Clare was the noble and lofty tree bringing forth

THE SWEET FRUIT OF FAITH

Strength out of Weakness
Hebrews 11:34

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 faith
can discern [that power] when it "is made perfect in weakness."
(cf. CATECHISM 268)

  

      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 can also make a person more mature, helping him to discern in his life what is not essential
so that he can turn toward that which is.    (CATECHISM, 1501)

      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:
it can henceforth configure us to Him and unite us with His redemptive Passion
. (CATECHISM, 1505)


It was faith which caused St. Clare to rejoice in the measure in which she shared Christ's sufferings. (1 Peter 4:13) Her early biographer remarks that Clare maintained a festive and joyful appearance in every one of her mortifications. Even more, as she lay dying, Care was so invigorated by the strength of the Lord that she strengthened in the service of Christ everyone who came to her. (The Legend of St. Clare) What was the secret of such strength out of weakness? The Seraphic Mother gives us this faith-filled reply; Once I came to know the grace of my lord Jesus Christ... no pain has been bothersome, no penance too severe, no weakness has been hard. Her faith gave rise to love, the love that is the light and in the end, the only light that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working. (Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 39) May the light of faith bring us to this height of love so that God's strength may be drawn out of our weakness, too!


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