The Breviary says of St Clare: “Following the example of St. Francis, she distributed all her possessions among the poor. She fled from the noise of the world and betook herself to a country chapel, where St. Francis himself sheared off her hair and clothed her with a penitential garb (on March 18, 1212, at the age of eighteen). Then she resided at the Church of St. Damian, where the Lord provided for her a goodly number of companions. So she established a community of nuns and acted as their superior at the wish of St Francis. For forty-two years she directed the nunnery with zeal and prudence, her own life serving as a constant sermon for her sisters to emulate. Of Pope Innocent IV she requested the privilege that she and her community live in absolute poverty. She was a most perfect follower of St. Francis of Assisi.
“When the Saracens were besieging Assisi and were preparing to attack the convent, St. Clare asked to be assisted as far as the entrance, for she was ill. In her hand she carried a vessel containing the blessed Eucharist as she prayed: O Lord, do not deliver over to beasts the souls that praise You! (Ps. 73). Protect Your servants, for You have redeemed them by Your precious Blood. And in the midst of that prayer a voice was heard, saying: Always will I protect you ! The Saracens took to flight.”
Heroic in suffering (she was sick for twenty-seven years), she was canonized only two years after her death. Thomas of Celano coined the saying: Clara nomine, vita clarior, clarissima moribus.
Clare was the first flower in the garden of the Poor Man of Assisi. Poor in earthly goods, but rich in her utter poverty, she was a replica of Jesus, poor in the crib and on the Cross. At her time the Church generally and many Church men were enmeshed in financial matters and political maneuvering. Through the renewal of the ideal of poverty, St. Francis effected a “reform of Christian life in head and members.”
In our twentieth century there still remain large areas with millions suffering under extreme poverty. Poverty in itself is no virtue; but it should be made into a virtue. Let us recall a few of the examples and texts from holy Scripture which show how precious poverty is and what deep reverence we should have toward it. Christ was poor. His entrance into the world and His departure from it took place in circumstances of greatest need. He had no house wherein to be born, no crib; no house wherein to die, no deathbed. Poverty stood watch at birth and remained to see His death. “The foxes have dens and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matt. 3:20).
INTROIT Psalm 44: 8
Thou hast loved justice, and hated iniquity: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. Ps 44:2 My heart hath uttered a good word I speak my works to the king; V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. R. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Thou hast loved justice…
Graciously hear us, O God our Savior, that as we rejoice in the festival of blessed Clare, Your Virgin, so may we be nourished by the food of her heavenly teaching that we may be enlightened by the fervor of her dedicated holiness. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Commemoration of St Laurence
Grant us, we beseech Thee O almighty God, to extinguish the flames of our evil dispositions, as Thou didst grant blessed Lawrence to overcome the fires of his torments. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R. Amen.
EPISTLE 2 Corinthians 10:17-18; 11:1-2
Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians. Brothers: He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he who commendeth himself, is approved, but he, whom God commendeth. Would to God you could bear with some little of my folly: but do bear with me. For I am jealous of you with the jealousy of God. For I have espoused you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Psalm 44:5
With thy comeliness and thy beauty set out, proceed prosperously, and reign. Because of truth and meekness and justice: and thy right hand shall conduct thee wonderfully. Allelúja, allelúja. Ps 44:15-16 After her shall virgins be brought to the king: They shall be brought with gladness and rejoicing: Allelúja.
GOSPEL Matthew 25:1-13
In that time Jesus said to the people: shall the kingdom of heaven be like to ten virgins, who taking their lamps went out to meet the bridegroom and the bride. And five of them were foolish, and five wise. But the five foolish, having taken their lamps, did not take oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with the lamps. And the bridegroom tarrying, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made: Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet him. Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise: Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out. The wise answered, saying: Lest perhaps there be not enough for us and for you, go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. Now whilst they went to buy, the bridegroom came: and they that were ready, went in with him to the marriage, and the door was shut. But at last come also the other virgins, saying: Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answering said: Amen I say to you, I know you not. Watch ye therefore, because you know not the day nor the hour.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 44: 10
The daughters of kings have delighted thee in thy glory. The queen stood on thy right hand, in gilded clothing; surrounded with variety.
May the offering made by Your devoted people be pleasing to You, O Lord, in honor of Your Saints, through whose merits they know they have received help in times of trial. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Commemoration of St Laurence
Accept, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the gifts offered Thee, and, by the interceding merits of blessed Lawrence, grant that they may be to as a help unto our salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R. Amen.
PREFACE of the Holy Trinity
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God; Who, together with Thine only-begotten Son, and the Holy Ghost, art one God, one Lord: not in the oneness of a single Person, but in the Trinity of one substance. For what we believe by Thy revelation of Thy glory, the same do we believe of Thy Son, the same of the Holy Ghost, without difference or separation. So that in confessing the true and everlasting Godhead, distinction in persons, unity in essence, and equality in majesty may be adored. Which the Angels and Archangels, the Cherubim also and Seraphim do praise: who cease not daily to cry out, with one voice saying: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth!
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Matt 25:4; 25:6
The five wise virgines took oil in their vessels with the lamps. And at midnight there was a cry made: Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet him.
You have filled Your people, O Lord, with sacred gifts; we beseech You to ever comfort us by the intercession of her whose festival we are celebrating. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Commemoration of St Lawrence
Filled with Thy sacred gift, we humbly beseech Thee, O Lord, that what we celebrate with our homage duly given by the intercession of Thy blessed martyr Lawrence, we may also know as an increase of Thy saving grace within us. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.