Francis and Clare
(FRANCISCAN) THIRD ORDER REGULAR (TOR) CHARISM
Sister Monica Weedon FMDM, Australian (Congregational Leadership Team in England) shares with us what it means to witness to the TOR charism. How do I see myself witnessing to the TOR charism. Click here to read
St Francis of Assisi
St Francis was born in Assisi in about 1182. The son of a wealthy cloth merchant, it seemed that Francis had everything going for him. He was the popular ‘leader’ of the youth of Assisi and led a life of privilege, wealth and the high life of parties, dance and song. His dream was to become a ‘Knight’ – off to the crusades to win a war and perhaps a lady’s heart! However, while fighting against the neighbouring town of Perugia Francis was taken prisoner and a year in a horrific prison gave him time to reflect on his life. After trying again to become a knight, Francis had a profound spiritual experience. In the small church of San Damiano in Assisi, as he prayed for guidance in front of an image of the crucified Christ, Francis heard the Lord asking him to ‘Rebuild my Church.’ This was the beginning of an amazing journey for Francis as he embraced with passion and joy the call of the Crucified Jesus to leave all and follow Him.
St Clare of Assisi
St Clare of Assisi was born in Assisi around 1193. A member of the wealthy nobility, her life would have been carefully mapped out for her by her family. A good marriage to another noble family, would increase the power and wealth of her own. However, Clare had other ideas and going against all the norms of her class and the society of her day she chose a different path for herself. Inspired by the preaching and example of Francis she too heard a call – an inner call – to follow Christ. With the help of Francis, Clare lived the ‘life of the Gospel’ in her own unique way and soon others followed her.
The following excerpts may help give you an idea of the spirit behind Francis and Clare’s passionate love in their following of Christ:
“Francis and Clare’s founding charism was characterised by: their deep relationship with God-Creator, with the crucified Christ, and with the Spirit; a relationship in freedom and equality, with all the brothers and sisters, without distinction. Clare’s Rule and writings are a powerful witness to her sisterly love and concern for all her sisters, and ‘to build up a bond of unity among them’. Francis’ relationship with creation was truly one of brotherhood and sisterhood, and has marked history.”
“Francis and Clare’s founding charism was characterised by their option for ‘Lady Poverty’ which was expressed in their identification with the poor Christ, and for Francis, with the poor: the marginalised, the outcast in his society, especially the lepers. Their minority stance had social implications, for they moved away from the ‘centre’ to the periphery. Francis, by being inserted among the poor, challenged openly the political, social and economic power structures. Francis and Clare’s founding charism was characterised by non-violence and peace, which for them was a way of life, and expressed in their relationships. They were peace-givers and peace-makers. Francis’ greeting to all peoples was: “Pace e Bene.” This greeting of peace and goodness was a wish and an invitation. He sincerely wanted all those whom he met to have peace in their hearts and to experience only goodness….It is said of Clare that she reflected peace through all that she said and did in her community at San Damiano.”
(Excerpts from ‘Living Justice – As Artisans of Peace’ Franciscans International publication)