AN OVERWHELMING PASSION
When visitors to the Claretian temple in Vic look toward the crypt where the tomb of Claret lies, they immediately see this inscription: “Love Jesus Christ and souls and you will understand everything and will do much more than me”.
That phrase is not found in the writings of Claret, but the tradition that attributes it to him seems sufficiently tested and reliable. He probably said it in Barcelona in September 1860. Accompanied by the royal family on their return from the Balearic Islands, and the days they took to rest or visit the city, Claret dedicated himself to preaching with such intensity that it drew the attention of a group of university students; they were curious to follow him on a particular day and took notes of his incredible apostolic activity: some days more than ten sermons. One of them dared to say few words of admiration, and the response of Claret was limited to the call to fall in love that we have just mentioned.
In the letter that we reflect on today (written on 20th August!), Claret says more things: that the great temptation ha has is to flee from Madrid, that he barely eats, that he sometimes “escapes from going to the table of Her Majesty to have more time to preach”, because this is “my more tasty food”. Thirty years before, entering as a Jesuit novice, he had written about his passion to “exhort the people”: “in these exercises I am untiring”.
Claret gave everything to his evangelizing activity; his sermons are simply countless. But he had an advantage that the missionary of today cannot count on: “the readiness of the people, the hunger for the divine word”. Today, in many environments, indifference or insensitivity predominate, when there is not open opposition. What would Claret do today, to reach the distant masses? Then he already had inventive solutions: that the laity is to be introduced, with their testimony as believers, into environments not accessible to the priest. Let us ask him to enlighten us and inspire new methods and means…