Feasts of Stigmatization – of St. Francis and Mother M. Clara Pfaender
Hearing Mother M. Clara saying today:
You are now approaching the intensive spiritual feasts of St Francis – his stigmatization and his death – as well as my home coming to God.
These three spiritual events touch deeply our inner beings:
In La Verna St Francis’ intimate life with Christ, and his deep love, is expressed in the physical traces of Christ’s wounds in his body.
At the Portiunkula St Francis gave up his life in total poverty, as in his death he returned naked to the hands of his creator.
In Rome it was allowed me in all humility to fully consummate my life and with my last breath to say, “Holy father Francis, I am ready!”
It is not possible to reach this depth of surrender in love without nurturing one’s spiritual life.
What you do and how you nurture your spiritual life go hand in hand with one another, each inspiring and mutually enriching the other. This relationship is addressed in terms of contemplation and action, and has been a central focus since the foundation of the congregation. (FC LII; Const. 5). A concrete example of this is shown in Scripture, bringing together the institution of the Eucharist and Christ washing the feet of the disciples. (Jn 13, 1-15). Let me reflect further on these aspects.
One’s contemplation can find expression:
- In periods of solitude and in common prayer;
- In openness of heart to encounter Christ in Scripture;
- In loving response to the incomprehensible gift of the Eucharist; in adoration of Christ’s humble presence in the form of bread, as well as in the marvelous though broken creation. (Const. 32-41)
On the other hand, your actions are nourished by our prayer and contemplation, finding tangible expression in your daily ministry:
- In readily giving to those whom you serve; meeting Christ in the poor;
- In generously sharing your various gifts;
- In taking concrete steps to create a more just world, courageously encountering Christ in people in need or who are deprived of their rights;
- In a common concern for caring for the world that is entrusted to you. (Const. 42-47)
For you, as it was for me, we are moved by an inner inspiration of the love of Christ, planted within our hearts. For St Francis, he was “marked” already at the time of his call, by this deep love for Christ, and later it was expressed in the stigmata he received. For me personally, I feel the flame of this Eucharistic devotion was planted in my heart early in my youth. I longed to unite myself with the Eucharist, yearning for this despite the resistances of my father. The Eucharist sustained me throughout my entire life.
This flame of Christ’s love is kindled in your hearts also, and moves you to find ways to express it. In order for this love to remain vital it needs to be nourished through personal reflection, prayer and times of spiritual renewal. Also through sharing and mutual encouragement, you can enrich one another. When your heart is so rooted in the love of Christ, only then can you be truly in touch with the needs of today’s world, bringing these needs into your prayer as well.
I took to heart all the needs of broken mankind, and I with my Sisters struggled to find solutions, even when it cost us great sacrifice.
As you come to a fullness of God’s life within you, you become the body of Christ in the world. You become witnesses of God’s love, making God’s healing presence more tangible. Be a loving support for one another, and always be attentive to nurturing your inner life so that you can use well the gifts God has given you for making the Good News of God visible and alive, whether through your prayer and/or service.