Clare was the noble and lofty tree bringing forth

THE SWEET FRUIT OF FAITH

 Repent, and Believe!
(Mark 1:15)

As Clare of Assisi entered her teen years, her thoughts and those of her family quite naturally turned to the future.  Her relatives wanted her to marry well.  Yet Clare consistently refused the proposals they arranged.  Religious life?  There were Benedictine monasteries in the area, but Clare was not drawn to them.  Neither was she attracted to one of the small groups of pious women, forerunners of active religious Sisters, who were banding together to live a communal life dedicated to prayer and good works.  What then?

 

   

Faith is choosing to stand with the Lord so as to live with Him.    
  
(Pope Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei, 10)

The turning point came when Clare heard the future St. Francis preach the Lenten mission at Assisi’s cathedral.  His burning words witnessed to the depth of his love for Christ and the totality of his commitment to live according to the form of the holy Gospel.  Clare, accompanied by a trusted companion, met secretly with Francis and his companion, Brother Philip.  Like the rich young man in the Gospel, she asked: What must I do?  Unlike the rich young man, Clare did not turn away sad.  Inflamed with love for the poor Christ, she secretly sold her paternal inheritance and gave the proceeds to the poor.  And then she made her great leap of faith.

Jesus asks for a radical choice: to gain the Kingdom, one must give everything.
(CATECHISM, 546)

The delicate 18-year-old who fled home on the night of Palm Sunday 1212, set off without hesitation on the adventure of a new experience, believing in the Gospel as Francis showed her, and in nothing else.  This is how Blessed John Paul II described St. Clare’s response to the Gospel summons: Repent, and BELIEVE! With swift pace, light step and unstumbling feet, she made her way to the little chapel of St. Mary of the Angels to begin her religious life.

This, then, is the marvelous yet demanding task awaiting all Christians at every moment:
to grow always in the knowledge of the richness of Baptism and of faith, as well as to live it more fully.

(Blessed John Paul II, Christifideles Laici, 58)

           Clare’s first weeks in God’s service were marked by misunderstanding, opposition and even violence on the part of some of her relatives.  Yet by humility, the virtue of faith and the strong arms of poverty, (she) took hold of the incomparable treasure hidden in the field of the world and the human heart. (3rd Letter to Agnes of Prague)  Leaving all things for Christ, she found all things in Christ. 

 Repent, and BELIEVE!   St. Clare’s conversion, unlike that of St. Francis, was not a turning to God after a frivolous, worldly life.  It was, rather, a turning from what was good to something immensely better. As Pope Benedict XVI so beautifully wrote: How could one fail to hold up Clare, like Francis, to the youth of today?  Her story, like that of Francis, is an invitation to reflect on the meaning of life and to seek the secret of true joy in God.  It is concrete proof that those who do the Lord’s will and trust in Him alone lose nothing; on the contrary they find the true treasure that can give meaning to all things
(Letter for the 8th Centenary of St. Clare’s Religious Consecration)

 
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