In the Gospel of Luke, we read:
Through towns and villages,
Jesus went teaching, making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone said to him, “Sir, will there be only a few saved?”
He said to them, “Try your best to enter by the narrow door,
because I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.
Once the master of the house got up and locked the door,
you may find yourself knocking on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us’
but he will answer, ‘I do not know where you come from.’
Then you will find yourself saying,
‘We once ate and drank in your company; you taught in our streets’
but he will reply, ‘I do not know where you came from.
Away from me, all you wicked men!
There will be weeping and grinding of teeth,
when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob
and all the prophets in the kingdom of God,
and yourselves turned outside.
And men from east and west, north and south,
will come to take their places at the feast of the kingdom of God.
Yes, there are those now last who will be first,
and those now first will be last (Luke 13:22-30).
The teach of Jesus is likewise echoed in the Gospel of Matthew:
Enter through the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction,
and there are many who take it.
For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life,
and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13-14).
We do not know enough about the life of Saint Clare of Assisi. And what we believe comes largely from legend, oral history, the documents related to her canonization, and the Little Flowers of Saint Clare. What we know for sure comes from her writings, especially her heartfelt letters to Agnes of Prague. In the First Letter to Agnes of Prague, Clare reflects upon the gospel metaphors and the narrow door and the narrow gate. She explains that living the gospel life is the narrow passage by which we might pass from this sad and short life to eternal life.
Saint Clare writes approvingly to Blessed Agnes: “You have cast aside your garments, that is, earthly riches, so that you might not be overcome by one fighting against you, so that you might enter the kingdom of heaven through the straight path and the narrow gate.”
For Saint Clare, as for her friend and spiritual father, Saint Francis, that straight path and narrow gate is a life of poverty — a rejection of worldly possessions, powers, and pride. The gospel life of poverty is to be taken and lived literally: no possessions, no property, and no positions of temporal power. For the rest of us, this means not a rejection of hearth and home, but a serious and sincere detachment from the problematic effects of the material things of this world and a devotion to the spiritual things of the next.
As a fellowship of Franciscans in spirit, then, we are called to lives of simplicity, lives of humility, and lives of childlike dependence on the God who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Father of us all. In this way, truly blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God! On this feast day of Saint Clare of Assisi, let us beg her prayers for our divided country, our wounded church, and our suffering world!
A Prayer to Saint Clare of Assisi
O Saint Clare,
ardent lover of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament,
help me to grow in love for Christ Jesus, our Redeemer.
With your strong faith and unwavering hope,
gather our wounded church, our suffering world, and all people
into your loving heart and lift us up to Jesus
with your absolute confident in his merciful love.
O Saint Clare,
help us to be like you:
peaceful, kind, gentle, patient, and persevering
in the face of all difficulties.
Trusting in your powerful intercession,
we confidently praise and thank God
for the blessings we have received.
Glory, praise, wisdom, and thanksgiving,
honor, power, and might
to our God for ever and ever. Amen!
Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us!
Our Lady of Angels, pray for us!
Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with members, friends, and followers in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Africa. We are dedicated to helping Christian believers of all ages to more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi. The Assisi Project is a tax exempt non-profit charitable corporation. All donations support our ministry and our tax deductible. 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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