Franciscan Way: Part One
Much of Francis of Assisi’s genius was that he was ready for absolute “newness” from God, and therefore could also trust fresh and new attitudes in himself. (Sunday)
In his “Testament,” Francis said, “No one showed me what I ought to do,” and then, at the very end of his life, he said, “I have done what is mine to do; may Christ teach you what is yours!” (Monday)
If God became a human being, then it’s good to be a human being! The problem is already solved. That Jesus was born into a poor family shows God’s love for the poor. (Tuesday)
Unlike the monastic life, which strove to domesticate nature and to bring it under control, Francis expected to live lightly on the earth, a burden neither to the earth nor to those who fed and clothed him. —John Quigley (Wednesday)
The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. (Thursday)
“My son,” the bishop said to Francis, “have confidence in the Lord and act courageously. God will be your help and will abundantly provide you with whatever is necessary.” —Mirabai Starr (Friday)
Practice: Lectio Divina
Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of ecology, animals, non-violence, and peacemaking—because he understood that the entire circle of life has a Great Lover at the center of it all. In Francis’ world, the sun, moon, animals, plants, and elements are all shown reverence and even personal subjectivity as “brother” and “sister.” He refused to exclude anything. He went to the edge, to the bottom; he kissed the leper, he loved the poor, he wore patches on the outside of his habit so everybody would know that’s what he was like on the inside. He didn’t hide from his shadow. He wasn’t an intellectual; he didn’t begin with universal philosophies and ideas and abstractions. For Francis, there was one world and it was all sacred.
Today I invite you to practice “sacred reading” (lectio divina) using the prayer often attributed to Francis of Assisi. Lectio divina is a contemplative way to read short passages of sacred text and discover meanings running deeper than the literal layer. There are many variations of sacred reading; all are an invitation to take a “long, loving look” at some aspect of life, with scripture, poetry, music, or nature.
With the first reading of the Peace Prayer, listen with your heart’s ear for a phrase or word that stands out for you.
During the second reading, reflect on what touches you, perhaps speaking that response aloud or writing in a journal.
After reading the passage a third time, respond with a prayer or expression of what you have experienced and ask yourself what this passage calls you to do or be.
Finally, after a fourth reading, rest in silence.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Adapted from “Richard Rohr on Praying like Saint Francis,” Franciscan Media, https://www.franciscanmedia.org/richard-rohr-on-praying-like-saint-francis/.
For Further Study:
St. Francis of Assisi: Omnibus of Sources, ed. Marion Habig (Franciscan Media: 2008)
Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014)
Mirabai Starr, St. Francis of Assisi: Brother of Creation (Sounds True: 2007, 2013)