A new way to live
There is a new way to live. We are part of the civilization of love - and part of a new Franciscan age.Out of our togetherness we have tried to sum up Clare's way - The Clare Way - for every one.....
The Clare Way
A rule of life
We can only set out on pilgrimage if we have hope:
Look up to heaven that invites us, O dear one, and take up your cross and follow Christ who goes ahead us. E.9
Do not be afraid. God who is faithful in all his words and loving in all his deeds, will pour his blessings upon you. E.15
He will be our helper and the best consoler. He is our redeemer and our eternal reward. E. 16
To what are we travelling?
You have advanced on the path you have undertaken to win a heavenly prize. III A. 3.
May you totally love him who gave himself totally for your love, whose beauty the sun and moon admire, whose rewards and their preciousness and greatness are without end. I am speaking of him who is the Son of the Most High. III A.15-17.
Follow the footprints of the poor and humble Jesus. III A.4.
If you suffer with him, you shall reign with him, if you weep with him you shall rejoice with him, if you die with him on the cross of tribulation, you shall possess heavenly mansions in the splendour of the saints, and in the book of life your name shall be called glorious amongst men. Because of this you shall share always and forever, the glory of the kingdom of heaven in place of earthly and passing things, and everlasting treasure instead of those that perish, and you shall live forever. IIA.21-3.
What road do we take?
The Son of God has become our way. T.5.
Because the way and the path is difficult, and the gate through which one passes and enters to life is narrow, there are both few who walk it and enter through it. And if there are some who walk that way for a while, there are very few who persevere in it. But how blessed are those to whom it is given to walk that way and to persevere to the end. T.71-73.
Go without anxiety, for you have a good escort for your journey. Go, for he who created you, has made you holy. And, always protecting you as a mother does her child, he has loved you with a tender love. LSC.46.
Who are our companions?
I believe that the Kingdom of heaven is promised and given by the Lord only to the poor. IA.25.
The Law of Love
God has given us his rule of life in the Gospel, and a law of love to live by, in the commandments, the beatitudes and the counsels. The commandments are not simply a series of 'no-es', for Clare they are affirmations. It is not enough to avoid murder - one must give life, it is not enough to desist from lying one must become truth. This, by the working of the Holy Spirit, which, Clare says, we must desire above all else, will form us into people of blessedness, able to reach heaven while on earth. Therefore the Lord offers us, each in our own unique lives, the counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience. Men and women religious take these counsels as a vowed way of life, married people live their chastity in their vow of love to each other which obliges them to a proper respect for other peoples chastity, and the unmarried live their chastity in respect to themselves and God’s life within them. All of us choose humble poverty in union with the Lord who made himself poor for our sake and we give him, in his word and in his Church the obedience of loving faith.
The form of life of the poor sisters and brothers is to observe the Holy Gospel. R. 1.1
Let us be very careful, therefore, that, if we have set out on the path of the Lord, we do not turn away from it through our own fault, or negligence or ignorance, nor that we offend so great a Lord and his Virgin Mother, our blessed Father Francis, the Church Triumphant and even the Church Militant. For it is written: Those who fall away from your commands are cursed (Ps118:21) . T.74-76.
I am the Lord your God.
With what eagerness and fervour of mind and body, therefore, must we keep the commandments of our God and Father, so that, with the help of the Lord, we may return to him an increase of his talent? T.18.
I beg you to praise the Lord by your very life. IIIA.41.
You shall not have strange Gods before me.
Do not extinguish the Spirit of Holy Prayer and devotion, to which all other things of our earthly existence must contribute. R.7:2.
You shall not take the name of your God in vain.
We are greatly bound to bless and praise God and be all the more strengthened to do good in the Lord. T.22.
Remember to keep holy the day of the Lord.
Each new day is the day of the Lord. We give him our life completely and we hallow time by living together in faith and joy.
May you always rejoice in the Lord. IIIA.9.
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 entire being into the image of the Godhead itself through contemplation. IIIA.10-13.
Honour your father and your mother.
Our fathers and mothers are those who give us life. We show reverence and respect for every person the Lord has made and love and support them as we would a defenceless child or a dependant parent.
I bless you during my life and after my death, as I am able, out of the blessings with which the Father of mercies has and does bless his sons and daughters in heaven and on earth and a spiritual father and mother have blessed and bless her spiritual sons and daughters. Amen. B.11.
You shall not kill.
I admonish and exhort the sisters (and brothers) in the Lord Jesus Christ to beware of all pride, vainglory, envy, avarice, care and anxiety about this world, detraction, murmuring, dissension and division. Let them always be eager to preserve among themselves the unity of mutual love which is the bond of perfection. R.10:6.
You shall not commit adultery.
I admonish and exhort all my brothers and sisters, both those present and those to come, to strive always to imitate the way of holy simplicity, humility and poverty and the integrity of our holy way of living, as we were taught from the beginning of our conversion by Christ and our blessed Father Francis. T.56.
You shall not steal.
You have sought to store up treasure in heaven rather than on earth, where rust does not consume nor moth destroy nor thieves break in and steal. Your reward is very rich in heaven. IA.22.
You shall not lie.
With the help of God’s grace you have fled the mire of this world and I rejoice that you are walking courageously on the path of virtue. E.2.
Let them (the sisters and brothers) not presume to repeat the gossip of the world. R.9:15
You shall not covet your neighbour’s spouse.
Our labour here is brief, the reward eternal; may the excitements of the world, fleeing like a shadow, not disturb you. Close your ears to the whisperings of hell and bravely oppose its onslaughts. E.5-6.
You shall not covet your neighbour’s goods.
She or he who loves temporal things loses the fruit of love. Such a person cannot serve God and money, for either the one is loved and the other hated, or the one is served and the other despised. IA.25.
If we live the fullness of the law of love, if we love one another as God loves us, we will become new people and find ourselves amongst the blessed.
Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
This is that summit of highest poverty which has established you, my dearest sisters, heiresses and queens of the kingdom of heaven; it has made you poor in things but exalted you in virtue. Let this be your portion which leads to the land of the living. R.8:4-5.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Let her console those who are afflicted. Let her also be the last refuge for those who are troubled, lest the sickness of despair overcome the weak. R.4:11.
Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.
Strive always to imitate the way of holy simplicity, humility and poverty and the integrity of our holy way of living. T.56.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice; they shall be satisfied.
We did not shirk deprivation, poverty, hard work, trial, or the shame or contempt of the world - rather, we considered them as great delights. T.27-28.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
May the Father of mercies always spread the fragrance of a good name from them, both among those who are far away as well as those who are near, not by any merits of ours but by the sole mercy and grace of his goodness. And loving one another with the charity of Christ, may the love you have in your hearts be shown outwardly by your deeds so that, compelled by such and example, the sisters may always grow in love of God and in charity for one another. T.58-60.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Do not extinguish the Spirit of holy prayer and devotion to which all other things of our earthly existence must contribute. R.7:2.
Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be called the children of God.
Preserve the unity of mutual love and peace. R.4:22.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for justice sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
Desire above all else: to have the Spirit of the Lord and his holy manner of working, to pray always to him with a pure heart, and to have humility, patience in difficulty and infirmity, and to love those who persecute, blame, and accuse us, for the Lord says: Blessed are those who are persecuted for justice sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, and, whoever perseveres to the end will be saved . R.10:9-12.
The daughters of Clare make vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and enclosure. We can make these vows our own within the measure of our own lives. For example, married people, practice their chastity by fidelity to each other, their poverty by being good stewards of what God gives them, their obedience by following the Gospel and their enclosure by always making time to be together as a family.
The Son of God never wished to abandon this holy poverty while he lived in the world. T.35.
O blessed poverty, who bestows eternal riches on those who love and embrace her! O holy poverty, God promises the kingdom of heaven and, in fact, offers eternal glory and a blessed life to those who possess and desire you! O God centred poverty, whom the Lord Jesus Christ who ruled and who now rules heaven and earth, who spoke and all things were made, condescended to embrace before all else! IA.15-17.
What a great and praiseworthy exchange: to leave the things of time for those of eternity, to choose the things of heaven for the goods of earth, to receive the hundredfold in place of one, and to possess eternal life. IA.30.
After the Most High Heavenly Father saw fit by his grace to enlighten my heart to do penance according to the example and teaching of our most blessed father Saint Francis, shortly after his own conversion, I, together with my sisters, willingly promised him obedience. R.6:1.
For this reason, on bended knees and bowing low with both body and soul, I commend all my sisters, both those present and those to come, to our Holy Mother the Roman Church, the supreme Pontiff and especially, the Lord Cardinal who has been appointed for the Order of Friars Minor and for us, that out of love of the God Who was placed poor in the crib, lived poor in the world, and remained naked on the cross, (our Protector) may always see to it that his little flock, which the Lord Father has begotten in his holy Church by the word and example of our blessed father Francis by following the poverty and humility of his beloved Son and his glorious Virgin Mother, observe the holy poverty that we have promised to God and our most blessed father St Francis. May he always encourage and support them in these things. T.44-47.
Enclosure - in every place and time
Cling to his most sweet Mother who gave birth to a Son whom the heavens cannot contain - and yet she carried him in the little cloister of her holy womb. III A. 19
As the glorious Virgin of Virgins carried him materially, so you, too, by following in her footprints, especially those of poverty and humbleness, can without any doubt, always carry him in spirit. III A. 24
Love one another as I have loved you
What is the lifestyle of this family?
The form of life of the Order of the Poor Sisters which the Blessed Francis established is this: to observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. R.1:1.
Let the words of the Holy Gospel be addressed to her that she should go and sell all that she has and take care to distribute the proceeds to the poor. If she cannot do this, her good will suffices. R. 2:7-8.
Be very joyful and glad! Be filled with a remarkable happiness and a spiritual joy! Because since contempt of the world has pleased you more than its honours, poverty more than earthly riches, and you have sought to store up greater treasures in heaven rather than on earth where rust does not consume, nor moth destroy, nor thieves break in and steal, your reward is very rich in heaven! IA.21.
Have towards one another, charity, humility and unity. T.69.
The unity of mutual love is the bond of perfection. R.10:7.
Let each one confidently manifest her needs to the other. For if a mother loves and nourishes her child according to the flesh, should not a sister love and nourish her sister according to the Spirit even more lovingly. R.8:15-16.
The sisters and brothers should humbly confess their common and public offences and negligences. R.4:16.
If it should happen - may it never be so - that an occasion of trouble or scandal should arise between members of our family through a word or gesture, let she or he who was the cause of the trouble, before offering her gift of prayer to the Lord, not only prostrate herself humbly at once at the feet of the other and ask pardon, but also beg her simply to intercede for her to the Lord that he might forgive her. Let the other sister be mindful of that word of the Lord - “If you do not forgive from the heart, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you” - generously pardon her sister every wrong she has done her. R.9:6-10.
One who is clothed cannot fight another who is naked, because she is more quickly thrown who gives her adversary a chance to get hold of her; and that one who lives in the glory of earth cannot rule with Christ in heaven. IA.27.
Our flesh is not bronze nor is our strength that of stone. No, we are frail and inclined to every bodily weakness! I beg you, therefore, dearly beloved, to refrain wisely and imprudently from an indiscreet and impossible austerity in the fasting you have undertaken. IIIA.38-40.
Follow the footprints of the poor and humble Jesus Christ. III A.4.
Let the sisters and brothers to whom the Lord has given the grace of working, work faithfully and devotedly after the hour of Terce at work that pertains to a virtuous life and the common good. They must do this in such a manner that while they banish idleness, the enemy of the soul, they do not extinguish the Spirit of holy prayer and devotion to which all other things of our earthly existence must contribute. R.7:1.
Pray and always be vigilant. E.13.
Those who can read shall celebrate the Divine Office according to the custom of the Friars Minor. Those who for some reasonable cause are sometimes not able to read the hours shall say the Lord’s Prayer. R.3:1.
We are greatly bound to bless and praise God and be all the more strengthened to do good in the Lord. If we live according to the form mentioned above, we shall leave others a noble example and gain, with very little effort, the prize of eternal happiness. T.22.
I beg you in the Lord to praise the Lord by your very life, to offer the Lord your reasonable service. IIIA.41.
Let us pray to God for one another, for by carrying each other’s burden of charity in this way we will easily fulfil the law of Christ. Amen. E.17.
Happy indeed, is the one to whom it is given to share in this sacred banquet so that she or he might cling with all their heart to him whose beauty all the blessed hosts of heaven unceasingly admire, whose affection excites, whose contemplation refreshes, whose kindness fulfils, whose delight replenishes, whose remembrance delightfully shines, by whose fragrance the dead are revived, whose glorious vision will bless all the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem: which, since it is the splendour of eternal glory, is the brilliance of eternal light and the mirror without blemish. IVA.9-14.
So great and good a Lord, then, on coming into the Virgin’s womb, chose to appear despised, needy, and poor in this world so that people who were in utter poverty, want and absolute need of heavenly nourishment might become rich in him. IA.19-20.
It is now clear that the soul of a faithful person, the most worthy of all creatures because of the grace of God, is greater than heaven itself, since the heavens and the rest of creation cannot contain their Creator and only the faithful soul is his dwelling place and throne, and this only through the charity that the wicked lack. He who is the Truth has said: Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too shall love him, and we shall come to him and make our home in him . IIIA.21-23.
(Be his friend) and taste the hidden sweetness that God has reserved from the beginning for those who love him. IIIA.14.
Love him totally who gave himself totally for your love. IIIA15.
On bended knees and bowing low I commend my sisters and brothers, both those present and those to come, to the Holy Mother, the Roman Church and the supreme Pontiff. May he always encourage and support us in these things. T. 44.
If we live in this way, we will be transformed. As our awareness deepens, so will prayer.
How does this life refine us?
Let them devote themselves to what they should desire to have above all else: the Spirit of the Lord and his holy manner of working, to pray always to him with a pure heart, and to have humility, patience in difficulty and infirmity. R.10.9.
Always be lovers of your souls and those of your sisters and brothers . And may you always be eager to observe what you have promised the Lord. B.14.
Look upon him who made himself contemptible for you, and follow him, making yourself contemptible in this world for him. IIA.19.
Your Spouse though more beautiful than the children of men, became, for your salvation, the lowest of men, was despised, struck, scourged untold times throughout his entire body, and then died amid the suffering of the Cross.
Gaze upon him, consider him, contemplate him, as you desire to imitate him. IIA.20.
If you suffer with him, you will reign with him. If you weep with him, you shall rejoice with him; if you die with him on the cross of tribulation, you shall possess heavenly mansions in the splendour of the saints and, in the Book of Life your name shall be called glorious among men. IIA.21-22.
Because of this you shall share always and forever the glory of the kingdom of heaven in place of earthly and passing things, and everlasting treasure instead of those that perish, and you shall live forever. IIA.23.
What are we prepared to offer for this life?
You have offered yourself to him as a holy and pleasing sacrifice. IIA.10.
To progress from good to better, from virtue to virtue, that he whom you serve with the total desire of your soul may bestow on you the reward for which you so long. IA.32.
What are the images of this life?
This is a litany of images that Clare offers for our reflection:
We are the church rebuilt. T.12-13.
Whose rule is the Gospel. R.1-2.
We are the covenant of obedience. T.24-26.
Bound face to face with holy Poverty. T.39.
Becoming the enclosed womb which carries Christ. IIIA.18.
This life is a wrestling match. IA.27.
We are the little flock. R.4:8.
Led by divine inspiration. R.2:1. & R.6:3.
On the narrow way. T.71.
The difficult road. T.71.
The path of the Lord. T.74.
On which we can run with swift pace and feet unstumbling. IIA.12.
We cling to the footprints of Jesus and Mary. IIA.7 & IIIA.24.
This is the one thing necessary. IIA.10.
We are spouses (IA.7),
good sisters (and brothers) and mothers in the Spirit IA.12 & IIIA.25.
Handmaids and servants T.51 & IA.33
and mirrors for each other. T.19-20.
We are the support of the weak members of Christ’s ineffable body,
co-workers of God himself IIIA.8-9,
friends of God IIIA.14,
and followers of the Lamb
who sing a new song IVA.3.
We are an enclosed garden T.53,
the little plant of St Francis T.37 & T.48,
the fragrance of goodness T.58,
the angels of peace. Thomas of Celano,
This is the heavenly prize IIIA.3,
the gate of life T.71,
the treasure hidden in a field IIIA.7,
the hundredfold IA.30.
I give thanks to the Giver of Grace from whom, we believe, every good and perfect gift proceeds. IIA3.
I bend my knee to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ that through the supporting merits of the glorious and holy Virgin Mary, his Mother, and of our most blessed father Francis and all the saints, the Lord himself, who has given us so good a beginning, will also give us the increase and final perseverance. Amen. T.77-78.
Blessed are you my Lord who have created me!
R. Rule of St Clare
T. Testament of St Clare
I, II, III& IV A. Letters of St Clare to St Agnes of Prague
E. Letter of St Clare to Blessed Ermentrude of Bruges
LSC Legenda of St Clare