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Poor Clare Nuns of Roswell, New Mexico

 

“The contemplative life! How precious it is in the eyes of God! How precious it is to the Church! In all truth, it is these souls who by their suffering, their love and their prayers exercise in silence within the Church the apostolate which is the most universal and the most fruitful” (Pope John XXIII).
 

TO UNDERSTAND THE CONTEMPLATIVE VOCATION is to know that its apostolate is universal and timeless. The Poor Clare has stepped apart from the world and has thus got a better perspective on it. She has left the world not because she hates it, but because she wants to love it more purely and more realistically.

IN THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY, St. Francis of Assisi founded three Orders: preaching friars, enclosed nuns, dedicated seculars. The nuns were formed by St. Clare, his first spiritual daughter; and they constituted the Second Franciscan Order. After Clare’s death, these Poor Ladies, as Francis had called them, became identified with the name of their mother and foundress. They are still called Poor Clares today, living by the work of their hands and their minds and on the alms of the faithful, and because they are followers and daughters of one of the most charming women who ever lived, Clare of Assisi.

   

To the active religious today, Holy Scripture rings out challenges. “Preach the word. Be urgent in season and out of season” (2 Tim 4:2). “And He went about doing good” (Acts 10:38).

TO THE CONTEMPLATIVE RELIGIOUS, Holy Scripture underlines other words. “Your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:3). “He went out to a mountain to pray, and He passed the whole night in the prayer of God” (Lk 6:12). “As dying, and behold we live!” (2 Cor 6:9). The active sister serves God and ministers to souls in the marketplace. The contemplative nun serves God and ministers to souls from the cloister.
 

Formation Program

 


Postulancy in the Order of St. Clare today is a year of preparation for that kind of total giving which will be climaxed in Solemn Profession some six years later.

The noviceship of two years which follows upon postulancy is a time of refining and deeper evaluation, of profounder preparation and expectation. Now the life of prayer and penance is embraced in fuller detail.

In exchanging the white veil of the novice for the black veil of the professed nun, the young Poor Clare assumes her full responsibilities as a member of her Order: prayer, penance, the spiritual motherhood of souls.
 

The vows bring a marvelous enrichment. One is truly bound to Christ now with fourfold and very dear chains. To the ordinary three vows of religion, the cloistered Poor Clare adds a fourth, that of enclosure. She promises to live in obedience, in poverty, in virginal chastity, and in enclosure.

 

The Habit

 


In an era when cumbersome religious dress has been summoned to trial for modification, the seven hundred-year-old garb of the Poor Clares stands forth already intrinsically updated. The cross-form habit is a parable of simplicity. The plain white cord is both functional and symbolic, belting the garment and expressing the vows with its four knots. The head covering is unstarched and simple, the veil is flat and plain. The nuns are barefoot. This is the garb functional for work and for prayer. These are the garments betokening the pilgrim journeying through the world to the Father, symbol and sign, witness to Him this religious woman loves, for whom she lives.

 

The Effect

 


What is the sum total of night vigils, fast and abstinence, silence and prayer, withdrawal and work? What does a lifetime of penance produce? Joy. In a world dizzy with pleasure, there is a dearth of joy. In a welter of luxuries, there is a drought of Christian gaiety. But to the martyrs who sang on their scaffolds, to the confessors who laughed in their labors, to the virgins who despised earthly prestige and station for the love of Christ, the Poor Clares add their humble testimony: it is in giving that we receive. And giving all, we receive all joy. “I will see you again and your heart will rejoice. And your joy no man shall take from you” (Jn 16:22). The contemplative’s heart already rejoices as her whole life keeps watch for his coming.

 Applicants

 


Women between the ages of eighteen and thirty are eligible as applicants to the Order, with exceptions sometimes made where there is good reason. Normal good health, a high school education, and the proper qualities of mind and heart are the other broad requisites. A dowry is not required.
 

 For more information, write to:

Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe
809 East 19th Street
Roswell, New Mexico 88201-7599

 


 

 

For many, the day ends when they retire at midnight.
For Poor Clares, the day begins when they rise at
midnight.

 

809 EAST NINETEENTH STREET
ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO 88201-759
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