Towards the New Creation

by Stefania Caterina and Tomislav Vlašić

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

Dear Readers,

 

In the message that I’m presenting you, St Clare of Assisi explains that contemplation is the summit of love and prayer. I wish you that you may discover more and more the loving gaze of God upon you and that you may look at Him with your loving eyes.

I pray for you and accompany you with my prayer.

Stefania Caterina

Message of Saint Clare of Assisi [1], of May 25, 2013

“Dearest brothers and sisters, peace and all good to everyone! The Almighty God has asked me to talk to you about contemplation. You know very well that my earthly existence was nothing else than 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 governing the creation. It has been explained to you many times that the fate of man was not to work hard to earn a living but to live in the joy of serving God. The work should have been the participation in the divine creativity. The ability of man to comprehend and utilize the laws of God would have made this possible.

 

Through the original sin committed by the progenitors the humanity of the Earth was enslaved and could not find rest anymore. Work on Earth fatigues man; it causes constant anxiety, both if it is too much or too little. From work depends the income and the income is never enough for human beings: 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; poor or rich, they are always anxious.

Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious …“ (Mt 6:25). He, in fact, wanted to bring 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 the necessary 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, therefore He will always provide us with the 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 give ourselves fully over to Him, then real contemplation arises, which is the result of trusting abandonment 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 everything will receive all from the loving Father. Someone who loves wishes to contemplate the face of the loved one and admires everything the loved person does, and is able to recognize every delicate and loving action. So, a story of love begins between man and God which will not end even with death, on the contrary: in the dimension of eternity the lover and the beloved become a single thing.

 

Contemplation is the attitude of awe and silence before the greatness of God: the creature submits to the Creator not out of servility or fear but out of love. From this attitude arises wisdom and knowledge of the laws of life. Man becomes soft under the hand of God and begins to act in the light: his deeds are good and enlighten the whole people of God. Man works for the Lord but does not feel fatigue, because he is filled with the divine presence that is rest for the soul.

Authentic faith always leads to contemplation because the faithful man does not fear 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 life. That is contemplation.

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

Love, if it is love, blossoms into 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 pushes to action as by contemplating the Love of God man feels filled of that love and reaches out to his neighbour. He loves others with the Love of God and discovers in his brothers and sisters that same Love. This too is contemplation.

From all this you can figure out 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 monks and nuns experience in convents or cloisters whereas you were all born to contemplate God. Some choose to devote themselves to contemplation as a service choosing to live withdrawn from the world; that is a great service which is rarely understood as people do not know what contemplation is. And yet, every man should know it. In fact, the human spirit is made to know God, however, he cannot get to know what he does not see. Exactly that is contemplation: it is the gaze of the spirit turned to God; 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 yourself 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 the original sin. Jesus came to introduce humanity to the place of real rest in God; He opened the new and living way towards the Father. Therefore, everything will be recapitulated 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 fatigue nor 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 drink from the muddy puddles like so many men of this Earth do and who will thirst 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 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 tire of contemplating the face of God full of love for you. Let yourself 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 she was joined by other young women of Assisi; 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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