“Doing and suffering are the greatest proofs of love.”
THE GREAT PROOFS OF LOVE
In a solemn declaration to his missionaries, Fr. Claret told them that they must be on fire with love; for this they would think only of ‘how to imitate Jesus Christ in working and suffering (Aut 494). With these words he defines what has been his own life: a continuous ‘putting himself out’. A Spanish poet of the 19th century, who became very popular, said about his fellow countrymen: ‘They taught me to pray, / they taught me to feel / and they taught me to love, / and, as to love is to suffer, / I also learnt to cry.’ (JM Gabriel y Galan). A more recent poet wrote, ‘I came with three injuries: one of death, one of love and one of life’ (Miguel Hernández).
Human love is both a source of joy and pain at the same time. It is said that there are ‘loves that kill’. Pain is due sometimes to the absence of the person that is loved. In other cases it comes from a sense of misfortune. Claret had a very deep awareness to be able to see what was not worthy of the life of his brothers but rather what destroyed it. Above all he observed that many did not enjoy their position as children of God, perhaps they even rejected it, or rather, that other people did not respect their dignity.
His response to such situations was through preaching, writing, starting charitable-social projects (as well as the usual practice of giving alms). Dedication to these tasks, in themselves sanctifying, are turned into a heavy cross when, instead of acknowledgement, give rise to persecution against those who carry them out. This was the case of Claret and many other saints.
‘At the evening of our life they will examine us on love’, said St. John of the Cross. Let us not wait till the last, but at each evening we should examine ourselves as to how much we have loved, which perhaps is equal to saying what we have suffered.