Clare was the noble and lofty tree bringing forth
THE SWEET FRUIT OF FAITH
The early sources inform us that St. Clare belonged to a family in which there were seven knights, all noble and powerful. Thus she was no stranger to what was characteristic of such a life: chivalry and courage, strategy and battle. In responding to her vocation to a Gospel life of poverty and humility, Clare spurned the violence, profit and ambition associated with knighthood. Yet there was much in her family background which equipped her for the more exacting conquest of the kingdom of souls.
The spiritual battle of the Christian’s new life is inseparable from prayer.
Many people think that entering a cloister means leaving behind life’s struggles and temptations. Actually, the opposite is true: those who embark upon the cloistered life engage in these struggles at a deeper and more universal level. Spiritual combat is an element of monastic life which needs to be taught anew and proposed once more to all Christians today. It is a secret and interior art, an invisible struggle in which monks (and nuns) engage every day against the temptations, the evil suggestions that the demon tries to place in their hearts. St. John Paul II St. Clare was aware of this aspect of her vocation to prayer and penance. She experienced firsthand that our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
When Clare of Assisi said her “yes” to Christ, she put on the breastplate of faith and love 1 Thess. 5:8 and never looked back. She recognized that prayer is a battle… against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God. Catechism #2725 Even when physically attacked by the devil, Clare’s faith in Christ never wavered. She knew that she and her followers had undertaken to win a heavenly prize and that they needed to bring to ruin the subtleties of our crafty enemy not by human means but by a special gift of wisdom from God Himself, (through) humility, faith and the strong arms of poverty.
3rd Letter of St. Clare to St. Agnes of
with firm certitude that the Lord Jesus has conquered evil and death.
Taking up the shield of faith Eph. was something St. Clare did every day. She believed in Christ whose power is stronger than all the forces of evil, within and without. She knew by faith that He was with her always, and she urged her Sisters to be with Him always in order to emerge victorious from the battle for prayer, for self-conquest, for holiness. Our Master is not a mere onlooker in my struggle, but a contestant and the victor and champion in the whole battle, wrote the19th century Vietnamese martyr, St. Paul Le-Bao-Tinh. This was also the experience of the 13th century “prayer warrior,” St. Clare of