On November 4-7, 2021, a short formation course took place at the Seraphicum College in Rome. The goal of the course was to provide better understanding the Rules of Francis and Clare and the Franciscan-Clarian charism, in the light of the actual experience of the First and Second Order in today’s world. Those attending the course included a delegation of Urbanist Poor Clares from the Monasteries of the Federation of St. Clare of Assisi, some friars representing the Italian Province of St. Anthony of Padua (Northern Italy), the student friars of the Rivotorto post-novitiate program and the friars of the Seraphicum College.
The course was organized by the St. Clare of Assisi Federation of Urbanist Poor Clares of Italy, by the International College of the Seraphicum and by the Pontifical Theological Faculty of St. Bonaventure. It began on November 4, with Evening Prayer recited in common.
On November 5, a study day was held in the Seraphicum’s Sisto V room, entitled “Come and Help Me in the Work of the Church of San Damiano Which, in the Future, Will Be a Monastery of Ladies (Legend of the Three Companions 7:24): Prophecy and Dream of Francis?” A series of lectures were presented in order to analyze the close link between the Rules of the First and Second Order. Friar Raffaele DI MURO lectured on Franciscan spirituality. Friar Massimo VEDOVA examined the meaning of the words “Gospel,” “work” and “service” in the two rules. Sister Damiana ARDESI highlighted the importance of the relationship of “presence-absence” that helped Clare and Francis achieve a greater understanding of their own identity and vocation. In the afternoon, the participants divided into groups and discussed their experience regarding various aspects of their life, namely, spirituality, work, and community. After dinner, the participants spent some fraternal time together.
On November 6, Friar Tomasz SZYMCZAK, a Biblicist, gave a lecture entitled “Male and Female He Created Them (Gen 1:26–27). And in Just a Few Centuries, the Order of Friars Minor and the Poor Clares Appear.” It provided interesting ideas for further work in groups. The group work brought out the important complementarity that has always bound the two Orders. During this time of vocational crisis, such complementarity can be a useful stimulus to join forces and be a living witness in the world. In the afternoon, the Minister General, Friar Carlos TROVARELLI, gave a lecture pointing out that the relationship between the two Orders is not founded on the anthropological complementarity of masculine and feminine, a natural fact which is almost taken for granted. Rather, it is founded on a mystical complementarity. The Minister General went on to highlight that focusing on each other is less important than fostering collaboration between our two realities, which both focus on Christ, although from different points of view, but united by the same Franciscan-Clarian charism. After his lecture, the Poor Clares expressed their gratitude to the friars for the course by giving a gift to the Minister General: an artistic print of Clare and Francis both looking up to the Most High.
The meeting ended on Sunday with a pilgrimage to the Church of San Francesco a Ripa, the place where Francis of Assisi lived during his visits to Rome. They also visited St. Peter’s Basilica to participate in the Angelus with Pope Francis.
The participants indicated they would like more sharing between the two Orders. Such sharing is helpful in developing greater reciprocity between these two complementary pillars of the same charism.
Friar Roberto LIGGERI