The Catechetical Saints
Part 20


The writings of St. Clare of Assisi reveal not only her sublime spirituality,
but also her profoundly practical love for the religious family God had entrusted to her.
Her Rule, her Testament, and her letters are marked by a maternal charity
made manifest in her caring for the spiritual and material needs of her Sisters.


            St. Clare did not, however, confine her love within temporal bounds; it extended into eternity as well.  After indicating in her brief Rule
that her community was obliged to pray the Office of the Dead, the Seraphic Mother adds:
When a Sister of our monastery shall have departed this life, (the other Sisters) shall say the PATER NOSTER fifty times.   
Hers is a thirteenth century confirmation of the ecclesial fact that

From the beginning, the Church has honored the memory of the dead
and offered prayers in suffrage for them.


        The Rule of St. Clare also includes legislation for the celebration of the solemn observance of Masses for the departed, a striking reminder that

The Eucharist is at the heart of the Paschal reality of Christian death.

            The 13th century manuscript known as “the breviary of St. Clare,” which is still preserved at San Damiano, has the full texts of Masses 
for the departed with musical notation, again witnessing to the early Franciscans’ concern for the spiritual welfare of the dead,
confirming the Church’s centuries’ old teaching that

The Eucharist sacrifice is also offered for the faithful departed
who “have died in Christ but are not yet wholly purified,”
so that they may be able to enter into the light and peace of Christ.


            May St. Clare help us to deepen our faith in the efficacy of prayer for those who have gone before us,
enabling us to see that every Mass and every prayer offered for our beloved dead strengthens our bonds with them for

our prayer is capable not only of helping them,
but also of making their intercession for us effective.



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