Posts Tagged ‘Clare of Assisi’


Clare of Assisi was not the typical “nun”; her sisters and her did not want to stay locked away from the world, as the Poor Clares (an order of Franciscans) they were called to be in the world, caring, healing, praying and living with the poor and in creation. For three Popes she petitioned for this, and they kept saying no. She and her sisters kept doing what they knew they were supposed to do, finally a delegation was sent, to end the disobedience and ensure these “lesser vessels” (terminology of the day) stayed put.

On that Good Friday the delegation to secure the women arrived, and were welcomed in for a simple meal of bread and soup before distribution to neighbours. They were already fuming and the disobedience, and aching from their sores, and pains.

As one sister said grace over the meal, the fruit bread warmed, crosses rose to the top, and the old men sent with righteous anger to silence and lock away, felt their bodies no longer hurt, their hearts feel something strange– was it peace? faith? joy? hope? Love?

A reminder of the day, and the person that was taken to the Cross, how he was viewed on that Friday by society, the same way the Poor Clares were being viewed and being told you can’t. The delegation returned to the Pope, with a simple message, they can, they did.

And the hot cross buns continued to be shared with neighbour, and an easy means of sharing Jesus’ love with those in need at this time.

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On Day 202 of C-tine we arrive at the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. He was a son of a wealthy man, who attempted to avoid his calling to live the gospel life. He was not against learning and academia as many would paint he and his followers with. Brother Francis wrestled with the gospel teachings, and learning them by rote. He was much more of a discovery learner. The idea of ensuring that one could live each lesson, before moving to the next.

There is also many amazing stories of Francis and his followers. From his understanding that not everyone was called to celibacy, that bambinos were needed for the work to flourish (hence the third order), he believed that women were to be just as active in the gospel life not cloistered away in prayer but living prayer in action (hence the Poor Clares, and Sister Clares’ constant work for having their own rule, see the legend of Hot Crossed buns)…he lived his caretaking for creation as was given to us in Genesis 3.

If you want to discover stories and teachings, I encourage you to explore Murray Bodo’s work, Leonardo Boff, John Michael Talbot and many more. For a family good resource, I encourage you to seek out Robert Kennedy Jr.’s story book (I used it in my time in the Anglican communion for spiritual formation with all ages). For a powerful retelling of his life, I direct you to Kazanzakis’ book on him.

Take time to reflect on this Feast Day of St. Francis, for his life was lived to embrace the open hand, and lift up the least of these. The most powerful stories was his forced redistribution of wealth from the church back to the people. In this day, what is the treasury that Francis would look to for this action? Corporations? Billionaires?

Take time to reflect today, how for years we have been hearing from workers, our elders, that the 24-7-365 technology social media driven society was wearing one out, creating distance and disconnect. Real connection was harder to achieve…and as a algorithmic result…it was becoming easier to see one another not as neighbour, but as other-enemy. 202 days into c-tine, and we are hearing the reality of fatigue, clearly from all areas the need for self-care and mental health care, the importance of authentic connection with one another, and choosing wisely who is in your cohort for your holistic health…belonging matters…is c-tine the Holy Mystery’s real time simulation/reality of a life we have been living that has been destroying us?

And now the Canticle of Creatures Francis is believed to have composed:

Canticle of Creatures

Small yellow Cross

Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord,
All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.

Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.

Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water,
So useful, humble, precious and pure.

Praised be You my Lord through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,
Mother Earth
who sustains and governs us,
producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.
Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardon
for love of You and bear sickness and trial.
Blessed are those who endure in peace,
By You Most High, they will be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will.
No second death can do them harm.
Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks,
And serve Him with great humility.

For other reflective prayers: Franciscan Daily Prayers.

Blessing of St. Francis

Small yellow Cross

The Lord bless you and keep you.
May He show His face to you and have mercy.
May He turn His countenance to you and give you peace.
The Lord bless you.


It is funny that in Genesis 1 for those of a Judeo-Christian-Islamic belief that the Holy Mystery created Male-Female in Its image. Each tradition, and religions before and after, have used many words, images, and rites to share what the Holy Breath means in each of us. Yet what cannot be lost in translation is that all of us carry that divine spark. All of us, although different (yes we are all unique), yet we are all unified within one river. We just choose to drink from different wells.

Francis of Assisi knew this, when after returning from the Crusades wounded, having his San Damiano moment, and moving into the mendicant life with brothers and sisters—those called to celibacy, those called to family life, all included—would travel back to the Crusades to open peace prayers with the Sultan.

But why on this Good Friday do I reflect on this idea of inclusion, equality. Simple, we tend to focus on what happens today. The oppressive powers of control. Political and Religious, stand united to finally silence in their belief a thorn in their side. Jesus was one of many active “messiahs” at the time. The difference being unlike the Zealots or types like Barabbas it wasn’t acts of terror, or getting those to enter into slaughter as the legions would pour out to silence them. Brother Jesus hit with something deeper: B-E-L-O-N-G-I-N-G.

No more labels.

A new order.

A new community.

Better yet.

A new family.

That was the danger of Brother Jesus, it was what 1200ish years later Brother Francis would tap into—belonging…family. And now 2000 years on this Good Friday, we need to tap into as well. It is not about breaking down separate groups, although in moments they have their time, it is about a family gathering, like the old United Church Hymn “Part of the Family.”

And Brother Jesus knew this was not something to be simply preached, it had to be lived. This is where Levi’s writings in the early 1900’s strike into the heart the Gospel writers were trying to get to. For historically we know that there was 7 women that worked diligently to support Jesus financially (and many others) while the men went forward and preached/healed and worked to craft this new family out of love.

Nothing can be clearer:

Now, many women who possessed much wealth, and abode in other towns of Galilee, implored that Jesus and the twelve, together with the masters from the foreign lands, would thither go and preach and heal.

Aquarian Gospel 105:1

Then will the Holy Breath again breathe on your fires of life, and fan them to a living flame.
Then she will open up the doors again, and you may let her in to sup with you for evermore, or you may slight her once again, and then again.

Aquarian Gospel 105:37-38

The Holy Breath, or Holy Ghost/Spirit is a part of the Trinity in Christendom, that is tied to the ancient ideal of Wisdom, which was also a female. It was the divine feminine aspect coming back. We have seen this moving forward since the early church with the visions/interventions of Mary of Nazareth and the message of hope she brings for those who cannot see how new oppressive powers have twisted her son’s life and teachings.

For Francis, this reminder was seen with Clare of Assisi, in her run from wealth to him. Her surrender of the “carnal” world, to become closer in union with the Holy Mystery. Yet she also took up Francis’ fight for equality. This was a time when women were not allowed their own voice. Religious orders of women were to be sequestered away from the world for prayer only. Clare and her sisters were feisty, they knew the call that Brother Jesus had laid out.

They left their cloister.

They fed the hungry. Healed the sick. Visited the prisoner. Taught and loved. Laughed and prayed. And Clare stood firm that like her soul companion, Francis had written a rule for his Friars, so shall she write one with her Sisters for transfiguration. Two popes actively fought against this woman. A third tried.

Why do I say a Third tried? Because what is truly out of the heart of the Holy Mystery cannot be silenced.

A group of old clerical men were dispatched to the cloister to finally silence this woman, and if they could not heal as they said in Jesus’ name, arrest them and well, do what was done with heretics back in the day.

The men arrived and were welcomed by the sisters with the utmost hospitality. As is with old men, their bodies ached, they had medical issues that their stubbornness would not let them admit to. They came to have dinner, as it was a simple mendicant cloister that gave away that which was not essential, dinner was simple stew and bread.

Clare called the group together in a circle, they joined hands, and she said the blessing.

What happened during the blessing is amazing. As she prayed on the bread arose crosses. As the crosses arose, the old aching men, felt at ease. Their pains vanished, their medical conditions healed.

They were in shock, struck dumb until the could return to the Holy See and report what they had experienced in this cloister of inclusion and belonging. These women could heal. The Pope had no choice but the cede to Clare’s wish and allow for them to leave cloister and continue on with the work Brother Jesus called them too.

(Yes this is the story of Hot Cross buns at Easter as well).

So keep in mind the many things that have happened with women’s rights, civil rights, equal rights—(insert group lacking rights here) …basically human rights. Think of how different our world would be if we had simply continued to live the way Brother Jesus laid out, the way that had gotten him executed, how different our world would be?

To close, take time to meditate on this example from chapter 112:

Chapter 112

The Christines in the home of Mary of Magdala. Jesus calls his disciples, “Little Flock,” and charges them to place their affections on divine things. He teaches them regarding the inner life.

1. And Jesus left the multitudes and went with his disciples up to Mary’s home; and as they sat about the board to dine he said,
2. My little flock, fear not; it is your Father’s will that you shall rule the kingdom of the soul.
3. A ruler in the house of God is servant of the Lord of Hosts, and man cannot serve God except by serving men.
4. A servant in the house of God cannot be servant in the house of wealth; nor in the synagogue of sense.
5. If you are tied to lands, or bonds, or wealth of earth, your hearts are knit to things of earth; for where your treasures are there are your hearts.
6. Dispose of all your wealth, distribute it among the poor, and put your trust in God, and you nor yours will ever come to want.
7. This is a test of faith, and God will not accept the service of faithless one.
8. The time is ripe; your Master comes upon the clouds; the eastern sky is glowing with his presence now.
9. Put on reception robes; gird up your loins; trim up your lamps and fill them well with oil, and be prepared to meet your Lord; when you are ready, he will come.
10. Thrice blessed are the servants who are ready to receive their Lord.
11. Behold, for he will gird himself, and will prepare a sumptuous feast for every one, and he himself will serve.
12. It matters not when he shall come; it may be at the second watch; it may be at the third; but blessed are the servants who are ready to receive.
13. You cannot leave your door ajar and go to sleep, and wait in blissful ignorance of the fleeting time;
14. For thieves will surely come and take away your goods and bind and carry you away to robbers’ dens.
15. And if you are not carried forth, the Master when he comes will not regard a sleeping guard as friend, but as a foe.
16. Beloved, these are times when every man must be awake and at his post, for none can tell the hour nor the day when man shall be revealed.
17. And Peter said, Lord is this parable for us, or for the multitudes?
18. And Jesus, Why need you ask? God is not a man that he should show respect for one and cast another off.
19. Whoever will may come and gird himself, and trim his lamp, and find a turret in the tower of life where he may watch, and be prepared to meet the Lord.
20. But you, as children of the light, have come, and you have learned the language of the court, and may stand forth and lead the way.
21. But you may wait, and think that you are ready to receive the Lord, and still he does not come.
22. And you may grow impatient and begin to long for carnal ways again, and may begin to exercise your rule;
23. To beat, and otherwise maltreat the servants of the house, and fill yourselves with wine and meat.
24. And what will say the Lord when he shall come?
25. Behold, for he will cast the faithless servant from his house; and many years will come and go before he can be cleansed, and be thought worthy to receive his Lord.
26. The servant who has come into the light, who knows the Master’s will and does it not; the trusted guard who goes to sleep within the turret of the tower of life,
27. Shall feel the lash of justice many times, while he who does not know his Master’s will and does it not, will not receive the graver punishment.
28. The man who comes and stands before the open door of opportunity and does not enter in, but goes his way,
29. Will come again and find the door made fast, and when he calls, the door will open not,
30. The guard will say, you had the pass-word once, but you threw it away and now the Master knows you not; depart.
31. And verily I say to you, To whom much has been given, much is required; to whom a little has been given, a little only is required

How different from the world they lived? A house owned by a woman, Peter and the men being guests.  Take time to render this in your journal whether you choose art imagery or writing. Work it out through the heart of Peter and the Heart of Mary of Magdala?

Contemplate what has emerged. What has been shown to you of your Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine? How more complete do you feel?

As one Divine Soul:

Where is the Holy Mystery guiding you next?

Are you ready to step into more unity?


Prologue

800 years ago, give or take a few years St. Francis of Assisi, the Patron of my Spiritual Charism, cast a new order to go beyond Order of Friars Minor (think Robin Hood’s Friar Tuck) and the Poor Clares (think Nun’s with Feminism dashed in, kind of like Sister Act with Whoopi Goldberg if you will)…

Yet. Much better than a but, Y-E-T- as Francis’ mendicants (insult meaning beggar) travelled spreading the gospel message of poverty, charity, love, and justice for all the interconnected of creation many who were married wanted to forsake their vows and join the celibate orders and…

Yup plus an A-N-D- there was some friars and sisters that well, let’s be honest humanity like every species on the planet is designed for procreation. Francis was an astute spiritual guide in that he realized this and blessed those that are called to be together, to make babies, to populate the world for that is the original commission within the Hebrew Scriptures go forth and out of the indwelling love of Spirit populate the world in love.

This is what birthed the Third, Lay or Secular Order. It was a work by one of these Franciscan’s 19 years into my journey of trying to remember paradise, discover the Spirit within, that working in a bookstore I stumbled upon John Michael Talbot’s (1998) The Life Lessons of St. Francis: How to bring Simplicity and Spirituality into your Daily Life. For someone who had journeyed through many Eastern, Celtic, Pagan, Western and Alien spiritual paths finding myself back in the Christian Church as a Sunday School teacher, this little volume showed me how my beliefs around love and inclusion worked together with belief and living out of God’s love, from the divine spark, the star dust that we are created from.

So dear reader, you are probably wondering what this 800 year history lesson has to do with anything? Especially the book you have picked up to read on different centering values to create a fuller you?

Simple, it is part of the formation of the writer of this book, it has influenced my understanding and shaped any bias within the stories to be found within. Also, when in the mid-2000’s I took the Munay-Ki Shamanic Rites, I was blessed to be labelled a Wisdom Keeper, one that holds the truths of the ancient stories for today.

In the Franciscan story there are many truths for today, but the one to remember as we move through these pages is perhaps the simplest lesson of all:

Within Francsicanism there is no historical Reformation (where the Protestant Church split from the Roman Catholic Church) rather it is a moment by moment reformation of one’s own heart, soul, spirit and community that one is called into.

So thank you for stepping into this new journey, it is a collection of values for all ages. To prepare for this spend time cleansing your energy, exhaling out the negative, and opening your heart to seeing things in a new light. There may be terms that are unfamiliar or may not resonate with you, this is due to my family’s Judeo-Christian Heritage, simply as you are reading replace them with terms that resonate with you.

I encourage you to find the best time of day to do the soul work with these values, take along a prepared kit:

Monk’s Bag of Tricks

  1. A simple bag, back pack or attache case
  2. Place within pens, pencils, crayons, pencil crayons, pastels,
  3. A fidget toy (perhaps a koosh, some Lego, a slinky, mystery box figures, something to play with to clear your mind when you get stumped).
  4. A journal
  5. A book of Wisdom teachings that you can read a snippet of each day.

Armed with this bag in your daily life, either identify a place in your community or your home that you can use as a retreat space to commune deeper within yourself.

So are you ready? This will not be your traditional spiritual formation journey, I mean the book is called Left Field, which for any sports metaphor you know it is usually the unusual team members that do not fit anywhere else.

That is us, those that are seeking the personal ongoing moment by moment reformation of St. Francis of Assisi, not only for ourselves but for our community and out world. So the question is now in your hands, close the book and walk away…

Or turn the page, step into left field with gusto and accept the challenge to create a new you.

Left Field


Its quite funny how things are interpretted in North America. Growing up my family always had wonderful Bibles around that highlighted the words of (Christ) Jesus of Nazareth in red. Sociologically/missiologically speaking in Asia the red letters actually lead many to believe that Jesus is angry at them as this is the colour of angry writing.

In North America, there is a movement within the Evangelical tradition that has followed these words to renew themselves, theology and God‘s PR image to the broader world and whether or not they realize it they are following the spiritual formation exercises of St. Francis and Clare of Assisi in regards to biblical scholarship: learn the lessons of Jesus, but not for knowledge, learn them one at a time, do not move on to the next until you have internalized it and know it that it is like nature and simply lived.  Over the past 900 years those that have followed this Charism have been known as Franciscans.

In the early 20th Century in America & Canada we called it the Social Gospel movement; and later part of the 20th Century in Latin America as the movement of Liberation Theology.

Today they are known as Red Letter Christians and they have managed to take such divisive issues as Same-Sex Marriage to a theological middle that can abide the conservatives and liberals in the church: http://www.redletterchristians.org/it-is-time-for-the-american-christian-church-to-surrender-the-gay-marriage-fight-apologize-and-share-love/

Stumbling across this movement has renewed a bit of my faith within the church.

Jesus from the Deesis Mosaic