Memorial of Saint Clare
August 11, 2022
Blessed are the poor in spirit;
the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we’ll pray with the readings for St. Clare of Assisi. Clare, like Francis, was a luminous prophet of the Christian era.
Clare of Assisi (born Chiara Offreduccio, 16 July 1194 – 11 August 1253) was an Italian saint and one of the first followers of Francis of Assisi. She founded the Order of Poor Ladies, a monastic religious order for women in the Franciscan tradition, and wrote their Rule of Life, the first set of monastic guidelines known to have been written by a woman.Wikipedia
By the life Clare lived, she gave testimony to a sacred reality which continues to enrich the life of the Church.
As I learned about Clare, I discovered a woman who was original and innovative in her own right. She was profoundly mystical and charismatic, unyielding and radical in her commitment to poverty; a model of servant leadership; determined despite years of ailing health; courageous in the face of danger. In short, she was a saint…with or without Francis.Bret Thoman, O.F.S., – an American Catholic lay writer, secular third order Franciscan. His latest book is St. Clare of Assisi: Light from the Cloister.
Today before I wrote this reflection, our own Mercy Sister Clare was buried. As our sisters are carried to the cemetery, the death knell slowly tolls out over the whole surrounding neighborhood. Some may hear it as a solemn reminder as did the poet John Donne:
No man is an island, Entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were. As well as if a manor of thine own Or of thine friend's were. Each man's death diminishes me, For I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.
Instead, I choose to hear the hallowed sound as a salute to one who understood and chose what is most important in life:
Happy the soul to whom it is given to attain this life with Christ,Clare of Assisi
to cleave with all one’s heart to him
whose beauty all the heavenly hosts behold forever,
whose love inflames our love,
the contemplation of whom is our refreshment,
whose graciousness is our delight,
whose gentleness fills us to overflowing,
whose remembrance makes us glow with happiness,
whose fragrance revives the dead,
the glorious vision of whom will be the happiness
of all the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem.
For he is the brightness of eternal glory,
the splendor of eternal light,
the mirror without spot.
Our Gospel today reinforces the lesson that a life given fully to Christ and the Gospel, as was both these precious Clare’s, is returned to the giver a hundredfold:
Peter said to Jesus,
“We have given up everything and followed you.
What will there be for us?”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you
that you who have followed me, in the new age,
when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory,
will yourselves sit on twelve thrones,
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters
or father or mother or children or lands
for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more,
and will inherit eternal life.”
Music: Let the Love That Dwells in Your Hearts
Let the love that dwells in your hearts shine forth in your deeds. (St. Clare)