“What a great laudable exchange: to leave the things of time for those of eternity, to choose the things of heaven for the goods of earth . . . [So] progress from good to better, from virtue to virtue, so that He Whom you serve with the total desire of your soul may bestow on you the reward for which you long.”—St. Clare of Assisi, First Letter to Blessed Agnes of Prague, 30-32
For your reflection:
Sometime in the 1230s, St. Clare of Assisi began to correspond with Agnes of Bohemia. Born to a king and betrothed to a duke, Agnes was a woman of privilege. After the premature death of her fiancé, Agnes turned down a marriage proposal from the Holy Roman Emperor and moved into a convent which she herself had built with the family fortune. There, Agnes pursued a life of prayer, penance and voluntary poverty. Through their exchange of letters, St. Clare gave Agnes guidance and encouragement, and urged her royal friend “to leave the things of time for those of eternity” and “to choose the things of heaven for the goods of earth.” These are worthy goals for all of us who begin our Lenten journey this week. Of course, none of us who lives “in the world” can completely ignore “the things of time.” The world is too much with us. But during Lent, we can carve out at least a few minutes each day for reflection. We can pray more and shop less. We can be more generous in sharing the “goods of the earth,” and can wean ourselves off at least one of our self-destructive addictions. Admittedly, the life-style changes we make this Lent may not be as dramatic as the story of Blessed Agnes, but with God’s gift of time and the aid of God’s grace, surely we can “progress from good to better” and “from virtue to virtue.”
For your prayer and petition:
O God, help us to prepare for the great feast of Easter by submitting our attitudes and behaviors to the purifying fire of your love. Amen.