“You are a garden locked up … a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.” (Song of Solomon 4, 12-15)

25 May 2013

Dear Readers,

In the message I am sharing with you, St. Clare of Assisi explains that contemplation is the summit of love and prayer. I hope you will discover more and more the loving gaze of God upon you and that you, too, look at Him with your loving eyes.

I pray for you and accompany you with my prayers.

Stefania Caterina

Message of St. Clare of Assisi1 of 25 May 2013

 

“Dearest Brothers and Sisters, peace and all good to all of you! The Almighty God has asked me to speak to you about contemplation. You know very well that my earthly existence was nothing but contemplation; therefore, I will talk about it with joy.

What is contemplation? It is not an ascetic exercise, spiritual acrobatics or an abstract concept but the spiritual breath and rest of the soul. When God created man, He wanted him to be His collaborator and to participate in His work of governing creation. It has been explained to you many times that man was not destined to work hard to earn a living but to live in the joy of serving God. Work should have been the participation in the divine creativity. The ability of man to comprehend and employ the laws of God would have made this possible.

Due to original sin, committed by the progenitors, the humanity of the Earth was enslaved and could not find rest anymore. Work on Earth, whether it is too much or too little, tires man and causes constant anxiety. Income depends on work, but income is never enough for people: if they are poor, they want to become rich; if they are rich, they want to become even richer, and so they never find peace; whether poor or rich, they are always worried.

Jesus said, Therefore I tell you, do not worry …“ (Mt 6,25). In fact, He wanted to lead man back to a true relationship with the Father; He wanted to make us understand that God is able to provide everything man needs and that by serving God man finds what he needs and even more. We are created for God and to seek His Kingdom, which is not of this Earth. We are called to live in accordance with the divine laws, not the worldly and carnal. God knows what we need; He has created us and will therefore always provide us with what is necessary to live if we decide to live for Him.

When we are ready to live for God, when we desire to belong only to Him and we offer ourselves fully to Him, then real contemplation arises, which is the result of surrendering with trust to God. The offering of our life to God is the key that opens our spirit in which God has placed His treasure. Yes, dear brothers and sisters, those who love God awaken to true life. Those who are prepared to give all will receive all from the loving Father. Someone who loves wishes to contemplate the face of the loved one, he admires everything the loved one does and is able to recognise every tender and loving action. Like this, a story of love begins between man and God, which will not even end with death, on the contrary: in the dimension of eternity, the loving and the Beloved become one.

Contemplation is the attitude of awe and silence before the greatness of God: the creature submits to the Creator out of love, not out of servility or fear. From this attitude, wisdom and knowledge of the laws of life arise. Man becomes soft under the hand of God and begins to act in the light: his deeds are good and edify the whole people of God. Man works for the Lord but feels no tiredness, because he is filled with the divine presence that is rest for the soul.

Authentic faith always leads to contemplation because the faithful man is not afraid of anything and can spot in every situation, even the most difficult, the presence of God, who heals every pain with His silent hand. Thanks to faith, we never lose sight of God who is the centre of our life. That is contemplation.

Hope, too, leads to contemplation because the person who lives with hope contemplates every day the gifts of God through which He realises His promises. Only a blind man would not notice the big and small gifts that fill his life every day. When you wake up tomorrow, look around and start counting the gifts you receive along the day beginning with the sun and the air without which you would not be able to live; in the evening you will recognise how much you have received. Then, you will thank and admire your God. That, too, is contemplation.

Love, if it is true love, blossoms in contemplation. As I told you already, the person who loves desires to look at the loved one. Contemplation is the child of love and never an end in itself: contemplation leads to action because by contemplating God’s Love, man feels filled with that love and moves towards his neighbour. He loves others with God’s Love and discovers the same Love in his brothers and sisters. This, too, is contemplation.

From all this, you may understand that all of you are called to contemplation and that it is part of your life; truly, the Christian’s life should be a contemplative life. Unfortunately, many reduce contemplation to something that only monks and nuns experience in convents or cloisters, whereas you were all born to contemplate God. Some decide to devote themselves to contemplation as a service, choosing to live withdrawn from the world. That is a great service although rarely understood, as people do not know what contemplation is. Yet, every man should know it. In fact, the human spirit is made to know God; however, he cannot know what he does not see. That is why contemplation is necessary: it is the gaze of the spirit turned to God, and that allows man to know God as He is.

God, who is Spirit, dwells in the human spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit in your spirit is like a fountain in the middle of a garden.  If you love God and offer yourselves to Him, your spirit will bloom like a garden because the source of the Spirit continually sprinkles you. The presence of God repels evil from your spirit; it becomes an enclosed, protected garden, because God jealously guards what is His. In your closed garden, you can contemplate God and rest in Him. It is in your spirit that you rest, more than in any other place in the world. Therefore, real resting lies in contemplation, as man could experience before original sin. Jesus came to introduce humanity to the place of real rest in God; He opened the new and living path towards the Father. Therefore, everything will be gathered up in Jesus Christ, and He will introduce the entire humanity of the universe and all creatures into the new creation, where man and creation will rest in God forever with no more tears, no more tiredness or corruption.

Only God knows when all this will occur. Nevertheless, already now you can try resting in God by seeking Him within the intimacy of your spirit, where God has dug a well of living waters. He comes to live in you if you call Him, if you desire Him with all your strength. He is the well from which you draw the water that no one else can give you, thanks to which you will never be thirsty again (Jn 4,14). I advise you to draw this pure water from the well of God, which is within you. Do not behave like so many people of this Earth, who drink from muddy puddles and then become thirsty again. Remember the well of living waters that is God in you; seek that well in your spirit and you will find it there.

In my earthly life, I was never tired of seeking the face of God. I drew continuously from His well of living waters, and the more I drew the more I was filled; from my whole being, love overflowed and spread around me, touching many distant souls, even though I was living in the silence of San Damiano. Never get tired of contemplating the face of God full of love for you. Let yourselves be embraced by His gaze and you will find true rest; then, you will contemplate God even in your everyday life, there where your existence takes place.

I follow you with my prayer and I love you in God. Receive my blessing:

God bless you

and protect you.

May His face shine upon you

and give you His mercy.

May He turn His gaze to you

and give you peace.

May the Lord be with you always

and make you be always with Him!”

1 Clare was born in Assisi in 1194 to a noble family. As a young woman, she decided to only belong to Christ. She went to seek advice from St. Francis who approved her resolution to withdraw from the world; he himself dressed her with the habit and prepared for her a small house next to the church of San Damiano. Soon other young women of Assisi joined her; thus, the Second Franciscan Order was born called the “Poor Ladies of San Damiano” later called “Poor Clares”. In San Damiano, Clare always lived in poverty and contemplation. She died in 1253 and two years later she was declared a saint by Pope Alexander IV. Her body rests in the Basilica dedicated to her in Assisi.

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