Loving Fully

Self-Emptying

Loving Fully
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

How can my life be a reflection of divine love in this time and place? The classic Christian phrase for discipleship—the imitation of Christ—means that we were made by God to become like God, loving all others, loving universally. —Sallie McFague [1]

More than any historical figure I know, St. Francis of Assisi imitated Christ. Some call Francis the second Christ. His poverty of spirit, humility, and selflessness reveal a life lived in union. In his Encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis writes:

I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. He is the patron saint of all who study and work in the area of ecology, and he is also much loved by non-Christians. He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast. He loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his openheartedness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace. [2]

[Saint Francis’] response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus [as in “What’s in it for me?”], for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists. . . . If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled. [3]

Jesus told us, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27). He called us to a presence that is a broader and deeper kind of knowing than just cognitive thinking. Thinking knows things by objectifying them, capturing them as an object of knowledge. But presence knows things by refusing to objectify them; instead it shares in their very subjectivity. Presence allows full give and take, what Martin Buber (1878-1965) called the “I/Thou” relationship with things as opposed to the mere “I/it” relationship. Buber summed it up in his often-quoted phrase: “All real living is meeting.” [4]

Gateway to Silence:
Let it go; let it be.

References:
[1] Sallie McFague, Blessed Are the Consumers: Climate Change and the Practice of Restraint (Fortress Press: 2013), 11.
[2] Pope Francis, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home (Libreria Editrice Vaticana: 2015), paragraph 10.
[3] Ibid., paragraph 11.
[4] Martin Buber, I and Thou, trans. Ronald Gregor Smith (Charles Scribner’s Sons: 1958), 11.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Great Chain of Being: Simplifying Our Lives (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2007), MP3 download.

The work of the Center for Action and Contemplation is possible only because of friends and supporters like you!

Learn more about making a donation to the CAC.

FacebookTwitterEmailPrint