“And I beg you…to praise the Lord by your very life, to offer the Lord your reasonable service and your sacrifice always seasoned with salt.” —Third Letter to Agnes
Agnes of Prague traveled a journey similar to Clare’s in finding her vocation. Agnes came from a noble family and had married nobility. But when she became aware of St. Francis and his friars, she was captivated. At some point, she and Clare began corresponding. In her four letters to Agnes, St. Clare encouraged her to take on a life of service for others. Eventually, Agnes joined the sisters at a monastery in Prague, where she lived in the spirit of the wisdom St. Clare had given her.
Gaze | Consider | Contemplate | Imitate
There are few writings on Clare, compared to the volumes on Francis, and Clare herself left only a handful of writings. Of what remains we have four letters to Agnes of Prague, a Rule and a Blessing that are authentically Clare’s voice. The authenticity of the letter to Ermentrude of Bruges is questionable. The text known as her Testament was recently argued to be a fifteenth-century forgery produced by a convent in Florence seeking to reform, although the ideas within the text reflect Clare’s thought.
Of these writings, it is the letters to Agnes of Prague that interest us because they contain the essence of Clare’s ideas on the spiritual life. Although there are only four short works (as one friar exclaimed, “what can you say in four short letters?”) they are rich in depth and meaning. I believe these letters contain the heart of Clare’s spirituality which is centered on the Incarnation and transformation in Christ.
Clare’s spirituality does not develop systematically in her letters; rather, it is like a finely stitched pattern on a soft, delicate cloth. One has to read her letters slowly and prayerfully, as she weaves her ideas into the pattern of Christ. Her path to God, however, can be summarized in four short ideas that she describes in her second letter to Agnes:
O most noble Queen,
gaze upon [Him],
as you desire to imitate [Him].
–from Clare of Assisi: A Heart Full of Love
May your words to Agnes of Prague
and your example
serve as an inspiration for us to embrace
and live out our faith on behalf of others.
4 thoughts on “Lent with St. Clare: Fourth Monday”
Let’s go to G-d not other people. Love that direction. But is not that the direction of All the Saints. So let’s follow their ways or pick up the Bible and read it and live it . It has all the answers . As it was in the beginning so shall it be in the end.
Since the reflection today mentions the letters of St. Claire and authentic documents in question that were found I wanted to share something I found in my Grampa’s belongings shortly after this Lenten program began. I did post about finding this earlier in a box of his belongings, religious items my Grampa kept and used . My Grampa passed away in 2007,I have kept all of the religious articles in his collection. I have gone through the boxes quite often over the years. Sometimes to seek out an item I would like to use, sometimes at the request of my mom for an item she would like or other times to gift an item to another. I generally know what is in each box and how to find an item. One of the boxes I had opened many times now contained a brand new prayer card. That card was a hand drawn picture of St. Claire of Assisi. My Grampa had an interest in a few female saints, but he never had anything from St. Claire at all, and now here is this prayer card.
When I mentioned this story earlier in Lent, Jan, another participant responded with a link to find a grave for the person who created the drawing and printed what was on the back. I do not know if this was inspired by St. Claire and written by Mr. Motschall or if this prayer is hers. St. Claire seemed to have a poetic language that infused her writings,based on what I see here from her letters. And a romantic feeling I sense when I read some of what she wrote ,that is my opinion though. The prayer simply entitled A Sister’s Prayer doesn’t seem to be quite her style of writing,so I think Mr. Motschall may have written it. He passed away March 2 2003. Ever since I found it I have been praying the prayer each night on behalf of her order,I think that is the least I can do being entrusted with such a gift.
Today I share it for those who would be interested and wish to join I am including the prayer card here below
Dear Lord, teach us to care deeply
for one another. Help me to understand
that we are united by a special closeness
within the larger family of our Order.
This un ion we share is both my
responsibility and my strength. Make me
realize at all times that others in the
group are dependent upon my prayers, my understanding and my friendship.
And, in times of difficulty, give me the
faith to see that they are remembering
Distance is no deterrent to my
union with each one, because, in the
sphere of love, all men are brought
Today and everyday I ask your
Grace for myself and each member of
my Order that lye may find happiness
and peace in our journey towards you.
I tried the post the drawing ,but I could not get it to work. What I do believe is that this item was heaven sent by Mr. James Motschall SR. , so I consider this a gift and a minor miracle. I truly believe that God allows saints and those admitted to heaven to intercede for us and guide us in our lives,sometimes even before we know what or why we are in need of in that moment. So I said a prayer of Thanks giving For Mr. Motschall. I believe he is in heaven and able to continue doing what he loved in life ,creating hand drawn prayer cards and giving them away . A saint in the making? maybe …
I think G-d had His hands in this blessing. I am so grateful to be one of His children. May He bless all of us.