Lent II: In Our Midst – St. Clare of Assisi
In the Catholic cycle of readings for Lent, the Transfiguration is always the gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent. Jesus is seen in brilliant glory with Moses and Elijah, Peter wants to build tents, God declares Jesus as his beloved, it’s all over quickly and then they head down the mountain into a new reality.
Lent is the climb down the mountain. We are on this journey going deeper and exploring what is transfiguring in us, what is changing and what we are being called to in new ways. We can not do this alone. It is good for us to have others to journey with, to encourage us and to help us see the light we carry and the ways we are transforming.
St. Francis of Assisi knew the value of the journey and the value of having companions for the journey. Not just the brothers that joined him forming a fraternity, but also the wisdom of a woman. Clare of Assisi was intrigued by Francis and his conviction to live the gospel. She gave up her riches to follow him (and ultimately Christ) and live the gospel in the way she could for her time and place. To some extent St. Clare was the confidant of St. Francis. He trusted her, he turned to her in times when decisions needed to be made, he saw in her a purity and depth that he continually strived to incorporate into his life.
St. Clare was the wisdom that helped Francis come down the mountains of his life. He would often go away to the caves in the mountains for days and months and at a time for prayer and contemplation. So much so that he thought that maybe this is what he should do with his life. He turned to a few brothers and Clare to seek their input. It was Clare who said not “either or” rather “both and”, yes spend time in quiet but also preach the good news, live the gospel with your life and help others to encounter Christ. In the time from Francis’ conversion to her joining the brothers that late Palm Sunday night in 1212, to their journeys unto heaven – they maybe spent together a total of twelve times and yet their mutual affection for each other spurred them on to the greatest of their life journey. They let their light shine and claimed that they are also the beloved of God. They encourage us to do the same this Lent.
St. Clare (her naming meaning “clear, bright”) is a companion for this Lenten journey. She helps us walk down the mountain and calls us to go deeper for she knows Christ is there and desires nothing more than for us to shine our light and be one with him. St. Clare is a woman of light and strength. She led her community of sisters into deeper communion with the Trinity (where genuine love and mutual affection is the norm) and she encourages us in our relationships this Lent.
St. Clare, in her second letter to Agnes of Prague says to her: “O most noble Queen, gaze, consider, contemplate, as you desire to imitate your Spouse (Christ).” St. Clare offers us a way to prayer. She says remember to focus on Christ, consider the mystery of his love, contemplate this love and imitate him who is love in your words and deeds.
St. Clare asks us to return to our convictions to live the gospel by being attentive to our actions. She says of our relationship with Christ, “Love him totally who gave himself totally for your love.” How else do we do this but in our relationships with one another? Love must be our calling card, not just this season but always.
St. Clare says to us recall that being transfigured leads to a sweetness and delight. She writes in her third letter to Agnes of Prague, “Transform your entire being into the image of the Godhead, so that you too may feel what friends feel in tasting the hidden sweetness that, from the beginning, God has reserved for God’s lovers.” We are indeed that close to God. So closely and intimately is our God with us delighting over us.
As we journey in this Second Week of Lent, let us ask St. Clare to be our companion. Let us trust that she is shedding light on your path down the mountain and reminding us that even now in this chaos of life, “it is good to be here” (Mark 9) for we “walk before the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 116).
Blessings on the Lenten journey.
St. Clare walk with us and pray for us.
Icon: St. Clare of Assisi
by C. Ziprick – Soul Sibling Studios ©