The Order of Capuchin Poor Clares professes the Rule of Saint Clare, confirmed by Pope Innocent IV, according to the spirit and ideals of the reform initiated by the Venerable Lorenza Longo, and approved by Pope Paul III with the bull "Debitum pastoralis officii" of February 19, 1535. These reforms are the following: a life of absolute poverty without any dowry or possessions, austerity in that life, being secluded from the world by a strict cloister, and simplicity in fraternal life and an intense life of prayer.
The following text comes directly from our Capuchin Poor Clare Constitutions and provides a deeper understanding of our way of life. This text provides additional opportunities for reflection for our sisters, especially for those in formation.
Charism and Spirituality
Our Way of Life
Called with all of the people of God to the fullness of the Christian life, we consecrate ourselves totally to God, who is supremely loved. By a new and special title through our profession of the three evangelical counsels, we follow Christ more closely in constant compliance with the action of the Holy Spirit and in prompt obedience to the will of the Father.
The supreme norm of our life is following of the Gospels; this is the form of life received from Saint Francis and given to us by Saint Clare, "To observe the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by living in obedience, without anything of one's own, and in chastity."
Our profession commits us to direct our whole life to the Gospel, so that the seed of holiness given at baptism may grow in us continuously and may receive ever greater impulse by our welcoming the Word of God.
Our life in obedience is the sharing in the obedience of Christ, who made His loving submission to the Father the instrument of salvation for the world. "Emptying Himself to take the form of a slave and obediently accepting even death on the cross" (Philippians 2:6-8).
All of the sisters, without distinction as to office, are called to live this loving obedience, serving and obeying each other mutually though charity of spirit, and in fraternal dialogue, we join our efforts together to discern and carry out the will of God.
Christ Jesus, our Savior, "made Himself poor though He was rich, so that we might become rich by His poverty" (2 Corinthians 8:9). "And He demanded renunciation of temporal goods for the sake of the Kingdom by those who wanted to follow Him closely and collaborate with Him in the mission received from the Father" (cf. Matthew 19:21: Luke 14:33).For this reason, the Church greatly esteems voluntary poverty as an eminent sign of the following of Christ, and it wants to see this poverty brought to fruition and sincerely expressed above all in the religious. Our founders, Saint Francis and Saint Clare, followed our Lord Jesus Christ and His most holy Mother by having nothing of their own under Heaven. We have been called to follow their footsteps and live this poverty, looking at Christ Jesus, our Savior. He was poor while lying in the manger, poor while living in the world, and poor while naked on the cross. This becomes our fundamental mission: to serve the Lord in poverty and humility, without anything of our own. Our poverty is inspired by the Gospel and is supported by a firm faith in the providence of our Heavenly Father who has His eyes fixed on those who have left all for Him.
Chastity, chosen voluntarily for love of Christ and His Kingdom, must be esteemed as a precious gift of God. It, in effect, liberates our heart in a unique way and causes it to burn with a greater love for God and for all people. Through it, we closely follow the virginal life of Christ and His Mother; we evoke the admirable betrothal through which the Church is united to its only Spouse, Christ. When it is really live in service of the Kingdom of God, it becomes a sign and stimulus of charity and a special source of spiritual fruitfulness in the world. Saint Clare, who offered her life and heart completely to the Lord with an undivided love, offers to us as an accomplished model of perfect chastity. Chastity frees our hearts and brands us to love God as the first commandment describes it: "To love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30-31). Through this untold gift of grace, chastity consecrated to God doesn't reduce in us the capacity to love but frees the heart for a love that is deep, unconditional, liberated, and universal.
Our Life and Mission in the Church
By virtue of our consecration, we become an eminent sign in the Church, and in a special way, we are united with its mystery; we are part of its fruitful virginity, of which Mary, Mother of the Church, whom Saint Francis hails as "Virgin made Church."
We become partners of the mystery of the Church. "United to the Church we are as a banner, a beacon of light for those in the Church and for those outside of her who seek salvation." We participate in the Church's virginal and spiritual fertility. To enrich her with the fruits of sanctity as Saint Clare indicated in her third letter to St. Agnes, "I consider you a collaborator of the same God and a support for the wavering members of her body." We take part in her life, sanctity, and salvific mission: we make ours the needs of the Church both universal and local, above all through the personal and communal prayer of divine praise through the recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours and the active participation in the Eucharist. Being called to be a very clear sign of the Church, we profess adherence and reverence to the Roman Pontiff, active obedience to all the bishops, and honor to all priests because they administer to us spirit and life.
Our Life in Cloister
After the example of Christ who first wanted to live a hidden life at Nazareth together with His Mother, and who later retreated to the desert and many times looked for solitary places to pray, we have chosen to live an enclosed life with respect to the body so that we may dedicate ourselves to the Lord with free spirits.
So then, in accordance with the Rule and the tradition of our Order, we maintain the enclosure in our monasteries, as a sign of our total consecration to God and as an aid to our contemplative mission for the glory of God and the service of the Church and the world.
This separation protects and develops the intimacy and peace of life given over to the action of the Spirit and allows us to be more present in the world, which God wants to transform and sanctify.
The contemplation of divine things and the assiduous union with God in prayer is the primary and principal duty of all religions. But in virtues of our special vocation, we have been called so that, abandoned totally to God in solitude and silence, in fervent prayers, we dedicate our spirit and our life to God in a special way. This form of consecration to God and His Kingdom prepares us for the eternal contemplation, which is the common calling of all who are redeemed.
Life in Silence
A condition very favorable to the contemplative life is silence, with help to preserve exterior and interior peace, to perceive the presence of the Lord in the innermost soul, and to maintain love by actively listening to God who speaks to the heart. For faith, hope, and love that is ready to welcome the gifts of the Spirit, as well as for a fraternal charity open to the mystery of others, all imply as their own requirement the necessity of silence.
Fraternity is the heart of the charism of the Capuchin Poor Clares. God granted Saint Francis and Saint Clare brothers and sisters, and this was, for them, a clear sign God called them to live evangelical perfection. As a contemplative community, we are a praying community. Our unifying force comes from prayer and especially the Eucharistic table. Having been called together by the Lord to live this holy unity through charity and as a new family which has been joined together in the name of Jesus, our religious community becomes a sign to the whole world of that perfect love which reigns in heaven.
In community life, charity asks the right of the sisters to an atmosphere of quiet, which favors the interior life, prayer, and work, be respected. But whenever it is called for by charity of the fulfillment of one's duties, the sisters "may briefly and quietly communicate what is really necessary always and everywhere" (Rule of Saint Clare).
Work is a grace from God and is stated, which is inseparable from our life of poverty and humility; this is the ordinary and most fitting way of obtaining what is necessary for life. At the same time, it is an expression of fraternal service. In addition, it offers us the possibility of practicing charity outside of the monastery. We must, then, be faithful and devoted at work which pertains to a virtuous life and to the common good, in such a way that, while banishing idleness, the enemy of the soul, we do not extinguish the spirit of holy prayers and devotion to which all other things of our earthly existence must contribute.
We participate in the apostolate of our Capuchin Brothers within our cloister by preparing meals for Mary Mother of Hope House II and III, emergency shelters for women with children. We also make habits for our Capuchin Brothers and liturgical vestments, altar linens, and more.
Are you Interested In Learning More?
If you're interested in learning more about our Capuchin Poor Clare way of life, please contact us to set up a visit to one of our monasteries. It is quite difficult to understand the beauty of a cloistered contemplative life without a firsthand experience; we, therefore, encourage anyone who thinks they may be called to this way of life to "come and see."
To set up a visit, you can reach us by telephone or email us from our contact page.
A desire to consecrate your life to Jesus Christ
Be a single woman
Be a Catholic
Be at least 18 to 40 years old
Be In good health