Why after you?
Maureen CSF came from New Zealand to join CSF in 1981; she has since lived in various parts of the UK, back in New Zealand for a time, and is now living in the recently opened house in Metheringham, Lincolnshire.
Francis and Clare provide models of Christian discipleship for me. Although I do not aspire to follow them literally, their example constantly stretches me to allow God to take up more of my life: to give more time to prayer and to stillness, to gaze upon the Lord (though I fail miserably in achieving these goals); to bring a greater element of praise and thankfulness into my relationship with God and people; and to serve others with love and compassion, valuing their gifts and being less judgmental of their faith.
As I learn more about Clare, I value her wisdom for living in community and a practical concern for the needs of her sisters while avoiding unnecessary distinctions of status. Both Francis and Clare constantly challenge me by their poverty and determined lack of security in possessions of any kind, whereas I am inclined to want, not only a ‘backstop’ but a backstop for the backstop!
Francis and Clare in thirteenth century Italy lived in an environment which in many ways was very different from mine in twenty-first century Britain, and while allowances need to be made for this, the way they lived is still surprisingly relevant to following Christ today. Perhaps some of their relevance is because they always point beyond themselves to God, Jesus Christ as God’s son and love incarnate, and the Holy Spirit as the essential foundation for a life of Christian faith.
Francis and Clare are for me a way of saying that it is possible to give more of myself to God, to live ‘in penance’, loving God and my neighbour, as a fulfilment of my own personhood and to God’s glory.