Friday, May 8, 2009
Gaze, Consider, Contemplate, Imitate
These are the words that St. Clare of Assisi writes in one of her letters to Agnes of Prague who was opening a monastery in the thirteenth century.
St. Clare is referring to the San Damiano crucifix (pictured above). This is the crucifix that Franciscans all over the world use today in their contemplation of the crucified Christ. It is the one that spoke to St. Francis of Assisi, inviting him to rebuild the church of his day.
St. Clare contemplated this crucifix for 42 years of her life, finding therein the source of her strength in her relationship with the crucified Christ. She urges us to do the same.
In gazing upon the cross we are invited to use our senses to experience the love of the crucified Christ, for it is out of love that Christ endures the cross for us.
Clare urges us to consider the cross by using our minds to contemplate the life of Christ and all the ways that we might experience his life in relationship to our own life.
In contemplating the crucifix, our hearts are engaged as we listen with our inner senses to the meaning of this event in Christ’s life.
Finally, we are urged by St. Clare to imitate the Christ. Our lives are meant to be imitations of the life of Christ. Are we willing to walk in the footprints of Jesus through the Gospel as did St. Clare and St. Francis? That is a tall order but one that each of us who calls ourselves Christian must take into consideration.
G. K. Chesterton tells us: “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” A challenging question for sure and one that St. Francis and St. Clare could enthusiastically respond with a yes!
How about you and I? Are we willing to gaze, consider, contemplate and imitate the Christ? In your moments of contemplation, I urge you to sit with Clare and Francis in front of the crucifix and ask for the grace to live the Gospel in all the events of your life for, as Paula D’Arcy tells us, “God comes to us disguised as our life.”
by Sr. Mary Jo Chaves