Our aspirant, Peggy, was intrigued with the cross on our monastery’s steeple, and how the cross is always present in our daily lives as in the seasons. Therefore, she decided to capture its beauty in photos. We hope that you enjoy the video.
On August 29th, our beloved Cardinal Sean O’Malley celebrated his 50th anniversary of ordination as a priest. He had chosen to say his first Mass 50 years ago with Poor Clare Nuns when he was in Illinois, and now, on his anniversary day, wished to celebrate this Mass also with Poor Clare Nuns.
Following his memorable Eucharistic celebration and homily commemorating this special day in his life, the Cardinal, with his secretary, Fr. Kickam, proceeded with us to our refectory for refreshments. Cardinal Sean enjoyed his time with us, as we enjoyed his smiling presence, and his delight with the simple gifts that we gave him. Our lovely morning together ended with his blessing, hoping to return soon.
For eight centuries, Poor Clare nuns have been living out a solemn mandate given to them by Saint Clare of Assisi. It began in the year 1212 when a ravaging horde of despots was in the act of breaching the walls of the little monastery of San Damiano. A prayerful plea from Clare and her sisters witnessed the attackers swift retreat. Shortly after, when their hometown was under siege, Clare led her sisters in prayer: “Lord, protect this city which nourishes us for love of you.” The invading army quickly dispersed, and Saint Clare was credited with saving Assisi. To this day, the daughters of that courageous woman remain committed to prayer for the protection of the cities that have welcomed them, for their countries, and for their world.
Poor Clares are contemplative nuns whose lives are centered in the praise of God with the apostolate of prayerful intercession for God’s people. Since we need not go anywhere to do our life’s work, we remain in our monasteries in fidelity to our trust. In today’s circumstances, our enclosed form of life gives us a particular relationship with all who are presently cooped up by urgent “stay home” warnings, and social distancing guidelines in light of the Covid 19 virus. We are no stranger to confinement since we make a vow to remain in our monasteries for our entire lives. A quiet place apart, like this, offers the space one needs to grow spiritually free enough to enter more deeply into God’s silence where humanity becomes whole.
The very difficult situations imposed by this Pandemic can provide just such an opportunity for people to experience this sacred silence. Deprived of the usual diversions that ordinarily hold people centered in their ego selves could give them the chance to explore their silent inner space where God lives. It would be a discovery well worth the effort it takes, because as we come to know God’s Presence within, we experience a hidden dimension of ourselves we may not have known before. Our spirit selves grow stronger, so that the Spirit of God becomes the new source of our choices and we become able see as God sees, as things really are. The more we do this, the more the ego that once ruled us has to take a back seat, while the Spirit of God becomes our heart. The Spirit of love teaches us how to better serve the world we love. All humanity has been called to this mystical dimension of life: to be God incarnate on this earth.
As this painful time of an unremitting virus continues to shape our days, and cause so much suffering, loss of jobs, and despair, consider the possibility of portioning out some time each day to taste your oun personal silence. Websites have great ideas to pass the time indoors: games, hobbies, and activities, and these offer good release from boredom. But instead of drowning out the “still, small voice” of God, why not let it breathe new life? Our present catastrophe could turn into a graced opportunity. All it takes to open up to the peace of the Presence of God within you, and around you is to clear away the clutter and take time to just BE. The blessings of healing and peace that are always within us waiting to be discovered, might be just what is needed to bring you through these devastating times with new strength, new faith, and the will to rebuild our world.
Poor Clares have faith in the unlimited capacity of prayer to make things happen. That’s why we love what we do, and have vowed to dedicate our entire lives to sending God’s love to the ends of the earth, as Robert Lax, a confidant of Thomas Merton wrote: “Prayer is a way of doing spontaneous good for all things and in all places. It’s a way of sending out love everywhere at once.” With our Mother Saint Clare we pray: “Lord, protect our city”…our country, and our world.
Forty days after Christmas, on February 2nd, 1955, Julie Fitz-Gerald was welcomed into our community as a new candidate, just like Peggy was today. Sixty-five years later, on this Epiphany of Christ’s entering the Temple as Light of the World, Julie has become Sister Mary Magdalen of the Sacred Heart, and we join her as she celebrates her Diamond Jubilee. Franciscans believe that anything worth celebrating is worth celebrating well, so we take three days to thank and praise God for sister’s fidelity as a Poor Clare all these years.
Fr. Gregory Kalscheur, S.J. celebrated the Eucharist and happily joined us for a photo session afterward. Sister Mary Magdalen stands on his left, with Sister Clare Frances, our Abbess, on her left, and our Vicaress, Sister Mary Veronica, at his right.
On the beautiful feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, as the Light of God was proclaimed to the World, Peggy Patterson entered our chapel to become, like Jesus, a light for our world by her life of prayer as a Poor Clare nun. Sister Mary Veronica, the Directress of Formation at her side, will introduce her to our Form of Gospel Life for women written by St. Clare of Assisi. The blessing of the candles is significant as we welcome another Poor Clare to carry the flame of the Clare-light into the future. ( This paragraph is written in Peggy’s favorite color.)
There is a touching story of a blind man regaining his sight through St. Clare of Assisi’s intercession. It happened shortly after she died. A blind man had a dream in which a beautiful lady said to him: “Why do you not come to me to be healed?” When he learned that the lady he described was St. Clare, he went to her tomb where he regained what he had so long desired: his vision.
St. Clare was no stranger to suffering herself having been ill for more than 28 years. This gentle lady is still asking all who need healing: “Why do you not come to me?” This first follower of St. Francis of Assisi helps those who suffer, so that they may share as deeply and as fruitfully as she has in the redeeming love of Christ.
Come Pray With Us
We daughters of St. Clare continue her great work. Every day of our lives we gather into our hearts the needs and hurts of all. We invite you to join us in asking our holy Mother Clare’s intercession on behalf of the suffering people today, especially little children. Together let us go with confidence to St. Clare during the three days of prayer before her feast day on August 11th, and place our intentions in her loving and compassionate heart.
Prayer to St. Clare of Assisi
O loving and merciful Jesus, who filled the heart of St. Clare with love for the mysteries of your cross, and the grace of joyful trust in suffering, grant, through the help of her example and prayers, that we who suffer in mind, heart and body, may find comfort and strength in our pain, and faith in our difficult trials. Trusting in your healing love and mercy, may we come to share in the light, love and peace of your kingdom. We ask this in your Holy Name. Amen.
At this beautiful season of the year, we are reminded that Christ is born, and lives, within every person. Jesus taught us how to bring God’s peace and love into our world by following in his footsteps. Now it is our turn to do good to everyone, as he did, spreading God’s love and healing and understanding to everyone. It is up to us to help and heal our poor suffering world.
This is the spirit in which we endeavor to live among ourselves, and show to all with whom we come in contact. But it is especially by our life of prayer that we hope to spread God’s merciful love throughout the world.
Below is a picture of our present community with the creche in our outside chapel.
…… for making our bazaar so successful. All the delicious baked goods, and beautiful gifts you donated, and most of all your presence there, leave us very grateful. Everyone enjoyed themselves and the great bargains to be had there. May God bless you all.