“Look upon Him Who became contemptible for you, and follow Him, making yourself contemptible in the world for Him. Your spouse, though more beautiful than the children of men (Ps 44:3), became, for your salvation, the lowest of men, despised, struck, scourged untold times throughout His whole body, and then died amid the sufferings of the Cross. O most noble Queen, gaze upon Him, consider Him, contemplate Him, as you desire to imitate Him.” (St. Clare of Assisi, The Second Letter to Blessed Agnes of Prague)
Sometime ago I attended a workshop, presented by Sherry A. Weddell, author of the book “Forming Intentional Disciples, The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus.” In her presentation, she shared the story of interviewing a Catholic woman, who was very active in her parish, and was asked to describe her lived relationship with God. The woman responded by saying that she did not have a relationship with God. This shocking response from someone who was doing the works of charity, who was an important contributor to the life of her parish, shocked Ms. Weddell. And it shocked me when I heard it, and saddens me. It makes me wonder many others are in a similar situation with their faith life.
When people look at Franciscans, they see friars and sisters actively serving the poor, the outcasts; comforting the sorrowful, the grieving. And sometimes, this active face of Franciscanism is all people see. However, it is when the Feast day for St. Clare of Assisi comes around, that we are made aware of another aspect of the Franciscan way of life. And that is, like Francis and Clare, we are called to enter into an intimate relationship with the God who loves us. Through a life of prayer, and contemplation, we become more aware of the Presence of the Lord, within us, within all those we meet, within all of God’s Creation.
Clare and her Poor Ladies served, and continues to serve as a reminder to the rest of the Franciscan Family, that without a personal relationship with our Triune God, our good works will eventually dry up, unless we remain connected to the source of all Love, through Jesus Christ.