Thursday 11th August 2011 Feast of St Clare of Assisi

Scripture readings for Thursday's Mass are here

For me, St Clare highlights the beauty of life lived in the Catholic faith. No argument. Simply beauty that speaks to the heart with no need for explanation.

She dares me to dream of light and truth and love and anchors me in a transcendent realm that both defies and challenges the tattered societies all around this globe to search for something that will seep into our souls and transform us. 

So many of the saints leave me feeling intimidated - I feel that way about Mary, the mother of God because she is too perfect for me to approach, but I can relate to Clare because on a simple level she suffered from ill health for much of her life. That means a lot to me.

So much of Clare is intertwined with thoughts about St Francis too but we hear relatively little of Clare. 

Saint Clare was the foundress of the Poor Clares, one of the most famous contemplative orders of women in the Catholic Church to this day.

Below is Part 1 of a 4 part video series on the life of St Clare.

This is a link to Pope Benedict's speech about St Clare given in September last year at a General Audience : These are his opening remarks :

"One of the best loved Saints is without a doubt St Clare of Assisi who lived in the 13th century and was a contemporary of St Francis. 

Her testimony shows us how indebted the Church is to courageous women, full of faith like her, who can give a crucial impetus to the Church's renewal." 

I hate to sound cynical here but I fail to see where the impetus for the Church's renewal is coming from when women are dismally prevented from fulfilling ministry in new and imaginative ways.

Einstein said no problem could be solved by the same consciousness that caused it and as the church is steeped in the same old consciousness as far as the position of women in ministry is concerned the Pope's words ring hollow for me.

 This link takes you to an audio recording and a transcript of an interview
of editors Claire Renkin and Constant Mews about their book,  Interpreting Francis and Clare of Assisi: From the Middle Ages to the Present which in a collection of multi-author essays reconsiders their lives and legacy.

Good theology stimulates and inflames the intellect. Thomas Aquinas and Bernard Lonergan add that it also helps to move the will. The heart needs to have some intellectual vision. Good ideas play no small part in any healthy change.

Thus, the Christian community is always in need of good academics. As history shows, every time the Church has compromised on its intellectual tradition, seeing it as unimportant, it has paid a heavy price. Good, sound, abstract, academic theology is perennially the great corrective within church life and spirituality.

and this from Ron Rolheiser below, beautifully spells out clearly that we need a new sense of vision exemplified by people like St Clare.

"More recently, we have been blessed with an abundance of good theology... We are not lacking for solid ideas. 

What we are lacking however, is fire, romance, aesthetics, as these pertain to our faith and ecclesial lives.

What needs to be inflamed today inside religion is its romantic imagination.
Solid ideas and solid programs alone are not enough. 

We need someone to re-inflame the romantic imagination of Christianity, a new Francis, a new Clare, a new Augustine, a new Thomas More, a new Ignatius, a new Therese of Lisieux.”

Ronald Rolheiser, "Secularity and the Gospel"

I hope this is not too sentimental / twee  for some, but this is a beautiful version (IMHO),  in Italian, of the song Brother Son and Sister Moon.
The title in Italian ( sounds so much better in Italian doesn't it ?)
is "Fratello Sole Sorella Luna"; the singer Andrea Bocelli.
I always cry when I hear this song- sorry but I can't help it. I'm a softy.
Lyrics in English are below.

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