Sunday, February 1, 2015

St. Francis and Sacred Scripture

Before the feast of St. Francis last year, I began to share a series of reflections on his life, written by one of our novitiate Sisters.  I would like to resume this series now as we look forward to entering the season of Lent, the great time of joyous penitence and so an especially dear season for Franciscans.  The purpose of this study is to introduce the reader to our Poor Clare Spirituality through the lens of the edifying life of our holy founder, Saint Francis of Assisi. 

Immersion in Sacred Scripture
    In his journey of conversion to Christ, Francis found great consolation and support in Sacred Scripture.  The words of Jesus Himself in the Holy Gospel became so precious to him that he claimed them as his own rule of life.  Every Word of Scripture was for him a source of living water from which he drank with ardent thirst.  In the usual fire of his spirit he sought to conform himself in every way to the commands of his God and Lord as shown in the Sacred Text.
    St. John the Evangelist tells us in his Gospel that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Word made Flesh.  The Word proceeding from the mouth of God has become Incarnate in the Person of His Beloved Son.  It is natural, then, that the one who would embrace Christ should also embrace the written Word of God.

    At first one may be attracted to Sacred Scripture by the wisdom and message found therein.  Saint Clare, follower of Saint Francis and mother of all Poor Clares, echoed Francis’ words in her rule saying “This is the form of life of the Poor Sisters: to observe the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Therefore from the moment she has embarked upon this way of life a Poor Clare must attend to the Book of God.

    As an imitator of Saint Francis, it is the custom of the Poor Clare to read and meditate upon Sacred Scripture each day through the practice of Lectio Divina.  She must then endeavor to make of it her own rule of life.  She seeks in it the wisdom and means to help her grow in virtue.  If she is faithful she will learn to habitually think as God thinks and thoughts of the Kingdom will spontaneously arise in her heart.

    Yet the Mystery of immersion in Sacred Scripture as exemplified in the life of Saint Francis is even deeper than this.  For him it is the living Word, full of meaning and dynamic vivacity.  It is a spring that becomes a sea of reality flowing over every aspect of life.  As a Poor Clare is nourished more and more by contemplation of God’s Word she is herself made holy.  It becomes a place of contact with her God, of mutual understanding and spousal intimacy.  Phrases and stories which may at first have only seemed interesting and perhaps displayed an edifying message will now be for her mirrors of eternity through which she can identify her Lord and God.  For a true follower of Saint Francis, Sacred Scripture is a transformation and a source of everlasting life.


Emily C. Hurt said...

Dear Sister,
Where would you recommend beginning to read Sacred Scripture? One of the Gospels, or where? Last year, I read through the entire Old and New Testaments, but I was reading more to read it than to savor it, and did not have much effect on my spiritual life.

Ester Regina said...

The Gospels are usually a good place to start. In the novitiate, we are watching a series called "Bible Timeline" by Jeff Cavins which is very helpful for background in reading Sacred Scripture. You may want to check it out yourself!