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St. Joseph the Worker the virtue of work

April 29, 2013

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StJoseph&Jesus_vertMay 1 is the memorial of St. Joseph the Worker.  Joseph was a carpenter (Mt 13:55) and an exemplary worker.  God wants each of us to be good workers.

Work is a good thing.  God made it so when God worked for six days when God created the world.  On the seventh day, God rested from all of the work he had done (Gen 2:2).

It is part of God’s master plan for the human race that people would work and be partners with the Creator in the ongoing work of creation.  When God placed the man in the garden, God told him to “care for it” (Gen 2:15).  God also said, “By the sweat of your brow shall you get bread to eat” (Gen 3:19).  Cain and Abel were workers, one a tiller of the soil, the other a keeper of the flocks (Gen 4:2).  Noah was a ship builder.

St. Joseph was a tremendous worker.  Modern Bible translations say that Joseph was a carpenter, but he most likely was a craftsman who worked in both wood and stone.  Joseph invested the talents and abilities that God gave to him (see Mt 25:14-17,19-23).  He delivered a valuable service to his customers and provided for his family.  Since he was a righteous man (Mt 1:19), it is presumed that he was industrious, that he gave an earnest and steady effort, and that he was diligent and conscientious, reliable and dependable, productive and efficient.  As we commemorate St. Joseph on May 1st, it is a time to take note of his positive attributes as a worker, and use these exceptional qualities as an inspiration and guide to help us be better workers ourselves.

Work provides resources to support one’s self and one’s family; contributes to the well-being of others and society; enables a person to share with others, particularly the needy; prevents unnecessary dependency; utilizes one’s unique skills and gifts; keeps a person constructively occupied; reduces gossiping and meddling in the affairs of others; and can be an avenue to personal holiness.

While work is a virtue, sloth is a vice and a capital sin.  The slothful person is lazy, has little ambition, gives little or no effort, is sluggish and apathetic, and avoids work.  Often laxity in work goes hand-in-hand with laxity in the spiritual life.  St. Paul has stern words for lazy Christians:  “If anyone [is] unwilling to work, neither should that one eat” (2 Thes 3:10).

Laziness is a sin against God’s love.  It is the failure to invest talents in a constructive way for the benefit of others and the glory of God.  St. Joseph honored God by being an industrious worker.  His memorial is a reminder that God wants each of us to be good workers.

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Peter takes the plunge of faith

April 13, 2013

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Fisherman mosaic at outdoor altar at Church of the Primacy of Peter Tabgha in Galilee Israel

Fisherman mosaic at outdoor altar at Church of the Primacy of Peter Tabgha in Galilee Israel

A Puzzling Passage.   After Jesus rose from the dead he appeared on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The gospel includes some curious details: “On hearing it was the Lord, Simon Peter threw on some clothes (he was stripped) and jumped into the water” (NAB, 1970), or according to the most recent translation, “When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea” (Jn 21:7) (RNAB, 2010).

Sin and Separation.  Peter was in the boat and Jesus was on the shore, and they were about one hundred yards apart.  Peter may have loved Jesus, but the sin he committed when he denied Jesus three times put distance between them. Jesus is the reconciler. Jesus reconciled all things to himself through the blood of his Cross (Col 1:20). Therefore, at the sight of Jesus, Peter may have felt that mercy would be available to him if he would only go to Jesus.

A Major Conversion Moment.  For Peter it was a time of decision, a moment of truth.  Jesus had prayed for Peter’s faith (Lk 22:31). Jesus wanted Peter’s faith to increase to a much higher level. It was time for Peter to go from moderate belief to full belief, from hesitation to confidence, from doing what he wanted to whatever Jesus asked, and from wanting to safeguard his life to a willingness to lay down his life for God and the sheep (Mt  10:39;16:25; Jn 15:13). For Peter it was time to take a leap of faith, to take the plunge. Peter jumped out of the boat and into the sea to go to Jesus.

Lightly clad Peter.  Some translations say that Peter was stripped or naked; others say that he was lightly clad. Peter would have been wearing a loin cloth, and when he went to see Jesus on the shore it would have been polite to appear before him fully dressed. Symbolically, Peter’s nakedness suggests that his sinfulness was exposed before Jesus and that he was in desperate need of forgiveness.

He tucked in his garment.  Fishermen typically wore a smock, a loose outer garment, particularly during the nighttime hours when it often was quite chilly. A swimmer would not put on a cloak before swimming because it would create so much drag in the water, even if it was tucked in or tied down with a belt or rope.

Come to the water.  By the time the Gospel of John was written, probably in the late 90s AD, the ritual for the Sacrament of Baptism was already established in the early Church. Peter was about to make a profession of faith with his three statements, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you” (Jn 21:15,16,17). Faith in Jesus leads to baptism. At the symbolic level, the outer garment may represent a baptismal garment, his jump into the sea may represent the descent into the waters of an immersion baptismal font, and his arrival on the shore may represent the emergence up the steps out of the font by a new believer. Through his plunge into the water, Peter’s sins were washed away, and he was created anew in Jesus who is living water (see Jn 4:14; 7:38).

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Two angels at the tomb of Jesus

March 28, 2013

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Resurrection at St. Andrew in Fairfax revised

Resurrection at St. Andrew in Fairfax revised

A Miraculous Encounter.  On Easter Sunday morning when Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and a number of other women from Galilee went to the tomb of Jesus, they encountered “two men in dazzling garments” (Lk 24:4).

A Curious Discrepancy.  Each of the four evangelists mentions the presence of one or two mysterious figures at the tomb.  Matthew explained that “an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.  His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow” (Mt 28:2,3).  Mark reported that the women, upon entering the tomb, “saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe” (Mk 16:5).  In the Fourth Gospel John the evangelist recounted how Mary Magdalene “saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been” (Jn 20:12).  In Matthew and Mark there is one figure, while in Luke and John there are two.  Who are they?  Why is the number different?

Unique Identity.  There are multiple details that reveal the identity of the figures present in the tomb.  Both Matthew and John state explicitly that they were angels.  All four gospels say that the figures were clothed in white or dazzling garments, a sign they came from heaven, the abode of the angels.  Each delivered an announcement from God that Jesus was risen from the dead, and it is the duty of angels to serve as divine messengers.

One or Two Angels.  Modern rationalistic philosophy and the scientific method strive for factual accuracy and precision, while the evangelists use details to convey a symbolic message.  There are several plausible reasons why Luke prefers two angels to one.  Luke uses pairs throughout his gospel:  Zechariah and Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna, the cure of a leper and the cure of a paralytic, Martha and Mary, and many others.  When it comes to the angels, it is preferable for them to work together in tandem rather than by themselves, alone.  Furthermore, when it comes to the strength of testimony, in the Mosaic Law a statement given by an individual is considered insufficient or unreliable, while the word of two gives necessary corroboration and verification (see Dt 19:15).

The Two-Figure Symbolism.  There is a strong likelihood that Luke wants the reader to make a connection between the Transfiguration and the Resurrection.  When Jesus was transfigured, two men in glory appeared with him (Lk 9:30,31), and when Jesus was raised two men in dazzling garments appeared (Lk 24:4).  Moses and Elijah came from heaven and the two figures in the tomb also came from heaven.  Moses and Elijah spoke of Jesus’ exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem (Lk 9:31), and men in dazzling garments spoke about the completion of Jesus’ exodus on earth in anticipation of his future and final exodus, his Ascension to heaven.

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St. Scholastica, Virgin and Religious

February 8, 2013

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St. Benedict speaking to St. Scholastica detail at Seven Dolors in Albany

St. Benedict speaking to St. Scholastica detail at Seven Dolors in Albany

St. Scholastica (480-547) was born in Nursia, Italy, in 480 AD.  She is the twin sister of St. Benedict.  As a young woman she consecrated herself to God, and she remained at home to assist her father while her brother Benedict went to Rome to study.

St. Benedict is the founder of Western monasticism, the one who developed the concept of men living together in a religious community in a monastery for a spiritual purpose under a rule of life.  Upon his return from Rome he founded a monastery at Monte Casino.

In parallel fashion, St. Scholastica founded a house for women religious or a convent at Plombariola only five miles south of Monte Casino.  Previously women who wished to live a more intense spiritual life did so on their own in seclusion and occasionally a few women would live together.  St. Scholastica expanded the communal life dimension.  She gathered women who wished to focus more exclusively on God into larger groups, usually younger virgins and older widows.  In the convent they were able to separate themselves from the concerns and temptations of the world to concentrate on a life of prayer, mutual support, and good works.

St. Benedict was the abbot or superior of the monastery, and St. Scholastica was the abbess or superior of the convent.  Even though they lived separately they stayed in close communication and shared a strong spiritual bond.  Once each year they met for a single day to pray and discuss spiritual matters, and because Scholastica was not permitted to enter the monastery, their meeting took place at a home between the two.

They had a remarkable final meeting.  Scholastica was advanced in age and had a premonition that her time was short, so after dinner she asked her brother to stay longer.  The Benedictine Rule requires a monk to be in the monastery every night, so Benedict declined.  Scholastica said a quick prayer and almost instantly a violent thunderstorm broke out which forced Benedict to remain indoors.  Benedict exclaimed, “Sister, what have you done?”  She answered, “I asked a favor of you and you refused it.  I asked it of God and he has granted it.”

Three days later St. Scholastica died and St. Benedict, who was praying at that moment, looked up and saw her soul ascending to heaven in the form of a dove.

St. Scholastica is considered the founder of the Benedictine sisters; her symbols are a dove, the book of the Benedictine Rule, and a pastoral staff; she is the patron saint of women religious; and she is a special intercessor against storms and lightening, and for children suffering convulsions.

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St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr

February 5, 2013

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StAgatha

St. Agatha at Holy Spirit in Two Harbors

St. Agatha was born in Sicily during the Third Century, and she spent her entire lifespan during the time before Christianity was legal in the Roman Empire.

Youthful Zeal for the Lord.  As a young lady Agatha decided to dedicate herself totally to God.  She considered herself to be a bride of Christ and reserved herself totally to him as a virgin.  Previously St. Paul had written, “An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit” (1 Cor 7:34a).

The Assault on Her Virtue.  A young, influential, Roman consul named Quintian met Agatha, came to desire her, and insisted that she marry him.  He threatened her with torture if she refused him.  Agatha was faithful to her promise to God and flatly rebuffed his advances and proposal.

Persecution and Torture.  Outraged, Quintian sent Agatha to a house of prostitution to ridicule her.  Steadfast in virtue, Agatha was subsequently tortured.  She was stretched out on a rack, and then both of her breasts were brutally hacked off.  According to tradition, St. Peter appeared to Agatha in a vision and she was miraculously healed.

Cruel Martyrdom.  Agatha subsequently was sent to prison.  A few days after her confinement, she was stripped naked and rolled over burning coals and sharp broken shards, and as she died the witnesses overhead her hand over her spirit to God as both Jesus (Lk 23:46) and St. Stephen (Acts 7:59) had done.  Her death occurred in 251 AD during the persecution of the Roman emperor Decius (249-251).

Symbols.  St. Agatha is often shown with a crown on her head, the crown of martyrdom; palms, the symbol of the martyrs; a pair of pincers, a knife, or a meat cutters blade, sharp instruments that were used to cut off her breasts and torture her; or a platter with her two breasts.

Patronage.  Because Agatha’s breasts were painfully removed, she is the patron saint of women with breast cancer and other breast ailments.  Because she was healed, she is the patron saint of nurses.  Because she lived a chaste youth, she is the patron saint of young people who wish to adhere to high moral standards.  Because she was faithful to her promise to be a bride of Christ, she is the patron saint of married couples who wish to be faithful to their marriage vows and want to reserve themselves exclusively for their spouse.  Because she lived in Sicily, she is the patron saint of Palermo and Catania.  There was an eruption of the volcano on Mount Etna, and it is believed that through her intercession the volcano subsided, so she is the patron saint of those who want protection from volcanoes and fires, as well as the patron saint of firefighters.  She is the patron saint of bell makers and bell ringers for a variety of reasons:  possibly because bells were rung when the volcano erupted, or some lava solidified in the shape of a bell, or, and in a few cases when St. Agatha was depicted with her breasts on a plate, there were mistaken to be bells.  Finally, because her breasts were sometimes mistaken to be loaves of bread, it has been customary to bless bread on her feast day.

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January 26, St. Titus, Bishop and Martyr

January 23, 2013

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StTitusSt. Paul’s Assistant.  St. Titus is a great First Century saint.  He is best known as one of St. Paul’s earliest converts.  After Titus accepted the gospel, he became a close personal friend of Paul, a companion on his missionary journeys, an assistant and private secretary, an ambassador to Christian communities, and finally, a personal appointee to lead the church in Crete.

An Early Convert.  Titus was a Greek (Gal 2:3), a pagan or non-Jew, who may have been from Antioch on the Orontes, the capital of the Roman province of Syria.  Paul visited Syria during his First Missionary Journey, and they probably met sometime between 37 and 42 AD.  After his conversion Titus accompanied Paul and Barnabas for the rest of the trip, and once completed, he went with them to the Council of Jerusalem in 48 AD.

The Council of Jerusalem.  There was a fierce debate at the Council over Gentile converts and whether it was necessary to follow the Mosaic Law as a precondition for admission into the Christian church, particularly circumcision and observance of the dietary laws (see Acts 15).  Paul pointed to Titus as an example of an excellent Gentile convert and argued that he should be able to remain uncircumcised, a recommendation that was eventually accepted.

Mentor Partnership.  Paul was the mentor, Titus was the understudy.  Paul had great admiration for Titus, and he called him his “brother” (2 Cor 2:13), “partner and co-worker” (2 Cor 8:23), and “my true child in our common faith” (Titus 1:4).  Paul boasted to the Corinthians about him (2 Cor 7:13,14).  Paul’s heart was heavy when Titus was absent, as when he was away in Dalmatia (2 Tim 4:10), but he was greatly encouraged when he was present, as when he returned to him in Macedonia (2 Cor 7:6).

Special Tasks.  Paul vigorously challenged the Corinthians to live holier lives and irritated many in the process.  Subsequently Titus went to Corinth on a mediation mission, and as a skilled negotiator he was able to restore good will, communication, and harmony.  Also, Paul decided that a special collection should be taken up for the church in Jerusalem (1 Cor 16:1-4), and Titus implemented the plan (2 Cor 8:6,16).

Final Assignment.  Paul appointed Titus the bishop of Crete and directed him to “appoint presbyters in every town” (Titus 1:5).  It was a major undertaking to organize local churches and install their spiritual leaders.  This was complicated by the number of Jewish Christians who were “rebels, idle talkers, and deceivers” (Titus 1:10).  Paul told Titus that “it is imperative to silence them.”  This was further aggravated because so many residents were “liars, vicious beasts, and lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12).  Titus did much good, but his adversaries had him beheaded in 97 AD.

Modern Devotion.  The relic of the skull of St. Titus is enshrined at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. Titus on the Island of Crete.  He is the patron saint of Crete and regarded by the local church as an apostle.

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All Souls Day – Why pray for the dead?

November 2, 2012

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November 2 is All Souls Day, the day in the liturgical year that we set aside to pray for the dead.  November is the month when we especially remember those who have died.

But why pray for the dead?  There is no need to pray for those who have died and gone straight to heaven.  This feast presumes that some who die are imperfectly purified of their sinfulness, and while assured of the eventual benefits of eternal life, are barred from immediate access to heaven.  Instead, they are held in an unknown place where they are cleansed of their sinfulness, and after an indeterminate time, are finally released to take their place at God’s throne.

For centuries Catholics have said that Purgatory is the intermediate place of temporary punishment and purification, and that the length of time spent there is based upon the number and seriousness of one’s sins.  The Church defined this doctrine at the Second Council of Lyons (1274), the Council of Florence (1439), and the Council of Trent (1545-1563).  The term “Purgatory” still exists in Church literature today (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1030-1032) despite the fact that it is not mentioned in the Bible.  Two New Testament verses allude to a cleansing fire (1 Cor 3:15 and 1 Pt 1:7), and they have served as the basis for the concept of Purgatory which evolved from the fifth to thirteenth centuries.  Despite its long tradition, many contemporary scholars believe that neither verse is substantive enough to firmly establish Purgatory as a biblical reality, while others argue that there is nothing in Scripture to contradict it.  Today the Church is more inclined to speak about “The Final Purification” (Documents of Vatican II, The Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, Lumen Gentium, No. 51).

A key biblical reason to pray for the dead is found in the Old Testament second book of Maccabees (2 Mac 12:38-46).  This story recounts how Judas Maccabeus, a great Jewish general of the second century before Christ, had successfully led his army into a battle.  A day after hostilities ceased, the troops who survived returned to the battlefield to gather up the bodies of their deceased comrades to give them a respectful burial.  To their horror they found amulets, charm necklaces sacred to the idols of Jamnia, local pagan gods, tied around their necks and hidden under their armor.  This was a grave sin against the First Commandment’s law against idols (Ex 20:2-6; Dt 5:7-9).  Immediately “they turned to supplication and prayed that the sinful deed might be blotted out” (2 Mac 12:42).  In fact, the stunned survivors who placed an extraordinarily high premium on faithful observance of the Mosaic Law were so aghast at this sin that they feared their fellow soldiers would be consigned to everlasting punishment.  As firm believers in the resurrection, they were confident their prayers could help atone for the sins of the dead, release them from the punishment they deserved, and speed them on their journey to eternal light and peace.  Consequently the survivors took up a collection and sent it to Jerusalem so an expiatory sacrifice could be offered in the temple.

Consistent with this ancient Jewish practice, the Catholic Church has taught for centuries that our prayers aid those who have died, and the premier prayer to offer for their intention is the Eucharist, the holy sacrifice of the Mass, the source and summit of our Christian life.  The Church also recommends almsgiving, indulgences, and other works of penance for the deceased (Catechism, No. 1032).

During November please consider reserving some special time to pray for the dead, either someone you know, the deceased members of your parish, the victims of war and the terrorist attacks, or those who have no one to pray for them.  The Mass is the best option available, but any prayer or good deed offered for the spiritual welfare of the deceased is a great blessing.

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The Beatitudes – The roadmap to sainthood

November 1, 2012

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The month of November begins with one of the most important holy days of the entire year, All Saints Day, November 1, when we honor those who have gone before us, lived good and holy lives, and been taken to heaven where they are gathered around God’s throne and can see God as God really is.  While it is proper to remember the great faith and good works of these outstanding men and women, this feast is also a reminder to each of us to live good and holy lives ourselves so that one day we might join the saints in perpetual light.

The journey from this life to the next can be long, with many twists and turns, ups and downs, and it is imperative to stay on the right road.  Fortunately, Jesus has given us a roadmap to guide us on the way, the Beatitudes, the eight spiritual ideals that point in the right direction.

The first sign on the path to holiness reads, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” those who trust completely and totally in God and are detached from material possessions.  The second extols mourners, those who endure hardships and losses with courage, learn compassion, and console others who have suffered misfortune with kindness.  The third commends the humble, meek, or lowly, those who have set aside all inclinations to selfishness and pride, are alert and sensitive to others, would prefer to serve rather than be served, and are delighted to help shoulder the burdens and lighten the loads of their neighbors.  The fourth advises “hunger for righteousness,” those who have an intense desire to know what God wants, are glad to obey God’s will, keep themselves free of all wrongdoing, fearlessly speak the truth, and uphold justice.

Jesus goes on to highlight the merciful, those who are patient, slow to anger, do not rush to judgment, give the benefit of the doubt, are not eager to punish, able to grant pardon, and willing to associate with and serve those who have made bad choices.  Next, “the single-hearted” are those who are undivided, who devote themselves exclusively to God, or put another way, “the clean of heart,” those who strive to lead a virtuous life, wish to be in the state of grace and remain pure and innocent, blameless and undefiled.  Peacemakers are those who help to reconcile differences, foster harmony, and build the common good.  Finally, “those who are persecuted for holiness” are willing to suffer for doing what is good and right.  These spiritual ideals serve as the roadmap for traveling through our life on earth as we continue toward our final destination, sainthood in heaven with almighty God.

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New saint on October 21, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

October 20, 2012

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Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha will be raised to sainthood by Pope Benedict VXI on October 21.  She is affectionately known as the “Lily of the Mohawks,” the first Native American to be canonized a saint.  While this is a great moment for the Church across North America, it is particularly significant for Native American Catholics who number approximately 600,000 from 300 tribes in the United States and Canada.

Kateri’s path to sainthood has gone through a number of steps and a lengthy process.  She died in 1680.  Over the next two and a half centuries devotion to her has steadily increased and many miracles have been attributed to her intercession.  Her cause for canonization was opened in 1932; she was declared venerable by Pope Pius XII in 1943; beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 22, 1980; approved for canonization by Pope Benedict XVI in December, 2011; and 332 years after her death, she will be formally canonized a saint on October 21, 2012.

Kateri was born in 1656 in Auriesville (Osserneon), New York, on the south bank of the Mohawk River.  Her mother was a Christian Algonquin.  She was orphaned at the age of four when her mother, father, and baby brother all died in a smallpox epidemic.  Kateri also contracted smallpox, survived, but was severely weakened, partially blinded, and face disfigured.

Kateri was then raised by her uncle who hosted three Jesuit missionaries.  They instructed her in the faith and she was baptized on Easter, 1676, at the age of 20.  The Mohawks bitterly opposed her conversion.  They tried to force her to marry, but she refused.  She would not work on Sunday and was branded as lazy.  She prayed the rosary and was taunted as crazy.  She was mocked mercilessly and ostracized by family and neighbors.  When her life was threatened, she fled to Caughnawaga, a small town near Montreal, Canada.

Kateri lived in a cabin where she could practice her faith freely.  She prayed long hours, attended daily Mass, taught children their prayers, visited the sick and elderly, made crosses that she placed throughout the woods, and made a perpetual vow of virginity in1679 at the age of 23.  She suffered recurrent headaches, fevers, stomach aches, and weight loss, much due to her severe self-inflicted penitential practices.  She died on April 17, 1680.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha is the patron saint of Native Americans, the environment, those who are persecuted for their faith, orphans, and World Youth Day.  Her feast day is July 14.

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St. Clare of Assisi, Virgin and Religious

September 8, 2012

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St. Clare was born in Assisi, Italy, the same hometown as St. Francis, in 1193, twelve years after Francis was born.  Both came from upper class, wealthy families.

When Clare was 18 she listened to a Lenten sermon preached by St. Francis, and she was so moved that on Palm Sunday evening, 1212, she left family and friends to be a religious sister.  Her hair was cut.  She gave up her possessions for a sackcloth robe and a life of simplicity.  At first she went to a Benedictine convent where she received her formation in religious life.

Francis invited Clare to return to Assisi to live in a small house near the San Damiano church, and joined by a number of other women from local families, she took up residence in 1213.  Two years later Francis appointed Clare as the abbess or the religious superior of the new community, a role that she reluctantly accepted, and she lived inside the convent for forty years.  Her sister Agnes entered at the age of 15, and her mother Hortulana, widowed, and her sister Beatrice followed sometime later.

Clare embraced a rigorous, austere life.  The nuns were supported by the work they did inside the convent and donations brought from the outside.  They observed a strict fast every day except Sundays and Christmas.  They abstained from meat entirely.  At night they slept on the ground, while during the day they wore no shoes, socks, or sandals, and observed major silence, forgoing conversation for hours at a time.  As a penitential practice, Clare wore a hair shirt, a coarse, bristly, abrasive undergarment, an aggravating irritant to her skin, and during Lent she lived on bread and water alone.

Both Francis and the bishop viewed these practices as too harsh and asked Clare to soften them.  Not only did Clare comply, but she asked the other sisters to moderate also.

Clare was deeply saddened by the death of Francis in 1226.  She lived another 27 years, most of them in poor health, often confined to bed.  When she was able to work, she sewed altar linens and vestments in her room.  She spent much time in prayer, and she had a special devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist.

Two great miracles are credited to Clare.  The city of Assisi was attacked twice.  Because of her reputation for sanctity, the townsfolk carried her on a mat to the city walls along with a pyx that contained the Blessed Sacrament.  In each case the hostile forces retreated, both attributed to her intercession and the miraculous power of Christ.

Clare founded the Order of the Poor Ladies, now known as the Poor Clares.  She was the first woman to write a Rule of Life that was formally approved by the Church.  Their special charisms are intense prayer, both private and communal; radical poverty and simplicity; as well as cloistered living in a residence secluded from the public.

Clare died in 1253 and was canonized two years later by Pope Alexander IV.  She is the patron saint of embroiderers, and in 1958 Pope Pius XII named her the patron saint of television.

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