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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

St. Clare and Francis of Assisi in Love

Clare and Assisi were mystics and spiritual spouses devoted to God and poverty of the spirit.  They launched the Franciscan orders in the thirteenth century.  She was for him a radiant light who would embody for him the fulfillment of his own vision.  Francis saw what Clare would become and encouraged and nurtured her passion so that she could fulfill her destiny even as he met his own.

Clare was becoming a young woman when she heard Francis preach in Assisi. Francis heard of her light and grace and desired that she live his way of life. In 1213, at the age of eighteen, Clare was consecrated as the first Franciscan woman. She took her life long vows of love of God, poverty, and chastity. Clare knelt before God and offered to Francis the symbol of her worldly glory; her long, golden hair. Francis himself cut the hair in a ritual that symbolized both her wedding to God through Francis, and the mutual sexual sacrifice of the wedding night. Francis and Clare gave up their favorite treasures on earth for the greatest gift they already shared: true love. Francis gave to Clare the first church he had rebuilt.

Francis did not create Clare's love of God; he gave witness to it. It was all she needed to soar to her true calling. He helped deliver her to her true spirit. In Francis she found a partner in Christ, in life, in divine and eternal love. Francis and Clare loved each other and managed households. The distance they kept from each other helped them to retain the spark of their love, to keep their interactions charged and fresh as the years passed.

When we encounter our special love, it is as though the universe has opened up to shower down upon us the promise of God and all his magic. Francis and Clare's passion, perseverance, and success would come from being turned to each other, forsaking all others, all worldly distraction, both wills rooted in the love and service of God. Placing our spouse beside our image of God creates the basis for a permanent longing and intimacy, because in the end, our desire for each other is our desire for God.

Reference~ Saints in Love by Carole Hallundbaek

Celibacy is not about never falling in love, it is about falling in love over and over and over again. ~Sr. Geri Hable