St. Clare of Assisi
Reading an obituary can fill us with tension and sadness; loss as well as insight and inspiration. I have read a lot of obituaries. As a former parish pastoral associate I have been present with family members as they carefully chose the stories and words for the final public statement about their loved one. I have shared in laughter and tears for life stories shared in the sacred experience of death. How do you explain a lifetime of love and care through good times and bad? How can words convey what the heart feels and recalls, from ordinary routines to extraordinary experiences? Death can be a revelation and a time of reflection of the contribution that every life makes in our world.
Our loved ones live on in us when stories of their lives are passed from one generation to the next. Last Thursday evening, as we marked the anniversary of her death, our community gathered in Mary of the Angels Chapel to hear witness accounts of the Acts of Canonization of St. Clare of Assisi and stories from the "Legend of St. Clare." Over 800 years later, the witness of her life continues to transform our world and shape the Franciscan family.
Sister Mary Kathryn Fogarty reads the reflection by Lady Benedetta from "The Legend of St. Clare"
St. Clare followed the light of Christ through the darkness of greed, corruption and abuse of power that left many people of her time discarded and unprotected. She refused to be a part of a system that would perpetuate division between rich and poor. Striving to live like her beloved, poor Christ she fought for the privilege of poverty for her monastery, refusing the bishop’s persuasion to allow it to be endowed. Endowment would bring power and influence, two agents she desired to avoid. St. Clare listened to the voice of her conscious until her dying day. Just prior to her death, she received approval for her community’s rule of life. St. Clare’s entire existence on earth was aligned with her love of Christ and serving the needs of all those around her.
What are you willing to stake your life on? Is there a cause or group that needs your help? Is there a system that perpetuates violence or oppression in which change is possible? Are there others who have the same cares and concerns as you?
How would being part of a religious community allow you to have support and encouragement as you stand with and work alongside your brothers and sisters in need?
Discernment is a time to take stock, to ask yourself what you believe. Where is your conscious leading you? How will you be an agent of change in our world today?
In the far off future, what will your obituary say about you? Will it share the ways you sought to serve others, courageously using your voice, your gifts, your talents?