Place your mind before the mirror of eternity!

by Clare of Assisi

English version by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM CAP & Ignatius C. Brady, OFM
Original Language Italian

Place your mind before the mirror of eternity!
Place your soul in the brilliance of glory!
Place your heart in the figure of the divine substance!
And transform your whole being into the image of the Godhead Itself
     through contemplation!
So that you too may feel what His friends feel
     as they taste the hidden sweetness
     which God Himself has reserved
     from the beginning
     for those who love Him.

-- from Francis and Clare: The Complete Works: The Classics of Western Spirituality, Translated by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM CAP / Translated by Ignatius C. Brady, OFM

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

You don't have to be a Catholic to appreciate this scintillating call to deep devotion.

I especially like the Clare's opening line:

Place your mind before the mirror of eternity!

That could just as easily be a statement from the Buddhist canon. Think about this exhortation for a moment. What does it mean to place your mind before the mirror of eternity? The mirror of eternity is that which reflects everything back to us. To place your mind before it is to be utterly naked to yourself. Everything within your awareness is shown back to you, your faults and foibles, as well your victories and inherent goodness. It is the unblinking view of your own heart. Imagine the steadiness, courage, and supreme humility required to truly do this. To witness yourself that openly, the ego and its constant editing of reality can't come along.

Place your soul in the brilliance of glory!

A lot of religious language, particularly Christian language, talks about "glory." The word is used so often that most people just skip over it as churchy filler language. But there is a reason the word "glory" keeps getting used. Glory is radiant, numinous light. Glory is that which shines. Glory is "brilliance."

For genuine mystics, this light is not empty praise language -- it is directly experienced. For the mystic, this light is perceived as being a living radiance that permeates everything, everywhere, always.

The sense of boundaries and separation, long taken for granted by the mind as the fundamental nature of existence, suddenly seems illusory, for this light shines through all people and things.

This is Clare's "brilliance of glory."

To "place your soul" in that brilliance is to allow your little self to be disappear into the large Self, like a lamp lost in daylight.

This is the radical path of the mystic, allowing you to "transform your whole being into the image of the Godhead."

I also want to point out the closing reference to "sweetness":

So that you too may feel what His friends feel
     as they taste the hidden sweetness
     which God Himself has reserved
     from the beginning
     for those who love Him.


Those who lose themselves in the divine light in order to gain the light itself, experience -- literally -- sweetness on the tongue. This is the amrita of Hinduism, the ambrosia of ancient Greece, the wine of the Sufis.

When one enters the sacred ecstatic state, the sensory portion of the mind does its best to interpret the overwhelming bliss through the senses. This is why many mystics taste the most ethereal sweetness on the upper palette and at the back of the throat, accompanied by a warmth in the belly and heart.

That sweetness is not just a pretty metaphor; it is real, and "reserved" for you, as you become an ever more intimate friend to the Friend.

Reflection, light, transformation, friendship, sweetness...



Recommended Books: Clare of Assisi

Francis and Clare: The Complete Works: The Classics of Western Spirituality All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time Sacred Voices: Essential Women's Voices Through the Ages Sacred Companions Sacred Community: Reflections with Clare of Assis





Place your mind