Dependent on Providence by her solemn vow of poverty, the Poor Clare shares in the work and maintenance of the monastery home. Gardening and art work, care of the monastery chapel and literary composition, sewing, music, and cooking -these and many more works, that each Sister shares through her personal talents and gifts. “The Sisters to whom the Lord has given the grace of working should labor faithfully and devotedly in work which contributes to the common good; and this in such a way… that they do not extinguish the spirit of holy prayer and dedication whose purpose all other temporal things aught to serve” (Rule of Saint Clare).
What the labors of mind and hand do not provide for support, the alms of our benefactors supply. The Poor Clare offers her life to God for others. In his turn, God never fails to direct to the monastery those who bring sustenance and aid to the nuns. People sense when they are deeply loved. They love in return. That is the mystery of Poor Clare monasteries, mendicant nuns subsisting on faith in the word of God and the intrinsic goodness of people.
A Real Love
Expressed in fidelity to HOLY CHURCH, and opened to the needs of the world...
"I am leaving the world and going back to the father (Jn 16:28)." To the ordinary three vows of Obedience, Poverty, and Chastity the Poor Clares take a fourth vow, that of Enclosure. This vow sets her in the world, but apart from the world. Where God is, love is; and that is infinite space. The vow of Enclosure is the seal of the eschatological witness of their lives. The people of God are in passage, journeying always.
“The form of the contemplative spirit which seeks God in silence and renunciation is a profound movement of the spirit which will never cease as long as there will be hearts to hear His voice” (Pope Plus XII).
A Life of Love in Prayer
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Liturgy of the Hours
In the thirteenth century, Saint Francis of Assisi founded three Orders: Preaching friars, the Poor Ladies, and dedicated seculars. The nuns were formed by Saint Clare, his spiritual daughter, and they constituted the Second Franciscan Order. After Clare’s death, these Poor Ladies, as Francis had called them, became identified with the name of their mother and foundress. They are called Poor Clares today.
Their main work is chanting the praises of God in the Liturgy of the Hours. This they do at intervals throughout the day.
“Work of God” was what the fathers of monasticism called the chanting of the Divine Office. The life of a Poor Clare is a life of Liturgy of the Eucharist, Liturgy of the Hours, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, prayer, meditation, spiritual reading, pondering the scriptures, and labor.
“The church knows well that your silence is separate life in the interior solitude of the cloister is a heaven for renewal and for the presence of the Spirit of Christ in the world” (Pope John Paul II).
The church is the people of God, continuously reliving the life of Christ, and also continually journeying out of the world of the Heavenly Father. It is the world-Church, but not of this world. In order that new vitality may ever continue to sweep through the Church, it is necessary that there be a continually renewed awareness of that complete gift of oneself to Christ which is really what Christianity means. If every Christian has a duty to bring Christ to the world and really to be Christ in the world, then, of course the specific group of Christians who are consecrated religious, must give a very specific kind of witness to Christ and bear Him a unique testimony. What is the witness of contemplative cloistered religious?
To the active religious today, Holy Scripture rings out the challenge: “Proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient” (2 Tm 4:2). “Jesus went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). To the contemplative religious, Holy scripture underlines other words, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Lk.6-12).
The Church expresses itself by different means to attain a single end: Identification with Christ our Lord, union with God in charity, entering into the promised land of eternity. The Poor Clare serves God and ministers to His people from the cloister; one God, one Lord, one work to do.