THE SWEET FRUIT OF FAITH
out of Weakness
St. Care of Assisi was, by all accounts, a strong woman. She showed an exceptional strength of will in responding to God's plan for her life. Her strength of character was manifested in the serenity with which she faced the opposition, scorn and contempt of those who did not understand her vocational choice. Even physically she was strong, and able in her younger years to take on an austere regimen of penances that would tax the capacity of even the fittest saint.
God's power is universal, loving and yet mysterious, for only
In 1224 Clare fell ill, so ill that her Sisters feared she would die. God spared her life but never fully restored her health. For the next twenty-nine years, the Seraphic Mother carried the cross of chronic illness, for the most part completely bedridden and often so weak that she needed help even to sit up, Yet it was precisely at this point of physical diminishment that divine grace equipped her with a spiritual strength that astonished even those who were closest to her.
Illness can lead to anguish,
self-absorption, sometimes even despair and revolt against God.
It was faith which enabled St. Clare to accept her powerlessness, her limitations and her finitude in a spirit of serenity, thanksgiving and joy. Our flesh is not bronze, nor is our strength that of stone, she candidly admitted to one of her Sisters, No, we are frail and inclined to every bodily weakness! Faith enabled the Lady Care to live her sickness in the presence of God, to embrace His mysterious way of working. Faith enabled her to glory in her weakness in order to draw to herself Christ's power. (cf. CATECHISM, 1 502 and 273) Faith assured her that in suffering she could complete in herself what was lacking in the sufferings of Christ for His Body, the Church. (Cot. 1:24)
By His Passion and death
on the Cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: