Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Clare, Cancer, and Prayers

Today, August 11th, is the day that the Catholic church celebrates St. Clare of Assisi.

Clare is a favorite saint, for many deeply personal and private reasons, but also simply for who she is.  She lived a life dedicated to Jesus, and to the ideals of poverty that were espoused by Saint Francis.  It is Clare's image adorns the tiny silver medal that I wear around my neck the vast majority of days.

The medal delights those friends of mine who are Catholic, and confuses my protestant friends who wonder why on earth I'd choose to wear a Catholic saint around my neck.

On the medal Clare is pictured bearing a monstrance, the container in which the host is stored.  She's one of only a very few female saints who are pictured bearing the Host. It's one of the things I love about her.  I see that image, and am reminded, though differently, that I carry the Spirit of God with me and within me.  That He is deeply present with me.  I find myself reaching for that medal, for the tangible reminder of that between my fingers as I pray some days.

I'm thinking of that today, and praying... and I'm praying specifically for two friends and their families. 

On Monday I saw two different friends, both of whom had been told in the preceding days that a parent with cancer would no longer be receiving treatment, and the disease, barring the miraculous, would be allowed to run it's course.  One is newly diagnosed, the other we've been praying for for many months.  One quite elderly, the other by all accounts "too young".  And yet, none of those things seemed to make a difference on the faces of my friends as they shared that treatment would either not be attempted, or would be discontinued.

And somehow, as my heart aches for these friends, I was comforted by the reminder of Clare's faith, and comforted more deeply by the reminder of the God who sees and knows and holds and loves so much more deeply than I could ever do.

I came across this simple benediction, from near the end of Clare's life, and it rather perfectly summed up my heart for these friends and for so many others who are in the midst of terribly hard seasons currently.   May each of you know the God of peace and love of whom Clare speaks, and may you know the presence of the living God near to you and surrounding you in the midst of whatever life is offering you now.

Now, go calmly in peace,
for you have a good escort.
He who created you
has sent the Holy Spirit who guards 
you as a mother does tenderly
love her child.


kirsten michelle said...

What a beautiful post. I really don't know anything about St. Clare and as a (new!) Catholic, I'm interested. I want to know more about her.

I am sorry to hear about your friends and the awful news they have both received. May they receive Christ's peace.

Lisa said...

Kirsten - there's a lovely little book by Jon Sweeney called "The St. Clare Prayer Book" that was recommended to me when I commented once that I had an affinity for St. Clare but would like to know more. I haven't worked my way through all of it yet, but what I've read is wonderful, gives background, and gives a number of lovely collects to pray. And, I thought of you and your husband and Ewan, and your fierce love for them, and prayed for the three of you as well as I prayed that prayer I included in the post