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Center for Action and Contemplation

Alternative Orthodoxy: Week 1 Summary

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Alternative Orthodoxy: Week 1

Summary: Sunday, February 7-Friday, February 12, 2016

Franciscan alternative orthodoxy doesn’t bother fighting popes, bishops, Scriptures, or dogmas. It just quietly but firmly pays attention to different things—like simplicity, humility, non-violence, contemplation, solitude and silence, earth care, nature and other creatures, and the “least of the brothers and sisters.” (Sunday)

In Francis we see the emergence of a very different worldview, a worldview that is not based on climbing, achieving, possessing, performing, or any idealization of order, but a life that enjoys and finds deep satisfaction on the level of naked being itself—much more than doing or having. (Monday)

The Franciscan School found a way to be both very traditional and very revolutionary at the same time by emphasizing practice over theory, orthopraxy over orthodoxy, love and action over intellectualizing and speculative truth. (Tuesday)

The Christian religion makes the most daring affirmation: God is redeeming matter and spirit, or the whole of creation. (Wednesday)

Salvation is not a magic act accomplished by moral behavior; rather, salvation is a gradual realization of who we are—and always have been—and will be eternally: children of earth and children of God, human and divine at the same time. (Thursday)

In Franciscan parlance, Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity; Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God. (Friday)


Practice: Bodily Knowing

St. Francis objectively experienced mutual indwelling with Jesus and with all of God’s creatures. We see this most clearly late in his life when the cruciform shape of reality became the very shape of Francis’ body. He received the marks of the five wounds of Christ (this is historically documented from many sources). Francis learned the message, price, and glory of love in the very cells of his body. Full knowing is always psychosomatic knowing, and Francis seems to exemplify someone who fully absorbed the Gospel with his entire being, not just with his head. This is kinesthetic knowing and full body believing.

Take a few minutes to quietly observe and be present to your body. Sitting upright with legs uncrossed and eyes closed, bring your attention to your left knee. Lightly scratch the knee with your fingernails. Focus on the tingling sensation that lingers. Forget about the rest of your body and focus entirely on your knee, feeling it move, touching its outline. Acknowledge distracting thoughts as they arise and then let them go, returning to awareness of your knee.

Repeat this practice with other parts of your body, wordlessly witnessing your body’s sensations and contours. Gradually let the tingling flow without controlling it; simply follow your awareness at its own pace and wherever it leads, trusting God’s presence within.

Gateway to Silence:
Love with your whole heart, soul, mind, and body.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014), 23, 192.

For further study:
Cynthia Bourgeault, James Finley, Richard Rohr, Returning to Essentials: Teaching an Alternative Orthodoxy (CD, MP3 download)

Richard Rohr, The Art of Letting Go (CD)

Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi

Richard Rohr with Tim Scorer, Embracing an Alternative Orthodoxy (DVD and workbook)

Image Credit: St. Francis receiving the Stigmata (detail), by Giotto de Bondone from the Legend of St. Francis, 1297-1300. San Francesco, Upper Church, Assisi, Italy
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