In preparation for the feast, I read three very good books to share with my children:
Francis, Poor Man of Assisi, by Tomie de Paola (We read the part on Clare after breakfast.)
Little Catechism on the Eucharist (We read the miracle of Clare and the Saracens after breakfast, too.)
A Right to Be Merry, by Mother Mary Frances
(This one was more for me, but it motivated me to celebrate the day a bit more than I would have otherwise. It’s pretty rare for me to get it together to have such an organized “feast” day… I’m sure it was a special grace from Clare, as the book The Right to Be Merry literally fell into my lap in the Blessed Sacrament chapel the other day. I was feeling very despondent but the book cheered me up immediately and since I didn’t have anything else to do today, the nice big meal worked out.)
(Meaning: John Paul napped.)
I’ve been wanting to read A Right to Be Merry for years. It was worth the wait. The name Clare was added to my girls’-name-list halfway through the book, except maybe in its Italian form- Chiara?... we’ll see. (That list is getting long and I’m not getting any younger.)
Essentially a memoir by a Poor Clare nun, the book also contains a lot of history, theology, and inspiration. Much of the book is apropos for a stay at home mother, as the abbess of her domestic Church. In any case, I’m eager to find out more about Clare and I’m on the prowl for a deeper book on her life. I’m adding A Right to Be Merry to my list of books for my daughters to read before ever
Some spiritual writers contend that St. Clare understood and lived the teachings of St. Francis better than he himself did. I imagine it's a pretty heated debate amongst Franciscan circles, but after reading A Right to be Merry, I nearly agree. Poverty, Joy, and Simplicity seem to emanate from Clare and her Poor Clares. Truly beautiful.
"What you hold, may you hold.
What you do, may you do and not stop.
But with swift pace, light step, unswerving feet,
so that even your steps stir up no dust,
may you go forward
securely, joyfully, and swiftly,
on the path of prudent happiness,
agreeing with nothing
that would dissuade you from this commitment
or place a stumbling block for you on the way,
so that nothing prevents you from offering
your vows to the Most High in the perfection
to which the Spirit of the Lord has called you."
-St. Claire (Chiara Scifi), Letter to Agnes of Prague