Sustaining them in these trials was the work of prayer. To such communities the church entrusted the “office” of praying the liturgy of the hours. The day—and night—was punctuated by formal prayer. In this way hymns, psalms, and prayers—recited or sung—would continually rise from earth to heaven. In this way the glory of God never ceased to be celebrated and the needs of humankind never ceased to be a source of trusting petitions. If those first sisters did, indeed, count the insults and privations as “great delights” what would explain such joy but the exaltation that flows from a love that “surpasses understanding.” It was through the daily cycle of prayer that such “blessed assurance” grew in them. The rounds of hours of the breviary brought the richness of psalms and Scripture texts into dialogue with their daily tasks. Meditation upon the Byzantine Cross, the adoration of the Eucharist, attending Mass, hearing sermons—all gave new meaning to each day’s trials or triumphs. Weaving prayer and productive work created the balance within their hearts and minds that allowed them to keep moving. The poor sisters lived filled with consolation, with assurance. They dared to believe that promise of Jesus. They were learning that he was true to his word and their joy was, indeed, full and free. They learned to reverse their own standards of judgment in favor of the riddle that calls one to lose life in order to gain it. That women could live without the safety net of approved monastic vows and ample endowments and follow Christ in such literal fashion was news indeed. And the women themselves were the first to understand that.
— from the book Light of Assisi: The Story of Saint Clare
by Margaret Carney, OSF