hidden in the shadows
of San Damiano,
spent her jars of
witnessing to the
Daily she recited what
after worm met Seraph
in the cocoon of La Verna,
and was given
to flutter and spatter
for two more years.
But she lived on
of the comfort
with her twin flame.
Did she long to
set the world afire
with her preaching?
This was not given.
Did she ache to part
with the convent garden
and bear the Child
and Master Healer
into the world?
This was not given.
Hers was the "better part"
(Francis must have consoled
him again and again).
She was to sit
at the Lord's feet,
at the foot of His Cross,
every word and sigh.
She was the
enduring oil lamp,
now eternal flame.
She was the seed
fallen to the ground
of her own
and now evergreen.
Entrance Antiphon for the feast of St. Clare
(Franciscan Supplement to the Roman Missal)
Saint Clare of Assisi (1193-1253), friend and follower of Saint Francis, mystic, miracle worker, and foundress of the Order of the Poor Clares. The 41 years of Clare’s religious life are a model of piety and sanctity. She demonstrated an indomitable resolve to lead the simple, literal gospel life as Francis taught her, resisting worldly pressures to dilute the rules of her order. Through her commitment to the Gospel, and her unwavering life of prayer, Clare established a new manner for women to live in community and serve the Lord—one of poverty and humility, service and contemplation, and generous concern for others. Saint Clare continues to inspire us today through the example set forth in her life, as well as her writings which survive her.
“I need to be absolved from my sins, but I do not wish to be absolved from the obligation of following Jesus Christ.”
"He who feeds the birds of the air and gives raiment and nourishment to the lilies of the field will not leave you in want of clothing or of food until He come Himself to minister to you for eternity." The convents in Perugia and Florence asked for and received this privilege, whereas others thought it more prudent to moderate their poverty. Thus began the two observances which have ever since been perpetuated among the Poor Clares: the Urbanists (who follow a mitigated rule granted by Pope Urban IV in 1263) and those who more fully embody the spirit and tradition of Francis. To preserve this practice, Saint Clare drew up another rule stating that the sisters should possess no property, whether as individuals or as a community. Two days before she died, this rule asserting the Privilege of Property was approved by Pope Innocent for the convent of Saint Damian.
"Dispose of me as you please. I am yours, since I have given my will to God. It is no longer my own." She would be the first to rise, ring the bell in the choir, and light the candles; she would come away from prayer with radiant face. She further arose numerous times during the night to check on her sisters, replacing the blankets of those who may have fallen to the floor.
They say that we are too poor, but can a heart which possesses the infinite God be truly called poor?" We should remember this miracle of the Blessed Sacrament when in Church. Then we will pray with great Faith to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist: ‘Save me, O Lord, from every evil - of soul and body.’"
In speaking of Eucharistic Adoration, Saint Clare said, "Gaze upon Him, consider Him, contemplate Him, as you desire to imitate Him." Due to her great zeal and deep devotion for the Holy Eucharist, Clare came to resemble that which she consumed and gazed upon so frequently during her life. Pope John Paul II said of Saint Clare: "her whole life was a Eucharist because … from her cloister she raised up a continual ‘thanksgiving' to God in her prayer, praise, supplication, intercession, weeping, offering and sacrifice. She accepted everything from the Father in union with the infinite ‘thanks' of the only begotten Son."
"Does it please Thee, O God, to deliver into the hands of these beasts the defenseless children whom I have nourished with Thy love? I beseech Thee, good Lord, protect these whom now I am not able to protect." At that moment, she heard the voice of a child saying, "I will have them always in My care." She prayed again, for the city, and again the voice came, reassuring her. She then turned to the trembling nuns and said, "Have no fear, little daughters; trust in Jesus." At this, a sudden terror seized the invading forces, and then retreated in fear.
"God in his mercy so made issue with temptation that the besiegers melted away and their proud leader with them, for all he had sworn an oath to take the city."
"Would to God I had so little need of it!" To her nuns she said, "Praise the Lord, beloved daughters, for on this most blessed day both Jesus Christ and his vicar have deigned to visit me." On her deathbed, Clare was surrounded by ranking officials of the Church, many of whom traveled great distances to be with her, as they considered her a saint in life. Her sister Agnes was with her, as well as three of the early companions of Saint Francis- Leo, Angelo, and Juniper. Together, they read aloud the Passion according to John, as they had read at the death-bed of Francis himself, twenty-seven years beforehand. Following the reading of the Passion, Clare is reported to have said to herself: "Go forth without fear, Christian soul, for you have a good guide for your journey. Go forth without fear, for He that created you has sanctified you, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother." Witnesses reported that Saint Francis, himself, led her into the light of heaven.
"Totally love Him, Who gave Himself totally for your love."
“Gaze upon Christ,
as you desire to imitate Christ.”
"Since our bodies are not of brass and our strength is not the strength of stone, but instead we are weak and subject to corporal infirmities, I implore you vehemently in the Lord to refrain from the exceeding rigor of abstinence which I know you practice, so that living and hoping in the Lord you may offer Him a reasonable service and a sacrifice seasoned with the salt of prudence."
"Place your mind
before the mirror of eternity!
Place your soul in the brilliance of glory!
and transform your entire being
into the image of the Godhead Itself
"I come, O Lord, unto Thy sanctuary to see the life and food of my soul. As I hope in Thee, O Lord, inspire me with that confidence which brings me to Thy holy mountain. Permit me, Divine Jesus, to come closer to Thee, that my whole soul may do homage to the greatness of Thy majesty; that my heart, with its tenderest affections, may acknowledge Thine infinite love; that my memory may dwell on the admirable mysteries here renewed every day, and that the sacrifice of my whole being may accompany Thine."
"He, Christ, is the splendor of eternal glory, "the brightness of eternal light, and the mirror without cloud."
“What you hold, may you hold.
What you do, may you do and not stop.
But with swift pace, light step, unswerving feet,
so that even your steps stir up no dust,
may you go forward
securely, joyfully, and swiftly,
on the path of prudent happiness,
agreeing with nothing
that would dissuade you from this commitment
or place a stumbling block for you on the way,
so that nothing prevents you from offering
your vows to the Most High in the perfection
to which the Spirit of the Lord has called you.”
“For the Lord Himself has placed us as a model, as an example and mirror not only for others, but also for our sisters whom the Lord has called to our way of life as well, that they in turn might be a mirror and example to those living in the world.
Since the Lord has called us to such great things that those who are a mirror and example to others may be reflected in us, we are greatly bound to bless and praise God and to be strengthened more and more to do good in the Lord."
O Glorious Saint Clare! God has given you the power of working miracles continually, and the favor of answering the prayers of those who invoke your assistance in misfortune, anxiety, and distress. We beseech you, obtain from Jesus through Mary His Blessed Mother, what we beg of you so fervently and hopefully, if it be for the greater honor and glory of God and for the good of our souls. Amen.