Clare was the noble and lofty tree bringing forth

THE SWEET FRUIT OF FAITH

We Walk By Faith
2 Cor. 5:7

            Prayer begins with faith. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews states: for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. (11:6) The CATECHISM affirms that one enters into prayer by the narrow gate of faith. (2656) And the witness of many saints concurs with the precept elucidated by numerous Christian writers that growth in prayer is concomitant to growth in faith.

Prayer is the response of faith to the free promise of salvation.
(CATECHISM 2561)

     Faith was the guiding force on the prayer pilgrimage of St. Clare of Assisi. Believing in God, she left all things to dedicate herself to an enclosed life of prayer. Once committed to conversion, [her] heart learned to pray in faith in a filial adherence to God beyond what [she] could feel or understand. (CATECHISM 2609) Everyone knew that Clare was a woman who prayed. Yet, as Blessed John Paul II noted, it is not easy to express what only a woman's heart could experience in prayer so profoundly immersed in the mystery of the triune God and of Christ. (Letter for the 8th Centenary of the Birth of St. Clare) So, in a sense, even examining St. Clare's prayer life requires faith, especially since she did not leave any systematic treatise on prayer.

Now, however, we walk by faith, not by sight, we perceive God as "in a mirror"
and only "in part." Even though enlightened by Him in whom it believes,
faith is often lived in darkness and can be put to the test.
(CATECHISM 164)


     Even a great mystic like St. Clare of Assisi walked by faith in the realm of prayer. She surely had many moments of light, many times of the deep, abiding sweetness of God's presence. The richness of her prayer life is the best testimony to the quality of her faith which was vibrant, patient and persevering. The Seraphic Mother knew what it was like to wait on the Lord and to wait for the Lord. She experienced firsthand that the contemplative life is a communion of love bearing Life for the multitude, to the extent that it consents to abide in the night of faith. (CATECHISM 2719) Abiding in the night of faith meant being willing to keep her eyes fixed on Jesus during times of weakness, aridity, fatigue, disappointment, insecurity. These "sheer faith moments" were immensely fruitful, for they enabled St. Clare to cling ever more faithfully to Jesus in His agony and in His tomb. (cf. CATECHISM 2724)


     We walk by faith. What advice would the Lady Clare give to those wishing to grow in that great art of faith which is prayer? Feed your faith through the Scriptures, the sacraments, the liturgy, the study of Church teaching and spiritual reading. The early sources relate some of the outstanding manifestations of St. Clare's intense prayer life light surrounding her, visions of the Passion and of the Holy Child, miracles, heroic virtue. But they also show a saint intent on praying always, who employed some very practical means to achieve her end. She repeatedly prayed the Holy Name of Jesus. She often recited a prayer in honor of Christ's five holy wounds. She memorized psalms and knew parts of St. Francis' Office of the Cross by heart. She cultivated a faith that perseveres, undeterred by God's silence, mindful that faith itself is pure praise. (CATECHISM 2642) It is always possible to pray, because the risen Christ is with us and our time is in the hands of God. (cf. CATECHISM 2743) And, let your faith be patient, for true prayer is a gift of God, and He knows best when and how to bestow it.

The Bridegroom comes in the middle of the night; the light that must not be extinguished is that of faith:
"Come,' my heart says, `seek His Face!"
(CATECHISM 2730)

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