Thought for the Day 24th April 2020
“There is nothing new under the sun …”
We live in a world where we are always looking out for the next new big thing. This is just as true for the church as for any other part of our society. However, there is much that we have, even in the twentieth-first century, which has been seen before.
As you know, the church is making the most of modern technology to increase access to services, which is especially important during this Easter period. And yet, long-distance communication has happened before, and without Wi-fi and lap-top. There is nothing new under the sun . . .
I was thinking of St Clare of Assisi the other day, a name overshadowed by a more famous holy person from that Italian town. Clare was born in Assisi on 16 July 1194, when the crusades were in full-swing, to the wealthy Fiumi family. It is said that she pursued a regular routine of prayer in her early years but her spiritual life changed in a single moment. She heard St Francis of Assisi preach a sermon at a Lenten service. We do not know if this was similar to attending a Billy Graham meeting, but these words of Francis changed her life for ever. Clare then asked St Francis to help her to live the way of the gospel, which he did. On Sunday 20 March 1212, a Palm Sunday, Clare left her home, much to her father’s annoyance, cut her hair and took the veil and vows. After spending time in a couple of Benedictine communities, she established her own religious family in a building next to San Damiano, located on the flanks of Subasio. This became the Order of the Poor Ladies, now known as the Poor Clares, a community based on the Franciscan way of life.
This new order did not live a mendicant lifestyle like the Franciscans, chiefly because it was not considered a suitable one for women. Instead, they devoted themselves to prayer, manual work and complete silence . . . well, most of the time. They also went around barefoot.
St Clare died on 11 August 1253. Pope Pius XIII declared her to be the patron saint of television in 1958. Why? When she was ill, Clare was able to hear and see the Mass on a wall in her room. How did this happen, we know not. It was a miracle!
Just as St Clare was able to participate in the services via miraculous means, and from a distance, so too are we. Indeed, modern technology is just as mysterious, miraculous and utterly unfathomable! St Clare’s experience encourages us to make the most of what we have been given, whether it be via the internet, or simply by watching ‘Songs of Praise’ on TV, or listening to a recorded evensong on the radio. There is nothing new under the sun . . .