Today we celebrate the feast of Clare of Assisi, who we usually think of in connection with St. Francis. Pope John Paul II once observed that “it is difficult to separate these two names, Francis and Clare. There is between them something very profound, which cannot be understood outside the criteria of Franciscan, Christian, Gospel spirituality.”
Like Francis, Clare insisted on living a life of poverty, something incredibly radical for women religious at the time. Clare and her sisters faced tremendous pressure to conform, but ultimately obtained papal approval to live without fixed incomes or dowries. For Clare, it was necessary not only to minister to the needs of the poor, but to have no security but that which God would provide. This was, for Clare, what it meant to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, to live the Gospel. Francis apparently believed “that Clare’s blending of poverty and contemplation more perfectly approached the ideal of radical Gospel living than he had been able to achieve.”
Clare’s way of life demonstrated a deep faith and a radical trust in God. It also demonstrated her love and devotion to Jesus, whose humility and poverty were a subject of frequent contemplation for Clare. I can only pray for the grace to live out of that same faith and trust and that same love and devotion.