Author of Salvation


 The four extant letters of St. Clare to St. Agnes of Prague are among the literary treasures of the Franciscan family.  Even their opening greetings provide a wealth of information about the writer and the receiver: the warmth of their friendship, their unity of ideal and purpose, and their love for Christ, the Lord and Spouse of their souls.

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  2:10  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 auctor leads us further.  The original Greek expression is sometimes translated as pioneer and refers to a forerunner, to someone who leads the way that others may follow.  In beholding Jesus, the Author of salvationSt. 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 redemptionthe greatest of all 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 and yearned 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 joys 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
through the Resurrection of Christ,
raise us up to the Author of our salvation
 so that, when our Savior comes in His majesty,
You may clothe with blessed immortality
those whom You caused to be reborn in Baptism.


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