Behold Him

Part 11

The Beautiful One

 The Incarnate Son of God is the infinite Beauty 
which alone can fully satisfy the human heart.

                                                                 - Blessed John Paul II

      It is difficult to put into words just what Clare beheld as she contemplated her Lord and Love, Jesus Christ.  A key to unlocking her secret may be found in “The Praises of God Most High” composed by her spiritual father and mentor, St. Francis of Assisi .  It is significant that amid these sublimely simple expressions of awe and wonder, the Little Poor Man twice repeats: You are BEAUTY!

             You are BEAUTY, O Jesus, whom Clare beheld as a humble Infant, laid in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, enthroned on the lap of His Virgin Mother.

            You are BEAUTY, O Jesus, whom she considered in the mysteries of the hidden life, in the obscurity of Nazareth , amid the toils and labors of a carpenter’s son.

           You are BEAUTY, O Jesus, whose ministry and miracles Clare followed in prayer, whose mystery she embraced in her long hours of pondering and praying over the Gospels.

            You are BEAUTY, O Jesus, the beauty which Clare, in faith, gazed upon beneath the luminous veil of the Eucharistic Bread, the beauty for which she yearned as she contemplated Your ineffable delights, eternal riches and honors, and sighed for them in the great desire and love of her heart. (cf. 4th Letter to St. Agnes)

            This Beauty, HIS BEAUTY, the sun and the moon, and all the blessed hosts of heaven unceasingly admire, the Seraphic Mother wrote to her beloved daughter, the future St. Agnes of Prague .

          There is another aspect of this mystery of divine beauty to which St. Clare would direct our attention: Your Spouse, though more beautiful than the sons of men, became for your salvation, the lowest of men.  Indeed, it is precisely on the Cross that Jesus fully reveals the beauty and power of God’s love. (Bl. John Paul II)  This beauty is revealed to the humble, the prayerful and the penitent as the truest beauty that exists -- the infinite, ineffable, incomparable beauty of the God who is Love.

           Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Yet, what happens when the “beholder” gazes upon Him who is the source and summit of all beauty? St. Clare would say that in beholding the Beautiful One who is Jesus, one becomes beautiful.  But, this human beholding of divine beauty requires effort, surrender, self-renunciation.  Thus Clare insists that we must look into the Mirror which is Christ every day, so that we may adorn (ourselves) within and without with the flowers and garments of all the virtues.   If we should grow weary or fretful or fearful, the Seraphic Mother would repeat to us the words of St. Augustine : Let not the weakness of the flesh distract your eyes from the splendor of His beauty.

            In the countenance of Jesus, the image of God and the reflection of the Father’s glory, we glimpse the depths of an eternal and infinite love which is at the very root of our being.  (Bl. John Paul II)  Having glimpsed this love, having been seized by the beauty of the One whom she beheld, St. Clare surrendered to the transforming action of His grace, and became, like every holy soul, a reflection of the Divine Beauty.  Through her intercession may the Most Holy Trinity bless the sons and daughters whom He has called to behold and to praise the greatness of His love, His merciful goodness and His BEAUTY.  Amen!

Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy
300 North 60th Street
Belleville , Illinois   62223-3927   U.S.A.
www.poorclares-belleville.info

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