jump to navigation

Brother Douglas – September 7 August 31, 2010

Posted by Ted Witham in : News , add a comment

Brother Douglas Downes was one of the key founders of the Society of St Francis. He was an academic and a priest concerned about the homeless wayfarers in Depression-era England. Each summer, he would go on the road to minister to them. Eventually he set up the farm at Hilfield to provide work in the context of a Christian community. He was the first Minister of the Society.

Brother Douglas died on September 7, 1957.

Our Province has provided readings to celebrate his life. They are printed in the Manual, and are online here

Brother Francis’ memoir of the life of Brother Douglas is here on the Australian First Order Brothers’ site. .

A prayer on the feast of St Clare August 11, 2010

Posted by Ted Witham in : Franciscan , add a comment

“Wait in silence for God, my soul,
for from Him comes my hope.”

We might take as a theme song for the next few days Psalm 62, set for Morning Prayer for the feast of St Clare.

The heart of the Psalmist’s spirituality, his “soul”, has three parts: waiting, deep silence, out of which grow an expectation that God will make known to us the divine presence.

Wait in silence for God, my soul.

We human beings are not good at waiting. People today scoff at the idea of waiting. We want it all, and we want it now. This impatient greed throws our common life out of kilter. Those who insist that they should have a new, four-bedroom house, with LCD TV screens – you know the scenario – skew the market so that housing in our country is further out of the reach of the poor. There are too few simpler, cheaper houses.

If, in our life with God, we cannot bear to wait, we will cheapen our prayer-life, and cheat our souls of growth. If, in our life with God, we cannot bear to wait, the strength that comes from bring rooted in community will simply pass us by.

St Clare in Assisi placed waiting at the heart of her life: she knew that there is a right time when we receive God’s gifts. She waited, presumably for quite a time, until it was right for her to leave her home on Palm Sunday 1212 to present herself to Francis as a potential member of his community.

Wait in silence for God, my soul.

Silence is also counter-cultural. In a world of continuous entertainment through our different screens and the sound-track of our MP3 players, we have forgotten to nurture silence. It was obvious to our forebears that silence is the language of prayer, and we have crowded it out. Silence always has its coming out: as with light, the silence speaks into the noise, and the noise does not overwhelm us.

Quite.

Quiet.

St Clare would have preferred a more “active” life than the one allowed her by Francis and by the Pope. However, the secluded cloister at San Damiano resounded to a nurturing and empowering silence. Clare made silence her friend, and her sisters in the Poor Clares, and in the Anglican Community of Saint Clare, have continued to make space for God in their choice for silence.

Wait in silence for God, my soul.

Waiting, silence, God: three elements of a spirituality. They continue to resound in my soul. In them are my hope and my salvation.

Let the Lady of Assisi sing in your heart over the coming days.

Wait in silence for God, my soul.

Bear