Feast of St. Clare

Clare of Assisi
                          This beautiful icon was written by
                                       Bonnie Hardwick.

Homily for the Mass.

     From the first reading, “I will allure her…and speak to her heart.  “Hosea 2:16. Where will You allure her? Real estate agents love to say “Location, location, location…”Where was God leading Clare? God was leading her outside the walls of Assisi, down the hill to a tiny chapel, called the Little Portion, to meet with a motley crew of young men who would cut off her hair as a sign that she was joining their gang. That was her espousal to Our Lord Jesus Christ, and Francis was the best man. Clare joined the Friars.

     It was a challenge to find the right spot for Clare, and for the women who would be with her. Bishop Guido, the ordinary of the diocese of Assisi, had a spot. He offered a small chapel that was under his jurisdiction. It was outside the walls of Assisi and down the hill on the well-traveled road that led up into the town of Assisi. There to this day, is the chapel of San Damiano even if the Clares are no longer there. San Damiano was on the other side of the hill from the Little Portion of the friars. Between the two Franciscan Chapels was the Leprosarium. “Location, location, location…”
     The second reading for the feast is taken from Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians, “God let light shine in our hearts…even when we are affected in every way…” These exquisite readings for the feast of Clare were chosen by the friars after Vatican II for the feast of Clare. In this second reading we hear that the light is always there shining in the hearts of Clare and her Sisters that they might make known the glory of God shining on the face of Jesus. And they would do that in the presence of great challenges. There is no doubt that the light was shining on the face of Clare and her Sisters at San Damiano when they stared down the Saracen invaders. What I would like to bring to your attention at this point, is that it was a shared light, shared with Francis and the brothers who the Clares always had with them “through the kindness of the Order of Lesser Brothers.” Chap 12 in the Form of Life and “who were always faithful to the Sisters” the words of Clare. Francis and his closest companions never abandoned Clare and the Sisters at San Damiano. Clare and her Sisters were never distant from Leo, Juniper, Angelo, her cousin Rufino, Elias, and others. When Clare was dying Brother Rainaldo got Clare’s ire up when he told her to be patient in her sickness. She, in a “very unrestrained voice” (shouted) responded, “that since she came to know Jesus through Brother Francis nothing has been too hard.” At Clare’s death bed Juniper was there with his hijinks delighting Clare. Angelo, her cousin, while mourning himself was consoling the others, and Leo kissed her bed. The sisters and brothers were all crying. So much for strict enclosure.
     And poor old Celano writes “Who could narrate the rest without crying.” But, of course, he continues. Listen to this line, “Faces were swollen with tears and the fury of the mourning heart supplied ever new waters.”
     At that moment Clare turned away and said quietly to herself, “Go without anxiety for you have a good guide for your journey, for the one who created you has loved you and made you holy.”
From today’s Gospel, John 15:4-10, Jesus says “My Father has been glorified in your bearing much fruit.”
     After Clare’s death her body was carried up the hill into the city of Assisi to the Church of St. Georgio where Francis’s body had been laid at his death before being transported to the grand basilica named for him. Clare’s remains were buried deep under the altar of the Church of San Georgio which was incorporated into the grand basilica of St. Clare. It was more than 7 hundred years before the bones of St. Clare were exhumed and placed at a barred window in a side room of the basilica.
     When I visited Assisi in 1970 on the way to our new Clarian foundation in Zambia I visited the window where Clare’s remains were on view. I saw some bones with a black gauze pulled over the bones. Those were the remains of her earthly life. But where was Clare? “Location, Location, location.”
           From Clare’s 4th and last letter to Agnes of Prague, Clare writes “Farewell, dearest daughter with your daughters, until we meet at the throne of the glory of the great God. This is what I desire for us.” End of quote.

 

 

 

Eastertide

Easter, 2019

Dear Friends,                              

                     Easter is More than a Day 

On many a calendar this year, March 6th was the day when Christians and others received ashes on their foreheads with the injunction to “Repent and believe in the Gospel,” that is the Good News of Jesus Christ. For forty days we listened more acutely to the Scriptures and prayed that we might know then more deeply in order to live them more truly.

“Forty days and forty nights” and here we are at the Proclamation of the Three High Holy Days: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Vigil of Easter. Easter is here, and what we have before us is fifty days in which to celebrate.

Setting aside the numerical counting, what is it we celebrate?  How about this: a fresh creation, a new world, a planet of people reaching out to one another, not because we are alike but because we are so wonderfully different.  We celebrate the imagination of our creator, savior, lover God who has creativity beyond our wildest dreams.  This is the Easter good news, grand enough to celebrate for a lifetime.  Yes, Christ is alive in each and all of us, and we are embraced by our Creator and sent about by the Holy Spirit.  This is Good News.

 Your Clare Sisters of Rochester, MN                       

Inching toward Spring

The season of Lent in the northern hemisphere comes at an impressive time of the year.  Winter is still holding on but is beginning to lose her grip.  By this fourth week she tantalizes us with bright sunshine only to bite us with bitter cold soul splitting wind. 

Well, awake from your winter slumber because the scriptures for this fourth Sunday will thaw any heart.  The commentary this week in National Catholic Reporter is by Dominican Sister, Carol Dempsey, picking up on a story, she writes, has gone viral.  Our Gospel for the fourth Sunday is, of course, Jesus’ tale of the Prodigal Son.  The version Sister Carol offers us is out of Zambia, from the Bemba people.  Now I have just sent off the article to my Sisters of St. Clare in Zambia who have in Community Sisters who are Bemba by tribe. 

 The Bemba story goes like this.  If someone from the tribe acts dishonorably, instead of ostracizing the person, or worse, the people circle the prodigal. One by one they name all the good things this person has done in his or her life. They then break the circle and all join in  for a great celebration. You can read the full account on the Web: NCR.org/blogs/scripture-for-life.

 

Kate’s Poetic reflections on the Midwest Deep Freeze

IN THE NORTH

In the north one feels a dread of the slide
into silent, somber days,
cold shadows bruising the land.

It will be a long time until the winds of March
force the final blizzard,                                                                      sunshine returns and the frozen ground
lets its rigor go.

Lakes will open like the sky                                                              and people learn what the earth knows:
under the weather’s weight,
life recreates its way toward light.

 

Morning After Snowfall


MORNING AFTER SNOWFALL

1. Open fields white, pinewoods green,
dull dark green stark against snow;
over all, the grim cold as clean as ice.

Where sun shines the gleam is steely
and the blue air would crack if you bent it
which no one will be able to do until the thaw.

2. Fly away, trees, fly away,
night has provided you with wings,
with feathers light as air.
You are buoyant, cool and delicate,
waiting only for the right music.