God uses our past, present, and future to draw us towards him. We can see this in both the lives of St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi. Looking through the lives of these saints, there are three key words to focus on: conversion, confidence, and charity.
Conversion in the lives of Francis and Clare is demonstrated by a review of their past. St. Francis and St. Clare, though both from Assisi, had very different backgrounds. St. Francis’ youth was spent feasting and partying as the son of a wealthy merchant. Reflecting on his own past, the saint described his first 25 years of life as “living in sin.” Whereas St. Clare, born into the noble aristocracy, wished to remain chaste for the Lord. Both grew into a loving relationship with God.
Confidence resides in looking towards the future. Sts. Francis and Clare did not have to worry at the future that lay before them. They had God in whom they trusted. When St. Clare brought the monstrance containing the Holy Eucharist to the little window of her monastery is a good example of this trust. Even though the Muslims were attacking, she remained calm and put her faith in Christ. St. Francis also gives good example by seeking to forward his relationship with God in the future.
As he was walking with Brother Leo, Francis observed to his companion, “Why are you so pensive?” Brother Leo replied, “I wish for purity which I lack.” And St. Francis asked, “What is this purity?” The Brother answered, “The purity of being without sin.” “Ah, I can understand this,” replied St. Francis, “since all have the stain of sin. In order to achieve this, we must make room for God.”
Whilst this rendering of the story may not be exact, it gets the point across. St. Francis looked toward the future and thinking about how he can grow towards God and away from sin. He knew that he can achieve his goal by emptying himself of worldly things and filling himself with God.
Charity, then, is living in the present. These two saints each had their own way of demonstrating this charity; St. Francis in his being out in the world and St. Clare in her remaining in San Damiano. On St. Francis’ travels, he was able to show charity to those he met through his preaching and teaching. On the other hand, St. Clare practiced charity through prayer and poverty, remaining within the walls of San Damiano. In both of these ways, though different from each other, Sts. Francis and Clare reveal their love for God and are able to grow in this love.
Resources: Saint of the Week Virtual Pilgrimage on Sts. Francis and Clare of Assisi (watch on YouTube here)