Clare was of noble birth, the daughter of a count. She was born in 1193. Drawn by the preaching of St. Francis, Clare and her sister Agnes were inspired to enter the monastic life, founding the Order of the Poor, the “Poor Clares” where she served as abbess until her death in 1254.
Clare was struck by the fact that in coming to us, God wraps us up in paradox. As we contemplate the paradoxes of advent, St. Clare is particularly inspiring.
The Depth of His Touch
When you have loved Him,
you shall be chaste.
When you have touched Him,
you shall be pure.
When you have received Him,
you shall be a virgin.
He is the One Whose power is stronger,
Whose generosity is more abundant,
Whose appearance more beautiful,
Whose love more tender,
Whose courtesy more gracious, and in
Whose embrace you are already caught up.
Have you noticed?
He has laid precious stones upon your breast,
has pressed precious pearls to your ears,
and has surrounded you with luminous gems
as though with gleaming blossoms of spring time,
and see! He has set upon you head a golden crown
as a sign announcing your holiness.
St. Clare of Assisi as adapted by poet Scott Cairns in his Love’s Immensity: Mystics on the Endless Life (Paraclete Press, 2007)
Note: A wonderful Advent activity for individuals and families is a visit to St. Mark’s Ocean Park’s Journey of Christmas, on daily until Christmas from 6:00-9:00 in the evening. It involves a guided walk in the woods behind the church celebrating the Christmas story followed by cookies and hot chocolate. Last night we enjoyed the inspiring Christmas cantata presentation following our walk. Get out to St. Mark’s if you can; Journey of Christmas continues until December 27.
Steve Bailey is a deacon at St. Laurence, Coquitlam and a blog master at New Westminster Anglican Blog. Your comments and contributions are always welcome.