Monday, August 11, 2008

Do you Clare?

I sure hope you do. Hee hee! Happy feast of St. Clare, a great Franciscan... I wonder - if she had a blogg would she be an e-Clare? (Sure she was a real sweetie. Hee hee.) GKC had a young friend - we might call her a "distant niece", as we all are distant nephews and nieces of our dear Uncle Gilbert!) and he once wrote a nice little poem for her, to apologise for having lost some poetry she had sent him:
"St. Francis intercedes with St. Clare"
but called "To Clare Nicholl" in CW10:321-2

Clare was the friend of Francis
Who was kind to everything
(He liked the cats to howl at night
He asked the wasps to sting)
To vulture, viper, slug and sloth,
To skunks with smelly hair,
And even to the wretch who lost
The manuscripts of Clare.
[GKC, in Ward's Return to Chesterton, 222-224]
Poor Clare! (no pun!) But you want to know about Saint Clare? Here's what GKC had to say:
A girl of seventeen, named Clare and belonging to one of the noble families of Assisi, was filled with an enthusiasm for the conventual life; and Francis helped her to escape from her home and to take up the conventual life. If we like to put it so, he helped her to elope into the cloister, defying her parents as he had defied his father. ... Now about that incident I will here only say this. If it had really been a romantic elopement and the girl had become a bride instead of a nun, practically the whole modern world would have made her a heroine. if the action of the Friar towards Clare had been the action of the Friar towards Juliet, everybody would be sympathising with her exactly as they sympathise with Juliet. It is not conclusive to say that Clare was only seventeen. Juliet was only fourteen. Girls married and boys fought in battles at such early ages in mediaeval times; and a girl of seventeen in the thirteenth century was certainly old enough to know her own mind. There cannot be the shadow of a doubt, for any sane person considering subsequent events, that St. Clare did know her own mind. But the point for the moment is that modern romanticism entirely encourages such defiance of parents when it is done in the name of romantic love. For it knows that romantic love is a reality, but it does not know that divine love is a reality. There may have been something to be said for the parents of Clare; there may have been something to be said for Peter Bernardone. So there may have been a great deal to be said for the Montagues or the Capulets; but the modern world does not want it said; and does not say it. The fact is that as soon as we assume for a moment as a hypothesis, what St. Francis and St. Clare assumed all the time as an absolute, that there is a direct divine relation more glorious than any romance, the story of St. Clare's elopement is simply a romance with a happy ending; and St. Francis is the St. George or knight-errant who gave it a happy ending. And seeing that some millions of men and women have lived and died treating this relation as a reality, a man is not much of a philosopher if he cannot even treat it as a hypothesis.
For the rest, we may at least assume that no friend of what is called the emancipation of women will regret the revolt of St. Clare. She did most truly, in the modern jargon, live her own life, the life that she herself wanted to lead, as distinct from the life into which parental commands and conventional arrangements would have forced her. She became the foundress of a great feminine movement which still profoundly affects the world; and her place is with the powerful women of history.
[GKC, St. Francis of Assisi CW2:99-100]
And you might wish to read that book to learn a little more.

Speaking of knights-errant.... (ahem!)

I have just posted chapters 15 and 16 of Joe the Control Room Guy. I find that it's almost as much energy to convert the subcreation into art as it was to convert it into text - but still lots of fun. Here's the picture for chapter 16:

Here we see our knights-errant, Andy (on the left) and Joe, two of the Control Room operators at a small high-tech firm, playing in the mud. Andy is searching for a clue to a terrible tragedy; Joe spots (no pun intended) the gleam of something... it is a medal (though not reported in the text, it is a Miraculous Medal) with its chain wrapped around a pencil... but as Andy examines it closely, he finds that something seems to be scratched on the pencil! If you want to know what was scratched, you'll have to read that chapter - but if you want to know what it means, you'll have to wait for a future installment.

Speaking of installments, I am trying to finish off a short story which we shall see Joe getting reminded of (to his dismay) - a story which links to another series of episodes in the curious little seaside town of Quayment, which you may get to read eventually, either here or in print. There's always something waiting in the queue...

Finally, a parting glimpse of today's saint from a historian of science:
Had Francis been a mere esthete, however extraordinary, he could not have inspired followers such as Clare, who said as she died: "Blessed be Thou, Lord, who has created me." Of course, both Francis and Claire took their inspiration from a cult of which the daily recitation of the Psalms was an integral part. They both, along with countless others, repeated at least once a week the Psalmist’s words: "I thank you for the wonder of my being, for the wonders of all your creation." [Ps138:16]
[S. L. Jaki, God and the Cosmologists 229]
Jaki notes that the quote from St. Clare is from The Life of Saint Clare ascribed to Fr. Thomas of Celano, translated and edited from the earliest mss. by Fr. Paschal Robinson (Philadelphia: Dolphin Press, 1910), p. 70.

Indeed! Why should we bother exploring anything - stars or rocks or atoms or the human organism - if we neglect the praise of their Author - and forget to put our hard-won knowledge to work for our neighbors? Let us ask St. Clare to intercede for clarity in our research, our studies, and our work.


At 20 August, 2008 21:37, Blogger Deb said...

Thank you for the delightful puns involving St. Clare. I have a Clare, and the typical feast day dessert is "me-Clare's", Clare is surely a punny Saint~


Post a Comment

<< Home