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Center for Action and Contemplation

There Is Nothing to Regret (God Uses Everything in Our Favor)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Franciscan Spirituality: Week 2

There Is Nothing to Regret (God Uses Everything in Our Favor)
Monday, June 12, 2017

Toward the end of his life, Saint Francis told the friars, “Let us begin, brothers, to serve the Lord God, for up until now we have done little or nothing.” [1] That enigmatic sense of beginning again at the end of life, at the end of an era, in the middle of so much failure, when we just want to rest and put the past behind us, that is the gift for reconstruction that we want to discover in these meditations. It makes Francis a man for all seasons, particularly for seasons of winter and death, when we do not know how, much less want, to begin again.

Francis also said as he lay dying, “I have done what is mine; may Christ teach you what is yours!” [2] We cannot change the world except insofar as we have changed ourselves. We can only give away who we are. We can only offer to others what God has done in us. We have no real mental or logical answers. We must be an answer. We only know the other side of the journeys that we have made ourselves. Francis walked to the edge and thus he could lead others to what he found there.

All the conflicts and contradictions of life must find a resolution in us before we can resolve anything outside ourselves. Only the forgiven can forgive, only the healed can heal, only those who stand daily in need of mercy can offer mercy to others. At first it sounds simplistic and even individualistic, but it is precisely such transformed people who can finally effect profound and long-lasting social change.

It has something to do with what we call quantum theology. [3] The cosmos is mirrored in the microcosm. If we let the mystery happen in one small and true place, it moves from there! It is contagious, it is shareable, it reshapes the world. Thus, both Jesus and Francis had no pragmatic social agenda for reform. They just moved outside the system of illusion, more by ignoring it than fighting it and quite simply doing it better. They knew that “the best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better” (one of the Center for Action and Contemplation’s core principles). [4] Jesus and Francis moved to a much larger place that we call holiness/wholeness in God, and from there they could deal kindly with all smaller and confined places. Nothing threatened them; everything elated them, reflecting their own infinite abundance.

Don’t waste any time dividing the world into the good guys and the bad guys. Hold them both together in your own soul—where they are anyway—and you will have held together the whole world. You will have overcome the great divide in one place of spacious compassion. You, little you, will have paid the price of redemption. God takes it from there, replicating the same pattern in another conscious human life.

Gateway to Silence:
Help me do what is mine to do.

[1] Thomas of Celano, The Life of Saint Francis: The Second Book, chapter 6. See Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1 (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 1999), 273.
[2] Thomas of Celano, The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul, chapter 162. See Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2 (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2000), 386.
[3] See Diarmuid O’Murchu, Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics, rev. ed. (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2004).
[4] “The Eight Core Principles of the Center for Action and Contemplation,”

Adapted from Richard Rohr with John Feister, Hope Against Darkness:  The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in an Age of Anxiety (St. Anthony Messenger Press: 2001), 120-121.

Image credit: Saint Francis Mourned by Saint Clare (detail), Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337), The Legend of St. Francis, Basilica di San Francesco, Upper Church, Assisi, Italy.
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