“The Lady Clare, a native of the city of Assisi, a stone precious and strong above all the others of the pile, was the foundation.” —Thomas of Celano, First Life of Francis
A strong cornerstone is the key to any foundation. Only upon that can one begin to build. Otherwise, the rest of the structure is weak. St. Francis probably knew this as he worked to rebuild the church of San Damiano. Without a good base, whether in a family, faith life, or community, there is no stability. St. Clare provided this foundation for the sisters and for others who sought her wisdom.
Gaze | Consider | Contemplate | Imitate
For Clare, poverty is the foundation of life in God because poverty begins with God. To identify poverty in relationship to God is to quickly dispel the notion of poverty as merely material want or need. Clare realized that the accumulation of material things can stand in the way of God, and she sought to dispossess herself of things. However, the God-centered poverty that she highlights is more than material dispossession.
Poverty touches upon the very basis of existence itself, the gift of God given to us in the person of Jesus Christ. The poverty of God according to Clare is identified with the Incarnation, and because the Incarnation is the person of Jesus Christ, we can claim that the poverty of God is expressed vis-à-vis the human person. In her first letter to Agnes, Clare puts forth the tremendous mystery of the human person both as rich and poor, a mystery which she will expound in her subsequent letters. The mystery can be stated in this way: We are rich in our poverty, but we must possess poverty to know our wealth in God.
Clare does not see the meaning of poverty as living in deprivation but living fulfilled in God. Her understanding of poverty is paradoxical. To embrace poverty is to be endowed with riches; to possess and desire poverty is to receive God’s promise of the kingdom of heaven. The poor person is not the one in need of material things but the one in need of God and the one who needs God possesses God and to possess God is to possess all. –from Clare of Assisi: A Heart Full of Love
Thank you for your strength.
As we reflect on the large stone that sits in front of Christ’s tomb,
let us reflect on the fact that just one stone is needed as the base
upon which many others can rest.