Our celebration of the solemnity of Our Holy Mother Clare was splendid. To everyone who sent email greetings, cards, telephone calls, and visits : THANK YOU! We praise God for the gift of our friends and extended spiritual family. We prayed in a special way for all of our Franciscan family, especially all of our fellow Poor Clares.
Our Canadian Connection of Priests have been rotating their summer holiday so as to care for our Sacramental needs for nearly the entire month of August for us. Fr. Mike, Fr. Marco, Fr. Bob, and Fr. Steven are priests from Toronto whom we have prayed for since early on in their priesthood. We are blessed by the friendship and kindness to us. Fathers, we are so grateful for your sacrifice! Our greetings go out to Fr. Jim Bussanich – part of the Canadian connection who was unable to get away from his parish for his annual visit! We miss you, Father!
And, today, we continue the Saint celebrations with St. Jane Frances de Chantal (one of my personal favorite saints! Pic to the left) . Like St. Clare, she had a “Francis” as well to guide her and journey with her along the path of sanctity. She was the spiritual daughter of St. Francis de Sales. Here is a good sampling of St. Jane de Chantal’s spiritual wisdom:
“Live joyously and courageously, my dear daughter, never doubting that Jesus Christ is entirely yours.”
Getting back to St. Clare: Fr. Marco’s homily yesterday was wonderful. (And our thanks to the Seminarians of the Diocese of Phoenix who served the Mass). Below you will find a transcript of the homily. P.S. When we asked Father for his notes to put online for all of you to enjoy, he gave us his hand-written homily – and what beautiful handwriting! So I had to type out the homily. As you may have noted from past blogs, I am not the most meticulous typer (I can just see my sophomore typing teacher cringe!) So bear with any typos 🙂 And enjoy this little spiritual gem!
Homily by Fr. Marco Testa on August 11, 2010
Thus says the Lord: I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart. (Hosea 2:16)
These words of the Prophet Hosea speak in a very specific manner to you, Sisters, as you prepare to move to your new Monastery. They are also words that Our Lord spoke to each one of you individually as He called you to walk in the footsteps of your Holy Mother St. Clare. ‘Here, O daughter, and see; turn your ear, forget your people and your father’s house. So shall the king desire your beauty.’
But Our Lord is also speaking to us today, to the Church as a whole; and in St. Clare, this quintessentially Franciscan saint we are all led to the very heart of the Gospel that the Church proclaims and by God’s grace endeavors to live. In the Litany that we prayed at Vespers yesterday, we asked for the grace to follow St. Clare in poverty, humility, and obedience. These virtues, abundantly evident in the life of St. Clare and of her faithful daughters, are so thoroughly evangelical that they render both the holiness and the teaching of St. Clare relevant to the Universal Church.
All of us are familiar with the mandate given by Our Lord to St. Francis to go and to rebuild His Church. St. Clare and her daughters, then and now, share in this work. Each in their own way, St. Francis and St. Clare fulfilled this mandate principally, I believe, by giving form to the first beatitude: the poverty of spirit expressed in poverty – both material and spiritual – in humility and in obedience. Poverty of spirit – this doctrine is the basic truth of the Gospel and the heart of this truth so clearly understood and taught by St. Clare is that nearness to God grows not out of fullness in righteousness but out of the receptive emptiness of our poverty. Visually, I think this means that we all come before Our Lord with empty hands. This is why the call to the desert is made to the Church and to each one of the disciples of Jesus.
By virtue of our Baptism all of us have been consecrated servants of the Gospel. All of us are called to live this poverty of spirit. And as we walk this path guided as we are by Our Lord Himself and the Saints we come to realize that the holiness for which we strive is the wholehearted openness to the love of God. There is a correlation between poverty of spirit and holiness. The greater our knowledge of our innate poverty, the greater our openness to the love of God so generously bestowed on us in Christ, Our Lord and our Brother.
Today we are rejoice in the memory of a woman whom you Sisters are privileged to call your Holy Mother. In her daughters, In her daughters, beloved of God and loved also by us, St. Clare continues to teach us that we must embrace our poverty; effectively we must abandon ourselves to Divine Providence which is both concrete and immediate; and God will indeed take care of everything.
As we now prepare to encounter Our Lord in His Eucharistic poverty, may St. Clare obtain for us the grace to live Eucharistic lives. It is with empty hands that we come before Him. May she obtain for us the grace to recognize our own poverty in the Eucharist that we may truly be His disciples. For poverty of spirit is no less simplicity of heart and our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI long ago observed that the faith of those who are simple of heart is the most precious treasure of the Church. To serve and to live this forth is the noblest vocation in the renewal of the Church.