03/20/2013 11:38 am ET Updated May 20, 2013

Lady Poverty Visits the Vatican: A Letter From Francis of Assisi to Clare

Dear Clare,

I hope I am not intruding upon your silence.

Thank you for your recent letter. To have your heart so close is a blessing with no beginning or ending. Yes, there is much light and tears. It is amazing how much Divine our small human heart can feel. All I can do is keep a small nest in my heart for the Divine to come visit and rest as She wishes. This is enough.

Recently, I was walking through the villages and heard there is a new Bishop of Rome! It is said he is humble and a lover of the poor. They say in the past he left his palace and lived simply with everyone in the neighborhood. It will be very interesting to hear how he does in a big and rich city such as Rome. We both know there is no obstacle that simplicity and humility cannot overcome.

After hearing the news, I was resting on a nearby mountaintop and I had this dream. Lady Poverty was visiting the new bishop of Rome! In the dream She is approaching the palace with its high marble walls. She is knocking at the front door. The guards come and push her away. She returns and continues knocking. Three men arrive in long colorful robes, each wearing large crosses with jewels. They open the door, look everywhere, but do not see Her. A priest comes and says She must have an appointment. She continues knocking. She knocks and knocks into the night. Finally, the new bishop of Rome hears Her and comes to the door. It is now late and he is in his night clothes. He invites Her in. In a small pantry nearby, he serves Her tea and cookies. They have much fun and lots of humor together. The bishop begins to ask Lady Poverty, "How do I tell the rich that it is not a matter of becoming poor but..." In that moment She interrupts him. She reaches across the table and takes hold of both of his hands. There is a big smile in Her heart. Tears form in his eyes. Finally She says, "You really should try to warm this place up." They embrace one another and She suddenly disappears into the night.

Yes, Clare we must warm this place up! There is so little love. Where is the joy? Nothing else is important! I try to tell my brothers. "Don't be distracted. Don't be so busy. Why worry about tomorrow when today there are so many gifts to open?" I know, Clare, you are reminding the sisters the same. I hear you telling them, "Our Lord is here! Come join me in the garden. In the stillness, inside the Rose of our heart, Heaven is burning, bursting in joy!"

The simple people understand but the rich and powerful they always want more. There is never enough. How do we tell them that the real riches are inside? May our new bishop of Rome have a peaceful heart. Surely then his peace will guide all to the living Church.

Clare, Lady Poverty has found a home in your simplicity. May you be held and protected in your golden silence. May your meditation touch the world. Mother Church needs you! Someday, you and your sisters will stand in front of the Church offering life's true Bread to many. Angels will dance. Smiles will replace hardened faces. Gardens of the heart will grow everywhere.

Thank you for being your light, your All.

Thank you for being my true friend and lover of God.

Truly yours,

After living in Assisi, Italy the past 12 years, I know I join many pilgrims wishing Pope Francis all the peace of Assisi as he rebuilds the Church in the spirit of Francis and Clare.