Clare was the noble and lofty tree bringing
THE SWEET FRUIT OF
Increase our faith!
This is the all seasons' prayer of believers, faced with the loftiness
of our Lord's teaching and the weakness of fallen human nature. Lord,
Increase our faith, we pray. Increase our faith in Your goodness, in
Your mercy, in Your love, in the power of Your grace to heal and
transform. Enable us to yield a harvest through perseverance.
(er. Luke 8:11)
Believers, so St. Augustine tells us, "strengthen themselves
(Pope Benedict XV
I, Porta Fidel, 7)
St. Clare of Assisi is
someone who strengthened herself by believing. She had boundless
trust in the Word of God and in the teachings of His Church. She had a
realistic sense of the greatness of her vocation and of her human
limitations. Reflecting on the weakness of some others which we kept
on fearing in ourselves is how Clare described her humble trepidation
on the road of holy perseverance. (cf. Testament of
Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to man,
We can lose this gift, as St. Paul indicated to St.
Timothy; 'some have made shipwreck of the the faith."
The Seraphic Mother knew that
perseverance in faith is a gift, Blessed are they to whom it is given
to walk on through (the narrow gate] and persevere even to the end,
she wrote in her Testament. But faith is a gift that needs to be guarded
and exercised. If St. Clare mandated that those entering her religious
family should be willing to confess faithfully and observe steadfastly
the tenets of the Catholic faith (Rule, chapter
2), she also sought to provide her Sisters with means of growing,
strengthening and deepening the faith which they professed.
To Give, grow and persevere in the faith
untifthe crud we must nourish it with the wont of cog:
we must beg the Lord to
increase ourfaitk it must he awor(ing through charity,"
abounding in hope,
awfmotectin the faith of the Church.
The early sources tell how St. Clare gathered her Sisters together for
daily instruction in the spiritual life. They relate how she would
provide for her children, through dedicated preachers, the nourishment of
the Word of God. (LEGEND OF ST. CLARE, 37)
Ever eager to hear God's Word expounded and Church doctrine explained, St.
Clare also taught her Sisters how to glean good from any sermon, in order
to deepen their prayer and strengthen their faith. Most importantly, she
showed them by her own example what it means to live by faith in times of
trial, uncertainty and suffering, as well as how to bring forth the fruits
of faith through good works and constant prayer.
Only through befieving does faith grow
and become stronger; there is no other possibility
for possessing certitude with regard to one's Gift
apart from self-ahandonment, in a continuous crescendo,
into the hands of a love that seems to grow
constantly because it has its origin in God.
(Pope Benedict XVI, Porta Fidel, 7)
our faith! We cannot accept that salt should become
tasteless or that light be kept hidden, Pope Benedict XVI wrote.
(Porta Fidel, 3) St. Clare of Assisi would
agree. To us who have been granted the gift of faith in its catholic and
apostolic fullness, she says: What you hold, may you always hold; what
you do, may you always do and never abandon. But with swift pace, light
step and unstumbling feet, may you go forward securely, joyfully and
swiftly on the path of prudent happiness — the path which leads to the
goal of faith, life on high in Christ Jesus.
(2nd Letter to Si Agnes; Phil. 3:14)