Having presided this morning and officiated and preached this afternoon, I found myself approaching my desk with a distinct lack of enthusiasm for a homily tomorrow morning.I'm very fond of both John Henry Newman AND Clare of Assisi, but somehow neither of them seemed to strike a chord for me - partly, I think, because I'm not convinced that people actually need a word at 8.30 on a Monday morning.This being so, I appealed to twitter for inspiration - and within minutes tweets had come in from all directions...a non conformist friend pointing me to an RC hagiography, assorted Franciscans recommending pet sites, and at least two wise friends reminding me that Malcolm Guite's poetry is almost always the answer in any search for inspiration. So, I did some patchwork - and because I am genuinely delighted at what I garnered from my assorted friends, I'm posting it here. Practically every word either comes from Clare herself, or from the collective wisdom of the internet...so my apologies if you feel I've borrowed your words without leave. I'm just amazed at what we found together, in the space of 10 minutes on a wet Sunday evening. Thank you all.
become what we love, and who we love shapes what we become...
from Clare of Assisi, whose feast we celebrate today.
and companion of Francis, and founder of the order of the Poor
Clares, her love for Christ, her share in the vision of St.
her extraordinary gifts as spiritual director, friend, and leader
made her a shining light and a clear mirror of Christ for thousands
in her lifetime, and she remains a light and inspiration to
Christians from many denominations today.
was above all committed to the Crucified Christ in His poverty,
encouraging her sisters, in this letter to Agnes of Prague,to share
the way of poverty as the heart of their vocation.
so great and good a Lord, then, on coming into the Virgin's womb,
chose to appear despised, needy, and poor in this world, so that
people who were in utter poverty and want and in absolute need of
heavenly nourishment might become rich in Him by possessing the
kingdom of heaven, then rejoice and be glad! Be filled with a
remarkable happiness and a spiritual joy! Contempt of the world has
pleased You more than [its] honors, poverty more than earthly
riches, You know, I am sure, that the kingdom of heaven is
promised and given by the Lord only to the poor: for he who loves
temporal things loses the fruit of love.
bestows eternal riches on those who love and embrace her! O
holy poverty, to those who possess and desire you God promises the
kingdom of heaven and
offers, indeed, eternal glory and blessed life! O
God-centered poverty,whom the Lord Jesus Christ Who ruled and now
rules heaven and earth, Who
spoke and things were made,condescended to embrace before all else!
she had been familiar with the concept of a life-verse, hers might
have been “Where
your treasure is, there your heart is also” and she encouraged her
sisters to focus constantly on Christ whatever the apparent cost.
a great laudable exchange: to
leave the things of time for those of eternity, to
choose the things of heaven for the goods of earth, to
receive the hundred-fold in place of one, and
to possess a blessed and eternal life. One
radiant image in Clare's letters is the mirror. You can gaze at her
words as you might gaze at an icon of Christ, tracing your own
reflection in Christ’s love, and being transformed little by
little into an icon of Christ yourself. Here is a template for the
three fold way of prayer which others would express more
consider, contemplate or
– as her Poor Clare sisters present it today...behold,
hold and enfold - the Lord
whose likeness you are called to bear in love.
your mind before the mirror of eternity! Place your soul in the
brilliance of glory! Place your heart in the figure of the divine
substance! And transform your entire being into the image of
the Godhead Itself through contemplation. So that you too may feel
what His friends feel as they taste the hidden sweetness that
God Himself has reserved from the beginning for those who love
become what we love, and who we love shapes what we become.