What’s in That Prayer? The Collect for Saint Antonio Maria Claret

Here is the oration that the Church prays in the Mass and Office for Saint Antonio Maria Claret (October 23):

Deus, qui beátum Antónium Maríam Confessórem tuum atque Pontíficem, apostólicis virtútibus sublimásti, et per eum novas in Ecclésia clericórum ac vírginum famílias collegísti: concéde, quǽsumus; ut, eius dirigéntibus mónitis ac suffragántibus méritis, animárum salútem quǽrere iúgiter studeámus.

Here is my translation:

O God, who hast elevated Anthony Mary, Thy Confessor and Pontiff, with apostolic virtues, and through him hast gathered together in the Church new families of clerics and virgins: grant, we beg Thee, by his guiding admonitions and favorable merits, that we may ceaselessly apply ourselves to seeking the salvation of souls.

Here is the translation from the Divinum Officium site:

O God, with the virtues of an apostle thou didst exalt blessed Anthony Mary, thy Confessor and Bishop, and through him build in thy Church new religious congregations of clerics and virgins: grant, we beseech thee, that led by his counsels and helped by his prayers, we may unremittingly work for the salvation of souls.

Note that I translated Pontíficem not as “Bishop” but as “Pontiff.” The noun Pontifex, literally meaning “bridge builder,” is a word the Church applies not only to the Supreme (or Roman) Pontiff, the pope, but also to every bishop — each of whom bears the fullness of the priesthood of Jesus Christ. The traditional book of ceremonies used by a bishop — not exclusively the pope, mind you — is the Pontificale Romanum, the Roman Pontifical.

Saint Anthony Mary was a religious founder, both of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (that “family of clerics” mentioned in the oration), and also — with Venerable María Antonia París — of the the “Religious of Mary Immaculate,” a congregation of teaching Sisters he established in Cuba (the oration’s “virgins”). Apparently, he founded other female congregations as well. More recently, the male community he founded are known as “the Claretians,” while the female congregation mention is known as “the Claretian Sisters.” It would seem that the Revolution in the Church has not been kind to either congregation.

Besides paying tribute to Saint Antonio’s status as a Bishop (indeed, the one-time Archbishop of Santiago, Cuba) and religious founder, the prayer acknowledges his apostolic virtues: which we pray for ourselves to imitate: “that we may ceaselessly apply ourselves to seeking the salvation of souls.”

One of the founding members of our own Congregation, the indefatigable Brother Hugh, M.I.C.M., had a simple exhortation that he frequently made to the Brothers and Sisters: “Keep your eye on the ball” — meaning the primary purpose of our Congregation, to Glorify God and to save souls. Saint Antonio Maria ever kept his eye on the ball of God’s glory and the salvation of souls, goals that have been sent to the back of the ecclesiastical bus in the last several decades, where they languish behind a host of other priorities, some good in themselves, others downright evil. This is especially the case since the heresy of indifferentism has become the de facto religion of large segments of our hierarchy and faithful.

Through the intercession Saint Antonio Maria, may we ever keep our eyes on the ball!

Regarding the Saint’s surname, some make the mistake of assuming it is French and pronouncing it, klar-EY. Bad mistake! His name is not French (although he died an exile in that great country). His name is not Spanish, either, but Catalan. Therefore, the “T” is not only articulated, but it is pronounced with gusto, as the accent falls on the last syllable: klar-ET.

Here is an excellent on-site feature-article on this amazing saint: A Very Special Patron: Saint Anthony Mary Claret.