THE PERSUASIVE POWER OF POVERTY
The following of Jesus, the imitation of his behaviour, was for Claret almost an obsession throughout his life. But he did not have the same stress in it at all times; neither had he lived it in the same way. Whether as a diocesan bishop in Cuba or president of El Escorial he will have to give life to a series of institutions and take care of the social and cultural works: these demanded him to keep accounts and prepare balance sheets etc. as he handled a lot of money.
But in his missionary itinerant period in Catalonia and the Canary Islands there were no complications. His only bother was to avail all the time for preaching and, stealing time from sleep, to write booklets and pamphlets to continue his preaching. Freed from all the attachments, he only needed the basic things: food and clothes. And this did not even bother him, because he was living the instruction of the gospel, “Do not worry and say: what are we going to eat? What are going to drink? Or what shall we wear?” (Mt 6:31). In the Constitutions for his Missionaries he reproduced the gospel statement, “Do not carry any gold, silver or copper in your purses” (Mt 10:9).
Because, in all this, Claret not only experienced the joy of imitating Jesus, but also he perceived a great apostolic effect, which was, one of his many obsessions. When beginning each popular mission he clarified for his listeners what were his reasons and what were not; he excluded clearly all sorts of prestige, pleasure or money. This added a great persuasive power to his words. No one could mistake him for a common gossip. Many centuries before, Socrates, the unconquerable genius of ethics had written, “By speaking the truth, I present the best and the most reliable things of the witnesses: my poverty and those of mine” (Plato, Apology of Socrates).