The Author of Salvation
The four extant
letters of St. Clare to St. Agnes of
So when Clare wishes Agnes the joys of redemption in the Author of salvation and every good thing that can be desired, one senses immediately that this is not a mere medieval formality, but a deep, heartfelt desire of a spiritual Mother for her spiritual daughter. It is natural to want joy and good for someone we love. But what does St. Clare mean when she declares to Agnes that the joys and the goods she desires for her can be obtained only in Jesus, the Author of salvation?
The very title, the Author of salvation
(Auctore salutis, in Latin),
reveals the Seraphic Mother’s great familiarity with Sacred
Scripture and the liturgy of the Church.
The phrase appears in the Letter to the Hebrews (
) and also,
with some variations, in several of the Church’s prayers for Lent and
Paschaltide. Each of these references points to the primacy and the
priesthood of Christ as well as to the fruit of His redemptive work
which is the salvation of the human race.
The etymology of the word
leads us further. The
original Greek expression is sometimes translated as
and refers to a forerunner, to someone who
leads the way that others may follow.
In beholding Jesus, the
Author of salvation, St. Clare saw Him who had “gone the way”
before her. Moreover, she discovered that Jesus Himself had become
“the Way.” Through His
poverty and His Passion, Christ was leading Clare and her followers to
the fullness of the joys of redemption, the greatest
the good things that can be desired.
The Latin etymology
of the word author opens up
another vista for contemplation. In
Latin, an auctor is one who gives increase. It
can be an ancestor, the founder of a family, a leader, a causer or doer,
an originator, the source or beginning.
To behold Jesus as the Author of salvation in this light heightened St. Clare’s
appreciation of Him as the One who, literally, gave her religious family
a good beginning and to Whom she turned with the confident petition
that He would likewise give them increase and final perseverance.
In modern English, “author” immediately connects with
“writer.” This too sheds light on Clare’s beholding Jesus
as the Author of salvation. The
mysteries of Christ’s life were for Clare like chapters in the divine
book of salvation. His Cross
was the chapter on virtue, where Clare could plumb the depths of His
poverty, humility and charity. His Resurrection was the chapter on glory
in which Clare contemplated
Christ’s ineffable delights, eternal riches and honor
for the joys of redemption in the
great desire and love of her heart.
The celebration of the Paschal Triduum offers the faithful an
opportunity to join St. Clare in “reading” the sacred mysteries of
life, love and grace written by Jesus,
the Author of salvation, in His suffering, death and Resurrection.
May we find in them the lasting
of redemption and every good thing which can be desired, so that the
Church’s Eastertide prayer may be fulfilled:
O God, You who have
restored us to life
Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy