"Figuring it Out" with Saint Colette
I hope that everyone is having a peaceful Lent thus far! I also wish you all a most happy Feast of St. Colette!
After several years of trying, I still have not managed to get through Walled in Light, Mother Mary Francis’ book on the life of St. Colette. However, I found this very well-written and honest account of her life on the website of the Poor Clares of Ty Mam Duw, Wales. Please take time to read some of Colette’s prayers, letters, etc. on the same website. Colette may not be as popular as some Saints, but her life is just as inspiring…after all, it should be obvious right now that along with Sts. Clare, Francis, and Anthony, I also have big devotions to lesser-known Saints!
As much as I love love love Mother Mary Francis, I found what I read thus far out of Walled in Light to be a bit too hagiographic: aka, it tends to exaggerate her other-worldliness. I particularly like the Ty Mam Duw article because it explores some of her weaknesses. The young Colette would be described in today’s terms as a “job hopper”: she tried several different vocations before discovering that none of them were quite what God had intended.
What’s more, she never really ‘figured it all out’ or ‘settled down’- she simply put all her faith, love, and energy into her particular situation and placed the rest in God’s hands. I also think that Colette is an inspiration to those who think that they have ‘failed’ by not being able to go through with traditional religious life. I fall into that category and sometimes get down on myself for not having the strength to become a cloistered Poor Clare Colettine nun. However, St. Colette technically was not a “nun” since she traveled from place to place nor was she an official “Poor Clare” as she did not belong to one particular monastery: most accounts of her life indicate that she was a Franciscan sister of the Third Order, rather than the Second Order to which most Poor Clare nuns belong. In spite of her untraditional calling, Colette is considered to be one of the most important reformers of the Franciscan Order and the co-patroness of the Poor Clares.
Colette’s life shows us that God can make saints out of us during tough times and in unusual ways….even if we never really get around to ‘figuring it all out.’