Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Homily for the Feast of St Clare by Sr. Doreen McGuff SSJD

She was born in 1194 into a wealthy Roman family – a successful businessman father and a devout
Sister Doreen
mother. At the age of 18 she heard St. Francis preach, awakening a desire in her to give herself completely to God. In 1212, at the age of 18, with St. Francis’ aid she joined a Benedictine order. Her own sister, who took the name Agnes, joined her and shortly thereafter they moved to a small building next to the church of San Damiano, where others joined them. They became known as the “Poor Clare’s” an enclosed community who embraced “joyous poverty” and whose ministry was to the poor and poverty-stricken families that lived around them or came to them for help. Clare’s own life was an icon of contemplation and compassion.
She has always been an intriguing, favorite saint for me! She is a contradiction – a marvellous integration of that passionate and romantic – yet deeply compassionate and realistic down-to-earth spirituality that stirs my own soul to try to respond ever more openly and authentically! Who amongst us has not at life profession taken up the ring inscribed with the happy song “my Beloved is mine and I am His” and felt a profound and deep stirring in the depths of their being. A saint like Clare continues to inspire me to keep fanning that initial joy into life – that passion and compassion in my response to Jesus call to arise, my love, my fair one and come away – follow me.
Clare wrote: “happy she who is drawn to Jesus whose beauty eternally awes, whose love inspires love, whose contemplation refreshes, whose generosity satisfies, whose gentleness delights, whose memory shines sweetly as the dawn, whose fragrance revives the dead, whose glorious vision will bless all the citizens of that heavenly Jerusalem.” She encouraged her sisters to: “look into that Mirror (Jesus) and study well your reflection – this Mirror – behold his poverty, his humility, his unspeakable love, his indescribable delights in you, his unending riches and honours which will draw you …”
Clare would respond to the Message translation of Luke’s annunciation “Good morning, you are beautiful, inside and out, with God’s beauty . God is with you” – and she would call her sisters to rejoice in this greeting daily in their own lives and proclaim this same message to those who came to them. Clare would understand the words “love me tender, love me true, never let me go” and she would call her sisters to rejoice in God’s tenacious love and to reach out to each other and to the world with that same radical love. Clare would echo the words read in the Song of Solomon today – My beloved speaks and says to me: arise my love, my fair one, and come away – Clare knew where her treasure was, there her heart was also.
Tonight at Evensong we will sing the Canticle of Clare – a canticle that sums up Clare’s life and her gift of encouragement and prayer for us:

Place your mind in the mirror of eternity.
Place your soul in the splendour of glory.
Place your heart in the icon of the substance divine
Contemplating, be transformed into the image of the God-head itself.

Taste and know the hidden sweetness of God for all time existing to be found by those who love
The sacred banquet which all may share, if they dare –
All it costs is everything, a heart open, longing, tasting, giving.
Place your mind ……

Taste and know the hidden sweetness of God whose beauty is endless and whose love inflames our love
Whose contemplation refreshes us, brings us joy –
All our being overflows with You, O most Holy, fragrant Lover

Place your mind ….