Earlier this Holy Week I went to hear confessions at the federal prison where I minister. I walked toward the chapel across the barren, sandy yard that surrounds the grey prison buildings, in the midst of a late spring snowfall.
As I turned the corner my heart rejoiced to see a line of the men waiting for confession, and it leapt even higher to lay eyes on a wonderful and powerful sign of resilient life near the chapel door: a hearty clusters of daffodils had pierced through the rocky surface, grown strongly and bloomed brightly in the spring´s warmth, and were now shouting out their white and yellow “alleluias” to us and to all the world.
“Nothing can hold us back,” sang our sister daffodils this morning, “when God is on our side.” Not the barrenness of exile, not the hardness of sin, not the coldness of the world. Christ has risen, He has conquered sin and death, nothing can hold Him back, and we are His trumpets.
“Alleluia” and “Exulted” are sung in many ways: in the book of creation, in the Bible of salvation and in the history of the Church. For St. Clare the trumpet proclaiming the Resurrection was her Gospel life, adorned with highest poverty, as we are studying this month in the Federation in “The Origen of a Charisma.” The evangelical vision she shared with Francis was simple and concrete: to walk in the footsteps of the Poor Jesus and never turn aside from that path. That was their “enough” and their “all” (see the Praises of God by St. Francis).
The core of their vocation and the most exalted responsibility for Clare and Francis, and their followers, is to “guard the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,” as they wrote at the beginning and end of their Rules (see ReglaClara 1:1, 12:13; ReglaBulata 1:1, 12:4). The Gospel – walking in the footsteps of the Poor Jesus – is our supreme treasure and task. What does that mean practically and concretely for us, in union with St. Clare?
Our poverty and our penance, our littleness and limitations, our sicknesses and our weaknesses must not discourage us but rather invite us to sing the power and providence of God. Our life together in prayer, fraternity and work must not divide us but unite us in a single proclamation of the Risen Lord. Our reading and studying and praying of the Word of God, as a daily spiritual diet, must not be a routine exercise but an invitation to the Holy Spirit to form us more and more into a living Gospel.
How rich is this month of April for us! Daffodils that defy the sand and snow in order to announce God´s new life. Palm Sunday that celebrates the 800th anniversary of Clare´s embracing the Gospel life! The Paschal Mystery of Jesus´ dying and rising to re-create us as sons and daughters of God and members of the Church. Let us sing great thanks, and let us make of our Gospel lives a trumpet to tell others of the goodness and love of God in our midst.
Happy Easter of the Lord Jesus, Happy 800th Anniversary of St. Clare
Br. Bill Kraus, OFM Cap.