Saturday, August 11, 2012

Clare, The Poor Lady

Born in 1193 in Assisi of a wealthy family and a noted beauty, Clare caught the joy of a new vision of the Gospel from St. Francis' preaching. Escaping from home, first to the Benedictines and then to a Beguine-style group, she chose a contemplative way of life when she founded her own community, which lived in corporate poverty understood as dependence on God, with a fresh, democratic lifestyle. Clare became the first woman to write a religious Rule for women, and in it showed great liberty of spirit in dealing with earlier prescriptions. Clare governed the monastery for forty years, caring for the sisters, ready to do whatever Francis directed. During the long years after Francis' death, she supported his earlier companions in their desire to remain faithful to his vision, as she did. Some of her last words were: "Blessèd be God, for having created me."  (Borrowed from St. John’s Herald, Lakeport)

O God, whose Blessed Son became poor that we through His poverty 
might become rich: Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, 
that we, inspired by the devotion of Your servant Clare, 
may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches 
of the age to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, 
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


John-Julian, OJN said...

"...she chose a contemplative way of life when she founded her own community"

Sorry, but that is totally inaccurate. What Clare *wanted* was to travel with Francis and his brothers. However, the church's practice (and Francis's own sexism) did not allow a woman under vows to exist anywhere except within an enclosed, contemplative community. So enclosure and the contemplative way were NOT Clare's choice. That's why the unenclosed Beguines were declared heretical—and why many years later the Visitation Order founded by Francis De Sales and Jeanne de Chantal to serve the sick and poor was forced to abandon its founding charism and become enclosed.

Harry Allagree said...

Thanks for the clarification, Fr. I'll send it on to Fr. Leo.