Francis’ starting place was human suffering instead of human sinfulness. His Christ was cosmic while also deeply personal, his cathedral was creation itself, and he preferred the bottom of society to the top. In general, Francis preferred ego poverty to private perfection, because Jesus “became poor for our sake.”
Religion is no longer a spectator sport, an observing of some distant, far-off truth, but it’s an observing of what is true in me, and what is true in me is true of the cosmos. It’s all one reality.
The Franciscan view creates a coherent and positive spirituality, which draws us toward lives of inner depth, prayer, reconciliation, healing, and universal at-one-ment, instead of any notion of sacrifice, which implies an angry God who needs to be bought off.
Encountering the impoverished, walking for a while in the world of the marginalized, and being with the have-nots of our world is a necessary aspect of the discipleship journey. Our souls are touched by the encounter as well, and sorrow over the pain and injustice of impoverishment and marginalization fills the crevices of our being.
—Marie Dennis, Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, Joseph Nangle, and Stuart Taylor
Love, not knowledge, allowed Francis to enter into the great mystery we call “God.” As he entered into this mystery he discovered two principle features of God—the overflowing goodness of God and the humility of God.
A Franciscan Renaissance would help us “redeem”—which means to re-assess and revalue—everything, so we rediscover the priceless beauty of the earth and its creatures, including our neighbors and ourselves.
—Brian McLaren and Patrick Carolan
Father Dan Riley presents a Franciscan way of practicing Lectio Divina:
The “school” I come from—the Franciscan way—found most of its classrooms and books in marketplaces and in the faces of the poor; on the hillsides in mountain seclusion and in the eyes of lepers; in big cities, small towns, and universities; in sacred spaces and everyday places. Whether it was one person, one place, or one moment, the Franciscan disposition is that the reign of God is always at hand; the richness of God’s glory is present here and everywhere. Each creature is a vestige of God’s creative action and an expression of God’s loving Word. This is the blessing of Franciscan Lectio…. Lectio is about reading or focusing or listening long enough and deeply enough so that beauty, depth, and connectivity emerge; peace and freedom inspire action and service.
St. Bonaventure describes justice as “the returning to its original beauty that which has been deformed.”  Franciscan Lectio inspires us to see original beauty more clearly and then to live out of that truth more naturally over time. I think that true freedom flows out of our rootedness in beauty….
Francis was reading and learning about God everywhere, beyond the church or the classroom, and responding to the Word as it was alive in everything…. Word and world—indeed this is our home, and we are finding ways to choose to live here together with one another. We need to pick up the Bible and at the same time our world, holding them and letting them hold us, tenderly and gently opening and beginning to page through them, but only as they offer themselves to us. We need to look everyone and everything in the face and be amazed at the face of God looking back at us.
 Bonaventure, Collations on the Six Days (Hexaëmeron), 1.34. See The Works of Bonaventure: Cardinal, Seraphic Doctor, and Saint, vol. 5, trans. José de Vinck (Paterson, NJ: St. Anthony Guild Press, 1970), 17.
Dan Riley with Stephen Copeland, Franciscan Lectio: Reading the World through the Living Word (Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2022), 15–16, 17.
Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Izzy Spitz, Chemistry of Self 3 (detail), digital oil pastels. Izzy Spitz, momentary peace (detail), digital oil pastels. Taylor Wilson, Transfiguration (detail), cyanotype. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image.
Amidst our life complexities, we stop, we breath, we look for the pockets of peace.