We are thinking Pilgrimage here at the Monastery as two of our Sisters are preparing to head out with Friar Tom Hartle to Assisi. There are two ways to look at Pilgrimage: one focus is on the going, and the other is on the arrival— you might call the latter a “destination” pilgrimage.
San Damiano, the proto monastery of the women’s branch of the Franciscan family, is the focus of my muse these days.
Why did Francis take Clare to San Damiano or why did Clare insist on going to San Damiano? It was a wreck of a place( Fortini…)—and very dangerous outside the walls of Assisi. Maybe that was the point: to get out from behind the walls. Maybe they wanted to get out of Assisi with freedom to be poor, vulnerable, available, interdependent. If that was the case they got what they were looking for. But…as soon as Clare died the nuns scuttled inside the walls.
I put the question to one of my favorite Franciscan specialists, Jean Francois Godet:
Regarding your question, I think you already have the right answer. Clare and her companions wanted to join the evangelical/penitential movement started by Francis. That meant leaving Assisi, its wealth, its power, its protection, its privileges, and getting close to the outcasts, the nobodies, in particular the people with leprosy. San Damiano was an ideal place: it was outside the city, close to the leper colonies, had the three ingredients of the early Franciscan settlements: a little church, a spring of water, and near a road (the Assisi-Foligno road). It was the property of the diocese. Since bishop Guido was blessing, protecting and promoting the new movement, there was no obstacle. Soon after Clare died, the sisters were moved inside the walls, not only the walls of the city, but also the walls of a monastery. That was a major change that separated them from the people, and in particular the people that Clare, like Francis, wanted to be close to and to serve. But by that time, the same thing had already happened to the brothers. I believe that the spirit and life of Clare and Francis will always survive because it is simply, but radically, living the Gospel. However, the future is in the roots. We need to go back to the sources and rebuild the Franciscan movement.
I would just add that Francis and Clare were motivated by one thing: to do mercy, facere misericordiam, because it was in that experience that they were experiencing who God is, the Father of mercies as Clare says at the beginning of her testament, quoting Paul in 2 Corinthians. The whole Franciscan adventure began with Francis’ experience with the outcasts of Assisi, the people with leprosy: feci misericordiam cum illis, I did mercy with them, writes Francis at the beginning of his testament, quoting Luke and the parable of the good Samaritan.
“Til the end of my days I will sing your praise…give you thanks all my days.”
Sister Anne Condon, OSC: Born, June 10, 1913; Profession of Vows, March 28,1933; Died, January 11, 2016
“GO HOME …”
In the Gospel of Mark (2: 1-12) for today’s weekday Mass, the friends of the paralytic broke through the roof because of the crowds, in order to place him before Jesus for healing. Jesus saw the deep faith of the man and his friends. Addressing the paralytic, Jesus said: ” ..rise, pick up your mat, and go home. It was a holy night of vigil when Sister Anne picked up her mat to go home. She broke her bonds after a very long struggle, at 12:10 a.m. Monday. Sister Gabriel and I were privileged to vigil with her that night; so gentle, so silent, so easy was her passage that we might easily have missed that sacred moment had we not been watching her closely.
Sweet Anne – a woman who would say to each of us here today, “I love you so much, and I care so much for you and your families. I thank you for walking with me, for the many years we have shared, for the care you have all given me. 1will continue to be with you. I ask you to be mindful of me.“
Sister Anne, a great woman of God. The words of our sister and mother, St Clare, from the 13th century, were a constant inspiration for her:
“Loving one another in the charity of Christ, let the love
you have in your hearts be shown outwardly in your deeds. “
Anne was not afraid of hard work; she was equally not afraid of prayer, nor of profound beauty. She would often say “If people only knew how wonderful it is to be a Poor Clare, the world would be filled with Poor Clare monasteries.
With five of us from Sauk Rapids, she initiated our presence in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul/Minneapolis, At that time our Sisters of St Joseph gave us haven at HolyAngels Academy, as a “home before our home”. In the next decade we grew very quickly. In 1960 we received an invitation from Archbishop Harold Henry to makea foundation in South Korea; as a community we said yes and opened the monastery on Cheju Island in 1972 which in turn founded a monastery on the mainland in 2001 inYangYang. And in 1991 a community of four went to Saginaw, Michigan.
Another involvement in the Clare life was that of our federation of monasteries; as you might suspect, Anne was very involved. She held in great respect an educated and cultural life, making her the logical person to be a leader of a study program for contemplative sisters at the then-College of Saint Teresa in Winona.
I could go on and on with specifics about what filled her life, her days. She was ever so generous. Here at the monastery, we have liturgical masterpieces from her loom as master weaver, an art she loved and created as long as her health would permit. Here we also have evidence of her looking ahead, thinking of future generations.
It is difficult to recount her life of virtue. She didn’t flaunt her piety, yet it ran deep as an ocean. Anne knew exactly from where came her strength. A great icon to all of us in her last months, weeks and days, was the full acceptance of her life at St Therese in New Hope as her home. Not an easy transition from life with us in our monastery, but that grace of transformation to the fact that she would not be able to return to 8650 was equally God’s triumph and Anne’s triumph. It helped us, her sisters, to a place of peace, a peace that would wrap her round in her last days and hours. She was ever a woman of strength, a strength that helped others to walk upright and stand tall in trust, humble faith and great love.And most especially in gratitude: her mantra was “Thank you.” For the slightest assistance: “Thank you.” She was especially grateful for the care she received in her frailty; for example she spoke so often of the staff at St Therese:”they work so hard,” she would say.
Feisty, tough and, oh, so tender, always quick to say, “I am sorry.” Having walked with Sr. Anne for over 65 years through storm and calm, thick and thin, I testify to the wonderful gifts engraved in her heart and spirit. She has entered the quiet, peaceful immensity of God, of Clare and Francis, of countless loved ones, of the beautiful universe, greater than we can grasp from our side.
I believe she would say to all of us: “Thank you for coming today. There is life that as yet is unlived in you; let it blossom into a future that is fired by Love. Fear no fear that enters your path, for fear is cowardly in the face of your God-given inner strength.”
Go forth, Sweet Anne. Go to the embrace of the One who created and sanctified you, the One who has nurtured you as a mother into your precious life. Go home, Anne, go home to your mountain. From that holy place, remember all of us as you cry out with all the holy ones: “KADOSH, KADOSH, KADOSH: HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, LORD GOD OF HEAVEN AND ALL CREATED THINGS …
Testimony of Sister Helen Weier, OSC
The moon sheds silver shadows on the sky,
blue shadows on the snow;
the house-beams crack all night,
startling us with the news
that it is colder than we thought.
“Winter is closing in,” we say,
but winter moves us outward in imagination
to learn how cold it is to be exiled from the sun,
how lonely the darkness,
how welcome the light of any approaching star.
HERE IN THE NORTH
The radiators wakened me
(four a.m., after a night of blizzard)
alarmed me with their frantic gushing,
a niagara roaring through the system,
gurgling, swirling, growling
through every pipe, making the circuit
of the house with urgency.
Anxiety washed over me — not just
concern about the state of the furnace,
but dread of where we might be carried
beyond sleep, through the storm:
to what cold shore?
Day emerges with a rare shining:
not remnants of moonlight
or the early edge of dawn,
but the sheen of new snow
binding every branch.
Somehow the snowfall invaded
without waking us,
took over without resistance,
left us helpless at the window,
captives of beauty and cold.
When you live in the north
where winter, white ogre,
grips the calendar for months,
then a bird’ s song in mid-March
tastes like Spanish wine,
and your heart can easily miss a beat
at the sight
of a puddle.
Clare leads us into the depths of Advent.
Following along with Papa Francisco she calls us to be “poor with the poor.”
For Advent reading: THE GREAT REFORMER by A, Ivereigh is the best of the best.
Austen tells the story of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, born into a lower middle class immigrant family, joined the Jesuits, himself called to the people of the slums, connecting and worshipping with our brothers and sisters of other communities, his pectoral cross, Christ the Good Shepherd.
Blessings on your journey!
These are the days when the whole pattern
is spread before us: the long intricate past,
the wars and wanderings, prophets and kings;
and the future as well, the vineyards and orchards
of the age to come, the safe and happy children
playing in the streets, the high road to peace
And our eyes are drawn to the center,
to the jewel at heart of the plotted web,
to a girl in a village and her ordinary life,
her willing response to mystery
when it came seeking her,
to the answer she gave
and the light it poured
over the whole story.
Listening Sessions with Archbishop Hebda to Help Inform Pope Francis’ Choice for our New Archbishop
Monday, October 5:
1 – 3 p.m., Rauenhorst Ballroom, Coeur de Catherine, St. Catherine University, St. Paul
7 – 9 p.m., St. Stephen, Anoka
Tuesday, October 6:
1 – 3 p.m., For women and men in consecrated life, Carondelet Center, St. Paul
7 – 9 p.m., Pax Christi, Eden Prairie
Monday, November 2, 7 – 9 p.m., Saint Peter, Forest Lake
Tuesday, November 3, 7 – 9 p.m., Divine Mercy, Faribault
Wednesday, November 4, 7 – 9 p.m., Woulfe Alumni Hall, Anderson Student Center, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul
Additional listening sessions are being scheduled for Latino Ministry parishes (in Spanish) and priests.
Pope Francis has emphasized the importance of dialogue in the life of the Church. And in the spirit of speaking and listening in charity, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is hosting a series of listening sessions. Archbishop Hebda will lead the sessions to hear your input on our strengths, our challenges, and what characteristics are important in a new archbishop. Feedback gathered during these sessions will be shared with those responsible for advising Pope Francis as he makes this important choice and with the new Archbishop whenever he is named. Summaries will be published in The Catholic Spirit.
Our retreat with Fr. Mike and Pope Francis. Yes, it was that week, time out of time, the most memorable retreat of a lifetime. Everyone was watching the Pope so no need to write how wonderful the message, so wise and merciful, Pope Francis moving seamlessly from deep prayer to joyful communion with God’s people.
front row: Sr. Caroline, Fr. Mike Crosby Sr. Anne
second row: Sr. Gabriel, Sr. Lucie, Sr. Kate, Sr. Francis, Sr. Helen