CONFIDENCE EVEN IN THE MIDST OF ADVERSITY
A noted psychologist, contemplating a portrait of Fr. Claret during his time as royal confessor (1857-1868), noticed in the corner of his lips the signs of profound suffering. Claret confesses that “Divine Providence has always watched over me in a special way” (Aut 7), but in reality, seen from the outside, the life of Claret is an unbroken chain of failures. As a young man, in Barcelona, a friend swindled him and a woman tries to seduce him (Aut 72-73). Being a priest in his hometown (1835-1839), some of his neighbours tried to make life impossible, bothering even his father (EC I, pp. 76 and 80). When living the great satisfaction of seeing the progress of the Congregation of Missionaries, they placed on his shoulders the archbishopric of Santiago de Cuba (Aut 491), the final stages of which are particularly harsh: problems with the authorities, name calling, a serious attack in Holguín… The farms where he is welcomed are straw to the flames (EC I, q. 1185).
The era of Madrid is almost continuous martyrdom; during the first few months living in the constant doubt about whether to continue: “with some kind of pretext they will throw me out to take a walk” (EC I, p. 1344). Devoted to the material and institutional restoration of El Escorial, he experienced opposition from a section of politicians (cf. EC II, pp. 257 and 415) and internal intrigues of jealousy among his colleagues. Claret confesses that “El Escorial is the rack of torment for those who have to care for it” (EC II, p. 1290).
In the era of healthy secularism and the theology of earthly realities, we don’t make God responsible for evil, but we continue believing that nothing escapes his plan of salvation (= providence). Claret continues to teach us how to deal with adverse situations.