From Ave Maria Meditations
St. Clare of Assisi
Clare was born in Assisi, Italy in about 1194 into a family of knights and nobles. At the age of eighteen, Clare became the first female follower of Saint Francis when she left her home on Palm Sunday night in 1212 in order to be consecrated as the handmaid of Christ. Saint Francis soon took her to San Damiano where she anchored her whole self for over forty years. Because she remained rooted in one place, she liked to call herself the Little Plant of St. Francis. She was shortly joined by her sister who also had to escape from the family home and then in later years yet another sister and her own mother also joined her in religious life.
Saint Clare was the first woman in history to write a Rule. She took her form of life from Saint Francis who wanted to live the Gospel radically. She also chose to live with the privilege of poverty. This desire to live a rule of total poverty was opposed; it was said that it could not be done, especially by women. All the remaining years of her life she fought to have this privilege in her Rule of Life for her sisters. Only days before her death did the Holy Father finally grant this great wish. She placed her security in the providence of the Father of Mercies and trusted He would take care of her and her sisters through the goodness of the faithful. This has been proved true for over 800 years.
Clare also had a deep devotion to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. When the Saracens attacked her monastery, she had herself led to the door with the Blessed Sacrament. She begged Jesus to protect her Sisters whom she was unable to protect. She heard the voice of our Lord promise: “I WILL ALWAYS PROTECT YOU.” The Saracens fled in terror, and peace returned. St. Clare is most often pictured holding a monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament.
Clare had a supremely Marian Vocation. In her second letter to Saint Agnes of Prague, she wrote: “Therefore, as the glorious Virgin of virgins carried Christ materially in her Body, you too, by following in her footprints, especially those of poverty and humility, can, without any doubt, always carry Him spiritually in your chaste and virginal body.” As Francis was called to imitate Jesus in a radical and total way, Clare was called to imitate Mary.
St. Clare had the heart of a missionary. Her mission like her heart had a universal scope. Totally surrendered to God, her ‘mission field’ became as wide and far and broad as that of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Through the mysterious and radical limiting of her body to the cloister, her heart expanded so that her mission field became co-extensive with that of God Himself. Her apostolic ‘work’ was union with God and through Him her life was given a universal mission. This union was the source of her fruitfulness and apostolate.
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 .
The Blessing of Saint Clare
May Almighty God bless you.
May He look upon you with the eyes of His mercy
and give you His peace.
May He pour forth His graces on you abundantly
and in Heaven may He place you among His saints.
Saint Clare’s Way to Pray in order to become Prayer
Look upon Him who became contemptible for you,
and follow Him, making yourself contemptible in the world for Him. Amen.
PRAYERS TO ST. CLARE:
O Glorious St. 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, (mention your petition) if it be for the greater honor and glory of God and for the good of our souls. Amen.
Dear St. Clare, inspired by St. Francis, you became a poor nun for the sake of Jesus, and established the “Poor Clares.” We are told how greatly you cherished Christ present in the Sacrament of the Altar. Is the Mass not a kind of television of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross? Help all television workers to broadcast the truth and draw away from falsehood and evil. Amen.
A PRAYER FOR THE INTERCESSION OF ST. CLARE:
God of Mercy, You inspired Saint Clare with the love of poverty. By the help
of her prayers, may we follow Christ in poverty of spirit and come
to the joyful vision of your glory in the kingdom of heaven. We ask this
through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You
and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
NOVENA TO SAINT CLARE
Dear St. Clare, as a young girl you imitated your mother’s love for the poor of your native Assisi. Inspired by the preaching of St. Francis, who sang enthusiastically of His Lord Jesus and Lady Poverty, you gave your life to Jesus at nineteen years of age, allowing St. Francis to cut off your beautiful hair and invest you with the Franciscan habit. All through your life you offered your great suffering for your Sisters, the Poor Clares, and the conversion of souls. You greatly aided St. Francis with his new order, carrying on his spirit in the Franciscans after his death. Most of all you had a deep love of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, which fueled your vocation to love and care for the poor. Please pray for me (mention your request) that I will seek to keep Jesus as my first love, as you did. Help me to grow in love of the Blessed Sacrament, to care for the poor, and to offer my whole life to God. Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of St. Clare. Through her intercession, please hear and answer my prayer, in the name of Jesus Your Son. Amen.
From a letter to St. Agnes, her sister:
Therefore, most beloved sister, or should I say, Lady worthy of great respect: because You are the spouse and the mother and the sister of my Lord Jesus Christ, and have been adorned resplendently with the sign of inviolable virginity and most holy poverty: Be strengthened in the holy service which You have undertaken out of an ardent desire for the Poor Crucified, Who for the sake of all of us took upon Himself the Passion of the Cross and delivered us from the power of the Prince of Darkness to whom we were enslaved because of the disobedience of our first parents, and so reconciled us to God the Father.
When You have loved Him, You shall be chaste;
when You have touched Him, You shall become pure;
when You have accepted Him, You shall be a virgin.
Whose power is stronger, Whose generosity is more abundant,
Whose appearance more beautiful, Whose love more tender,
Whose courtesy more gracious.
In Whose embrace You are already caught up;
Who has adorned Your breast with precious stones
And has placed priceless pearls in Your ears
and has surrounded You with sparkling gems
as though blossoms of springtime and placed on Your head a golden crown
as a sign [to all] of Your holiness.
O blessed poverty, who bestows eternal riches
on those who love and embrace her!
O holy poverty, to those who possess and desire you
God promises the kingdom of heaven
and offers, indeed, eternal glory and blessed life!
O God-centered poverty, whom the Lord Jesus Christ
Who ruled and now rules heaven and earth,
Who spoke and things were made,
condescended to embrace before all else!
What a great laudable exchange:
to leave the things of time for those of eternity,
to choose the things of heaven for the goods of earth,
to receive the hundred-fold in place of one,
and to possess a blessed and eternal life.