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Letter and Spirit, Chapter 14, 15 & 16

Letter and Spirit, Chapter 14, 15 & 16

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Published by: capuchinas on Aug 25, 2010
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14
 _______________________________________________________________________  _ 
THE EXTERN SISTERS
Complimentary Contemplative Mission
Historical Vicissitudes
172
 
CHAPTER IX, 11-18
11
 Let the sisters who serve outside the monasterynot linger outside unless some manifest necessity requiresit.
12
 Let them conduct themselves virtuously and say little, so that those who see them may always be edified.
13
 Let them strictly beware of having suspicious meetings and dealings with others.
14 
They may not be godmothers of men or women lest gossip or trouble arise because of this.
15
 Let them not presume to repeat the gossip of the world inside the monastery.
16 
 Let them be strictly bound not torepeat outside the monastery anything that was said or done within which could cause scandal.
17 
 If anyone should innocently offend in these twomatters, let it be left to the prudence of the abbess tomercifully impose a penance on her.
18
 But if the sister does this through a vicious habit, let the abbess, with theadvice of her discreets, impose a penance on heaccording to the nature of the fault.
Complimentary Contemplative Mission
The Rule named them as “the sisters who serveoutside the monastery”. The word ‘to serve’ should notlead us into thinking of a lower rank of sisters at the serviceof the rest. Each one of the sisters, at her assigned place,whether inside or outside the monastery, “serves” the Lordand the sisters. Clare recognizes in these sisters, destinedto live in contact with the people, an authentic calling, andwishes that the same directives regarding examination andadmission, established for the other sisters be likewise173
 
applied to them (ch. II). Even the formula of profession isthe same, except for the promise of enclosure. Urban IV’sRule had it decreed so.The institution of the extern sisters was the fruit of theexperience during the first decades. A contemplativecommunity without fixed means of livelihood, andcommitted therefore to living through work and dependingon the goodwill of men, needed of course a medium of contact with outside reality.The role however of the extern sisters is not justconfined to carrying out some indispensable errands: buying, alms collecting, attending to the hospice, etc. buthas in Clare’s mind the high mission of conveying to theworld, a living testimony of the spiritual richness livedwithin the monastery walls. Her presence among the people should manifest the contemplative life that sheessentially shares with the other sisters.For that reason, her staying outside should be limitedto what is strictly necessary. She should behave herself insuch a manner as to edify those who observe her. Still thatwill not hinder her from keeping the eyes of her spirit wideopen to the values God has showered on all created things.We know how well the holy Mother trained them:
“When she sent the serving sisters outside themonastery, she reminded them to praise Gowhen they saw beautiful trees, flowers anbushes, and likewise, always to praise Him for and in all things when they saw all peoples and creatures.”
(Proc., XIV, 9).Nevertheless, this sort of window open outwards is notwithout its drawbacks. The extern sisters might turn intovehicles of news, thus endangering the isolation and peaceof those who made the sacrifice of enclosure.St. Clare “did not like to talk nor hear talks aboutthe things of the world”.(Proc., III, 3; XI, 5). They can174

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