Learning to See: Everything Is Holy: Weekly Summary

Learning to See: Everything Is Holy

Summary: Sunday, May 24-Friday, May 29, 2015

In Franciscan (and true Christian) mysticism, there is no distinction between sacred and profane. All of the world is sacred for those who know how to see. (Sunday)

Bonaventure’s vision is positive, mystic, cosmic, intimately relational, and largely concerned with cleaning the lens of our perception and our intention. With this awareness, we can see that God is with us in everything we experience in life. (Monday)

Everything comes from God, exemplifies God, and then returns to God. (Tuesday)

The doctrine of the univocity of being gives us a foundation for understanding the sacredness of everything and our connection with everything. (Wednesday)

Each of us replicates the Whole and yet has a certain wholeness within ourselves—but we are never entirely whole apart from connection with the larger Whole. (Thursday)

Only when we are eager to love can we see love and goodness in the world around us. We must ourselves remain in peace, and then we will see and find peace over there. Remain in beauty, and we will honor beauty everywhere. (Friday)


Practice: Seeing Our Brothers and Sisters

This week we explored how Franciscan spirituality clears away the illusion of separateness. The contemplative mind can help us see how everything belongs to the One Wholeness, which we call God, Creator, Being Itself. God is Love. Love is the source, the sustenance, and the goal. It is indeed one sacred world. Believing and experiencing this to be true, we discover natural, though often challenging, consequences for such a unified reality. We must ask, as Francis did, “Lord, make me a channel of your peace.”

Thich Nhat Hanh, the renowned Buddhist peacemaker, identifies the practical need for awareness of our union [1]:

“We need to rise above [dualistic choosing of sides] to look at a conflict the way a mother would who is watching her two children fighting. She seeks only their reconciliation.

“‘In order to fight each other, the chicks born from the same mother hen put colors on their faces.’ This is a well-known Vietnamese saying. Putting colors on our own face is to make ourselves a stranger to our own brothers and sisters. We can only shoot others when they are strangers. Real efforts for reconciliation arise when we see with the eyes of compassion, and that ability comes when we see clearly the nature of interbeing and interpenetration of all beings.

“In our lives, we may be lucky enough to know someone whose love extends to animals and plants. We may also know people who, although they themselves live in a safe situation, realize that famine, disease, and oppression are destroying millions of people on Earth and look for ways to help those who suffer. They cannot forget the downtrodden, even amidst the pressures of their own lives. At least to some extent, these people have realized the interdependent nature of life. They know that the survival of the underdeveloped countries cannot be separated from the survival of the materially wealthy, technically advanced countries. The fate of each country is linked to the fate of all others.

“When will the chicks of the same mother hen remove the colors from their faces and recognize each other as brothers and sisters? The only way to end the danger is for each of us to do so, and to say to others, ‘I am your brother.’ ‘I am your sister.’ ‘We are all humankind, and our life is one.’”

The Franciscan official motto is Deus Meus et Omnia, “My God and all things.” Or as Francis might say, “We are all creations of the same God and thus all life is one.”

Gateway to Silence:
“The world is in truth a holy place.” —Teilhard de Chardin

[1] Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life (Bantam: 1992), 118-119. 

For Further Study:
Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi
Francis: Subverting the Honor/Shame System (CD, MP3 download)
In the Footsteps of Francis (CD, MP3 download)

Image credit: The Legend of St. Francis: 15. Sermon to the Birds (fresco detail), 1297-99, Giotto di Bondone, Upper Church, San Francesco, Assisi, Italy.