View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Another Franciscan Canticle

As part of our ongoing formation at my Secular Franciscan group, we have been studying the writings of St. Francis.

He is famous for his "Canticle of Brother Sun" - which we looked at last Friday.

But another Canticle we looked at was the "Canticle of Exhortation to Saint Clare and Her Sisters."

Listen, little poor ones called by the Lord,
who have come together from many parts and provinces.
Live always in truth,
that you may die in obedience.
Do not look at the life outside,
for that of the Spirit is better.
I beg you through great love,
to use with discretion the alms which the Lord gives you.
Those who are weighed down by sickness
and the others who are wearied because of them,
all of you: bear it in peace.
For you will sell this fatigue at a very high price
And each of you will be crowned queen
in heaven with the Virgin Mary.

There was much to think on and talk about in connection with this one, but one section struck me given my life in the last few years.

Those who are weighed down by sickness
and the others who are wearied because of them,
all of you: bear it in peace.

It is so easy to despair when you are sick.

It is also easy to grow weary when you care for people who are sick. It is easy to grow impatient, resentful, angry, frustrated, and just plain tired. I've had to deal with all of those feelings.

People who work with the families of the very ill are aware of this. There are so many wonderful respite programs available to help keep up one's spirits, to give one a break. I have not used such programs - yet - but I have found time alone, time in nature, time in prayer helpful.

It's interesting that St. Francis included this in his Exhortation. With what were the Sisters dealing? Possibly a number of members who were sick, maybe some who went too far in their fasting and penitence and who made themselves sick (imagine how easy it would be to get mad at those sisters with "self-inflicted" ills!).

And maybe he was thinking of his own infirmities and the effects they were having on others.

This reminds us that even saints must deal with many of the same problems us less-than-holy folks face.

It's easy to forget that while they are holy they never cease to be human.

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