SHEDDING BLOOD FOR JESUS & OTHERS
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
Romans 8:35, 37-39
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Trial, or distress, or persecution, or hunger, or nakedness, or danger, or the sword? Yet in all this we are more than conquerors because of him who has loved us. For I am certain that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor powers, neither height nor depth nor any other creature, will be able to separate us from the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Corinthians 4:7-5:8 The power of Christ is made manifest in our sufferings
Matthew 10:28-33 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body
Matthew 10:17-22 You will be led before governors and kings for my sake, as a witness before them and the pagans
The student Adolfo de Esteban (24), in a letter written to his father on the 10th May states with clarity the motive for his possible martyrdom: “Don’t have any fear for my fortune, if necessary I have decided to shed my blood for the cause of Jesus Christ”. What moved them was not a political ideal but rather the person of Jesus.
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”.
Bro. Francisco Canals Pascual (44) during the persecution he dedicated himself to prayer and preparation for death. He did have the opportunity to leave the hospital and find safety, but he preferred to stay there to help his brothers who were sick. Sensing danger, he told Sr. Lourdes Masferrer: I could save myself because I am healthy, but I don’t want to leave these poor sick ones.
Fr. Agustin Lloses Trullols (29) during his imprisonment wrote a letter to his mother telling her not to cry because of his death, since he would be martyr for Christ: “Dear mother: May God protect you and we will meet in heaven. I’m writing from prison. I suppose that these will be the final lines of my life. Don’t cry for me, because I gladly give my life for the glory of God and as his minister. This is the reason why I will be shot. Goodbye, because I can’t do more. My greetings to Pepe, Antoinette, Mrs. Teresa, Theresita, Enriqueta and Rafaelito, and to you from your son, Agustin, C.M.F.”
Fr. Javier Morell Gabiscol (26) From the prison he writes to his parents telling, I want to speak to two of you, to say that I die happy and joyful, and I offer my life and all my missionary dreams for the complete and total Kingdom of Spain, of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of the Most Pure Heart of Mary. Don’t become doubtful of my glorious destination, that is, for it is the blood of Jesus Christ. Be glad for me: as you will be able to have a son who is a martyr, only because I am a religious, I am incarcerated, and by being religious I just lost three friends. Don’t think I am afraid: Now more than ever I give thanks to God for having made me a religious and priest. A Religious-Priest, martyr of Jesus Christ… Can one want greater glory?
Now, more than ever, dear parents, I will always think of you from heaven and you will have a powerful lawyer before the Lord. I write in the midst of panic. Sorry that I cannot write more. In heaven I look forward to all without missing one. Write soon to my Superiors of any house which you know and where they know who reside there, in order to make my poor soul the prayers of rule, so that God may have pity of my sins and eternal rest. “Courage!! That’s all for the greater glory of God and the good of our homeland. Goodbye… until we meet in heaven. Your loving son in Jesus and Mary, Javier, C.M.F.Long Live Christ the King!”
About Fr. Manuel Torres Nicolau (61) those who witnessed the event said: “It was powerful seeing how they were going to their death, with a smile on their lips, gaze at heaven and with dignity: all their gesture announcing the faith and confidence of a better life and the forgiveness of their murderers.”
Fr. Jaime Payas Fargas (29) He came out of hiding and expressed his desire for martyrdom: “We shouldn’t be like that, we should be brave. It hurts me to hide, because I like to appear publicly as a priest and with my head held high.” He showed tremendous spirit of courage for martyrdom
Student Adolfo de Esteban Rada (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.” Fr. Antonio Junyent Estruch (23) on several occasions stated to his sister, that before renouncing his faith, he preferred to die for Jesus Christ. Fr. Gumersindo Valtierra Alonso (60) frequently expressed his readiness to face the martyrdom and shed his blood for Jesus Christ. He would often say “God above all.”
Some months ago, Pope Francis, in a Liturgy of the Word remembering the Christian martyrs of the 20th and 21st centuries, said: ‘A martyr can be thought of as a hero, but the fundamental thing about a martyr is that he or she was “graced”: it is the grace of God, not courage, that makes us martyrs. Today, in the same way one could ask: “What does the Church need today?”. Martyrs, witnesses, namely, everyday saints. Because the Church is led forward by saints. Saints: without them, the Church can no longer go forth. The Church needs everyday saints, those of ordinary life carried out with coherence; but she also needs those who have the courage to accept the grace to be witnesses to the end, unto death. All those are the living blood of the Church. They are the witnesses who lead the Church forward; those who attest that Jesus is Risen, that Jesus lives, and affirm it with coherence of life and with the strength of the Holy Spirit which they have been given’. (Homily of Pope Francis in the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Tiber Island, Rome, 22 April 2017).
They shed their blood for the love of Jesus and for the souls of others. The letters of young martyrs must enkindle in us the hope of eternal life. They accepted martyrdom with total conviction that they will be in heaven as a powerful lawyer before the lord. Fr. Javier tells to his parents don’t think I am afraid: Now more than ever I give thanks to God for having made me a religious and priest. Witnesses say: They were going to their death, with serene and a smiling face, gazing at heaven and with all dignity. They were not worried, crying or pleading but they spend time in prayer preparing for martyrdom. Suffered all kinds of insults, beatings and humiliation for the sake of Jesus and everyone expressed their desire to shed their blood for Christ. They prepared to receive the grace of martyrdom. This inner preparation led him to live with peace.
When I am humiliated, insulted, how do I react? Am I prepared for these types of day today’s martyrdom? Or do I grumble, blame, murmur, cry and plead?
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.