MANUEL CASAL (Catalunya)

Probably, it was during the school year 1961-62, in the Claretian formation house at Solsona. I remember some formation lectures given by Father Prefect on the characteristics of the spirit of the Congregation. I was surprised and did not quite understand that the Prefect included the martyrdom between the traits of the Claretians. At that time, I was what was called “a late vocation”, so I needed more practice.

The years have passed. The Congregation has placed me in a post of privilege. Now I am Vice-postulator for the causes of the saints of the province of Catalunya. I have occasion to read the accounts of the events of the summer of 1936. Wise priests, preachers of the Word, assistant brothers of strong convictions, it is enough to remember the martyr of the chastity Ferran Saperas. Young people left their families, many of them peasants, who knew little or nothing of the political events of the turbulent moment that the country lived. They were formed in study, in prayer, in love for the Congregation and for the men and women whom they felt called to evangelize. By the doctrine of the Church, they knew more of social justice than many who would lead them to give their lives for their Claretian ideals, in the name of irrational hatred and resentment.

It has been a difficult experience for me to express with single words the experience of opening the urns containing the remains of our brother martyrs; of seeing the ravages of bullets and shots and remembering their testimonies of forgiveness, kindness, Christian love. I had remembered how they implored God and our Blessed Mother for the grace of martyrdom as the best moment to bear witness to their faith in Christ and in His Church. To be in front of the remains of my Claretian brothers, to have them in my hands in extracting what will be the relics we will offer when, once beatified, they can be exposed to the veneration of the People of God. Believe me: it is a special emotion that I lived.

That is what beatification represents to me. I am called to live my religious and priestly life as they lived it. Giving the honest and simple authentic testimony of what I have committed to be and to show to the world.

Now, after the years, I already understand the martyrial dimension of the Congregation.