Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Nicolette was named in honor of St. Nicholas of Myra. Her loving parents nicknamed her Colette from the time she was a baby. Colette's father was a carpenter at an abbey in Picardy. Quiet and hard-working, Colette was a big help to her mother with the housework. Her parents noticed the child's liking for prayer and her sensitive, loving nature. When she was a little girl Saint Francis appeared to her in a vision one day. He asked her to love God very much. "And make your sisters good nuns," he begged her.
When Colette was seventeen, both her parents died. She was placed under the care of the abbot at the monastery where her father had worked. Colette lived in a hut built next to the abbey church. She spent her time praying and sacrificing for Jesus' Church.
Many people knew about this holy young woman. They went to see her and asked her advice about important problems. They knew that she was wise because she was close to God. She received everybody with gentle kindness. After each visit, she would pray that her visitors would find peace of soul.
Colette was a member of the Third Order of St. Francis. During Colette's time, the Poor Clares needed to go back to the original purpose of their order. St. Francis of Assisi had appeared to Colette and asked her to reform the Poor Clares. She must have been surprised and afraid of such a difficult task. But she trusted in God's grace. Colette traveled to the Poor Clare convents and helped the nuns become more poor and prayerful. She showed them how happy a good nun is and taught them how to take care of the poor and teach little children about Jesus Christ.
The Poor Clares were inspired by St. Colette's life. She had a great devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist. She also spent time frequently meditating on the passion and death of Jesus. She loved Jesus and her religious vocation very much.
Colette knew exactly when and where she was going to die. She died in one of her convents in 1447. She was sixty-seven. Colette was proclaimed a Saint by Pope Pius VI in 1807.
St. Colette teaches us that even if what we are asked to do is hard, we can find joy just the same. We can do this by keeping in close touch each day with God.
Clare was the daughter of a count and countess. She heard St. Francis preach in the streets of Assisi and told him of her desire to give herself to God. They became close friends.
At the age of eighteen, Clare became the first follower of Saint Francis when she left her home on Palm Sunday night in order to be consecrated as the handmaid of Christ. Francis cut off her hair and Clare gave her life to Christ.
In an old house outside Assisi she started her Order of the Poor Clares. She also chose to live with the privilege of poverty. She placed her security in the providence of God and trusted He would take care of her through the goodness of the faithful. Later, her sister and mother and other noble ladies joined her. They lived a life of prayer, silence, and fasting.
Saint Clare was the first woman in history to write a Rule. She took her form of life from Saint Francis who wanted to live the Gospel radically. She also had a deep devotion to Our Blessed Mother. As Francis was called to imitate Jesus in a radical and total way, Clare was called to imitate Mary.
Clare also had a deep devotion to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. When the Saracens attacked her monastery, she had herself led to the door with the Blessed Sacrament. She begged Jesus to protect her Sisters whom she was unable to protect. She heard the voice of our Lord promise: "I WILL ALWAYS PROTECT YOU." The Saracens fled in terror, and peace returned.
During her illness of twenty-eight years, the Holy Eucharist was her strength. She died in 1253.
The name Clare means light. As Clare was a radiant light in the dark thirteenth century she continues to be a brilliant light for all people.