Clare was the noble and lofty tree bringing forth

THE SWEET FRUIT OF FAITH

 Will He Find Faith?
(Luke 18:8)

A hint of wistfulness permeates the question Jesus posed at the end of the parable of the persistent widow: When the Son of Man comes to earth, do you think He will find faith?  While this query points primarily to Christ’s final coming, it can also refer to what St. Bernard calls our Lord’s “intermediate comings.”  Will the Son of Man find faith in our hearts when He comes in the daily occasions for virtue, in little inspirations of grace?  Will He find faith as He is proclaimed in His Word or is made present in the Blessed Sacrament? Will He find faith when He reveals Himself in the distressing disguise of the poor or in the shadow of the Cross?   Will He find faith? 

  There was one place in Assisi in the early 13th century where our Lord assuredly found faith and that was in the little monastery of San Damiano.  Even its location outside the city walls was a proclamation of its inhabitants’ faith in God’s protecting providence.  When St. Francis brought St. Clare and her first companion, her younger sister Agnes, to this little nest of poverty in the spring of 1212, a new chapter in the history of religious life began. 

 Faith commits every one of us to become a living sign of the presence of the Risen Lord in the world.
(Pope Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei, 15)

 In God’s plan, Clare and Agnes were not destined to remain alone.  Around them, wishing to live like the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, gathered the first group of Sisters, for whom God alone sufficed. (Bl. John Paul II)  The grace of faith opened the “eyes of their hearts” to the beauty of a Gospel life of prayer and penance hidden with Christ in God, offered in union with Him for the salvation of the world. (cf. CATECHISM, 158)  In the small space of the monastery of San Damiano, at the school of Jesus, contemplated with spousal affection in the Eucharist, day by day the features developed of a community governed by the love of God and by prayer, by caring for others and by service. In this context of profound faith and great humanity, Clare became a sure interpreter of the Franciscan ideal. (Pope Benedict XVI, Letter for the 8th Centenary of St. Clare’s Religious Consecration)

The Seraphic Mother frankly admitted that deprivation, poverty, labor, trial, scorn and contempt of the world marked her community’s first years.  Yet, unshakable faith in God made Clare and her Sisters not only accept these sufferings but reckon them as great delights.  Faith made them understand that their consecrated obscurity was a sharing in the hidden life of Jesus, a participation in the holy humility, the blessed poverty, the untold labors and burdens that He endured for the whole human race. (St. Clare, 4th Letter to St. Agnes of Prague)

The forty years lived in the monastery of San Damiano did not narrow the horizons of Clare’s heart,
but expanded her faith in the presence of God, working out salvation in history.

(Bl. John Paul II, Letter for the 750th anniversary of the Death of St. Clare)

 St. Clare still reminds the Church of the need for faith in God and of attentiveness to His hidden action in the human heart and in human history.  It is always in the light of faith that God gives Himself.  But the signs of God are so discreet in the ordinariness of your everyday life that you must be vigilant if you are to persevere and grow in faith. (Bl. John Paul II)   When the Son of Man comes to earth, will He find faith?  Through the example and prayers of St. Clare of Assisi, may the answer be always: YES!

 

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