The Franciscan Path of Descent Weekly Summary

The Franciscan Path of Descent

Summary: Sunday, June 7-Friday, June 12, 2015

“Francis’ logic points the way toward personal, social, and global justice, and peace.” —Fr. John Dear (Sunday)

Francis realized that there is an intrinsic connection between violence and the need to protect one’s possessions, perks, and privileges. (Monday)

In his effort to find his way out of the world of violence, Francis went beyond voluntary poverty to solidarity with the excluded ones of his society. (Tuesday)

Letting go made space within and without, allowing Francis to be filled with divine love that then flowed out in joyful service to the world. (Wednesday)

The Crucified revealed to the world that the real power that changes people and the world is an inner authority that comes from people who have lost, let go, and are re-found on a new level . . . as who they truly are in God. (Thursday)

We are not free at all until we are free from ourselves. It is that simple and that hard. (Friday)

 

Practice: The Welcoming Prayer

Earlier this week, I wrote about how Francis entered pain and suffering rather than trying to avoid it. This wasn’t an act of moral achievement or heroic obedience. It didn’t feel like winning, but more like losing, dying, and letting go. The religious word for letting go is forgiveness. Forgiveness is giving up your investment in and identification with your own painful story. This comes from a deep place of inner freedom and awareness of goodness—God’s, your own, and the goodness of the person you choose to forgive.

I’d like to offer you a form of prayer—a practice of letting go and forgiving—called The Welcoming Prayer.

First, identify a hurt or an offense in your life. Remember the feelings you first experienced with this hurt and feel them the way you first felt them. Notice how this shows up in your body. Paying attention to your body’s sensations keeps you from jumping into the mind and its dualistic games of good-guy/bad-guy, win/lose, either/or.

After you can identify the hurt and feel it in your body, welcome it. Stop fighting it. Stop splitting and blaming. Welcome the grief. Welcome the anger. It’s hard to do, but for some reason, when we name it, feel it, and welcome it, transformation can begin.

Don’t lose presence to the moment. Any kind of analysis will lead you back into attachment to your ego self. The reason a bird sitting on a hot wire is not electrocuted is quite simply because it does not touch the ground to give the electricity a pathway. Hold the creative tension, but don’t ground it by thinking about it, critiquing it, or analyzing it.

When you’re able to welcome your own pain, you will in some way feel the pain of the whole world. This is what it means to be human—and also what it means to be divine. You can hold this immense pain because you too are being held by the very One who went through this process on the Cross. Jesus was holding all the pain of the world, at least symbolically or archetypally; though the world had come to hate him, he refused to hate it back.

Now hand all of this pain—yours and the world’s—over to God. Let it go. Ask for the grace of forgiveness of the person who hurt you, of the event that offended you, of the reality of suffering in each life.

I can’t promise the pain will leave easily or quickly. To forgive is not to forget. But letting go frees up a great amount of soul-energy that liberates a level of life you didn’t know existed. It leads you to your True Self.

Gateway to Silence:
Make me a channel of your peace.

Reference:
Adapted from The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of Saint Francis, disc 6 (CD)

For further study:
The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of St. Francis (CD)

Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi

In the Footsteps of Francis (CD, MP3 download)

Image Credit: Stigmatization of St. Francis (detail), 1297-1300, Giotto do Bondone, fresco, Upper Basilica of St. Francis, Assisi, Italy.

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