We must faithfully keep what we have promised. If through human weakness we fail, we must always without delay arise again by means of holy penance, and give our attention to leading a good life and to dying a holy death. May the Father of all mercy, the Son by his holy passion, and the Holy Spirit, source of peace, sweetness and love, fill us with their consolation.
St. Colette, in her spiritual testament to her sisters
St. Clare and Motherhood at the Cross
It is well known that St. Clare had great devotion to Christ in the Passion, but that motherhood was so central to her spirituality, is less obvious. She was very motherly in her relations with her sisters, as is borne out by their testimonies. And she has, of course, several references to the poor infant Christ in her writings. What emphasizes it even more, however, and in a sense proves it, are the manifestations of Christ that are associated with her. For instance, several of the sisters attested at the process of canonization, that they saw a 'young boy' beside Clare on different occasions, such as when she received Holy Communion on her death bed. On another occasion, a sister saw a young boy beside St. Clare, along with experiencing other mystical phenomena. The sister, doubting this, received an interior reply, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you", which is the promise of the Angel Gabriel to Our Lady at the Annunciation! In addition, when she prayed before the Eucharist for protection from the invading Saracen army, she heard the words, "I will always defend you", as if spoken by a little child! That He would manifest Himself to her in these ways seems to indicate that this was primarily how she related to Him.
It is quite possible that her particular devotion to the Passion actually sprang from this maternal spirituality of hers. What mother, whether adoptive, foster or natural, would not experience interiorly the pain of a suffering child? Many people have shared one scene from the film, "The Passion of the Christ", which seems to have made a big impact on them and it illustrates this point beautifully. When Jesus is carrying His cross and falls, she has a flashback to when he fell as a child and she runs to Him, to tell Him she is there. Even in this most horrific scene, she sees him as a child! One's child is always one's child, no matter what age one is, and it is likely that her maternal prayer influenced her in her meditations on the Passion.
It is the Spirit who makes us fruitful, but we become the Mother of Christ when He is incarnated as his tracks of poverty and humility are followed. The Spirit gives the grace of fruitfulness, but it is our part to live faithfully our particular charism.
None of us even deserves the gift of our vocation, let alone aspiring to such a lofty type of prayer. Perhaps the attitude we should have in prayer is best illustrated by a song called "Joseph's Song". In it, St. Joseph holds the child in great awe and wonder. He has no doubt that this is the Son of God, but wonders how he, as a simple carpenter, can fulfil the vocation that has been given him. Yet, though overawed at responsibility entrusted to him, and deeply aware of his limitations, he simply asks the Father to show him how to live out His plan and trusts that He will give the necessary grace.
Joseph's Song (by Michael Card)
How can it be, this baby in my arms,
Sleeping now, so peacefully;
The Son of God, the Angel said,
How can it be?
Lord I know, He's not my own,
Not of my flesh, not of my bone,
Still Father let this baby be,
The son of my love.
Father, show me where I fit into this plan of yours,
How can a man be father to the Son of God?
Lord, for all my life I've been a simple carpenter,
How can I raise a king, how can I raise a king?
He looks so small, His face and hands so fair
And when He smiles, the sun just disappears.
But when He laughs, it shines again,
How can it be?
Ours is an awesome gift and responsibility. Our model in all of this is Our Lady. Clare emphasizes this, when she says; "Cling to His most sweet mother, who carried a Son Whom the heavens could not contain; and yet she carried Him in the little enclosure of her holy womb and held Him on her virginal lap." May she, who contained such a great gift, intercede with her spouse, the Holy Spirit, that we may be able live out our vocation in fruitful fidelity.