Dignity of the Individual
Oldenburg Franciscan Description
We strive to reflect in our lives and in our service our belief in the presence of God, dwelling among us, loving us unconditionally, and calling us in that love to accept our dignity as human persons endowed with the very life of our Creator. We recognize and affirm the personal gifts and talents of each person. We likewise acknowledge and celebrate the gift of rich diversity present among us. Through collaboration and mutual support, we empower one another and strive to achieve life-giving unity within authentic relationships.
Francis and Clare both focused on creating caring communities through their great love and respect for the dignity of each individual. They believed in and nurtured genuine friendships based on openness, honesty, mutual interest, and support. Their outreach was intended to be all-inclusive and they regarded others as equals. Francis and Clare called men and women to be “brothers” and “sisters” and they modeled this challenge in their relationships which were always marked by an unconditional respect for the other.
Examples of Francis’ great respect for the individual include: Francis’ encounter with the leper whom he embraced despite a great aversion; his meeting with the Sultan whom he did not try to convert but rather to affirm in his faith in Allah; his famous letter describing the perfect friar in which he included the special qualities of all the individual friars by name; his desire that the minister should “be eager to provide for the brothers as he would wish to be done for him were he in similar positions . . . and that the one should wash the feet of the others.” (The Earlier Rule, VI)
Some examples of Clare’s respect and love for others include: her desire to be called Sister rather than Abbess (required by Rome) in order to be one with her Sisters; her admonitions to those living austere lives never to judge others who needed more than they; her hospitality which drew persons of all ranks to seek her counsel; her wish that “the Abbess be so familiar with the Sisters that they can speak and act toward her as ladies do with their servants. For that is the way it should be, that the Abbess be the servant of all the Sisters.” (Rule of St. Clare, X)
- Genesis 1:26-28: “Let us create human beings in our image and likeness, male and female God created them in God’s image.”
- Psalm 8:6: “You have made us little less than the angels.”
- Matthew 22:37-40: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. The second resembles it; love your neighbor as yourself.”
- Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
- John 3:16: “God so loved the world that God sent Jesus into the world as gift.” (God so loved the world that God sent each one of us into the world as gift.)