Jesus Christ is the middle point of all Clare’s thoughts, the focus of her love. He is the Mirror, in which she will look every day. In Him she recognizes the depths of the Divine Mysteries, the essence of the external world and the innermost nature of her own person. The essential nature of the life of Jesus, in Whose footsteps she seeks to follow, consists, for her, in His humble descent into the poverty of human life, where the wealth that is God’s will be encountered.
The spirituality of St Clare is, on the one hand, very much the same as that of St Francis, but on the other hand, she is more finely attuned, more ‘womanly’ in her empathy towards the most apparently insignificant movements of the human heart.
Few in number are her writings, yet, though they offer us no easy access to contemplating the humble Jesus, they are in the deepest sense simple. Only after the passage of time can the deep spiritual sustenance contained in the writings of St Clare be apparent to our modern analytical way of looking, used as we are to seeing only the surface meaning of things.
See more clearly with Clare! Her insights, result of decades of contemplation, will lead us into the deep clarity that satisfies our yearnings, to look upon God, to contemplate Him.
Prayer, poverty, a life of penance, and a life lived in community as the expression of a life in communion with God: for Clare, these form the firm foundation on which she discovers the very core of her faith. Through her life of prayer, poverty and her life of penance in community with her Sisters, Clare gains an insight into the deeper significance of what the Son of God preaches and proclaims from Crib and Cross. Gripped by what she experiences in her love for Jesus Christ laid in a manger and nailed to a cross, she shares these in her letters to Agnes of Prague:
“Look at the border of this mirror, that is, the poverty of Him Who was placed in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes. O marvelous humility! O astonishing poverty! The King of angels, the Lord of heaven and earth, is laid in a manger!
Then, at the surface of the mirror, consider the holy humility, the blessed poverty, the untold labors and burdens that He endured for the redemption of the whole human race. Then, in the depth of this same mirror, contemplate the ineffable charity that led Him to suffer on the wood of the Cross and to die there the most shameful kind of death … From this moment, then, O Queen of our heavenly King, let yourself be inflamed more strongly with the fervor of charity.” (4 Letter to Agnes, 19 -27)
Clare is overwhelmed by God’s love. That the Great, the Most High, the Lord Himself has become Man out of Love for humankind has become Man to redeem His people! Crib and Cross: before these we stand, before the very core of Clare’s spirituality. When all is said and done, it is from the Crib and the Cross that Clare draws her radicality, her Poverty and her Form of Life. Clare is enraptured and fascinated by the message of Love that she reads in the Gospel: God identifies Himself with His lost people by the Incarnation and by the Death upon the Cross of His Son. Clare wanted to give throughout her whole life an adequate response to this Mystery of Faith. In her intuitive relationship to the Crib and the Cross – for her the outward signs of God’s Love that seeks out humankind in its abandoned state – Clare feels in the very depths of her soul that she is the recipient of God’s gifts to her. Crib and Cross, as signs that humankind has been liberated and given back to life, make it clear to Clare and her Sisters that their life takes its origin deep down at the very wellsprings of the Love which God has for His people. Clare feels that she has been given the gift of Life itself. This attitude that assures her that she has been most richly endowed is imprinted upon her self understanding. She knows that every day she will receive further gifts.