August 3, Second day of the Novena to St. Clare
Today we pray for the poor, forgotten, desperate, and lonely around the world and in our neighborhoods.
Growing up, my experiences of seeing the poor, forgotten, and desperate seem limited. Two examples come to mind. The first is my mom’s response if I didn’t finish all the food on my plate at supper: “Finish your plate—don’t you know that there are starving kids in China!” The second is a story my grandmother would tell me about the men (“hobos”) who would ride the trains that passed behind the neighborhood. The men would sometimes knock on the back door asking for work in exchange for food. After sweeping the sidewalk or watering the garden, the men would eat a simple meal on the back steps (“the stoop”). Afterward, the men would return to the railroad tracks and wait for the next train to jump and continue their journey. My grandmother would say, “who knows what happened in their life,” or “they’re just down on their luck and need a little help.” Wanting me to be empathetic to their situation, she would say “put yourself in their shoes.”
In my life as a Poor Clare, I am much more aware of the poor, forgotten, desperate, and lonely. I know that the “starving children in China” aren’t the only ones who are hungry, and that those who are homeless or “down on their luck” might be standing right next to me as I pay my bill at the local gas station. We receive prayer requests from around the world via the internet, and we have visitors come to the monastery requesting prayers and sharing their pain, suffering, and sorrows with us.
St. Clare was no stranger to the poor, forgotten, and desperate in Assisi and the surrounding countryside. She may have been a woman born into Assisi’s noble class, but she was fully aware of the pain, sufferings, and sorrows experienced by the people around her. She lived through violence and war. She and her family were refugees for a time and fled to Perugia during the worst of the fighting. Even before she left her home and became the first woman to follow St. Francis, she gave alms to the poor and saved food from her plate to give to the hungry. It was so important to St. Clare that she not only help the poor but also “become” one of the poor that her monastery of “Poor Ladies” was located outside the protective walls of Assisi with the poor.
May St. Clare intercede for all those who are poor, forgotten, desperate, and lonely, and may we “put ourselves in their shoes” and be open to how we can help in a tangible way today.
Sr. Vickie Griner, OSC
Ask the Poor Clares to pray for your intentions on their website: Poor Clares Cincinnati
Visit their Facebook page: Franciscan Monastery of St. Clare of Cincinnati, Ohio
Click here to pray the Novena to St. Clare – Day 2