We learn from St. Clare both the importance of giving one's life to Christ as well as the sublime, eternal rewards of doing so. When we leave the fleeting, temporary created objects of the world behind, no longer placing our trust in them or seeing them as inordinately important in our lives, we are freed from the burden of heavy, material chains and thus allowed, by the indwelling Spirit, to more clearly perceive the beautiful and sublime bounty of the Beloved, whose recreative and transformative love is the greatest of all gifts.
GLADE PARK, CO (Catholic Online)--Saint Clare was born in the town of Assisi around the year 1193. At the age of eighteen, she was deeply affected by the teaching of St. Francis, who so moved her that she later went to see him directly, and asked him to help her fully live out the gospel life of love for God. Francis encouraged her to leave evanescent, worldly things behind and enter into an ascetic life of simplicity, poverty, and holiness for love of Jesus Christ, and thus was influential in initiating a profound, permanent change in the course of the Saint's life.
On an evening soon thereafter, Clare resolutely left home and set out through the woods for the chapel of Portiuncula, where St. Francis was to be found living in poverty with a small community of followers. They had been praying ardently before the altar, and greeted Clare affectionately at the door. Francis brought Clare inside before the Blessed Virgin's altar, sheared off her hair, donned her in a habit of sack cloth, and tied it at the waste with a cord. Francis then took her to the Benedictine convent of St. Paul in order to keep her safe, where Clare was warmly welcomed into the community.
When friends and family members found out what Clare had done, convinced she had made a serious error, they attempted to literally drag her from the convent back to her former way of life. However, Clare would not have it; she resisted with all her strength, gripping the convent altar with such determination and firmness that her clothes were nearly stripped away. Amidst their protests, Clare boldly declared that Christ had himself called her to service and she would have no other spouse.
Clare was later moved by Francis to a small house near the church of St. Damian, which was situated on the outskirts of Assisi, and, at the age of twenty two, was made superior of the humble, little abode. Clare was soon joined by her mother, her sister who was about fourteen years of age, and several other holy women. They went barefoot, observed abstinence, maintained silence and devoutly engaged in a life of poverty for the sake of following their Savior, who humbled himself even to the point of death on a Roman cross.
While the Saracen army of Frederick II was attacking the valley of Spoleto, a group of heathens advanced on St. Clare's little convent in order to mount a violent assault against the women living there who were, do doubt, perceived as easy and defenseless prey. However, these holy women were far from defenseless, for they had found favor with God. Jesus Christ was their divine and human protector.
Aware of the power of the Blessed Sacrament, which is the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Risen Lord, St. Clare wisely had it placed in a monstrance, and then situated it above the convent gate facing the enemy. She knelt before the Lord hidden humbly away in the Blessed Sacrament and prayed, "Deliver not to beasts, O Lord, the souls of those who confess to Thee." She then heard the voice of Christ reply, "My protection will never fail you." Moments later, the attackers were stricken by panic and took flight. St. Clare's convent was spared.
Non-Catholic Christians are often at a loss as to why Catholics honor and revere the saints. It is important to understand that the saints in heaven are role models for us in the here and now. They are members of the body of Christ, members of our heavenly family, who clearly show us what it really means to live by the example of their own earthly lives. They lived in a fully human way, hidden in the heart of God, the only truly secure place to abide, where is found the only sure source of true and lasting happiness.
Further, the saints lovingly intercede for us, praying before God on our behalf, that we may be strengthened by grace in order to walk the sure path of human life that is itself the way of Christ.
We learn from St. Clare both the importance of giving one's life to Christ as well as the rewards of doing so. When we leave the fleeting, temporary created objects of the world behind, no longer placing our trust in them or seeing them as inordinately important in our lives, we are freed from the burden of heavy, material chains and thus allowed, by the indwelling Spirit, to more clearly perceive the beautiful and sublime bounty of the Beloved, who unceasingly calls us away from what is of little importance to what is of the greatest importance.
In freeing ourselves from distracting material and technological burdens, we are enabled to better listen to the Divine and Human whisper of the Savior of humankind, who calls us to join with him in a marriage embrace of love for all of eternity. As we give ourselves over to him, he gives himself over to us all the more, drawing our open and thirsting heart into the safe abode of his Sacred Heart, where we are satisfied and filled with joy, even amidst hardship or suffering.
In this way, we are given the gift of divine peace from Christ, who teaches us how to really live on the world, not ruled by it or chained to it, but freed from it, while yet living as productive, important and unique members of the human community, which brings us a sure and lasting happiness that is beyond the world because it originates not from the created but from the uncreated--from and in and with God.
Consumerism and materialism are, then, seen for what they really are, in all their unsatisfying poverty and emptiness. The gospel life in Christ, on the other hand, is seen in its true and magnificent light, where poverty is actually sublime richness, where simplicity is nothing less than astounding and fulfilling beauty.
St. Clare was canonized by Pope Alexander IV in 1255, at Anagni. She remains for us all as a model of holiness and purity, whose life reflects Christ himself, and whose love was magnified by the divine and human exchange of love between this beautiful virgin and her Beloved Spouse, the Savior of the world.
Deacon Fred Bartels serves the Diocese of Pueblo, Colorado, as a member of the Catholic Clergy. He is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at joyintruth.com
By Alex Basile
Every carpenter must practice patience. We can learn important lessons from the wood shop in Nazareth from the humble Saint Joseph. I have always been a "do it yourself" type of guy thanks to my father. My dad is always a steady presence during my home-improvement ... continue reading
By Deacon Keith Fournier
This great defender of the faith insisted on the central claim of Christianity: God can be known and loved-indeed, that is why He came into our midst in the person of His Son; so that through a relationship with Jesus Christ, man could participate in the ... continue reading
By Deacon F.K. Bartels
St. Teresa's whole life is one of simple beauty and fervent purpose; it is a life contained in Christ. She shows us how to live the same way through Prayer.On reading from St. Teresa, a deep feeling of her love for His Majesty envelops us; we begin, in a very real, ... continue reading
By Deacon Keith Fournier
If Christ Jesus dwells in a man as his friend and noble leader, that man can endure all things, for Christ helps and strengthens us and never abandons us. He is a true friend. And I clearly see that if we expect to please him and receive an abundance of his ... continue reading
By St. Francis of Assisi
We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh. Rather we must be simple, humble and pure. We should never desire to be over others. Instead, we ought to be servants who are submissive to every human being for God's sake. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on all ... continue reading
By St Therese of Lisieux
O Jesus, my love, at last I have found my calling: my call is love. Certainly I have found my place in the Church, and you gave me that very place, my God. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love, and thus I will be all things, as my desire finds its ... continue reading
By Deacon F. K. Bartels
The Catechism of the Catholic Church informs us - The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls 'angels' is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition (328). Charged by God to ... continue reading
By Deacon Keith A Fournier
God and his angels look down upon us; Christ, who looks on as we do battle in the contest of faith. What great dignity and glory are ours, what happiness to struggle in the presence of God and to be crowned by Christ our judge. Let us be armed with a great ... continue reading
By F. K. Bartels
If there is any message which can be drawn from St. Augustine's life, and there are many, it is the message of repentance and conversion. This is a message the world desperately needs to hear today. It is one of heartfelt dedication to Christ as Master, Teacher and ... continue reading
By Deacon F.K. Bartels
It is true that the creature loves less because she is less. But if she loves with her whole being, nothing is lacking where everything is given. To love so ardently then is to share the marriage bond; she cannot love so much and not be totally loved, and it is in the ... continue reading