Today, the Church honors Clare of Assisi, who was born in 1193 and as a young adult, inspired by Francis of Assisi, joined him and founded the first convent for women in the Franciscan tradition. Clare was from a wealthy family and had quite a comfortable life ahead of her when she decided that the Gospel and a life of poverty seemed more interesting.
A Charism for love
Clare had a hunger for God. She learned that a life of simplicity would teach her how to let go of any distraction that shifted her focus away from serving God. In the Decree on Religious Life, we learn that religious life fosters a life hidden with Christ in God. Such a life is grounded in love of one’s neighbor and an abiding faith that this love rooted in Christ is a source of salvation for the whole world.
Build it and they will come
It was not long before Clare’s inspiration attracted other women, including her own mother and sister! What seemed like a good idea 800 years ago, continues to seem like a good idea to women today. In our own backyard ,in Brookland, there is a convent of Poor Clares (3900 13th St., NE) whose mission is to pray for the needs of the world and for the building up of the Church. They welcome anyone who knocks at their door to enjoy the silence of their chapel, to join them in prayer, to ask for their prayers or to share a conversation. See www.poorclareswdc.org.
Clare and all the women and men who are called to contemplative life teach us how to seek and love above all things the God who first loved us.