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!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

"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.’


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen. St. Colette is amazing.

10:04 PM  
Blogger aimee said...

Good post! I am not a Catholic but really enjoy your site and feel we can learn a lot from those who are considered saints. The link you included was good; it gave me hope today. TY
Blessings, Aimee

6:28 AM  
Blogger Kelly Joyce Neff said...

Thank you, Chiara! I love Ty Mam Duw, and if I had had the strength to become a Poor Clare, I'd have been a Colettine as well.

But, God is merciful and leading, and if we cannot 'make it' one way, he presents us with another, hence my, and your, Third Order status.

Wishing you love in the peace of Christ this Easter,
Kelly, sfo

12:51 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

I resonate with Aimee's comment. I'm not a Catholic either, but I love reading the stories of the saints, and the meditations and appreciation that other people have of them as well. God bless you!

11:53 AM  

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