Franciscan Way: Part Two: Weekly Summary

Franciscan Way: Part Two

Summary: Sunday, October 6—Friday, October 11, 2019

This is the miracle of love: to discover that all creation is one, flung out into space by a God who is a Father, and that if you present yourself as [God] does, unarmed and peaceably, creation will recognize and meet you with a smile. —Carlo Carretto (Sunday)

If we haven’t been able to kiss many lepers, if we haven’t been able to tame many wolves, it’s probably because we haven’t made friends with our leper and wolf within. (Monday)

Francis and Clare of Assisi both found their inner and outer freedom by structurally living on the edge of the inside of both church and society. (Tuesday)

Francis was fully at home in this created world. He saw all things in the visible world as endless dynamic and operative symbols of the Real, a theater and training ground for a heaven that is already available to us in small doses in this life. What you choose now, you shall have later seems to be the realization of the saints. Not an idyllic hope for a later heaven but a living experience right now. (Wednesday)

With great wisdom, Francis was able to distinguish between institutional evil and the individual who is victimized by it. (Thursday)

Intercession visualizes an alternative future to the one created by the momentum of current forces. Eight centuries after Francis we are called, as he was, to pray and act for a new future of peace. —Louie Vitale, OFM (Friday)

 

Practice: Lectio Divina in Nature

Step out onto the Planet.
Draw a circle a hundred feet round.

Inside the circle are
300 things nobody understands, and, maybe
nobody’s ever really seen

How many can you find?

—Lew Welch [1]

We are created to read the book of creation so that we may know the Author of Life. —Ilia Delio, OSF [2]

Lectio divina (Latin for sacred reading) is a contemplative way of reading and praying with Scripture. Rather than trying to rationally understand a static text, this practice helps us be present to the Living Word of God and allow it to change us. In lectio divina, God teaches us to listen for and seek God’s presence in silence. Although the Bible is most often used, many people practice lectio divina with nature. Franciscans believe that the first act of divine revelation is Creation itself, so it makes sense to “read” or observe God’s presence in Brother Sun and Sister Moon, in animals and plants.

As with other forms of lectio divina, the practice is divided into four steps. Find a place where you are surrounded by the beauty of nature and where you feel safe to be quiet and alone for 20 or more minutes.

1. Lectio/Read

In silence, be attentive to your surroundings, opening to the mystery of these beings’ existence and prayerfully asking them to address you. Simply asking is creating a space in which a response can happen. If you like, use a journal to write down any impressions that arise.

2. Meditatio/Meditate

Ponder what you are observing, being attentive to whatever is in front of you as though you could be in dialogue with it. For example, as you look around, if you see a flower, gaze at it and also consider what it would feel like for the flower to look back at you. What it would be like to be in mutual relationship with all of Creation?

3. Oratio/Pray

Oratio is an opportunity to enter into dialogue with God, offering gratitude as well as lifting up your hopes, fears, and pains. In oratio, you are invited to surrender all of these things and allow God to transform you and the world through this encounter.

4. Contemplatio/Contemplate

Contemplatio is simply abiding in the presence of God. Rest joyfully in Mystery after lifting up your prayers and problems to God, confident that your needs are known.

References:
[1] Lew Welch, Ring of Bone: Collected Poems of Lew Welch, ed. Donald Allen (City Lights Books: 2012), 87. Originally published in Hermit Poems, 1964. Used with permission. Listen to Welch reading the poem aloud.

[2] Ilia Delio, Christ in Evolution (Orbis Books: 2008), 62.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Hierarchy of Truths: Jesus’ Use of Scripture (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2014), CD, MP3 download; and

Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (Franciscan Media: 2008), 32-33.

For Further Study:
Carlo Carretto, I, Francis (Orbis Books: 1982)

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, ed. Regis J. Armstrong and others (New City Press: 1999-2001), 3 volumes: The Saint; The Founder; The Prophet

The Lady: Clare of Assisi: Early Documents, rev. ed. and trans. Regis J. Armstrong (New City Press: 2005)

Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014)

Richard Rohr, In the Footsteps of Francis: Awakening to Creation (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2010), CDMP3 download

Mirabai Starr, St. Francis of Assisi: Brother of Creation (Sounds True: 2007, 2013)

Augustine Thompson, Francis of Assisi: A New Biography (Cornell University Press: 2012)

Louie Vitale, Love Is What Matters: Writings on Peace and Nonviolence (Pace e Bene Press: 2015)

Image credit: Leprosy in La Franceschina (detail), circa 1474, La Francheschina, a chronical of the Order by Franciscan Jacopo Oddi, Biblioteca Augusta, Perugia, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: This encounter with lepers . . . would always be for Francis the core of his religious conversion. —Augustine Thompson
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