“According to the comparison which St. Augustine took from the prophet David, the examples of the saints are to us, like lighted carbons which dissipate our darkness with their light, our lukewarmness with their burning heat and with their valour they convince us of our weakness.” (El amante de Jesucristo. Barcelona 1848, p. 100).
THE INSPIRING EXAMPLARINESS OF THE SAINTS
When Claret wrote chapter XII of his Autobiography titled: “on the inspiration that moved me to preach missions – the example of the prophets, Jesus Christ, the apostles, the Church Fathers and other saints”, he was not describing them but himself. It contains the features of his spirituality and missionary vocation. His selection of models is interesting. But above all, it is surprising that when he chooses those with whom he identifies, the last two of them had not yet been canonized. One is Friar Jose Diego de Cadiz and the other is Master Avila. Both have the title which Claret so desired – “apostolic missionaries”.
These days, devotion to the saints has waned. It may be because little care is taken when presenting their true religious significance, which is not their extraordinary works. The saints should not be objects of admiration, but above all, objects of imitation in what is imitable. Their human side, which is less considered by the hagiographers, could be an inspiration. If they could do it, why not me? Many saints began their journey towards holiness after meditating on the life of other saints.
When Claret finished this chapter of his Autobiography, he burst into endless exclamations and wrote what would be later known as “the apostolic prayer”. “O my God and my Father, may I know you and make you known; love you and make you loved; serve you and make you served; praise you and make all creatures praise you” (Aut 233).
We cannot forget the world of women saints to which Claret dedicated not less than three chapters of his Autobiography. They highlight a type of holiness with which both men and women can identify.