Wednesday 8 May 2019

The Autobiography of St. Anthony Mary Claret - St. Anthony Mary Claret and Louis Joseph Moore

The Autobiography of St. Anthony Mary Claret
St. Anthony Mary Claret
Louis Joseph Moore (Translator)
TAN Books
ISBN 9780895552846
eISBN 9781505104578


I recently read this book with an Online Catholic Book Club. And in fact, If I had not been reading it with the book club, I might have given up on it, and it would have ended up on my ‘did not finish’ pile. That would have been my loss. I found this a hard read. And I am not sure if that is the material or if it is just the specific translation I was reading. I found a few times I had to go back and reread sections, and at times even just begin chapters over again. But once I finished it, I went back and read it again. As hard a read as I found it, I can state it is an excellent read, and more than worth the effort.  On my first read through I highlighted 22 sections in this volume.

The full title and subtitle of this book is: ‘The Autobiography of St. Anthony Mary Claret Priest, Missionary, Archbishop, and Founder of The Congregation of Missionaries, Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary’. Saint Claret lived from 1807 to 1870. And this book begins with a quote taken from the text:

"The sole reason why society is perishing is because it has refused to hear the word of the Church, which is the word of life, the word of God. All plans for salvation will be sterile if the great word of the Catholic Church is not restored in all its fullness."

The right to preach and instruct the people which the Church has received from God Himself in the persons of the Apostles, has been usurped by a crowd of prattling newspapermen and ignorant babblers. The ministry of the word of God, which is the most elevated and important of all—because by it the earth has been conquered—has turned from a ministry of salvation to an abominable ministry of ruin. As nothing or nobody could check the triumph of the word of God in the time of the Apostles, so also will no one or nothing be able to repress the ravages of false preaching and doctrines unless by opposing them with the preaching of priests and by the distribution of abundant good books and other holy and profitable works.

"O my God, I give Thee my word that I will labor, preach, write, and circulate good books and pamphlets in abundance, so as to exterminate evil by good.""

I have read in another review that this book should be essential reading for all priests and seminarians. But I would extend that, all Christians would benefit from reading this book. The translator in his note stated:

“They will also come to see in the following pages the way in which Blessed Claret sanctified himself in the practice of all virtues and how he spent himself, laboring until life's close for the Beloved of his heart.”

And the author in his introductory note states:

“I would not have attempted this work had I not been ordered to do it. It is in virtue of holy obedience, then, that I write it, and impelled by the same motive of obedience, I shall bring to light things which I should otherwise wish to remain forever unknown. However, may it all be for the greater honor and glory of God and of our Most Blessed Lady, my sweet Mother, and for the confusion of this miserable sinner.”

And he really does begin at the beginning he states:

“I was born in the village of Sallent, deanship of Manresa, bishopric of Vich, and province of Barcelona. My parents, who were called John Claret and Josephine Clara, were a married couple, respectable and God-fearing, and very devout to the Most Blessed Sacrament and to the Most Holy Mother of God.”

His full name is Anthony Mary Adjutor John Claret y Clara. And he was one of 11 children. He believed that Divine Providence watched over from a young age, and he shares several examples of this believe. I will share a few quotes from my highlighted notes:

“Then why should there not be a warning of eternal fire to waken those who are drifting in the sleep of sin in such a way that when they open their eyes they will find themselves burning in the eternal flames of Hell?”

“At first, before pointing out the defects of the faulty work, I used to start by praising its good points, saying that it was a very good job, only that a little slip was made here, and another one there, and that if these were corrected, the work would be perfect.”

“O my God! How good Thou hast been to me! It was not until very late that it began to dawn on me that Thou hadst poured out many and great graces on my soul. I have been a useless servant that has not trafficked with the talent Thou gavest me, as I ought to have done. But, my Saviour, I give Thee my word that I will work hard in the future. Have a little patience with me, and do not withdraw this talent, for I promise Thee to traffic with it. Give me only Thy holy grace and Thy divine love, and I give Thee my word that I will set to work in earnest.”

“The good wrought in my soul by the reading of good and pious books has prompted me to distribute similar books in abundance to my friends and neighbors whom I love very much, in the hope that their souls will also profit, as mine did, by the reading of them.”

“During those three years of my life in Barcelona the former religious fervor of my boyhood days was cooling off. Yet it is true that I received the Sacraments at times during the year; true also that I heard Mass on Sundays, holy days of obligation and feast days, as well as recited daily the Holy Rosary and other devotions to the Most Holy Mother of God. But compared to my former devotions, they were not so many in number nor so full of fervor.”

“The best and most efficacious way to edify and move people is by way of example, by poverty, generosity, abstinence from food, by mortification and self-denial.”

“I placed all my confidence in God. For all things depend on Him, especially the conversion of sinners, which is a work of grace and one of God's greatest gifts.”

“Firstly, when people hear the same thing said again, no matter how briefly, they are more vividly impressed by its truth, for as St. Alphonsus de Liguori says, simple people have heads as hard as wood, and in order to make them remember and understand anything well, one has to hammer it in by repetition.”

“If people read good and instructive books at regular and proper times, it will strengthen and nourish them greatly. But if they read bad books, indecent newspapers and magazines, heretical booklets, and other pernicious literature, these things will corrupt their faith and pervert their morals. Bad books first insinuate themselves by darkening the understanding, then by corrupting the heart, and then from a corrupt heart come forth all kinds of evils, as Our Lord Jesus Christ says.”

“It is better to do less but with patience, meekness and kindness, than to do more with precipitation, anger and impatience.”

I hope those few quotes will inspire you to pick up this book and give it a try. It is written with humility, and with penetrating insight into his own life. The tools he used to grow in the spirit and server can be examples to us in our lives. It is a worthwhile read and I challenge you to give it a try.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Anthony Mary Claret:
The Golden Key To Heaven
The Autobiography of St. Anthony Mary Claret

Books about Anthony Mary Claret:
The Life of St. Anthony Mary Claret – Fanchon Royer
The Miracles of St. Anthony Mary Claret - Juan Echevarria
Mystic and Man of Action : Saint Anthony Mary Claret - Juan M. Lozano and Joseph Daries
Saint Anthony Claret Modern Prophet and Healer - Fanchon Royer

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