PRAYER LIFE & SPIRITUALITY OF THE MARTYRS
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.
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
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch[a] with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
Emilio Bover Albareda (67) was shot dead at the cemetery of Cervera. On July 23rd, 1936 he took refuge in the home of Don José Civit, a pharmacist. His main occupation was to pray and be with the children of the house. He had hidden consecrated hosts in the home, which he had taken from the Church. Every day he recited the way of the Cross and praying the holy Rosary with the participation of the family. He also would explain the Gospel. He would hear confession of the family members and others who came to see him.
Juan Maria Buxo Font (56) He was also an ascetic in his religious life. The climate and the spiritual environment was a call to heroism. In this perspective, he stood out for his austerity and observance of the rules. His inclination to penance was great and his mortification at meals. While in the Novitiate, he said: Don’t complain about it being cold or hot, nor moral or physical fatigue, or lack of memory….
Bro. Francisco Canals Pascual (44) he wrote twice to his parents to inform them of his joy at being there in the seminary. The letters he wrote to his family were very spiritual. In the letter written on July 1, 1917, he states:
“This is to explain the many and exact means that we have to learn to embrace the virtue which is the only thing in this world because it is the image of God as the saints describe. We participate on the ordinary days as we also do on feast days.
Do not be surprised that I spoke only of things referring to the spirit as I see by the mercy of the Lord that all is lost which is not directed to this end.”
He always prayed aloud, even when he was working. His favorite devotions were the Holy Rosary and the Way of the Cross.
Bro.Buenaventura Reixach Vilaro (76) one could describe him as a very simple, good and pious man. He was always praying while working in the kitchen and in the refectory. Others admired him for his humility and constant work. In the Spiritual Exercises of February 1934, he states:
“1. I propose to be punctual to the acts of community and pray with the same tone of others.
2º. I will try to leave everything in order in the sink and provide or leave with charity the things others may need.”
Seminarian Peter Caball Junca (22) in the evaluation in February 1932, he wrote: “To be prepared for whatever might happen, I have proposed the following. To constantly ask Jesus and the mother Mary to increase more and more the faith in my heart so that I can publicly confess, even shedding my blood if it’s his Divine blessing; every day in the Sacred Communion I will offer to Jesus as a victim of expiation and ask I especially for the strength to be faithful even at the cost of my life if necessary. Jesus is present to me and remains silent, so that I may know suffering in silence and with joy all the comments, insults, reproaches and persecutions that would ensue.”
Fr.Juan Busquet Llúcia (68) the doctor diagnosed a cyst in his leg and told him it must be removed as soon as possible Fr. Busquet told him I am ready for every event and I bring my own anesthetic, for if you need relief during the operation. The anesthetic was the cross of the missions which Father Busquet carried.
Cut without mercy, cut and slice; pull and burn without any hesitation. I am a sinner that has past due accounts with God and this is a good juncture to settle.
Father Busquet with a crucifix in hand, without lamentations of any kind, endured the cutting of the scalpel and scissors on the flesh of his leg. Dr. Arrugaeta was amazed, saving the cyst in alcohol to remember the courage of this Claretian Missionary and the power of Jesus.
Fr. Juan Codinach Espinalt (64) was a man with absolute trust in Divine Providence. When there was the constant threat of the Revolutionaries he prayed the three parts of the rosary with the family who accepted him into their home and shared the spiritual reading. He left a great example of trust in Divine Providence: “If the Committee would arrive now and take us, it would be the will of God, because an hour doesn’t go by without His permission.”
What is certain about Fr. Jaime Payas Fargas (29) is that from the beginning he tried to correct his faults and showed great desire to be holy. He tried to be cautious in talking and not make rash judgments. He would frequently turn to others asking about his faults in the fight against vanity.
He was a man of deep piety that was nurtured with frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament. Also frequent exercises of mortification of the senses, especially of taste.
The apostolic zeal of St. Anthony Mary Claret was the fruit of his love towards God the Father and he fed his interior life through prayer. He cultivated the habit of praying always, both the mental and the vocal, dedicating some hours of the day for both. He prayed three parts of the Rosary daily, way of the cross and many other devotions. He visited the Blessed Sacrament daily. The same spirituality continued in the life of the martyrs. Their whole life was full of spirituality. Some of them prayed aloud, even when they were working. Their favorite devotions were the Holy Rosary and the Way of the Cross. They nurtured their faith with frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament. And lived a life of mortification, penance and sacrifice. Before they were being shot many asked permission to pray and it was granted, many asked the blessing and absolution from their companions. In the prison the Claretians tried to follow community life with the exercises of piety and the Rosary. They spend more time in long meditations on their fate and prepared for martyrdom. They were trying to be holy even asking others to remind them of their sins.
INVOCATIONS FOR EVERY DAY
- 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…….
- 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…….
- 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…….
- Pray for us, Claretian martyrs.
- 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.