The Poor Clares -- one of the strict orders of Contemplative -- a most delightful spokesman in Mother Mary Francis who writes knowingly and fully about their life in Strange Gods Before Me. Is the contemplative praying behind enclosed walls -- an anachronism today, when Pope John's ""updating"" of the Church seems to be calling for every Catholic, religious or lay, to lead a more active life? Indeed she's not, insists Mother Mary Francis, who feels that each Poor Clare must be a ""tough realist"" in order to spend a lifetime praying for a worldful of people a holo. The need for prayer and penance is completely independent of century or social milieu, she , and the enclosed contemplative life will be only love is ""Love,"" she says, ""is still what brings girls into and them there."" Cynics hoping to find a mournful treatise on the horrors of the and penances of contemplative life can skip this book. Mother Mary is obviously so happy herself that she manages to depict life as the perfect vocation for woman ""fulfilling their by their powers of loving and suffering with increasing .