Today we celebrate the life of St. Clare of Assisi, one of the first followers of St. Francis, and founder of the Order of the Poor Ladies (more commonly called the Poor Clares). She wrote their Rule of Life, the first woman to have created such a thing, a set of rules for the life of a monastic order.
The Poor Clares lived a life commited to poverty, what St. Clare called a "joyous poverty." Why joyous? Because they felt they were following Christ in a much more authentic way and because they more vividly felt the presence of Jesus because of their lifestyle. Throughout her life she faced pressure from church officials to abandon or weaken this commitment to poverty, and she resisted. The order still exists today, which tells me much about her accomplishment.
She was also instrumental in assisting St. Francis of Assisi, and many give her credit as one of his earliest followers. Her order was based on his intentional community, and again, Franciscan strains of spirituality not only exist but are strong today--a testament to their work.
In these days of increasingly interesting economic news, the life of St. Clare seems to take on fresh importance. Let us take a moment to say a prayer of gratitude for her. Let us remember the poor. Let us vow to be joyous about reduced circumstances, should we be facing them. Let us meet our savior as we minister to each other.
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