As the snows of the winter season deepen, we begin ordinary time by praying with an appropriate selection from the Little Flowers of Saint Clare. Like the Little Flowers of Saint Francis, these stories have been collected over the centuries to illustrate the deep faith of Saint Clare and the Poor Ladies of Assisi, who made their home at San Damiano, the little church where the Crucified Christ first spoke to Saint Francis. In this story, Francis seeks to distance himself from Clare in order to protect their reputations from worldly gossip. Instead, a small miracle teaches them that they are forever bound together by faith, friendship, and prayer. Saint Francis, pray for us! Saint Clare, pray for us! Our Lady of Angels, pray for us!
The Legend of the Winter Roses
Clare wanted to see Francis more frequently. She wanted to ask him many things about the spiritual life. She could manage easily with little food. However, she required more spiritual nourishment that came from the words of her friend and mentor. On the other hand, Francis purposefully kept away from the convent at San Damiano. He said to his brothers: “In order to guard the virtue of chastity, we must avoid the poison of familiarity!”
Clare could not be considered as poison or as a source of temptation for Francis, who was a most penitential man. However, Francis wanted to set an example for the rest of the community. So, he avoided the convent and personal conversations with the Poor Ladies. Understandably, Clare was saddened by these actions and her sadness was conveyed to Francis. Francis responded: “Please do not misunderstand me. I love the Poor Ladies with perfect love. I just wish to set an example of chastity for others to follow.” Francis certainly loved the Poor Ladies, who closely followed his example and teaching. Above all, Francis loved Clare; and he prayed that she would remain faithful to Christ and to his poverty. Everyone understood that Clare was his masterpiece! She was the most splendid star in the sky! Like a star, however, Francis believed that she should be admired at a distance.
From time to time, Francis did visit Clare and the Poor Ladies. He would knock on the convent door at San Damiano and exclaim: “May the Lord give you peace!” He would look inside and see that the convent was built on a strong foundation of holy poverty. He would see that nothing there was without purpose: nothing sumptuous or superfluous. Likewise, nothing there was sad or squalid. The convent was clean, contented, and peaceful.
One cold winter’s day, Francis visited San Damiano and was satisfied that holy poverty was being observed and that Clare and all of the young ladies were happy and joyful in their chosen life. As Francis prepared to leave the convent, all could see that the wind was blowing and snow was settling on the front pathway. Francis stepped outside in his bare feet and began to walk along the path. After just a few footsteps, Clare followed him with the hope that she could convince him to visit again soon.
Pulling his hood over his head, Francis said: “Sister Clare, it is best that we go our own way because of what the world might think. I leave you to manage well on your own.” Clare stood in the deepening snow. She felt sad and lost and cried: “What will I do without you? You are my guide and support!” Francis raised his eyes to the sky and said: “Our Blessed Lord will guide you!” Clare responded: “Will we never see you again?” Francis looked upon their surroundings. Considering the onset of a cold winter, he said: “We will meet again when the roses bloom.” Francis knew that the rose would bloom again in the spring. He wished only to put a full season between himself and the sisters.
As Francis turned away, he stopped almost immediately. A nearby rose bush, once covered in snow, was now miraculously and beautifully in bloom! Under her veil, Clare smiled and watched as Francis humbly walked away in the snowstorm. She returned to San Damiano with a bouquet of roses that she placed at the foot of the large crucifix in the sister’s dormitory. Amen!
For our families & friends, we pray: Hail Mary…
For our parish communities, we pray: Hail Mary…
For our Holy Father, Pope Francis, we pray: Hail Mary…
For our departed brothers & sisters in faith, we pray: Hail Mary…
For the Catholic Church throughout the world, we pray: Hail Mary…
For an increase in faith, hope, and love in our world, we pray:
A Prayer by Saint Francis of Assisi
Almighty, eternal, just, and merciful God,
grant us the grace to do for you alone
what we know you want us to do,
and to desire always what pleases you.
Thus, inwardly cleansed, interiorly enlightened,
and inflamed by the fire of the Holy Spirit,
may we follow in the footprints of your beloved Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ.
And by your grace alone, Most High God,
may we make our way to you,
who live and reign in perfect Trinity and simple Unity,
and are glorified and all powerful for ever and ever.
Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us!
Our Lady of Angels, pray for us!
Holy Men & Women of Assisi, pray for us!
Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is an international fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with members, friends, and followers on four continents. We are dedicated to helping Christian believers of all ages more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi. For more information about the Assisi Project and our upcoming opportunities for faith formation, prayer, and pilgrimage in the Franciscan spiritual tradition, please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. May the Lord give you peace!
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