Thursday, March 22, 2012

800th Anniversary of the Founding of the Poor Clares

Looking at the National Catholic Reporter website, I came across an essay by Jon M. Sweeney.  He is an author who has written about saints, especially St. Francis of Assisi.  He also wrote prayer books dedicated to both St. Francis and St. Clare.

In his essay, Jon Sweeney stated that last Sunday, March 18th, in 1212, would have been the Palm Sunday in Assisi, when Clare would leave her family, and their wealth and prestige; and go join Francis and his ragged little band of followers.  That night she would dedicate herself to living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, guided by Francis and the Holy Spirit.  Thus was born another branch of the Franciscan family, the Poor Clares.  It is unique in that it is a monastic, contemplative movement, but it is faithful to the spirit of St. Francis and St. Clare.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

From My March Column in Fraternity Newsletter

“United by their vocation as brothers and sisters of penance, and motivated by the dynamic power of the gospel, let them conform their thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior  change which the gospel itself calls conversion.  Human frailty makes it necessary that this conversion be carried out daily.”  (Art. 7a, SFO Rule)

Saint Francis was constantly reminding his followers that they could never be satisfied with the level progress they had made on living the Gospel life.  He is quoted as saying in the later years of his life,” Brothers, let us begin again, because up until now we have done nothing.”  He recognized that the spiritual journey in never over, that we travel it every day of our life.

All of us can become complacent about where we are in our relationship with God.   Lent provides us an opportunity to do a reality check on that relationship, an opportunity to deepen that relationship.  The Church calls us to intensify our practice of the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  Lent gives us the inspiration, the nudge, to spend more time in solitude, reading and reflecting on Scripture, letting the Holy Spirit speak to our hearts.  We then can see if we are making a relationship with God a priority in our life, if we letting the Spirit inspire us to greater acts of charity, if we are letting the Gospel of Christ guide us in our daily lives.

Our Rule and this season of Lent both remind us that the process of conversion is never finished, never over, no matter how long we have been professed.  Each day we must answer anew the call of Jesus to pick up our cross and follow Him.