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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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Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi: Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the "ecstatic saint." 
<p>She was born into a noble family in Florence in 1566. The normal course would have been for Catherine de' Pazzi to have married wealth and enjoyed comfort, but she chose to follow her own path. At nine she learned to meditate from the family confessor. She made her first Communion at the then-early age of 10 and made a vow of virginity one month later. When 16, she entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there. </p><p>Catherine had taken the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near so her superiors let her make her profession of vows from a cot in the chapel in a private ceremony. Immediately after, she fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths. </p><p>As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, <i>Admonitions</i>, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious. </p><p>The extraordinary was ordinary for this saint. She read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people. </p><p>It would be easy to dwell on the ecstasies and pretend that Mary Magdalene only had spiritual highs. This is far from true. It seems that God permitted her this special closeness to prepare her for the five years of desolation that followed when she experienced spiritual dryness. She was plunged into a state of darkness in which she saw nothing but what was horrible in herself and all around her. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. She died in 1607 at 41, and was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, keep me in your care. Guard me in my actions. Teach me to love, and help me to turn to you throughout the day. The world is filled with temptations. As I move through my day, keep me close. May those I encounter feel your loving presence. Lord, be the work of my hands and my heart. Amen.

Proclaiming the Gospel of Life by Fr. Frank Pavone

 
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