Clare of Assisi on the Virtue of Evangelical Poverty
In her First Letter to Agnes of Prague, St. Clare of Assisi extols a number of virtues of the Christian life. First and foremost, Clare holds evangelical poverty as the pinnacle of Christian discipleship according to the Franciscan tradition. Clare’s use of scripture is extraordinary and her understanding of Christian life reflects a holiness after which Agnes of Prague and we today can model our lives. While so many folks look to St. Francis of Assisi for guidance in living the Christian life, and rightly so, I think Clare gets overlooked far too often. I recommend that folks interested in learning more about Franciscan spirituality and inspiration check out Clare’s writings. Here is an excerpt from her First Letter to Agnes.
For I firmly believe that you know the kingdom of heaven is promised and given by the Lord only to the poor because she who loves what is temporal loses the fruit of love; that it is not possible to serve God and money, for either the one is loved and the other is hated, or the one is served and the other despised; that one clothed cannot fight another naked, because she who has something to be caught hold of is more quickly thrown to the ground; the one who lives in the glory of earth cannot rule with Christ; and that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needles than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, You have cast aside Your garments, that is, earthly riches, so that instead of being overcome by the one fighting against You, You will be able to enter the kingdom of heaven through the straight path and the narrow gate.