“The work you have begun so well, complete it!”
—Letter to Ermentrude of Bruges
Stop and think of yourself in Clare’s place. It’s difficult, isn’t it? That’s because we are all called to serve Christ in different ways. Clare’s way is not your way, nor is it anyone else’s. What we must do, however, is to seek and pray about our calling to bring God’s message to others. St. Clare can serve as an inspiration, but it is up to each of us to chart our own paths.
Gaze | Consider | Contemplate | Imitate
Clare is a mystic who delights in living in the mystery of God. She assures Agnes that God has invited her into the divine embrace if she is willing to accept the invitation. As she enters into that embrace, she is to realize the transience of earthly things and the infinite wealth of heaven, which is not a place but a relationship of love. In the cross of Jesus Christ, Clare realizes that God does not hold back anything for himself but rather gives himself completely to us.
Divine revelation is the movement of God to poverty. The One who is rich in love comes down to where we are, takes on our humanity, and extends his arms on the cross to embrace us in love. In the mystery of the cross, therefore, Clare sees that God is self-giving and self-gift. God gives everything to us in the gift of the Son or, in Clare’s words, the “beloved Spouse.”
God loves us to such a degree we might say that God “throws it all away” out of love to be God-for-us. The poverty of God is the source of our true riches because “God promises the kingdom of heaven to those who possess and desire you [poverty].” The sign of God’s outpouring love is the cross which manifests to Clare the victory of love. She tells Agnes that she is already caught up in God’s embrace (of love), indicating that God does not love us for what we do but for who we are. God does not love us because we are good or perfect or do nice things but simply because God is love. Love is what God does because God is love.
Those who “desire and possess” poverty, Clare indicates, live in the embrace of God’s love. –from Clare of Assisi: A Heart Full of Love
In you we see a model of faith.
In that model, may we find inspiration
to discover our own way of fulfilling our ministry to the world.