Sunday, February 15, 2015

St. Francis Responds to the Word of God

Little Poor Ones of the Kingdom
     Now that Francis’ ears were open and receptive to the Word of God, the Lord made use of this same Word to teach him the way of life he should lead.  Francis’ soul at this time was like fertile soil ready to receive the seed of truth.  He heard this Gospel proclaimed:
“Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the laborer deserves his food…Preach saying ‘the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand’…Whatsoever house you shall enter say ‘Peace be to this house.’” (cf. Mt. 10)  From these and other similar verses Francis learned that he was to be a poor servant of the Kingdom.  Casting from himself all money and provisions and removing his sandals and leather girdle he clothed himself with a rough habit shaped like a cross, put a rope about his waist, and cried out in great joy that this is what he longed for with all his heart.  This was the birth of the Franciscan Order.
    The life of a Poor Clare within the enclosure is mystically akin to the missionary calling of Saint Francis.  In the spirit of faith she casts herself penniless upon Divine Providence as a daughter of the Kingdom.  God receives her into His household and her role is that of a daughter serving her Father and Spouse.  It is for this reason that the Church’s faithful supports her as part of its family.

    A Poor Clare claims nothing for her own and does not seek material security.  She is wholly confident that God will care for her.  She thus becomes a prophetic witness to the Kingdom of God as it will be for all at the end of time.  Moreover, by making no demands and harboring no ambition for her own advancement, she becomes a symbol of peace such as will reign in heaven.

    It is no figure of speech to say that the enclosed Poor Clare fulfills these passages in imitation of Saint Francis and of Christ Himself.  Her role of rendering perpetual praise and petition to God in adoring love is at the heart of the Christian mission.  Her struggle for holiness embodies the struggle of all mankind to come to a holy understanding and union with God in the midst of this complicated and fallen world.

    The Poor Clare Monastery is not comparable to heaven, but rather to Purgatory.  It is an antechamber to heaven where penance and purification take place.  A Poor Clare therefore not only bears witness to the Gospel, she herself portrays the consequence of heeding the Gospel Message.  In this way she is an imitator not only of Saint Francis rule but also of his personal sanctity: she preaches the Gospel and rarely uses words.

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