“Keep Your Eyes on Me”: a song written by Sebastian Temple, a secular Franciscan, way back in the 60’s.
Outside the walls and down the hill from Assisi is the little chapel of San Damino. It was there, praying before the Crucifix, that the young rascal, Francis, destined to become the world famous saint, was commissioned to transform our world into a place of beauty and love. And this is a replica of the San Damiano cross in our Assisi Heights third floor chapel. It is here that the we Clares gather five times a day to continue that prayer of Francis for God’s beloved people.
The flowers are from Brother Bob Frazzati and Friar friends from the East Coast.
Every August 11th for the feast of St. Clare of Assisi, we receive, that is, the Clares throughout the world, a letter from the Minister General of the Order of Lesser Brothers, the Franciscan men of our multifaced Franciscan family. Brother Michael Anthony Perry is our current Minister General and Servant. His letters are inspiring and challenging.
On the cover of his letter he has a painting on wood by a Spanish Friar, Fra Miguel Angel. It is interesting because Clare, as a mature, fully garbed nun, is kneeling on one knee outside the monastery at night gazing at a crescent moon and stars. This makes me chuckle because I would put Francis in this picture and Clare inside the Chapel gazing at the 12th century San Damiano Cross, the resurrection cross, with Christ’s arms out-stretched to embrace all God’s people.
When you open to our Blog banner you notice something different. You no longer see the Bloomington Monastery in the seasonal photo with our St. Clare there to greet you. If you haven’t heard yet we have moved. Yes, we are south of the Cities in Rochester, MN, motherhouse of the Franciscan Sisters of Rochester and the famed Mayo Clinic. We moved February 7th, a date none of us will forget. It was in the depths of white winter and bitter cold.
I wanted to work on our Blog banner right away but where could I find seasonal photos in this colorless environment. Then I heard about Sr. Elizabeth Gillis who lives here with us and for years has photographed the seasonal landscapes around the Motherhouse. Sr. Elizabeth loaned us her “thumb drive” where among her many beautiful photos we found exactly what we wanted. Kim, here at the Motherhouse and her bright young son, Nick, and Jonya, my new friend at the Rochester public library helped get the photos on to the web.
The next quest was where do we find an image of St. Clare. After canvasing the Motherhouse for inages of St. Clare I remembered the statue of Clare that was carved for Mayo Clinic, St. Mary’s Campus, about twelve years ago. Ready to rush right over to St. Mary’s and photograph the carving, I was alerted to the fact that the statue was in storage due to ongoing building projects at St. Marys. Then in a happy turn, Wes Thompson, Facilities Director here at Assisi Heights, directed me to Sr. Lauren Weinandt, longtime archivist at St. Mary’s. In the archives of the famous hospital was the history of the making of this amazing statue of St. Clare with photographs of the day on which Clare’s image was blessed.
This next part of the story is personal to me. I remembered the visit about 13 years ago of a young woman from St. Paul, MN, who was commissioned to carve a statue of St. Clare for St. Mary’s Peace Garden. We met in one of the parlors in our monastery in Bloomington. One of her questions was about symbols appropriate to St. Clare. I suggested that Clare was known for washing the feet of her Sisters when they returned from their ministry outside the monastery. What I remember most clearly of the encounter is that I took the young woman to our sacristy and showed her the bowls and pitchers crafted by the fine potter, Warren McKensie, of Stillwater, MN, the pottery which we used at the liturgy of the foot washing every Holy Thursday. I think that I showed her the towels also. When I saw the archival photos this all came back to me. The name of the sculptress is Caprice Kueffner Glaser. And here is the Clare she gave us.
Sister Caroline Berres took these beautiful photos shortly after Clare was placed in the Peace Garden.
What a retreat for forward movement in this beautiful life at Assisi Heights!
Mike Blastic’s retreat presentations here at Assisi Heights.
One of the special gifts of our brother Mike is his great background in Franciscan/Clarian studies but perhaps even more is his living of the charism since he was a young man. Mike was able to present during our retreat the beginning and early expression of the Friars and Poor Sisters’ Franciscan life like I have never heard before. His three “C’ s” of our charism are: “Conversation, Contemplation and Compassion.”
Of course we know that Franciscan/Clarian life is Christocentric.How do the three C’s match up with the life of Jesus that we know through the Gospels?
- Conversation. Oh my Goodness! Jesus was and is the great communicator, the Word of God made flesh. Think of the interactions of Jesus with individuals, teaching moments for them and for us; the parables and instructions to his followers and to the crowds in general, his generous teachings even in the midst of controversy.
- Jesus’ conversations seem to always end in Contemplation and communion in solitude with his Father, his be-ing time, often on a mountain. Shhh…
- The completion of the three C’s is Compassion. The miracle stories are about compassion, compassion for the other in front of him, the short man, the blind man, the woman caught in adultery, the hungry crowd, etc. Jesus can’t bear to see his Father’s children suffer. The only one for whom he does not work a wonder is himself.
Mike’s retreat was good for all Christians and especially for those of us on the Franciscan trek.