Sr Gabriel Davison on Prayer

For Clare contemplation begins with the mirror of the crucified Christ.  That is why she advised Agnes to see herself in the mirror each day.  It is Clare who provides a common  path to contemplation because what she advocates is daily prayer before the cross – something we are doing now. To accept God in the crucified is to accept God in our own lives and this means to accept who we are. Clare draws a relationship between contemplation and self-identity.  The more we contemplate or dwell on the mystery of Christ by gazing upon the Crucified, the more we discover our own identity. We might say that the cross provides the most honest reflection of ourselves. When we gaze on this mirror of the cross we not only see who God is, self giving love, but gazing on this God of humble love leads us to reflect on our own lives. So the gaze is self reflective. If we gaze long enough, that is, if gazing becomes a way of life then it will lead to a new level of self- knowledge. Clare is certain that transformation can only take place in the mirror of the cross.

Although the cross is central in Clare’s spirituality, hers is not a spirituality of sin and guilt, rather it is one of freedom and transformation.  The cross is the mirror of truth, where we come to see ourselves in our capacity to love and in our brokenness.

An honest acceptance of who we are with our strengths and weaknesses is liberating in Clare’s view. Dwelling in the mirror of the crucified Christ is to lead to that place of inner freedom, a freedom that is born of the joy of the spirit and of union with the spouse. When Clare tells Agnes to “study her face in the mirror each day” she is urging her to become transformed in union with the one she loves. For Clare, to be transformed is to “put on Christ” or to “re-present Christ”, transformation is imitation insofar as Christ “comes alive” in one’s life.

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