Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The power of introverts



In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.

Friday, August 19, 2016

August 19 - Social Experiment about women



An FBI forensic artist drew two sets of sketches:
(1) How women see themselves and
(2) How other people described those very same women.
In one of the most famous Dove films, Real Beauty Sketches explores the gap between how others perceive us and how we perceive ourselves. Each woman is the subject of two portraits drawn by FBI-trained forensic artist Gil Zamora: one based on her own description, and the other using a stranger’s observations. The results are surprising…

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

August 17 - Where Charity Ends

“Charity begins at home.” Few of us doubt the wisdom and the primary duty of taking care of our families, neighborhoods, and communities. But for many, the obligation of charity can often appear to end at home as well. We may be reluctant to put our funds at the disposal of another needy parish, or to assist someone else’s family with our limited resources. But what if we took seriously the human family as genuine sisters and brothers? When home and family are expansive notions, then charity at home goes a long, long way.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

August 11 - St. Clare

St. Clare of Assisi was born in Assisi on July 16, 1194, as Chiara Offreduccio, the beautiful eldest daughter of Favorino Sciffi, Count of Sasso-Rosso and his wife Ortolana. Tradition says her father was a wealthy representative of an ancient Roman family and her mother was a very devout woman belonging to the noble family of Fiumi.

As a young girl, Clare dedicated herself to prayer. At 18-years-old, she heard St. Francis of Assisi preach during a Lenten service in the church of San Giorgio and asked him to help her live according to the Gospel. On Palm Sunday in 1212, Clare left her father's home and went to the chapel of the Porziuncula to meet with Francis. While there, Clare's hair was cut off and she was given a plain robe and veil in exchange for her rich gown.

Clare joined the convent of the Benedictine nuns of San Paulo, near Bastia, under Francis' orders. When her father found her and attempted to force her back into his home, she refused and professed that she would have no other husband than Jesus Christ. In order to give her the greater solitude she desired, Francis sent Clare to Sant' Angelo in Panzo, another Benedictine nuns monastery.

Overtime, other women joined them, wanting to also be brides of Jesus and live with no money. They became known as the "Poor Ladies of San Damiano." They all lived a simple life of austerity, seclusion from the world, and poverty, according to a Rule which Francis gave them as a Second Order. St. Clare and her sisters wore no shoes, ate no meat, lived in a poor house, and kept silent most of the time. Their lives consisted of manual labor and prayer. Yet, they were very happy, because Our Lord was close to them all the time.

San Damiano became the center of Clare's new order, which was then known as the "Order of Poor Ladies of San Damiano." For a brief period of time, the order was directed by St. Francis himself and by 1216, Clare became the abbess of San Damiano. Ten years after Clare's death, the order became known as the Order of Saint Clare.

While serving as the leader of her order, Clare defended them from the attempts of prelates to impose a rule on them that more closely followed the Rule of Saint Benedict than Francis. Clare was so devoted and dedicated to Francis that she was often referred to as "alter Franciscus," or another Francis. She encouraged and aided the man she saw as a spiritual father figure, and took care of him as he grew old.

Following Francis' death, Clare continued to promote her order, fighting off every attempt from each pope trying to impose a rule on her order that would water down their "radical commitment to corporate poverty."

In 1224, an army of rough soldiers from Frederick II came to attack Assisi. Although very sick, Clare went out to meet them with the Blessed Sacrament on her hands. She had the Blessed Sacrament placed at the wall where the enemies could see it. Then on her knees, she begged God to save the Sisters.

"O Lord, protect these Sisters whom I cannot protect now," she prayed. A voice seemed to answer: "I will keep them always in My care." In that moment, a sudden fright struck the attackers and they fled as fast as they could without harming anyone in Assisi.

St. Clare became sick and suffered great pains for many years, but she expressed that no pain could trouble her. So great was her joy in serving the Lord that she once exclaimed: "They say that we are too poor, but can a heart which possesses the infinite God be truly called poor?"

On August 9, 1253, Pope Innocent IV declared Clare's rule would serve as the governing rule for Clare's Order of Poor Ladies. Two days later, Clare died at 59-years-old. Her remains were placed in the chapel of San Giorgio while the church dedicated to her remains was being built. At Pope Innocent's request, the canonization process for Clare began immediately, and two years later in 1255, Pope Alexander IV canonized Clare as Saint Clare of Assisi.