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!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Reflections on Humility

I will confess that not unlike many college seniors who are on the brink of an unknown future, I’ve felt a little bit discouraged over the fact that I haven’t received “recognition” for some of my larger “accomplishments,” or what you will. Yes, it is vain, but it is indeed a human weakness that requires divine Grace to rectify. The first step is to pray for humility, and there are many examples of humility in the Catholic tradition.

The foremost example of humility is Our Lord. As Easter draws near, we finally see the culmination of all of his “accomplishments” during his life. Jesus was certainly recognized when riding into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday….yet that “recognition” was capricious, and they finally acknowledged Him by putting Him to death. Let us consider this- when Jesus was suffering for us- his greatest act of love that he ever performed- who was recognizing him at that point? Thus, during this Holy Week we should walk the via dolorosa with Our Lord, bearing in mind that in most cases our greatest acts of love will go unrecognized by other humans.

If we read the Gospels, we will also note that Our Lady didn’t concern herself with receiving recognition for loving her son. Instead, her last spoken words are “do as He tells you,” after which she resigns herself to a life of quietly contemplating, following, and loving Him. She didn’t need anyone to tell her, “Mary, you’re doing such a great job at following Jesus” in order to reinforce her efforts. Instead, she had the wisdom to realize that true joy is not found in the self, but rather found in focusing upon Jesus.

This Marian point of view seems to be what drives our contemplative nuns to do what they do. Everything about the contemplative way of life de-emphasizes the “me” and places focus on God- that is why all of the habits are uniform, for example. Moreover, instead of taking up their time with needless chatter all day, they try their best to place their focus on God. In living out this quiet contemplation of loving Christ, they are, in effect, mirroring Christ.

However, we’re not all called to be nuns…..but we are all called to mirror Our Lord and Our Lady. Thus, whenever you feel like you’ve gone unrecognized for some of your many accomplishments, look at the crucifix and ask yourself how many people recognized Christ at that point? Pray the rosary, asking Our Lady to bestow upon you the special gift of humility. Also, pray to the Saints- I would recommend any contemplative nun saint, St. Joan of Arc, or St. Bernadette for that purpose.

St. Bernadette specifically was a person who, like Our Lady, realized the transience of earthly recognition. For that reason, she withdrew herself inside a convent in an attempt downplay the fame that she had garnered on account of her visions. She didn’t enter the convent so much as an escape, but rather as a desire to contemplate Christ. I will write more on this beautiful Saint at a later point. Despite the hoard of unwitting teenage girls who randomly pick Bernadette as their confirmation name, she really is a wonderful Saint!


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