Minute Meditations

Loving God in Good Times and Bad

Leaves in the shape of a heart

Clare’s language in her letters to Agnes of Prague is the forceful affective and sensuous language of desire: sighs, crying out, rejoicing, weeping, embracing, tasting, smelling, and kissing. All of which relates directly to the intimate knowledge of Christ effected through contemplation of his image through all the passages of his life. For Clare, to contemplate Christ is to fall in love with him, identify with him, and for love of his love to walk the walk with him, becoming thereby an image, a mirror of the Crucified Christ, which is what every Christian mystic is. In Clare’s life the mirror of the crucifix became most real to her in the long illness she endured, bedridden much of the time for years. Yet, even in suffering she served her sisters, often rising from her bed to minister to their needs, especially those who were themselves ill.

When I think of Saint Clare and what she did with her time all those bedridden years, poverty comes to me as a verb: she “poored.” She poored because that is where she met the poor Jesus, who was her mirror and bridegroom. Clare wrote of what it takes to “poor.” She wrote a Rule of Life that is the map of how she and her sisters were to poor. It was the first Rule of Life in the Church written by a woman. It was a Rule based on her and her sisters’ experience of pooring together. Their Rule became the expression of the way to embrace the mirror in whose embrace is realized the fullness of the human potential for loving God. Franciscan poverty as lived by Clare is the portal into the light that is already there unseen in the so-called dark night of the soul, in the darkness of abandonment by his Father that Jesus experienced on the cross. It is the contemplative union out of which is born the “child” that is good works, active love toward others.

—from the book Mystics: Twelve Who Reveal God’s Love
by Murray Bodo, OFM

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