Friday 24 September 2021

Clare of Assisi - John Paul Kirkham - CTS Great Saints

Clare of Assisi
CTS Great Saints
John Paul Kirkham
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860823541
CTS Booklet B686

A few years back I stumbled upon the books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. I instantly fell in love with the clear and concise writing. The many wonderful series. And even more excellent authors. This is the second volume I have read from the pen of John Paul Kirkham, both are excellent reads. I loved the books in the CTS Great Saints Series. I have also read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series. And have enjoyed all of them. This volume is a great book, by an good author in an awesome series! 

The description on the back of the book is:

“In renouncing the world of her time and embracing poverty, Clare risked everything to be a disciple of Christ. She was not only inspired by her contemporary, St Francis, but in turn gave him counsel and at one stage even nursed him. So great was her impact on Christendom, that by her death in 1253 over 150 convents of the Poor Clare Order of nuns had been established. Her inspiring life, writings and legacy and their modern-day relevance are considered here.”

And the chapters in this little volume are:

Assisi and Clare’s Background
Called to Serve God
San Damiano The Early Years
The Spirituality of Clare
San Damiano The Later years
Clare’s Illness and Last Days
The Assisi of St Clare Today

In the introduction John Paul states:

“The life of St Clare as told here is both dramatic and true. After her death the Church authorities commissioned an official biography. The ascribed author was Thomas Celano of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor who had previously completed the The Life of St Francis of Assisi. Celano was therefore a contemporary and his writings are based on all the known facts and the eyewitness accounts of the time, the living voices of those who actually knew and lived with Clare.”

This volume is one of the shortest in the Great Saints series that I have read. It comes in at under 60 pages and the revised and expanded edition mentioned below is only 62. But the booklet is packed full of information. I highlighted many passages while reading this volume. Some of them are:

“Clare’s aristocratic and noble ancestry can be traced back to her paternal great-grandfather, Paolo, from the house of the Counts of Scefi who owned citadels and palaces in and around Assisi.”

“Clare loved to pray and would hide herself in the rooms of the house for hours on end in conversation with God. Not having a set of prayer beads, Clare would use a handful of pebbles to count the prayers directed to the Lord. Immersed in a divine love, Clare gradually came to reject worldly and earthly goods and regarded them as worthless things. Even under her softly tailored and rich garments she would wear a hair shirt. Her outward appearance would be as normal but internally she was wearing Christ already.”

“As Abbess she took full responsibility for the spiritual and moral guidance of her sisters through the example of a single-minded love of God, devotion to prayer, and acts of sisterly charity.”

“Clare’s letters and other writings were written from deep within her heart. As we examine them more closely, it as though they could have been addressed to anyone, even to ourselves, in our contemporary world.”

“For almost half her life, Clare suffered from a mysterious illness that deprived her of physical strength, and finally left her a bedridden invalid. Nothing, however, seemed to trouble her and she was never heard to utter a single complaint about her sickness or the poverty that she had embraced.”

“St Clare is not only a Patron to Assisi, she is also the Patron Saint of eye disease (her miracles described earlier), and the Patron of embroiderers (needle work).”

“Clare in her own lifetime saw the foundation of 153 monasteries of her order. Today there are 900 monasteries in 76 countries with 20,000 Poor Clare Sisters.”
“St Clare asks us “to strive always to imitate the way of holy simplicity and humility”.”

This book was an excellent need. And a great spiritual pick me up, after a rough week. I very much enjoyed reading this volume. Learned some new things about Saint Clare I and have passed the booklet onto my youngest daughter with the suggestion she consider Clare for her confirmation saint.

Note the author has self published an updated version of this booklet. I compared them side by side. The main differences are a longer version of a Saint Francis poem, 2 extra paragraphs. A few random sentences. 

This book was a fascinating read. I have read about Clare before but there was much in this small volume that was new to me. It is an excellent read. Well written. And a great volume in the CTS Great Saints Series

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by John Paul Kirkham:
A Simple Guide to the Catholic Faith
The Holy Souls
The Miraculous Infant of Prague

Books in the CTS Great Saints Series:
Antonio Rosmini - J.B. Midgley
Bernard of Clairvaux - J.B. Midgley
Benedict Patron of Europe - J.B. Midgley
Charles Borromeo - J.B. Midgley
Dominic - J.B. Midgley
Elizabeth of the Trinity The Great Carmelite Saint - Jennifer Moorcroft
Francis de Sales - J.B. Midgley
Gemma Galgani Gem of Christ John Paul Kirkham
George: Patron of England - J.B. Midgley
John Baptist de La Salle - J.B. Midgley
John of the Cross - Jennifer Moorcroft
John Vianney - J.B. Midgley
Louis Marie de Montfort His Life, Message and Teaching - Paul Allerton SMM
Martin de Porres - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Patrick Missionary to the Irish - Thomas O’Loughlin 

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