St Clare

Virgin, Founder of the Poor Clares (entered heaven this day in 1253)

Dear Clark,

Frankly, you lack willpower.  Don’t be offended; you need to hear the truth, it’s the only remedy for your dissipation.  Think for a minute about all those good resolutions you made at the beginning of the summer.  I have them right here in my archive. A whole list of them. How many did you keep? Three, two?  Did you even keep one of them? Don’t make excuses. Think back a few months ago, when you made those inane New Year’s resolutions.  Did you keep them? Do you even remember what they were? Think back a year ago, when you started your college career. Remember all those good resolutions you brought to freshmen orientation?  How long did it take you to break them?

I’m not trying to make you depressed.  I’m trying to help you. You have got to face up to the real problem in your life.  It’s not other people. It’s not circumstances and bad luck. Everyone has to deal with such factors.  Your problem, what keeps you from making the progress you really want to make, in every area of your life, is your lack of willpower.  You have to learn to DECIDE and to STICK TO your decisions! Wishy-washiness feeds laziness, which clouds the mind, deadens the heart, and poisons the spirit.  Today’s saint can teach you how to break away from your sloth.

You remember her story.  Inspired by the preaching of St Francis of Assisi, she gradually discerned a call to wed herself to Christ through making religious vows.  When she was only 18, she secretly escaped from her house (as well as from the engagement that her parents had arranged for her) and took the Franciscan habit (that coarse, plain-colored tunic you may have seen here and there).  Francis himself cut off her luxurious hair, and sent her for the time being to a Benedictine convent. As you can imagine, her family and the entire town were up in arms and protested energetically. But nothing could deter her; she explained that Christ had called her to serve him and nothing could make her take a different husband.  

Eventually, her younger sister joined her (which prompted another wave of family and city protests), and Francis put them in charge of the first convent of the “Poor Ladies” next to the church of San Damiano on the outskirts of Assisi.  Their absolute poverty and unmitigated austerities (the bishop had to order her to eat something every day, because her fasts were so extreme) freed their hearts for prayer and contemplation. Clare was repeatedly seen to rejoin the community after times of prayer with her face visibly shining.  Only her love for the Eucharist exceeded her love for poverty and sacrifice. She used to spend hours sewing exquisite corporals to be used in the Mass, and she sent them to churches all over Italy. Twice she and her nuns saved Assisi from the attacks and plunder of imperial armies by their prayers and penances – both times the enemy armies fled without having faced any armed opposition.  It is no wonder that this difficult rule of life attracted many followers, and before she died, numerous Poor Clare convents had sprung up literally throughout Europe.

All this greatness was in store for Clare and the thousands of souls who were inspired by her, but it depended on sticking to her initial resolution.  If she had given up when following Christ became hard, her holiness would have fizzled like a match. After St Francis gave her the habit and sent her to that Benedictine convent to begin her religious life, her family pursued her, found her, and tried to physically drag her out of the church and come back home.  They chased her around the chapel. She flung herself at the altar and clung to it with such determination as she vocally reiterated her intention to stay faithful to Christ that she tore the altar clothes as they tried to pull her away.

That’s the image you need to keep in mind as you start another school year.  Make good resolutions, the ones you know God is asking of you, and then cling to them with your whole heart.  God needs you do your part, so that he can do His.

Your devoted uncle, Eddy

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