Faith was the guiding force
on the prayer pilgrimage of St. Clare of Assisi.
Believing in God, she left all
things to dedicate herself to an enclosed life of prayer. Once
committed to conversion, [her] heart learned to pray in
faith — in a filial adherence
to God beyond what [she] could feel or understand.
Catechism #2609 Everyone knew that Clare
was a woman who prayed. Yet, as St. John Paul II noted,
it is not easy to express what only a woman's heart could experience in
prayer so profoundly immersed in the mystery of the triune God and of
Letter for the 8th Centenary of the Birth of St. Clare
So, in a sense, even examining St. Clare's prayer life requires faith, especially since she did not leave any systematic treatise on prayer.
Now, however, we
walk by faith, not by sight, we perceive God as "in a mirror" and only "in part." Even though
enlightened by Him in whom it believes, faith is often lived in
darkness and can be put to the test.
Even a great mystic like St. Clare of Assisi
walked by faith in the realm
of prayer. She surely had many moments of light, many times of the
deep, abiding sweetness of God's presence. The richness of her prayer
life is the best testimony to the quality of her faith which was
vibrant, patient and persevering. The Seraphic Mother knew what it was
like to wait on the Lord and to wait for the Lord. She experienced
firsthand that the contemplative life
is a communion of love bearing Life for the multitude, to the extent
that it consents to abide in the night of faith.
Catechism #2719 Abiding in the night of faith meant being willing
to keep her eyes fixed on Jesus during times of weakness, aridity,
fatigue, disappointment, insecurity. These "sheer faith moments" were
immensely fruitful, for they enabled St. Clare to
cling ever more faithfully to Jesus in His
agony and in His tomb.
cf. Catechism #2724
We walk by faith. What advice would the Lady Clare give to those wishing to grow in that great art of faith which is prayer? Feed your faith through the Scriptures, the sacraments, the liturgy, the study of Church teaching and spiritual reading. The early sources relate some of the outstanding manifestations of St. Clare's intense prayer life — light surrounding her, visions of the Passion and of the Holy Child, miracles, heroic virtue. But they also show a saint intent on praying always, who employed some very practical means to achieve her end. She repeatedly prayed the Holy Name of Jesus. She often recited a prayer in honor of Christ's five holy wounds. She memorized psalms and knew parts of St. Francis' Office of the Cross by heart. She cultivated a faith that perseveres, undeterred by God's silence, mindful that faith itself is pure praise. Catechism #2642 It is always possible to pray, because the risen Christ is with us and our time is in the hands of God. cf. Catechism #2743 And, let your faith be patient, for true prayer is a gift of God, and He knows best when and how to bestow it.
comes in the middle of the night; the light that must not be
extinguished is that of faith:
"Come,' my heart says, `seek His Face!"