Feast of St. Francis and Mother M. Clara 2022
"United in one heartbeat".
Again, we approach the feast of Francis and M. Clara. Two feast days and yet one impulse united in one heartbeat. To what thoughts and sensations do we feel invited this time?
We are celebrating two days of death, days of going home, of returning, of new beginnings of life, of never-ending communion of love.
God had shown Francis the way of universal communion with all creatures and made him a brother turned towards all. He, whom all creatures called sister, brother and mother, with his last breath lovingly welcomes Sister Death. In her embrace, in apparent extinction, his whole life of loving devotion is held, accepted, reconciled, led to God and surrendered to him. Where in death darkness wants to embrace us, here in the completion the radiant light of God breaks through. It flows through the scene with warmth and touches gently like angels' wings.
The brothers at Francis' side want to be seized by the pain of grief, but the event widens their tense hearts and leads them out into the brightness of God's tangible love. They are taken in and filled with the breathtaking moment of returning home to the community of God.
This was preparing itself in Francis, in silent contemplation, in the midst of compassionate concern and in living fraternal communion. It was hiddenly present in moments of jubilant joy as well as in experiences of dejection and pain.
Before turning to M. Clara, let us take time, like Francis’ brothers together with Jacoba di Settesoli, to absorb this sacred event in our interior.
More than 600 years later and yet only a few hours apart (October 4/5), a disciple of Christ and faithful sister of St. Francis follows him in death. Mother M. Clara's last words, "Saint Francis, I am ready." Connect them inwardly with Francis' welcome to Sister Death. Surrounded by Sister M. Evangelista and strengthened by the last sacraments, she goes to meet her beloved Lord in poor surroundings.
Francis walks at her side. He allowed himself to be laid on the bare ground, unclothed, so that nothing stood between him and his Creator.
Mother M. Clara becomes like him, living her vocation of love until her last breath and giving up EVERYTHING that could have bound her to herself and to this world. She is embraced by the light, and everything finds its welcome with God, whose communion she always sought in the gaze of the Eucharistic Lord, in the maternal attention to her sisters and in the caring closeness to the people.
The heart of Francis and Mother M. Clara beat in unison of love in life and in death. A look at the writings of Francis and our founding Constitutions shows this. After all, there it is about:
- The union with the presence of God in Holy Scripture and the Eucharist, and the inspired life from both.
- The service of washing the feet of the brothers and sisters as a sign of love and minority.
- The gratitude that gives everything back to God
- The forgiving love that shows goodness
- The preservation of peace in all life experiences
- The purity of heart with which to serve
- The joy of God and the leading to love with cheerfulness
- Priority service to/with the little ones, the sick and the poor.
- The good care of all that is entrusted to us
May our life in heartbeat with Francis and Mother M. Clara fill each of our days. It will be easy for us to transfer the mentioned aspects of our Franciscan charism to today. God's presence, loving service and gratitude, forgiveness, peace and sincerity, the priority of the poor and the responsibility for creation are necessary values in our distressed world. Through them we carry our Christ light into the darkness.
Our dying in the heartbeat with Francis and Mother M. Clara happens daily. Trustingly, we walk by their side toward the moment of living and everlasting communion of God in light.
United in a joyful heartbeat with Francis and Mother M. Clara, the Sisters of the General Council wish you a blessed feast day.