A joyfully Franciscan view of Catholic life, inspired by St. Clare (Santa Chiara) of Assisi!

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Chiara Offreduccio (St. Clare) was born in 1194. It is said that when her mother had Chiara in her womb, an angel appeared to her and said, "your child will be a light that will illuminate the world!" Hence, her mother named the child Chiara, which means "light. As G.K. Chesterton put it, St. Clare was a romantic figure just like Juliet was. However, instead of running away from her family in order to be with an earthly man, Clare gave up everything and ran away from her family for the love of her Savior!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Easter Vigil Story of My Conversion

Dear friends of “Canticle of Chiara”: Christ is Risen! Alleluia! I would like to congratulate all members of the elect around the world who have entered into full communion with Holy Mother Church on this most holy of nights…..and I would particularly like to extend my special congratulations to all those who chose Clare or any variation of it as their baptismal/confirmation name tonight.

The Easter Vigil is a special night for me because it was two years ago at the Easter Vigil that I finally became a Christian. Indeed, I was raised Catholic but had fallen away from the Church in my teenage years, falling into a long period of being very unbelieving. It wasn’t until I came to Notre Dame that I was introduced to the True beauty of the liturgy, the wisdom of the Church, and the redeeming love of Christ. Throughout my sophomore year here at Notre Dame, I slowly began to “come over” to the Church….for instance, as I attended daily mass, the words of the Eucharistic rite really began to make sense to me. Indeed, my mind had seemed to be won over by the Church, but not my heart. My heart didn’t give itself to Christ until the Easter Vigil of 2004. It happened as I was singing “Ye Choirs of New Jerusalem” with my choir. The lyrics are reproduced below:

Ye choirs of new Jerusalem

Ye choirs of new Jerusalem, Your sweetest notes employ, The Paschal victory to hymn
In strains of holy joy. For Judah's Lion bursts his chains, Crushing the serpent's head;
And cries aloud through death's domains To wake the imprisoned dead.

Devouring depths of hell their prey At his command restore;
His ransomed hosts pursue their way Where Jesus goes before.
Triumphant in his glory now To him all power is given;
To him in one communion bow All saints in earth and Heaven.

While we, His soldiers, praise our King, His mercy we implore,
Within his palace bright to bring And keep us evermore.

All glory to the Father be, All glory to the Son,
All glory, Holy Ghost, to Thee,
While endless ages run. Alleluia! Amen.

As I was singing that hymn, my heart became overwrought by love for my Saviour….and indeed, I recognized Him as my Saviour, as the above song truly caused me to feel Christ’s redemptive power. Thus, I looked at the tabernacle and said silently to Jesus, “Where have I been all of these years without knowing you?! I want to come to You, O Lord….and come back to your most holy Church! I love you and you are my Saviour!”

Ever since that most glorious of nights, my entire life has been more enriched, more beautiful- simply because through God’s grace, I have come to realize Christ’s love for me through the Holy Mother Church. Despite the many painful experiences I have had since that conversion to Christ, it has been all the more bearable simply because I now have God in my life. It all started with the Easter Vigil.

Happy Easter, everyone! To Him in one communion bow all saints of earth and heaven! Alleluia!


Blogger Barb, sfo said...

I attended my very first Easter Vigil at ND; I was a member of the RCIA team in the Campus Ministry. It was a very special moment when everyone in the group was finally a part of the Church.

2:28 AM  
Blogger Chiara said...

You were there last night, Barb? Everything was so beautiful! I was excited that there was a girl who picked "Clare of Assisi" as her name!

3:24 PM  
Blogger Barb, sfo said...

Oh, sorry...no, I was not there last night. I was there 18 years ago!! Guess I wasn't too clear on that one. I had never attended an Easter Vigil before that time, and I just meant that it was a great privilege and blessing to participate in the Vigil there. It was the kind of experience that leaves you wanting to come back again next year.
And fortunately for my family, we had another one of those last weekend! Much different venue, but it was very special, very reverent, very joyful.

9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for telling about the beautiful night of your conversion!

I confess I was about to recommend that you simply HAD to read A Right to Be Merry; then I noticed it was on your list of favorite books! (I too love Brideshead Revisited and Letters to a Young Catholic...)

Take care, and thanks again for your email.


10:53 PM  

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