Behold Him

Part 3

Son of the Glorious Virgin

  I speak of Him who is
the Son of the Most High,
whom the Virgin bore
and yet a Virgin remained.

- Letter of St. Clare of Assisi to St. Agnes
  of Prague    

          If St. Clare’s contemplative gaze rested in adoration on Jesus as the Son of the Most High Father, it also ceaselessly beheld Him as SON OF THE GLORIOUS VIRGIN.   Like St. Francis, St. Clare cherished a tender devotion to the Mother of Christ, for it was she who made the Lord of majesty our Brother. (Friar Thomas of Celano)    This marvelous mystery - that the Son of God the Father became the Son of a human Mother, like us in all things but sin - captivated her attention and elevated her prayer. Never let the thought of Him leave your mind, was the Seraphic Mother’s counsel to those who would follow her upon this path of contemplative beholding.

 

          St. Clare’s virtues resembled the virtues of the Virgin Mary so much that she was called the footprint of the Mother of Christ.  Her prayer also had a distinctively Marian character.  Like Mary, St. Clare looked on Jesus with a deeply maternal reverence, wonder and tenderness.  Her prayer and her praise, like Mary’s, were the fruit of pondering deeply in her heart the mysteries, the mercies and the mighty works of God.  Clare, like Mary, was a woman of silence, a humble handmaid of the Lord, and a mother of souls. 

 

        She beheld the SON OF THE GLORIOUS VIRGIN with the eyes of faith, and her gaze engendered a spiritual fruitfulness as she was more closely conformed to Christ and transformed by His love.

 

          Is this kind of beholding beyond the reach of the ordinary pray-er?  Not at all!  St. Francis, in his First Letter to the Faithful, reminds all Christians that we are mothers (to Christ) when we carry Him in our heart and body through divine love and a pure and sincere conscience. St. Clare takes this injunction a step further, assuring us that as the glorious Virgin of virgins carried (Christ) in her body, so without shadow of doubt you can carry Him in a spiritual way, if you follow the footsteps of her humility and especially of her poverty.

 

            Poverty of spirit, humility of heart, purity, sincerity and love empty the soul of self in order to make room for the Lord to come and make His home in us.   But this Christ-dwelling-within is not a static reality. Like Mary, we too must “bring Him forth,” we must give Him to the world. We give birth to Him, St. Francis wrote, through a holy way of working which should shine before others as an example.  Doing good to our neighbor “incarnates” the Lord who dwells within us. Loving one another with the love of Christ, show forth by your actions the love you have within you, St. Clare proclaims.  This is the fruit of beholding JESUS, THE SON OF THE GLORIOUS VIRGIN.  Carrying Him within, we show Him forth outwardly through deeds which give praise to our heavenly Father. 

 

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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