ONE´S OWN LIFE IS NOT A SUPREME VALUE
In honour of the martyrs of the first century in Asia Minor, a song was composed and it goes as follows, “They gave up their lives going to death” (Rev 12:11). Some forty years before, Paul of Tarsus had said goodbye to the elders of Ephesus telling something similar, “Indeed I put no value on my life, if only I can finish my race and complete the service to which I have been assigned by the Lord Jesus, to announce the good news of God´s grace” (Acts 20:24).
This text was often the object of reflection for St. Anthony Mary Claret. In the autumn of 1865, having interrupted his service as royal confessor, he discerns whether to resume or get away once and for all from Madrid; with an awareness of being persecuted so much in that city, he transcribed this text from the Acts of the Apostles with a small comment – certainly it was very much of his taste- that he introduced in the Vulgate, “I don´t care for my life because I am concluding my mission and fulfilling the ministry of the word I received from the Lord Jesus” (EC III, p. 504).
With small gaps, persecution was a constant reality in the life of the great missionary. During his Catalonian period (1841-1850), the political climate was sickly and the governments were protecting themselves against critical voices. Claret avoided even the least political matters to touch his preaching; but the police were alert, just in case….. Being royal confessor (1857-1868), many were imagining that he would make use of the office to pull political strings; and it was the reason for slanders and assassination attempts. That´s why in 1864, he published the autobiographical booklet El Consuelo de un alma calumniada (The consolation of a slandered soul), in which he shows that God never fails and that, in extreme situations, He is the only refuge, along with the testimony of one´s own conscience.