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Monday, December 10, 2012

Poor Clare Colettines - "Special Vocations Issue" by Mother Mary Francis, PCC

St. Padre Pio Quote

"Thank God and gently kiss his hand which strikes you; it is always the hand of a Father who strikes because He loves you." St. Padre Pio

On the renewal of Religious Vows - poem, Mother Mary Francis, PCC


On the renewal of Religious Vows

I saw the mists of sorrow lift like hands
And the gates of vigil melt like smiles.

And I heard a Voice like many waters say:
"No sparrow falls to the earth
Without a sigh in heaven.
And no dream dies."

Then I saw Your promises ride home like knights,
And I saw the floes of hate weep in the flames of Your love,
And the great hands of desire grow feeble
With the burgeon of Your poorness;
And I saw the masks of bitterness drop like weak tears
At the songs of Your surrender.

And then with a sound of opening blossoms
I heard a Voice say:
"The very sighs of your heart are numbered."

And I understood like a shout.

The mysteries of sorrow grew simple as fire
And the white throat of despair
Blushed with a psalm.

And the Seraphim came and warmed themselves at Your chastity.
And the Dominations waved palms before Your acquiescence.
And the Thrones veiled their faces before Your refusals.
Then I heard a Voice full of stars say:
"I have numbered your tears.
And no dream fell to the earth
Without my knowing."

I saw You open Your arms like eternity.

Then the mists settled on my heart again.

- Mother Mary Francis, PCC

"Broken Cisterns" - poem by Mother Mary Francis, PCC

Mother Mary Francis, PCC said, "God only knows the amount of suffering he allows His contemplatives to undergo." It's also perfectly Franciscan (and more so Catholic) to count all personal suffering as perfect joy:

"Broken Cisterns"

He is as zephyred winds upon the soul,
They said,
And cloudless cloister skies
Yawn over the galeless haven of the heart.

Strange, no one said His love would be
A vague unrest in all my deepest peace...

They spoke with sighs of flowery cloister ways
And of His smile
Like satin songs of evening.

But not a word was ever said of how
His gentle eyes would flog away repose,
And no one ever mentioned how His voice would thunder
Down my cool-seated caverns of compromise

My hands, according to their counsel sheltered
For quiet prayer, they never told would bleed
With steep ascents' crag clinging, and the feet
They set to flower bordered ways
They never said would know
Of black rocks' tearing, torturous paths
Among forbidden trees

No, no on even hinted at the swords of His demand
That part the flesh from bone and leave the heart
Riven with a wild and white desire.
And no one knows except He once has heard
That loud, imperious call in His own heart
And left all padded satisfaction for the climb
That knows no peak. But this is all of joy.

- Mother Mary Francis, PCC

Another of Mother of Mary Francis' Poems

Whom God Loves, He Chastises

"Whom God loves, He chastises; and He
scourges every son whom He receives."
-Heb 12:6

Reciprocally suds-splashed, skirts colliding
In narrow cloisters, or invoking gravely
The Trinity's Third Person on
Our shelling of the peas,
We laced the communal months with strings of days
Lifted from shared profundities, together,
Investigated midnight with our psalms,
Summoned the dawn with antiphons, and pondered
With hymns the twilight mysteries, together,

Not braced for flat of hand on cheek of life,
On fragile pulse of heart, till sunlight was
Shadow-invaded, shade-infested, stricken
With sudden spectres.

                                                  Tilting soul on soul
Came God to write the great good news of love
Deeper, deeper in the cauterized hearts.

(Mother Mary Francis, PCC)

Poem by Mother Mary Francis, PCC

Concerning Affluence

I am the richest one in town
Although they may not know it
Who count their funds and lay aside
Good portions against winter.

I am the richest one on earth,
Unshod I walk to tell it.
All silvered stars are my small coins
For sudden need arising.

I am the richest in the world
Or in the heavens either,
Owning a greater need than all
For God to come and fill it.

(Mother Mary Francis, PCC)

An Open Letter to a Young Woman on the Threshold of the Poor Clare Colettine Cloister

Dear Mary,

So now you have taken all the preliminary steps toward answering those insistent questions in your heart. Is God calling you to a life of worshipful love in the cloister? Are you invited to be a Franciscan penitent giving to all the people of God an example of joyous penitence, as Vatican II described the life of contemplative nuns in its document on religious life? Are you finding yourself drawn to make the same conclusion that Saint Therese of Lisieux did regarding the service of all mankind: “In the heart of my Mother the Church, I will be love!”?

You want to know – for sure, you say. I can appreciate that. But, Mary, remember that what we really want to be sure about is less exactly where we are going or exactly how we are going to get there than who it is we are following. I am thinking about the Scriptural response to vocation.

If you read Matthew 4:18-20, you will see that vocation and response are quite a bit more starkly simple than some counselors would have it. Peter and Andrew were busy and successful fishermen. They were educated and equipped to catch fish. They seemed happy enough. But then Christ walked along the shore – of the lake and of their hearts. And He looked at them. They looked back. He said: “Follow me.” They got up and followed Him. You will notice that they did not say: “Follow you, where?” Nor: “We are fishermen, not preachers.” Not: “What are your plans, and how is everything going to turn out?” Still less did they question Him about how their personalities were going to be fulfilled if they followed Him.

You see, Mary, when you really are looking at Christ, you do not think about questions like that. Not any more than a girl in love with the man who is making her a proposal of marriage replies with considerations about life insurance policies and color TVs, or tells him that he is very attractive but she does not want to leave home. His love will be her fulfillment. Any woman knows that to be chosen and cherished is her best security. And you strike me as a live young woman.

And do read Matthew 9:9. Here is the classicism of a Greek drama but with the briefest script ever written. It takes one verse of Scripture to describe one of the most dramatic calls and responses ever known. When you experience that feeling of “Oh, it could never be for me!“, remember that it is not just likely that many of us would have selected a tax collector as a bright prospect for Jesus’ first novitiate. You know, Mary, Matthew was living a comfortable life. His job was specifically lucrative. Security. Ease. Does it strike you that Matthew does not say a single word about all that he is giving up to follow Christ, that he doesn’t even heave a single sigh?

It saddens me when a girl talks just too much about what she might have to give up. Again, I say, that is not the language of love. And following Christ is a matter of love. When you are in love, you want only to be with the loved one and share whatever lot is his. If I am back to love again, it is because that is the whole explanation of what is stirring in your heart. Oh, yes, there is pain in partings, pinch of material surrenders, but that is merely incidental to the wonder of being loved. We do not love our parents less for leaving them to enter the cloister any more than a bride of man does in leaving her family perhaps to live at the other end of the world because that is where her husband is. “For this cause a man shall leave father and mother and cling to his wife,” we are reminded in Genesis concerning earthly marriage. And to cling to God if He calls us into His cloistering love, we have to do the same. In Matthew 4:21-22, we are notified that James and John got up and “left their father and their nets.” Family, present concerns. Christ had looked at them. And they looked back. They got up and followed Him. That’s what a religious vocation is, Mary.

But, back to Matthew himself. He knew better than some of us do, what is an appropriate response to being called by Christ to follow Him in a highly specialized and demanding way of life. He didn’t grumble. He celebrated. He arranged a party. (Mt 9:10)

Do I hear you saying: “But they knew they were called. Our Lord stood right there and looked at them.” Yes, He did, Mary. But there is no guarantee that those He looks at will respond to His summons. Like any normal girl, you would like Christ to stand right in front of you and say: “Follow me into the cloister. I am inviting you, – I myself.” You think there would be no possibility of a mistake then.

Do you remember the rich young man? (Mk 10:17-23)  He had just what you muse on. Christ stood there, physically, before the boy. It was Jesus’ own human voice that said: “Come follow me.” No doubt about that vocation. But the rich young man chose not to follow. God has elected to circumscribe His own omnipotence with our free will. And each of us can say either yes! or no! to God when He calls. Just as the rich young man turned away because he thought it was too much of a sacrifice to “give up all that he possessed,” so James and John might have protested that they could not leave their father. Or Peter and Andrew explained that they were not suited for the life of itinerant preaching.

Your yes! or your no! are yours, Mary. I am not going to make your decisions for you now, be sure. And if we do receive you to enter, I am not going to make them for you later on, either. I’ll pray for you, help you, answer your questions, and love you. But your life is your own. Our possible receiving of you now to enter or later to become a novice and then a professed junior sister and finally a perpetually vowed nun would amount only to agreeing with a decision you would already have made. Sometimes I have to disagree with the decision a girl makes. Some have wanted to enter, but I could not agree that they were called to our way of life. A few others I have felt were called, but they could not bring themselves to a firm decision. And I was not about to make it for them.

Without doubt, some people are asking you questions, too. Why you? Why waste your life in the cloister? Why bury your talents? Are others worrying that you won’t “be fulfilled?” I touched on that above; and it does make me smile, Mary. The saints were the most fulfilled persons in history. Imagine St. Francis or St. Clare worrying about whether their personalities were being fulfilled! I can hear you laugh. And I love the sound of it!

Ours is no easy life, Mary. But for one who is called to it, it is a marvelously rewarding life. Take it from one who knows. And you impress me as a girl wanting a challenge, not an easy chair. We can offer you a poor little room, plain food, long hours and no vacations. There is no TV. There is air-conditioning if the wind blows. And I am serious even as I smile.

So, Mary, pray and ponder yet a while. If Christ is looking at you and saying: “Come, follow me into the cloister,” you can always look away; but you cannot pretend that you don’t feel His eyes upon you. May you lock eyes with Him, Mary. God bless you.

Devotedly yours in Jesus and Mary,

Mother Abbess

(Written by Mother Mary Francis, PCC, Roswell, NM)

The Flowers of the Earth


“I breathed the fragrance of their virtue, and drew them to myself to form the heart of my Mother.”



Faith enlightens us,
Hope supports us,
Love draws us.

Glory in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ

We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection, through whom we are saved and delivered.

The Pieta - “Selfless Love's witness”

“Selfless Love's witness”

I looketh around whence all art silent but thy groans of Love so loud. In thy apex of dark uponst this mount Thy Love so clear. In Thine eyes wherest all couldst be no lower yet they chooseth to looketh downst upon me. In thy pupils speakest to thee calm amidst this restlessness. Here therest art no words but everything audible; wherest Thy Sacred Heart speakest razor sharp unto thy hearts of men. 
Beneath Thy Sacrifice, beneath Thy Cross wherest I kneel but until now I knowest not why. For it is in thy utter darkness wherest His Sacred Heart art most clearly seen wherest hearts drawest unto Thine as One. Amidst this macabre scene art thy sights of sacrilege and art thy smoldering smells of sin and self uponst Thee. Yet, in thy same, cometh thy sweet Odor of sanctification, thy sweet fragrance of submission from our Lady that floweth from thy feet who to I kneelest besides. 
In all thy wounds uponst Thy Sacred Flesh I seest all thy gaping wounds of thy hearts of men, torn open, and bleeding seeking Thoust relief. And thy Heart who wouldst refuseth none who come into thy One fold didst healeth thy stripes of self that men so didst inflict uponst thy own self and thence uponst Thee. For Thine Heart seekest to remedy thy disordered, thy discord, thy dysfunctional heart. 
Yea, amidst thy dark pale colors of Selfless Love's Sacrifice I seest Thy vibrant colors of Thy Life of Your Heart. Uponst thy dirt beneath thee wherest men do dwelleth thy Living Waters from Thy Side didst drip and falleth to quencheth. Throughst thy violent winds art heard thy shrieks and howls of hell that crieth out all aroundst Thee, yet, it is only thy silent steady sound of Selfless Love from Thy Sacred Heart that I hearest. 
O' who am I, to sitteth beneath Thee, in this Sanctuary of Thine Tears whichst now must becometh mine, in this Day of all days to receiveth Thy Heart, Thy Body and Blood. Yea, I am consoled and called to sitteth uponst thy Lap of Our Lady for it twas Her Lap, His Throne, that He resteth wherest in Whom both seemingly looketh both dead and lifeless unto thy world but in Truth art nevermore alive at Heart in Selfless Love's witness.

The Reefs Avoided

The Reefs Avoided

"My child, watch with me ...
One must watch and pray without ceasing."

My God! my God! I desire to love Thee! I desire to love Thee! I desire to love Thee!