The Inflaming Love
At the end of her
life, St. Clare shared a beautiful summary of her spiritual life with
St. Agnes of
From Genesis to
Revelation, the Scriptures repeatedly use fire as a symbol of divinity
and an image of Godís relationship with man.
A flaming torch ratified Godís covenant with Abraham; the
apostle John saw seven torches of fire surrounding Godís heavenly
throne. It could even be
said that Jesusí redemptive mission was conceived and concealed in
fire: I have come to cast fire
upon the earth. And the
Letter to the Hebrews proclaims:
God is a consuming fire.
Godís way of working in the soul has also been described in
terms of fire. Kindle in our
hearts the fire of Your love, is a prayer the Church frequently
directs to the Holy Spirit. We
know what is meant when someone is said to be
fire with the love of God.
While every saint has an intimate connection with the
divine Fire, Francis and Clare of Assisi were so utterly transformed by
divine Love that they were known, even in their own time, as the Seraphic
The seraphim are the highest rank of angels in the heavenly court. They are, so to speak, the angelic ďfirebrands,Ē eternally consumed by love for God and forever singing before His throne: Holy! Holy! Holy! The Assisian saints so mirrored these pure, burning creatures in their love for God that to this very day we still honor them with that title: the Seraphic St. Francis, our Seraphic Mother Clare.
His Love inflames our
St. Clare would be
quick to explain that this mystery of love and fire does not begin with
us, but with God. HE is the
Fiery Love which enkindles, enlightens, transforms, consoles, consumes,
It is not we who
kindle this love within our hearts; rather, under the impetus of grace,
we open our hearts to receive this divine Fire, we surrender to it, we
allow it to transform and transfigure us.
Prayer offered St. Clare a privileged place for encountering the
burning Love who is our God. She
especially recommends contemplating
ineffable charity with which Christ willed to suffer on the tree of the
Cross so that we may
strongly be set afire with love. Such
an encounter can be likened to entrance into a furnace.
The ancient chroniclers used just that image to describe the Lady
Clare when she emerged from
blessed furnace of prayer.
when she returned with joy from holy prayer, she brought from the altar
of the Lord burning words that also inflamed the hearts of her Sisters.
His Love inflames our love! proclaims the Mother and Foundress who urged her spiritual progeny to love one another with the love of Christ and to show forth by their actions the love they had in their hearts. To allow His Love to inflame our love is the work of a lifetime. Yet it is also the work of this very moment -- an opening to Godís grace, an awareness of His love, an acceptance of His holy way of working in and through the fire of Love, until His Love inflames our love and God Himself begins to love in us.
Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy