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St. Clare's Gamble View Comments
By Ramona Miller, OSF

THROUGHOUT the world in 2012, the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Poor Clares is being celebrated. The simple life of St. Clare, who lived in a small place outside Assisi’s medieval walls, still speaks to us. Why? Her spiritual quest resonates with our yearnings to live authentically from the fire of love within. Clare’s virtuous life made God’s love real to countless others. Many stories about her life encourage us to grow in holiness, to imitate her enthusiastic love.

On Palm Sunday 1212, worshipers at the Cathedral of San Rufino were joyfully anticipating Holy Week celebrations. After 10 years of war, Assisi’s citizens were looking forward to being reunited at their church. In the cathedral’s piazza after Mass, they were all abuzz over the most unusual behavior of Clare, daughter of Favarone and Ortulana.

Clare had not left her place to join the other elegantly dressed noblewomen receiving a palm from Bishop Guido. She seemed rapt in a dream. When the bishop left the sanctuary to give her a palm branch, they wondered: Was this part of the ritual? Why did Bishop Guido notice her? They could not have guessed that he was blessing her plan to abandon her home and dedicate herself to a life of radical poverty and prayer.

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Ramona Miller, OSF, associate minister of the Sisters of St. Francis of Rochester, Minnesota, has led groups to Assisi for the Franciscan Pilgrimage Program for 25 years. She wrote In the Footsteps of St. Clare (Franciscan Institute Publications) and coauthored Praying with St. Clare (St. Mary’s Press).

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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

 
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