Today the Catholic Church celebrates St. Clare, whose Church we spent some time in while we were visiting Assisi a few weeks ago. Clare holds a special place in our hearts.
Although she was born into a wealthy family, Clare followed St. Francis in a life of poverty. She was the foundress and superior of the Poor Clares in Assisi. San Damiano, the church rebuilt by St. Francis, became Clare’s home and there she spent much time in contemplative prayer.
Clare encouraged her sisters to gaze into the “mirror” – by which she mean the crucifix. Describing what one would see in this mirror, she wrote in a letter to Agnes of Prague:
In this mirror you will find poverty in bright reflection. you will see humility and love beyond words. You will be able to see this clearly with the grace of God and to contemplate it in its fullness…
Gaze upon that mirror each day…and continually study your face within it.
… Look at the border of this mirror, that is, the poverty of Him Who was placed in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes. O marvelous humility! O astonishing poverty! The King of angels, the Lord of heaven and earth, is laid in a manger! Then, at the surface of the mirror, consider the holy humility, the blessed poverty, the untold labors and burdens that He endured for the redemption of the whole human race. Then, at the depth of this same mirror, contemplate the ineffable charity that led Him to suffer on the wood of the Cross and to die there the most shameful kind of death.
Perhaps a question to ask ourselves is: When I gaze prayerfully at the crucifix, what do I see in the mirror? And how does what I see lead me to conversion and to greater love and compassion?