Living with Clarity of Purpose
As one who both loves the saints and has too little formal time for prayer each day, I have developed a tendency to link daily activities with intercessory prayer. One such example is my habit of inviting the spiritual friendship of St. Clare of Assisi every time I clean my glasses. Clare, best known as a disciple and spiritual companion of St. Francis of Assisi, is a patroness for many causes including her invocation against eye disease. We celebrate her feast day annually on August 11.
While I’ve known about St. Clare for years, I wasn’t well acquainted with the details of her life until I was invited by my publisher to write a children’s book featuring her story. I initially balked at the assignment. Wasn’t Clare simply a cloistered nun who prayed all the time? Not to sound sacrilegious, but I wondered whether her legacy had enough action to hold the interest of young readers and to inspire them to their own lives of sanctity. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Clarity of Mission
Once Clare escaped her life of privilege and wealth to follow Francis and her brothers, her life became a rich tapestry of leadership and evangelization. She lived a life full of prayer and service, but also had her fair share of adventure and intrigue.
For those of us who may find ourselves in the latter chapters of our stories, it can be easy to fall into the trap of feeling that we are no longer needed or valued. We’ve perhaps retired from our jobs. The families who once depended upon us for their daily sustenance are busy and independent. In the pandemic environment, our motions may be limited for our safety and the wellbeing of those around us.
We may wonder, “Does God still have a purpose for my life?”
One look at the legacy of St. Clare reminds us that the answer to this question is always yes. Speaking as the abbess of the religious community but considering herself as “the servant of the sisters”, St. Clare once said, “Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for he who created you has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Blessed be you, my God, for having created me.”
Clare understood herself and taught her sisters that they were each uniquely created by God to love and to live the gospel message. Even as seniors, we too are invited into this mission. Our form of evangelization may look a bit different as we age, but it is no less worthy. A few ways in which we can live this mission with clarity and purpose include these simple routines:
● Begin and end each day not only with prayer, but also with scripture. Keep a bible handy and consider it as your most important gift and tool. Study it with purpose, but also let the Holy Spirit be your guide as you let yourself be randomly led to pages of your bible.
● Actively pray for your loved ones daily. Mention them by name, ponder their needs, and find peace in knowing that God intimately knows and hears your requests.
● Seek ways to support your parish community. Especially in an age of social distancing, it can be easy to feel separated in spirit from one another. Call or email a member of your parish staff and ask for assistance if you are unable to attend Mass in person. Write your pastor or priests a note regularly to let them know that you are praying for them.
● Pray for the grace to leave fear behind as St. Clare did. If you find yourself paralyzed by fear, seek the professional help you need but also consider that fear prohibits you from living your mission. Follow St. Clare’s wise counsel to “Go forth without fear,” confident that God’s purpose for your mission is perfect, even if it takes unexpected twists and turns.
Even if you don’t wear eyeglasses, I invite you into the spiritual friendship of St. Clare. She also serves as the patron saint of television and telephones, so it should be easy to find a way to remember her sage counsel at least once per day.
A question for you: What is your mission in life and how will you aim to live it today without fear or anxiety?