We strive to reflect in our lives and in our service our belief in the unifying effect of the dwelling of the Spirit within us and among us. Keenly aware of the pain, brokenness, and pervading grief in our society–especially on the part of poor, oppressed, and alienated persons–we feel especially called to the ministry of reconciliation in every level of society.
Francis and Clare recognized that the fullest expression of God’s love is forgiveness and therefore it is essential that reconciliation be integral to all our lives. Of all the values, reconciliation is most distinctively Christian. Francis and Clare understood that forgiveness/reconciliation does not forget or ignore pain, but allows for new possibilities, change, growth, and life.
In their own journeying, the value of reconciliation deepened in meaning for Clare and Francis, extending not just to others but to themselves as individuals. For example, at the end of his life, Francis apologized to his body for his abuse of it. They understood also that true reconciliation is accomplished in steps, in stages.
Words by and about Francis and Clare
- “And I watched you serve as Abbess. I learned. I recall the episode when one of our questing sisters returned from Assisi. You sat her down, began to wash her feet when she resisted, moving her foot from your grip. The quick motion caused her unintentionally to strike your face, causing your nose to bleed severely. She was so upset, yet you continued this loving gesture, completing your task before attending your injury. I wanted to run to you and keep the blood away. Yet, your action gave me pause.” (Comments of Sr. Benedetta, Abbess after Clare, to Clare as she lay dying.)
- “And by this I wish to know if you love the Lord God and me, his servant and yours–if you have acted in this manner: that is, there should not be any brother in the world who has sinned, however much he may have possibly sinned, who after he has looked into your eyes, would go away without having received your mercy, if he is looking for mercy. And if he were not to seek mercy, you should ask him if he wants mercy. And if he should sin thereafter a thousand times before your very eyes, love him more than me so that you may draw him back to the Lord. Always be merciful to brothers such as these.” (A Letter to a Minister)
- “The Lord says: ‘Love your enemies’ [do good to those who hate you and pray for those who persecute and blame you] (Matthew 5:44). That person truly loves his enemy who is not upset at any injury which is done to himself, but out of love of God is disturbed at the sin of the other’s soul. And let him show his love for the other by his deeds.” (Admonition IX)
- “Blessed is the servant who would accept correction, accusation, and blame from another as patiently as he would from himself. Blessed is the servant who when he is rebuked quietly agrees, respectfully submits, humbly admits his fault, and willingly makes amends. Blessed is the servant who is not quick to excuse himself and who humbly accepts shame and blame for a sin, even though he did not commit any fault.” (Admonition XXII)
- “Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love and bear infirmity and tribulation. Blessed are those who endure in peace for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.”(The Canticle of Brother Sun)
- “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; And whatever we do not forgive perfectly, do you, Lord, enable us to forgive to the full so that we may truly love [our] enemies and fervently intercede for them before You returning no one evil for evil and striving to help everyone in You.” (The Prayer Inspired by the Our Father)
- “‘If you do not forgive from the heart, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you,’ the offended Sister should generously pardon her sister every wrong she has done her.” (The Rule of St. Clare, IX, 5)
- Francis, during the Crusades, made friends with the Sultan, whom some Christians referred to as the Anti-Christ. (Little Flowers of St. Francis, XXIV)
- Francis tamed the savage wolf that had terrorized the people of Gubbio who subsequently cared for the wolf until its death. (Little Flowers of St. Francis, XXI)
- John 13: 1-15: Jesus washes the feet of the disciples.
- John 21: 15-17: Jesus’ question to Peter three times, “Do you love me?”
- John 20: 23: “Whose sins you forgive they are forgiven.”
- Matthew 18:22: “You must forgive not seven but seventy times seven.”
- Psalms 103: 2-3, 8-10: “Bless Yahweh my soul, and remember all God’s kindnesses: in forgiving all your offenses; Yahweh is tender and compassionate, slow to anger, most loving; God’s indignation does not last forever, God’s resentment lasts a short time only; Yahweh never treats us, never punishes us as our guilt and our sins deserve.
- Luke 15: 11-32: Prodigal Son/Loving Father