Novena – Day 1

FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH

INTRODUCTION

Spanish Civil War of 1936 is a horrible memory especially for the church and the religion. So many religious or priests, nuns and lay people who gave shelter to the priests were mercilessly killed only because they were priests and nuns. They destroyed churches,  convents, burnt all the holy articles and books, desecrated holy places, etc. They said we must put an end to this race of people. In Vic one of the armed man said “How many times have I wanted to put an end to this bad weed, and haven’t been able!  But this time, we will make sure.”

The martyrs who will be beatified in October come from the communities of Barcelona (8), Castro Urdiales (3), Cervera-Mas Claret (60), Lérida (11), Sabadell (8), Vic-Sallent (15) and Valencia (4). Heading this numerous group of martyrs appear three names: Mateu Casals (Priest), Teófilo Casajús (Student) and Fernando Saperas (Brother). They symbolise the diversity of vocations in our Congregation (cf. CC7). In the group there are 49 priests, 31 brothers and 29 students, with an average age of 39. Catalans, Navarros, Aragoneses, Castillians, all sharing a common religious profession and a great love of our Congregation. Except for two, who died in 1937, all were martyred in the latter months of 1936.

There are so many aspects of martyrs life which are not included here, for example the life of virtues, obedience, poverty, fidelity to their vocation,  precaution and prudence applied in their life, Spirit of humility, different ministries, lay people who died just because they gave shelter to our martyrs etc. It is not possible to include all these aspects in 9 days of novena prayers. Only some important aspects of their life are taken for our reflection.

PREPARATORY PRAYER

Lord our God in the designs of your adorable kindness you predestined 109 Claretians to be martyrs for your sake and bestowed them with special gifts of graces, so that they may become the model of sanctity in those different states of the Christian life. We praise you and we give you thanks mainly for the treasures of virtues that you deposited in their souls, above all with a strong faith to give up their life for your sake. Grant us the grace to follow their examples and to imitate their virtues, and especially we (I) request you during this Novena meditation to grant us your protection through the powerful intercession of those 109 Claretian martyrs.  We (I) also pray through the Immaculate Heart Mary of whose glory and mercy made them strong in their faith. Amen.

BIBLICAL TEXT FOR REFLECTION

Mt. 10:21-23

Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rise against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone on account of my name, but the one who perseveres to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next. Truly I tell you, you will not reach all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.…

Or

Rev 2:8-10

To the angel of the church in Smyrna, write this:  The first and the last, who once died but came to life, says this: I know your tribulation and poverty, but you are rich. I know the slander of those who claim to be Jews and are not, but rather are members of the assembly of Satan.

Do not be afraid of anything that you are going to suffer. Indeed, the devil will throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will face an ordeal for ten days. Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

MEDITATION

Today we will meditate on the martyrs who gave up their life for the sake of Christ

Seminarian Adolfo de Esteban Rada age 24, writes to his father: “Have no fear about my luck, because if you must know, I am determined to shed my blood for the cause of Jesus Christ” He was a man of faith alive and intense. Faithful observant to his religious obligations.

Fr.Antonio Junyent Estruch (39), a man of extraordinary faith, always ready to accept the will of God.  Had great zeal for the salvation of souls.  On several occasions he had stated to his sister, that before renouncing his faith, he preferred to die for Jesus Christ

Fr. Gumersindo Valtierra Alonso (60), a courageous man of faith. He frequently expressed his readiness to face the martyrdom and shed his blood for Jesus Christ. When the militant questioned him Are you religious? Yes, I am, by the grace of God, the Father says with all candor. In response the chief began beating him. The priest pulled out his rosary and in silence with resignation began praying

Fr. Montaner (63), without taking off the cassock visited the sick of the community, “ensuring that the sick would not be abandoned.” It was stated that during this time, he didn’t hide his condition as a priest. He wanted to be a martyr like those who had given their lives.

Fr.Jose Reixach Reguer (71) was a godly man. Sensing his future several times he would say to his friends: If they come for me, I don’t want to deny that I am here. I want to die for Christ and I want to be a martyr in heaven, if it is that I deserve to go.

Fr.Jose Reixach Reguer (71) Several times he would say to his friends: If they come for me, I don’t want to deny that I am here. I want to die for Christ and I want to be a martyr in heaven, if it is that I deserve to go. God accepted his offer and was the first martyr of Sabadell, not only from the community of the Claretian Missionaries.

All these Claretian martyrs without any exception were very faithful to God; they loved the congregation, observed sincerely Claretian constitution, faithful to their respective responsibilities and devoted very much to Mother Mary. They were tortured, humiliated and killed only because they were religious. They faced death courageously with great faith and hope. They did not want to betray God even at the point of death. When they were questioned none of them denied their identity as religious rather very proudly said that they are religious.  They never wavered in their faith.  They carried on faithfully their duty till the end of their life, even though sometimes they had the possibility of escaping. Their lives edified even the militants. Their strength was prayer and devotion to Mother Mary.

Am I faithful to God, to the congregation and to my responsibilities? How do I respond to the little martyrdom that is forced upon me? Responsibilities which I don’t like, difficulties and problem of religious life?

INVOCATIONS FOR EVERYDAY

  1. Glorious Claretian martyrs, faithful servants of the Church: help us to come closer, to the holy Catholic Church and to an unshakable fidelity to all its teachings and precepts.

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be to the father…….

  1. Glorious Claretian martyrs, Apostles of the Holy Virgin: help us to come closer to the devotion of Immaculate Heart, and by means of her the salvation of our souls.

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be to the father…….

  1. Glorious Claretian martyrs who were faithful to St. Anthony Mary Claret and the charism of Claretian Congregation: help us to have a burning love towards Jesus, to follow his steps until the summit of the Christian perfection.

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be to the father…….

FINAL PRAYER

  1. Pray for us, Claretian martyrs.
  2. So that we may become worthy of those promises of Jesus Christ.

Almighty God, by whose grace and power your 109 Claretian holy martyrs triumphed over suffering and were faithful unto death: strengthen us with your grace, that we may endure reproach and persecution and faithfully bear witness to the name of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.