Franciscan Spirit Blog

Lent with St. Clare: Fourth Tuesday

Cross with a crown of thorns

“I judge you to be a co-worker of God Himself and a support for the weak members of His ineffable Body.” —Third Letter to Agnes of Prague

St. Clare did not let chronic illness deter her from taking care of her fellow sisters who were ill, as well as some of Francis’ brothers in their times of need. Clare also cared for Francis near the end of his life. It was, for her, the ultimate act of service on behalf of Christ. Later, she herself became the recipient of such care from others. Both she and her sisters provide us with a wonderful example of serving as Christ’s hands and raising up those who are weak.

Gaze | Consider | Contemplate | Imitate

Clare’s fasting, even if motivated by spiritual ideals, was not supported by those closest to her. Francis, along with the bishop, visited her to demand that she alter her practice. The fact that he invoked the authority of the church in this instruction indicates how very worried he was and how determined he was to make sure that she would comply. In other words, his own efforts prior to this meeting had not been successful.

Clare’s illnesses that seem to be omnipresent from early on appear to have their roots in this excessive fasting. She used a physical garment called a hair shirt worn against her skin. These were vest-like garments fashioned of the skin of a pig or horse with the bristles intact so that they lacerated the flesh they rubbed against. This was a practice of many ascetics.

That a woman born among nobles would be capable of enduring such continual torment astounded not only her sisters, but the brothers as well. One account describes a sister asking Clare’s permission to wear a similar penitential garment. She gave up quickly and declared that she could not believe that Clare could endure such pain and maintain her good disposition. How might we show such surrender to God in less extreme ways? —from Light of Assisi: The Story of Saint Clare

lent with saint clare


St. Clare,
Your care for those in need provides us
a wonderful reminder to do the same for others.
May we offer strength and comfort to them.


11 thoughts on “Lent with St. Clare: Fourth Tuesday”

  1. If we look at Lent as a sacrifice for our sins and the sins of others, we will have no choice but to do penance our whole life.
    So I will conclude this is why the Saints are seen chastising their flesh. The flesh is weak and act as a doorway to sin.
    The Saints also bear in peace their pain. But being guided by the Holy Spirit they are able to live the new commandment .
    – Love one another as I have love you.
    G-d Bless.

  2. “Offer it up!” My mother would say if I complained. How I hated to hear that as a child. But now I know that it is my share of suffering for the brokenness and sinfulness of the world. A share in the Paschal Mystery. That is, taking part in the work of salvation by Christ. Be strong and endure! Your suffering has meaning! Consolation is coming when all things are made new.

  3. Fasting and deprivation for religious reasons is one thing, but it is a whole different thing if it’s the result of anorexia nervosa.

  4. Lord Jesus Christ, increase our love for you and unite our hearts and will with yours, that we may only seek and desire what is pleasing to you. Amen.

  5. Christopher Colville

    The Holy Spirit is an awesome Spirit. I think Francis’ realization, that the ability of the women to endure the same things as men had to be the Spirit of the Lord, tells me (us) to be more open to that Spirit of God and to be more trusting in the Spirit.

  6. I was wondering what type of chronic illness St. Clare suffered and how she was able to do Gods work with these limitations. Some days I find it difficult to even concentrate to read from my prayer books or participate in rosary with my pain condition or complete chores around the house when I must fast from food for control of the CRPS. I have learned to offer it up ,but I am no where as strong as St.Clare.
    I am trying to to ponder and meditate on what my life can become now that I can’t work like I used to. I am prevented from moving forward to even volunteer because a secular world order must be closed out before I am free to make new choices. In the interim my husband is working full time and we discovered God provides all we need with some sacrifice on our part. It hardly seems like sacrifice to me since covid also changed my way of life prior to the CRPS setting in . For now this time frame allows me to pray for others and the world while I research new options. I am working exclusively for God ,instead of man and that feels just right.
    Thank you again to Franciscan Media for providing this Lenten journey with St. Clare of Assisi , it is a journey that is much needed this lent !

  7. Ruth my grandparents and parents taught me the same principle. You conveyed this beautifully in your message.
    Just want to add it wasn’t until I was an adult that I had a chance to read the accounts of the little children of Fatima or learn about the Marian apparitions from DivineMercy.Org in the series of talks by Fr. Chris Alar . I greatly appreciate the love , suffering, and repentance the children would sincerely unite their offerings to the cause of the sin. Some of the logic these little ones used to reason the cause /effect was something my adult mind had not even begun to consider. I am humbled by hearing their examples and your account today. God Bless you on your Lenten journey 🕯😇🕊💗

  8. Reading this account of Saint Clair’s casting and suffering in the garment she wore was really starting to me! How she must have suffered! It made me realize that I need to practice humility and not be “long suffering” when people ask how I’m doing. I am reminded of my own dear Mother saying to us children “Offer it up” when we had complaints.

  9. I’m also wondering what was Saint Claire’s chronic illness. But also really wondering Saint Francis had to go tell her to stop the fasting because she hadn’t listened. Did she?

  10. What Linda C. describes seem to be the effects of Long Covid. She should see a doctor if that is the case. God does not want us to suffer needlessly. May God bless her.

  11. Thank you for your concern Catherine. I may have skipped over a few details and thus made the post confusing. My CRPS is a result of a simple injury that was complicated by a resulting surgery. It was work related so unfortunately I can not seek new employment until the case closes out. Training for new employment must be arranged in my case. The closures from the pandemic also caused a delay in the treatment and surgery process as well as closing down /eliminating hours from a job /industry I was working in prior to CRPS.
    I am seen by a physician every month ,sometimes a few times a month. I am limited in exploring new options for care until the case closes. All care must be approved by my employers insurance, my ortho and lawyer work on that portion. I am grateful for all they do to guarantee my rights and access to care.
    Thank you for your prayers and blessings! Peace of christ be with you!

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