Franciscan Spirit Blog

Lent with St. Clare: First Wednesday

Cross in a bowl of ashes

“This woman was a clear spring of the Spoleto Valley that offered a new fountain of living water for the refreshment and comfort of souls.” —Papal Decree of Canonization

When St. Clare died on August 11, 1253, she was only fifty-nine years old. Yet what she accomplished in those fifty-nine years has endured even today. That says a lot about her and the strength of her faith. It also gives us something to reflect upon. If we were to die tomorrow, what would our legacy be? Have we made an impact that will be felt years from now?

The season of Lent seems a perfect time for us to think about the mark we would like to leave on society.

Gaze | Consider | Contemplate | Imitate

While everyone has the capacity for love, not everyone acts out of love. Obviously, for Clare, the wicked do not, as she writes: “How many…let themselves be deceived, for, even though their pride may reach the skies and their heads touch the clouds, in the end they are as forgotten as a dung-heap!”

And who are the wicked? Are we among them? Are the wicked those who do bad things or those who fail in love? We might say, for Clare, the wicked are those who fail in love, who are so preoccupied with themselves that they deceive themselves by looking into the wrong mirrors, mirrors that distort their image and make them think they are something other than what they really are.

We wind up, in Clare’s words, in a “dung-heap.” We may attain material success but if we have failed to learn how to love we miss out on the heart of life.

To look into the mirror of the cross is to realize that we are called to be images of God, and to be images of God we are called into relationships of love. How do we come to that place in life where we can transcend our self-concerns and self-centeredness, where we reach out to others instead of reaching out for ourselves, where we are free to lay down our lives if necessary out of love for another? –from Clare of Assisi: A Heart Full of Love

Lent with St. Clare


St. Clare,
Your example offers a perfect challenge
to us during this season of Lent.
May we use your example as a light
by which to move forward.


19 thoughts on “Lent with St. Clare: First Wednesday”

  1. Arlene B. Muller

    I think that I can look to JESUS in His public ministry as a mirror, since Our LORD ” went about doing good.” I can’t perform the healings & miracles & deliverance He did, but I can & do try to help people in my everyday life. I see a good portion of my life as involved in doing good for others & involved in Church ministries.
    To look to JESUS CRUCIFIED as my mirror is another story. For JESUS CRUCIFIED to be my mirror involves loving sacrificial to the fullest extent & to accept & even embrace suffering. Women who are good mothers love sacrificially as a matter of course; as a happily celibate single woman I have managed to avoid most of this. & my closest experience of manifesting sacrificial love was as part-time caregiver for my wonderful Mom during the last 3 years of her life, helped by 2 wonderful aides. I tend to make it my goal to do as much good as I can with as little suffering as possible. That is why commitment is relatively easy but surrender is too scary & the thought of it makes me cringe. Of course, there are times when I have walked through times when suffering was unavoidable or part of doing what I had to do to obey GOD, but if I can avoid suffering without sinful compromise I would rather fo so.
    I do believe that the record of my life would show me to be a caring & generous person & even compassionate much of the time, but a person with mixed motives who can be 40/60, 50/50 & sometimes 60/40 on a good day when I evaluate myself according to the second part of the prayer written in the spirit of St. Francis: seeking to console more than being consoled, seeking to understand more than being understood & seeking to love more than to be loved. How much of the good I do may be mixed with my desire to think well of myself and to win the approval of others!
    I hope that my legacy will be good & not “on the dung heap” according to St. Clare’s & especially according to Our LORD’S standards.

    1. Wow Arlene! Your reflection really hits home with me – “I tend to make it my goal to do as much good as I can with as little suffering as possible” – that’s me. I almost always avoid looking in the mirror. I am also a happily celibate single woman, who along, with my sisters, also spent time caring for my mom for several years, a challenging and rewarding time of sacrificial love for sure.
      Peace and Good.

  2. I will work on being more compassionate especially when it may make me uncomfortable. St. Clare pray for me.

  3. Each of us are unique because we were all created by G-d. Once we seek Him and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us , we need not pondered on how we will be remember after death. The right hand must not know what the left hand is doing. At that time judgement await us by the Judge and that is what counts. Some will say the St. Clare like All the Saints accomplish a lot in her / their short time on earth but my take on that is that her / their lifes mirrors the saying G-d of yesterday is the same as today. All their acts were out of loving kindness. Remember our reward is not here on earth but with thy Father in His -Blessed be His Holy name- Heavenly Kindom.
    G-d Bless.

  4. I struggle with doing good things purely for the good of others and to not let me be seen in a good light.
    St. Clare pray for me

  5. to put myself in a contest with “standards” is to be dualistic and therefore in a basic punitive, judgemental arena. I am good. I am doing my best to be good and to get better. I hold humility as a way to keep my heart open to becoming better. I accept suffering as a pathway to peace. I do not grade or judge myself as being behind or ahead. This is my ego trying to assume control. I am where I am according to God’s will, and it is good. I love myself where I am. I look forward to being better as I learn to listen more and more. In dying to self I find eternal life.

  6. Today’s video was so awesome, so peaceful, so complete and spiritual…and yet so simple…thank you!

    1. Indeed Greg. Our growth in goodness and holiness must entail a constant dying to ourselves which can be very difficult. We must pray for the spirit of humility to enable us to let go of ourselves and let God.

  7. What is instantly notable about St. Clare is her lack of individualistic thinking and lack of “I” statements in her quotes and accounts of her life. Other than her saying she is following the Will of God and rejecting the life of comfort from the upper class in which she was brought up and expected to drift along its path in life.

    The quote shared with us today :“How many…let themselves be deceived, for, even though their pride may reach the skies and their heads touch the clouds, in the end they are as forgotten as a dung-heap!”……was true when she wrote it ,but also a glimpse into future generations. For if that is what St.Clare observed then, how much more could this be observed today?

    Pride takes on varied forms, most of them not good ,the next portion questionable , and the remaining portion will be judged by God .

    Yes, myself included,for I can fool myself and mess with my own head; but I will never fool God.
    Question of the day could be where do my works and thoughts land …..among the goats or among the sheep? And if God called me tomorrow,would I be prepared to compare my answer with His?

  8. What wonderful words! Thank you. I’m going to be thinking much on my plane ride home to prayerfully discern how I can love more deeply, more often, and more purely. In a way, I see loving with all the energy & directedness I can engender in this life as a way of pre-celebrating the Love that knows no bounds in my next life. I have a lot of work to do!

  9. Clare’s words really challenged me to reflect on my own life. Do I do ‘work’ in the hope that others will think good of me and to boost my own ego or are they done out of true love for neighbor? Sometimes, I do question myself about what and why I do. I do confess that I am up and down. Not all things I do out of love. I will try this lent to look into the mirror of the cross more closely so as to try to reflect this total self-giving that God calls us to.

  10. I want to imitate Saint Clare and be a “new fountain of living water for the refreshment and comfort of souls.” Living in the world is tough. The majority of my day is spent at work. Co-workers and bosses are difficult. I want to see past all that and see them as my sisters and brothers in Christ. The way God sees them, with love and be love for them. Help them in their challenges and struggles and not focus on what I like or don’t like. Saint Clare of Assisi, Pray for me.

  11. Joel E. Sulse,OFM

    Indeed, Clare’s mirroring of Christ is one of the best times we too is encouraged by our dear Lady Clare on this season of Lent. The spiritual path she is leading us is on how we can mirror Christ in us. The whole season of Lent for our Holy Mother Clare is an enticing venue to mirror Christ in our lives. Truly, the life of Christ can we seen in this aspect as a companion through which we can be guided to experience the spirit of metanoia. Let us have Clare as a companion to be able to immerse ourselves to such deeper spiritual encounter. Onwards to this beautiful journey in Lent.

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