS

HIS FAVOURITE FOOD WAS PLAIN BREAD COOKED WITH OIL

“St Pius V was a man of sterling quality: he was a person who was serious, methodical and very rigorous. The cardinals of the Holy Roman Church understood this immediately, when the newly elected Pope brusquely refused the proposal of organising a party for his rise to the Papal throne. Also his food was very simple: at the Pontifical Court, the food which the new Pope wanted to be put on the table, day after day, was connected to his being part of the Dominican Order, which adopted a strict and prohibitive [vegan] diet: no meat, no dairy products, no eggs, and this was for three hundred and sixty five days of the year. He himself was reluctant to eat all those foods which were too agreeable or elaborate. One of his favourite dishes was bread cooked with oil. This was made of stale bread, garlic, oil, salt and pepper.

A FIRM HAND SENT BY GOD AMIDST INSIDIOUS SNARES

In the course of the XVI Century, heresy made its attack upon Catholicism: the Turks greatly desired and prepared for the annihilation of Christianity; the Council of Trent handed over its acts to the Holy See, which was to assume the grave duty of carrying out its decisions. Pius V was ‘the man sent by God’ to direct the destiny of the Church with an able and firm hand amidst insidious snares. A fearless defender of the truth and justice at a crucial hour, he worked unceasingly for the return of the solidity of the Faith and clarity of order, by means of the fervour of his prayer and the yoke of penance.

AGAINST HERESY

The whole life of Pius V was a combat. His pontificate fell during those troubled times when Protestantism was leading whole countries into apostasy. Italy was not a prey that could be taken by violence: artifice was therefore used, in order to undermine the Apostolic See and to thus drag the whole Christian world into the darkness of heresy. Pius defended the Peninsula from the dangers that threatened her with untiring devotedness. Even before he was raised to the Papal Throne, he frequently manifested his zeal in opposing the preaching of false doctrines. Like Peter the Martyr, he braved every danger and was the dread of the emissaries of heresy. When seated on the Chair of Peter, he kept the innovators in check by fear, roused the sovereigns of Italy to action and by measures of moderate severity, drove back beyond the Alps the torrent that would have swept Christianity from Europe, had not the Southern States thus opposed it. From that time forward, Protestantism has never made any further progress: it has been wearing itself out by doctrinal anarchy. We repeat it: this heresy would have laid all Europe waste, had it not been for the vigilance of the pastor who animated the defenders of truth to resist Protestantism where it already existed, and who set himself as a wall of brass against its invasion in the country where he himself was the master.

AGAINST ISLAM

Another enemy, taking advantage of the confusion caused in the West by Protestantism, organised an expedition against Europe. Italy was to be its first prey. The Ottoman fleet started from the Bosphorus. This again would have meant the ruin of Christendom but for the energy of the Roman Pontiff, our Saint. He gave the alarm, and called the Christian Princes to arms. Germany and France, torn by domestic factions that had been caused by heresy, turned a deaf ear to the call. Spain alone, together with Venice and the little Papal fleet, answered the summons of the Pontiff. The Cross and the Crescent were soon face to face in the Gulf of Lepanto. The prayers of Pius V [including all the Rosaries prayed by the Faithful] decided the victory in favour of the Christians, whose forces were far inferior to those of the turks. We shall return to this important event when we come to the Feast of the Holy Rosary in October. But we cannot omit to mention today the prediction uttered by the holy Pope on the evening of the great day of October 7th, 1571. The battle between the Christian and Turkish fleets lasted from six o’clock in the morning until late in the afternoon. Towards evening, the Pontiff suddenly looked up towards Heaven and gazed upon it in silence for a few seconds. Then turning to his attendants, he exclaimed: ‘Let us give thanks to God. The Christians have gained the victory!’ The news soon reached Rome; and thus Europe once more owed her salvation to a Pope! The defeat at Lepanto was a blow from which the Ottoman Empire has never recovered: its fall dates from that glorious day.

EVEN PROTESTANTS COULDN’T BUT ADMIRE THIS VIGOROUS OPPONENT OF THE SO-CALLED REFORMATION

The zeal of this holy Pope for the reformation of Christian morals, his establishment of the observance of the laws of discipline prescribed by the Council of Trent and his publication of the new Breviary and Missal, have made his six years’ pontificate one of the richest periods of the Church’s history. Protestants themselves have frequently expressed their admiration of this vigorous opponent of the so-called ‘Reformation’. ‘I am surprised’ said Bacon, ‘that the Church of Rome has not canonised this great man.’ Pius V did not receive this honour until about a hundred and thirty years after his death; so impartial is the Church, when She has to adjudicate this highest of earthly honours even to Her most revered Pastors!

THE MIRACLES

Of the many miracles which attested to the merits of this holy Pontiff, even during his life, we select the following two: As he was one day crossing the Vatican piazza, which is on the site of the ancient Circus of Nero, he was overcome with a sentiment of enthusiasm for the glory and courage of the martyrs who had suffered on that very spot in the first persecution. Stooping down, he took a handful of dust from the hallowed ground which had been trodden by so many generations of Christian people since the peace of Constantine. He put the dust into a cloth which the Ambassador of Poland, who was with him, held out to receive it. When the Ambassador opened the cloth, after returning to his house, he found it all saturated with blood, as fresh as though it had been that moment shed: the dust had disappeared. The faith of the Pontiff had evoked the blood of the martyrs, which thus gave testimony against the heretics that the Roman Church, in the sixteenth Century, was identically the same as that for which those brave heroes and heroines laid down their lives in the days of Nero.

The heretics attempted more than once to destroy a life which baffled all their hopes of perverting the faith in Italy. By a base and sacrilegious stratagem, aided by treachery, they put a deadly poison on the feet of the crucifix which the Saint kept in his Oratory, and which he was frequently seen to kiss with great devotion. In the fervour of prayer, Pius was about to give this mark of love to the image of his crucified Master, when suddenly the feet of the crucifix detached themselves from the Cross and eluded the proffered kiss of the venerable old man. The Pontiff at once saw through the plot whereby his enemies would fain have turned the life-giving Tree into an instrument of death.

In order to encourage the Faithful to follow the sacred Liturgy, we will select another interesting example from the life of this great Saint. When, lying on his bed of death, and just before breathing his last, he took a parting look at the Church on earth, which he was leaving for that of Heaven and he wished to make a final prayer for the flock which he knew was surrounded by danger; he therefore recited, but with a voice that was scarcely audible, the following stanza of the Paschal hymn: ‘We beseech thee, O Creator of all things! that in these days of Paschal joy, thou defend thy people from every assault of death!’ Having said these words, he died peacefully.”
– Servant of God Dom Prosper Gueranger. This article was published in “De Vita Contemplativa” (Monthly Magazine for Monasteries), issue May 2013. [Capital headings added.]

 
 

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