is something so attractive about excellence.
Whether it is a well-cooked meal, a well-tended garden, a
beautifully crafted piece of wood, or a superbly executed piece of
music, the excellence of something well done draws us like a magnet.
Who has not wanted to ask the gourmet cook, the green-thumbed
gardener, the master craftsman, the concert pianist: What is your secret?
If excellence in temporal things attracts our attention, how much
more appealing is excellence in the realm of the spirit?
So beautiful was our Lord at prayer that His disciples were
compelled to ask Him: Lord, teach
us how to pray! Admiring
the fortitude of the Church’s martyrs, the wisdom of her doctors, the
insights of her mystics, the virtues of her saints, are we not moved to
is your secret?
The answers will vary. All
of the saints will speak of God’s grace, of the need for effort,
determination, perseverance, humility, contrition, love.
But each saint cherishes a particular “secret,” a method,
emphasis, virtue or approach which is uniquely personal.
is your secret?
ask this of that great contemplative woman, St. Clare of
The Seraphic Mother wrote no treatise on prayer.
She was not a theologian in the formal sense of the word.
Yet in a letter to St. Agnes of
advising St. Agnes how to fulfill her call to contemplation, St. Clare
simply said: BEHOLD HIM! Consider Him!
Contemplate Him, desiring to imitate Him!
This is the “secret” of her prayer, so rich and deep, so
life-giving and life-transforming. Hers
is not a complicated method or complex technique.
And yet, it takes a lifetime to plumb the depths of Clare’s
simple words, to allow them to become in us a true force for prayer and
In this series we will seek to BEHOLD
Christ as did St. Clare, to look at Jesus through the lens of her
experience, to allow Clare’s gaze to become our own.
The Latin verb which St. Clare used when inviting us to BEHOLD
the Lord is intuere.
look at attentively, to gaze at (even
look right in the face);
pay attention to; to contemplate, to consider; to look at with
astonishment or admiration. Very significantly, we find this verb
used in the Gospel of our Lord’s encounter with the rich young man:
looked with love at him.
To help in this holy “beholding,” we shall use the Face of
the Crucified which St. Clare gazed upon during the 42 years of her
religious life in the monastery of San Damiano.
If another image of our Lord speaks more to you, use it.
But, take your place alongside St. Clare, lift up your eyes to
that blessed Face, BEHOLD HIM
with love and admiration, attention and astonishment.
Look towards Him and be
radiant (Ps. 34:5) and you will have already begun to share in St.
And all of us, BEHOLDING
Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy