> St. Clare – Lent Through a Franciscan Lens

St. Clare – Lent Through a Franciscan Lens

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Lent Through a Franciscan Lens

Once St. Francis turned his life over to Jesus, he recognized his calling to dedicate his life to the poor, work for peace and interreligious dialogue, and find God in all creation. Francis’ charisma and evangelical drive to live like Jesus drew many followers, some of whom today are also Saints.

During Lent, we enter this sacred season looking for inspiration to strengthen our faith. With this intention, each week during Lent, we will feature a “Sister reflection” of a Franciscan saint who has found Jesus by walking in the path of Francis.

St. Clare in Lent

By S. Margaret Carney

“Never let the thought of Him leave your mind but meditate constantly on the mysteries of the Cross and the anguish of His mother as she stood beneath the Cross.” (Letter to Ermentrude:11-12)

How did Clare do this spiritual practice? Or…were these words simply a pious exaggeration? Let’s consider just two things.

Daily Prayer Form

Each day, Clare prayed the Office of the Passion, which Francis composed. This liturgy brought the person praying into the hours of Jesus’ Passion and created a sense of accompanying Him in this dreadful time. The psalms reflect the Suffering Servant theme and highlight the confidence of the one praying. The continual prayer was part of a response to the situation of Assisi and surrounding territories. They were awash in violence and continual warfare. The sufferings of death, torture, imprisonment, families bereaved—all were familiar to St. Clare and St. Francis. Christ, they believed, was present in those sufferings, too.

The San Damiano Cross

It is easy to forget that the beautiful Crucifix that spoke to Francis surmounted the chapel where Clare and her sisters worshiped. In recent years, we have learned so much about the details of this work of art, of its deep spiritual, biblical meaning. Clare surely had many moments of enlightenment during those years when it was the visual center of her prayer.

We have so many different images of the suffering Christ. Do we have one that is a particular “lesson” for us, one that draws our hearts to feel compassion and repentance for our part in the suffering He endured? Perhaps we can learn from Clare that a work of art can be of great importance in teaching us how to keep this great mystery in mind.