Novena – Day 4

FORGIVENESS

 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

Luke 23:32-35

 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left.  Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.  The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

Or

Mathew 5: 43-48

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Other Ref:  Act 7: 54-59

 

MEDITATION

What continues to fill us with consolation is that all of them made pardon their response to the animosity they faced. Fr. Jaume Payas, martyred in Sallent, openly declared that they die without hatred, forgiving their executioners: “I forgive all those who wish me ill and I give them an embrace of friendship, I hold no resentment towards anyone, nor to those who have hurled me in the house like a dog; they also did it to You”.

Fr. Jose Reixach Reguer (71), to the militant he said: “If it was you that did the shooting. I forgive you because I want to die like Jesus who forgave those who crucified him”. These words produced a deep impression on those henchmen, who appeared troubled and lowered their weapons as if they didn’t have the strength to carry them and it significantly reflected in their faces.

Fr. Emili Bover (67) died in the cemetery of Cervera on 20 August exclaiming: “I forgive you from my heart for the love of God”. We find similar expressions in many others. It is as if they had all, sometime before, made their own the words of Jesus: ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do’. (Lk 23: 34).

Bro. Julian Villanueva, before dying prayed on his knees saying: “Know that death has no fear for me. I offer my life for God and for souls. I forgive you this crime that you are going to commit against me and I ask the Divine Mercy to accept my blood for your salvation”.

Fr. José Ignacio Gordon de la Serna (33) exclaimed: My Jesus, in your hands I commend my soul. After getting out of the car in which they were taken to be shot. He addressed the militants with these words:  “We forgive you from the heart”.

Fr. Luis Francés Toledano (26) during the persecution kindly, he invited all to forgive the enemies following the example of the Lord.  Ms. Isabel who gave shelter to him, with uncontrollable anger because of the persecution wished them death…but  Fr. Luis replied:  “ One must have charity with all and also with the enemies. We should not wish evil upon anybody”.

Jaime Girón Puigmitja said: “Every day I pray in the Holy Mass for the one who has to be my executioner.” “Every Mass I celebrate it seems to me that it’s the last. I always do a special remembrance to save those who have to be my executioners. From now on I forgive them from the heart.” Then said: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”. Even at the point of their death they were worried about saving the soul of their enemies.

Bro. Ramon Roca Buscalla (48) said: “Well each one will have to give an account to God for what he has done and let us pray for the persecutors in order that God enlighten them”. He never spoke ill of the persecutors and was not afraid of death, saying: If it comes, may it be when God wants.

Fernando Saperas Aluja (30) was treated like animal, made him naked in front of all, punched, harassed him sexually, forced him to prostitution, humiliated, for about fifteen hours. The weight of the tragedy has failed to break his indomitable determination of a Christian Martyr, and calmly, he asks permission to speak: “Forgive them Lord; they don’t know what they do…! I forgive you! I forgive you! …” And the martyr said: “Long live Christ the King! Long live the Religion!” Brother died forgiving, and God received his last plea.

The martyrs, in conformity with Christ, are witnesses of pardon and reconciliation, and builders of peace. All of them had a very big and generous heart to forgive their killers following the example of our Lord Jesus. None of them cursed or spoke ill of the offenders rather they prayed for them according to the command of Jesus: But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt.5.44).

What about me, Am I ready to forgive my offenders? Do I speak ill of others? Do I curse the enemies? Did I show generosity in forgiving others?

INVOCATIONS FOR EVERY DAY

  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.