The time of formation comprises one year of postulancy, two of novitiate and three years of profession before final profession.
The time of formation comprises one year of postulancy, two years of novitiate and three years of profession before final profession.
Since our life is such a radical and intense call, we ask candidates to have some work experience after graduating from school or college and to live independent of their families for a time. Young women are gradually integrated into our life of prayer and work. Though we are involved in artwork, calligraphy, answering letters and telephone calls and door bells, sewing, gardening and all that goes into keeping a family going, we cannot justify our life by the work we "do," for we are called first and foremost to PRAY and, like St Francis, eventually "to become prayer."
Poor Clares, then, give themselves to Jesus, vowing to live the Gospel without possessions, in chastity and within the silence and solitude of their monastery enclosure, in prayer for the Church and for the world.
A Life of Fraternal Love
Q.What makes the Poor Clare's different from other religious Orders?
A.From the very beginnings of the Franciscan Order, the Franciscan family has been one of the most radical expressions of Gospel living. It was Saints Francis and Clare's vision to live the Holy Gospel not just in part, but totally and without compromise.
Once Francis found the treasure of the Gospel, he cried out, exulting in the Spirit of God: This is what I wish, this is what I seek, this is what I long to do with all my heart and he eagerly searched for his Beloved. (Constitutions .2)
Through the contemplation of Christ, Clare, too, transformed her whole being in the image of the Godhead itself; she shows us this same path when she cried out in the great desire and love of her heart: Draw me after You! We will run in the fragrance of your perfumes, O heavenly Spouse! I will run and not tire until you bring me into the wine cellar. (Art. 7.3)
But there were many other communities living the Gospel in the time of Francis and Clare. What made their vision burst into flame and consume the whole world with this ardour and bright zeal, while the others, in time, fell away, unnoticed into history? What was unique with Francis and Clare was that they threw themselves totally into the hands of their Father of Mercies, relying completely upon Divine Providence for all they needed to sustain their bodies and souls. He truly was their all.
Following Jesus Christ, who is the Way the Truth and the Life, Francis and Clare were content to possess God alone. They desired nothing else, they wished for nothing else, nothing else pleased them or caused them delight except our Creator and Redeemer and Saviour, the One true God who is the fullness of Good, all good, every good, the true and supreme good. (Art.9.1).
Living Diving Providence completely and to such a radical extreme, was just as unheard of in the time of Francis and Clare as it is today in our own. Francis and Clare wanted to show with their lives that only one thing mattered, God alone, that he is "the true wealth of the human heart" (Vita Consecrata), and all else in the world must turn to Him who is our Father and Creator. He who loves us with his life through the death and resurrection of his only Son our Lord Jesus Christ.
Life according to the perfection of the holy Gospel, which constitutes the special character of our Order, is for Francis and Clare the very person of Jesus Christ himself, who called us and left us the command to live according to his memory. He humbled himself, obediently accepting even death, death on a cross. After he passed from this world to the Father he gave us a kingdom for his Father, so that God may be all in all. (Art. 3.3).
This experience of Jesus Christ, living in us, our hope and our glory, is the root and flowering of Gospel holiness. As we pass through this world like pilgrims and strangers, we live the Gospel holiness of Jesus in holy unity and highest poverty, following the footprints of Christ himself and his most Holy Mother, for whom we have chosen to live in the cloister and to serve the Lord in highest poverty. (Art. 3.2).
As Franciscans, there is also the special bond between the friars and the sisters (the Poor Clares), which is unique within the Church. The special relationship shared between Francis and Clare, in which Clare turned to Francis as her quide and her father, and Francis reverenced Clare as a spouse of Christ and a true friend, broke open and poured into the whole Franciscan family, even up to the present day, where the friars continue to preach the Word of God in the world while supported by the prayers of the Poor Clare sisters.
Simply then, what is it that makes the Order of St. Clare different from any other Order? The radical, joyful living of the Gospel, in complete poverty and trust in Divine Providence. Joyful? Yes, joyful, for one could not mention the Franciscan Order without the word joy! Life is a very precious gift to be celebrated. And when we embrace our poverty, we come to recognize that everything we receive from the hand of our Father, is the greatest of all treasures. Joy in the beauty of Creation, in the gift of every bit of food we receive and in every piece of bread, in the wonderful mystery of each person, in every moment of each day...joy in darkness and in light, and the very source of our joy is our Crucified Saviour who so loved us that he gave his life for us, that we might have life and have it to the full
The Poor Clare then, is one who weaves the flowers of each day into a crown for her King...one petal at a time. She is poor, chaste, and obedient. She is one who is alone on the mountain with Christ, enclosed in His Heart and lifting the entire world in prayer to her heavenly Father.