The spirit of the Poor Clare Colettines is one of simplicity, cheerfulness
and joy. The young woman who has a good sense of humour and the ability
to minimize ordinary adversities by a maximum of generosity, should
reach great sanctity as a Poor Clare Colettine. It is the capacity to
love that is important. The contemplative goes straight to the mark
– love of God and zeal for the salvation of souls, by prayer.
St. Clare, Our Holy Mother, bids us to love one another for the love
of Christ, and to show forth externally by our actions, the love that
reigns in our hearts (TestCl 18). Newcomers often exclaim, after some
time here: “If only women in the world knew what happiness there
is here, they would all want to enter!”
For the Poor Clare Colettine life of prayer and penance, a sound mind
in a sound body is indispensable. In all ages of the Church, Enclosed
Orders have been conspicuous for drawing to themselves, those of large
minds and noble hearts, who have longed to live their lives for the
love of God, the conversion of souls, the perseverance of the Pilgrim
People of God, and the relief of the Holy Souls in Purgatory. For those
who cherish such high ideals, special grace is needed. God, who will
not be outdone in generosity, bestows it in abundance. “There
is nothing I cannot master, with the help of the One Who gives me strength”
The time-table swings between hours of prayer, spiritual reading, study,
work and necessary recreation. Holy Mass, Holy Communion, Divine Office,
private prayer and adoration, are the very core of a Poor Clare’s
life. Holy Mass and Divine Office determine the shape of her day. For
this, at stated times she and her sisters come together in Choir (the
Enclosure Chapel). In doing this, we are spiritually united to the Church
universal, triumphant, militant and suffering. The canticle of praise,
ever resounding in the halls of Heaven, was introduced into our world,
by Our Great High Priest, Jesus Himself. It is our cherished and privileged
mandate to prolong this great hymn of praise throughout our lives.
While at prayer, we are blessed with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
in our little Choir. In the silent hours of the night, and again throughout
the day, Our Eucharistic King is worshipped, loved and entreated. No
one in the wide world is forgotten. Each and all are brought to the
Heart of Infinite Mercy.
Of course, only part of a Poor Clare’s day is spent in that prayer,
where one is occupied in prayer alone. Much of her time is given to
work, which is another form of praise and petition, and as such, she
undertakes the manifold activities necessary for running the monastery.
St. Francis and St. Clare saw the ability to work as a grace. It is
a joy for each sister to contribute her share to these activities.
Here in St. Damian’s, we are blest with a nice garden, where
we grow vegetables for our own use and some flowers for the Altar.
There is a daily period of recreation, during which we exchange items
of interest about family or anything relevant. The time can also provide
an outlet for missionary zeal. Products of knitting and sewing can be
sent to Sales of Work, the help those on the front-line.
“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His justice and all other
thing will be given you besides”(Mt 6:33). By living on alms Poor
Clares prove that Our Lord’s words were literally true. We depend
entirely on the goodness of God and people. Our kind benefactors, living
and dead, are very specially remembered in the prayers of the community.
Greater love than this, no one has, that a man lays down his life for
his friends (Jn 15: 13).
Her daily round is the Poor Clare’s way of laying down her life
for souls. It makes demands on human nature, but it liberates and protects
the interior spirit. “Souls are bought, not given”, St Pio
OFM Cap., tells us. Bodily penance, however, is not the dominant note
in the Poor Clare’s life. The observance of the Holy Gospel is
primary, and the close following of Christ by imitating His virtues.
This is the most relentless of all penances and is the source of that
peace and joy which are so quickly noted in our monasteries. Those who
think of us as enduring a dreary monotonous existence, would be surprised
by our spirit of joyous liberty. How could it be otherwise when all
is undertaken for love of the good God?
Those who enter, are gradually introduced to the life. The first year
is spent in postulancy, then two years as novices, followed by three
years in Temporary Vows, after which one usually takes Solemn Vows.
Our Blessed Lady, under the title of her Immaculate Conception, is
the Patroness of the entire Franciscan Family, of which the Poor Clares
constitute the Second Order.
Although Saints Francis and Clare are the beloved Founders, the memory
of St. Colette is also cherished by her daughters because she made it
possible to recapture the spirit of San Damiano – the St. Damian’s
of Assisi – the first monastery of our Order. It is our endeavor
that our St. Damian’s here in Dublin should possess the Franciscan
spirit, which is primarily manifested in charity, lowliness and joy.
We feel that the life lived here in St. Damian’s, is one of great
simplicity, interior liberty and singleness of purpose.
MY GOD AND MY ALL