Wednesday 16 March 2022

Clare of Assisi Her Life and Message - John Paul Kirkham - CTS

Clare of Assisi Her Life and Message
John Paul Kirkham
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860823299
CTS Booklet SP9

This is one of two books from the Catholic Truth Society by John Paul Kirkham called Carle of Assisi. The other is Clare of Assisi CTS Great Saints Series and is traditional Biography. This one is about half the size of that biography and is a completely different book. 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. This is the third volume I have read from the pen of John Paul Kirkham, they 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 a good author but it does not really seem to be part of a series, unlike most other volumes from the CTS! 

The description on the back of the book is:

“Made a saint only two years after her death, Clare had been a contemporary and disciple of Francis of Assisi, renouncing a wold of wealth and comfort to embrace a life of simplicity and poverty in order to gain ‘the Kingdom’. This collection of her writings, taken largely from her letters, testament and Rule, are strikingly relevant today as a light to guide our steps. These excerpts can be used as prayers, daily reflections and meditations, also before the Blessed Sacrament.” 

And the chapters in this little volume are:

The Life of St Clare
From the Letters of St Clare
From the Rule of St Clare
From the Testament of St Clare
Prayer of the five wounds of Our Lord
The Blessing of St Clare

In the introduction John Paul states:

“The words published here are taken from St Clare’s own writings; her letters to Ermentrude of Bruges and St Agnes of Prague and her Rule written for the Order of the Poor Clare’s and also her Testament and Blessing.”

And also:

“They are still relevant if not more so in the 21st century as a light to guide our steps. The texts can be used as prayers, daily reflections, meditations, and can also be used before the Blessed Sacrament.”

The introduction and Life of St Clare take up about a third of the volume. Then each of the next four chapters are a series of excerpts from her works. They vary between 3 and 8 pages of quotes. Some of the quotes are a single sentence some a couple of paragraphs. And the volume concludes with the three formal prayers. Some of the quotes I highlight my first time through this volume were:

“Let the noises of the fleeting world and its shadow not confound you and let the empty menaces of the deceiving world not drive you to distraction; shut your ears to the whispers of the evil forces.”

“Love with your whole heart God and Jesus, his son, crucified for our sins, and never let his memory escape your mind. Make yourself meditate continually on the mysteries of the cross and the anguish of the mother standing beneath the cross.”

“Console those who are afflicted.”

“Be the last refuge for those who are troubled.”

“Be silent in the church.”

“Consider the abundant kindness of God … his mercy and love.”

“And because the way and path is difficult and the gate through which one passes and enters to life is narrow, there are both few who walk it and enter through it. And if there are some who walk that way for a while, there are very few who preserve on it. But how blessed are those to whom it has been given to walk that way and to preserve till the end. Let us be very careful, therefore, that, if we have set out on the path of the Lord, we do not at any time turn away from it through our own fault or negligence or ignorance, not that we offend so great a Lord and his Virgin Mother.”

This is an excellent little volume. It is reminiscent of some other books from the Catholic Truth Society that have a series of quotes on specific topics, but those draw from several saints and church sources. This one is just Saint Clare of Assisi. In some ways it reminds me of the old Bathroom Readers ‘Life’s Little Instruction Book’s by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. but again with a single source. And from what I recall of those volumes much better content.

It is a great read, that can easily be read in a single sitting over a large mug of tea or coffee. I plan on taking it to my next recollection to reread it as spiritual reading before the recollection begins. I highly recommend this booklet, track it down I am certain it will not disappoint. It is a fascinating read. I have read about Clare before but there was much in this small volume that was new to me. It was great to read so much from her own pen.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 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
Gemma Galgani: Gem of Christ

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