Saturday, August 11, 2018

Aug 11 - St. Clare of Assisi

+ St. Clare of Assisi was born, July 16, 1194. Her father was a count and her mother the countess Blessed Orsolana. Her father died when she was very young. After hearing St. Francis of Assisi preach in the streets, Clare confided to him her desire to live for God, and the two became close friends. On Palm Sunday in 1212 her bishop presented Clare with a palm, which she apparently took as a sign. With her cousin Pacifica, Clare ran away from her mother’s palace during the night to enter religious life. She eventually took the veil from St. Francis at the Church of Our Lady of the Angels in Assisi.

Clare founded the Order of Poor Ladies (Poor Clares) at San Damiano and led it (also never leaving it) for 40 years. Everywhere the Franciscans established themselves throughout Europe, there also went the Poor Clares, depending solely on alms, forced to have complete faith in God to provide for their needs, through people’s kind hearts and generosity; this lack of land-based revenues was a new idea at the time. Clare’s mother and sisters later joined the order, and there are still thousands of members living lives of silence and prayer, throughout the world and in our own United States.

Clare loved music and well-composed sermons. She was humble, merciful, charming, optimistic, chivalrous, and every day she meditated on the Passion of Jesus. She would get up late at night to tuck in her sisters who’d kicked off their blankets. When she learned of the Franciscan martyrs in Morocco in 1221, she tried to go there to give her own life for God but was restrained. Once when her convent was about to be attacked, she displayed the Sacrament in a monstrance at the convent gates and prayed before it; the attackers fled in fear, the house was saved, and the image of her holding a monstrance became one of her emblems. Her patronage of eyes and against their problems may have developed from her name which has overtones from clearness, brightness, brilliance – like healthy eyes.

Toward the end of her life, when she was too ill to attend Mass, an image of the service would display on the wall of her cell; thus her patronage of television, and no doubt in our day: computer screens and movie screens. She was ever the close friend and spiritual student of Francis, who apparently led her soul into the light at her death! Clare died on August 11, 1253 of natural causes.

In the gospel passage today, which no doubt St. Clare was very familiar with, Jesus tells St. Peter that those who give up everything to live for God, will receive a hundred times more – even in this life – and will inherit eternal life: the grandest inheritance and prize of them all! Keeping our heavenly vision focused on this goal can help modify all our thoughts, words and deeds, into nuggets of gold – the gold that does certainly line the streets of the new city of God.

Blessed are the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!

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