Sisters given to me by the Lord
A life of penance in the spirit of the Gospel, which finds its practical expression in the practice of Poverty, is associated in Clare’s view with fraternity, a loving sisterliness. St Clare herself states this for us in the 6th Chapter of her Rule the so-called Form of Life of St Francis which the latter composed for Clare and her Sisters:
“Because by divine inspiration you have made yourselves daughters and servants of the Most High King, the heavenly Father, and have taken the Holy Spirit as your spouse, choosing to live according to the perfection of the holy Gospel, I resolve and promise for myself and for my brothers to always have that same loving care and solicitude for you as [I have] for them.” (Rule Clare Chapter 6, 3-4)
This text of St Francis’, which Clare transmits to us, proclaims in a few brief phases those basic life-guiding principles that Francis drew from out his experience of a living Faith to give to Clare and her Sisters on their path through life.
Clare and her Sisters have chosen to live according to the Perfection of the Holy Gospel. The Good News of the Gospel is the actual foundation of their Form of Life. The dynamic thrust of this Good News is directed towards establishing a relationship with God the Father, in the Holy Spirit, with Whom the Sisters have been espoused – to use the language of their age. Life led according to the Gospel, therefore, results in an encounter with God, in a relationship to God. This intense relationship with God implies relating to one’s fellow men and women, which in practice means to Brothers and Sisters in religion.
Her fellow-nuns are for Clare none other than gifts of God. Clare wants to live the Gospel in the company of other women, in company with the Brothers around St Francis and in the greater communion of saints in the Church. The Word of God, if It is to be understood aright, always creates a community, and it is only in the relationship with our neighbor – in Clare’s case with each of her Sisters in religion – that the Word of the Gospels can be really alive. In the loving and painstaking construction of a form of common life, Clare wants to put into effect her Gospel calling. She is ready to fight for the spirit of this life led in common in community.