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Alternative Orthodoxy

Alternative Orthodoxy

Sunday, February 2–Friday, February 7, 2020

Franciscan alternative orthodoxy has never bothered fighting popes, bishops, Scriptures, or dogmas. It just quietly but firmly pays attention to different things—like simplicity, humility, non-violence, contemplation, solitude and silence, earth care, nature and other creatures, and the “least of the brothers and sisters.” (Sunday)

As part of our emphasis on orthopraxy over orthodoxy, the Franciscan tradition taught that love and action are more important than intellect or speculative truth. Love is the highest category for the Franciscan School. (Monday)

Throughout history, the Franciscan School has typically been a minority position inside of the Roman Catholic and larger Christian tradition. Not everyone shares our way of thinking, but it has never been condemned or considered heretical—in fact quite the opposite. (Tuesday)

The Franciscan alternative orthodoxy is basically saying that no atonement is necessary. There was no bill to be paid; there was simply a union to be named. (Wednesday)

The universal Christ is one of the crown jewels of early Franciscan theology and part of our alternative orthodoxy. (Thursday)

Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of ecology because he granted animals, elements, and the earth subjectivity, respect, and mutuality. He called them Brothers and Sisters and Mother. (Friday)
Practice: Eight Laws of Change 

While orthodoxy is about correct beliefs, orthopraxy is about right practice: doing the practices and living the lifestyles that end up changing our consciousness. Francis of Assisi said to the first friars, “You only know as much as you do!” [1] Franciscan teaching, which is based in Scripture, has freed me and many others to live more embodied, loving lives.  

The Franciscans are not alone in their emphasis on practice. In his book The 8 Laws of Change: How to Be an Agent of Personal and Social Transformation, author Stephan A. Schwartz offers life-practices he gathered from observing the Quakers. Their actions—grounded in contemplation—have had a profound impact, helping to abolish slavery, promote gender equity, and reform prisons and other institutions. Schwartz writes:  

How could this small group of people create movements that ultimately involve millions, tens of millions? This is a tiny group whose beingness is so powerful that enough people personally change their choices so that the desired change becomes society’s new norm. In studying the histories of these great social transformations, eight laws—I hesitate to call them laws, but because they are constants in each case, I think they have earned the term—begin to emerge. . . . Taken together, they reveal how individual choice linked in consensus becomes the strategy of beingness that creates change. Adherence to these Eight Laws is not the unique domain of Quakers, of course. But in their efforts, it can be clearly seen.
Here are the laws:

First Law. The individuals, individually, and the group, collectively, must share a common intention.

Second Law. The individuals and the group may have goals, but they may not have cherished outcomes.

Third Law. The individuals in the group must accept that their goals may not be reached in their lifetimes and be okay with this.

Fourth Law. The individuals in the group must accept that they may not get either credit or acknowledgment for what they have done and be authentically okay with this.

Fifth Law. Each person in the group, regardless of gender, religion, race, or culture, must enjoy fundamental equality, even as the various roles in the hierarchy of the effort are respected.

Sixth Law. The individuals in the group must foreswear violence in word, act, or thought.

Seventh Law. The individuals in the group and the group itself must make their private selves consistent with their public postures.

Eighth Law. The individuals in the group and the group collectively must always act from the beingness of life-affirming integrity. [2]

References:

[1] “The Legend of Perugia,” Saint Francis of Assisi: Omnibus of Sources (Franciscan Press: 1991), 74.

[2] Stephan A. Schwartz, The 8 Laws of Change: How to Be an Agent of Personal and Social Transformation (Inner Traditions/Bear & Company: 2015), 17-18.

For Further Study:

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

Richard Rohr with Tim Scorer, Embracing an Alternative Orthodoxy: Richard Rohr on the Legacy of St. Francis (Morehouse Education Resources: 2014), Participants’ Workbook and DVD 

Richard Rohr, Franciscan Mysticism: I AM That which I Am Seeking (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2012), CDMP3 download 

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

Richard Rohr, Returning to Essentials: Teaching an Alternative Orthodoxy (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2015), CD, MP3 download

Image credit: St. Francis of Assisi (detail), Jusepe de Ribera, 1642, El Escorial.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Francis loved God above all and wanted to imitate Jesus in very practical ways. Action and lifestyle mattered much more to him than mentally believing dogmatic or moral positions to be true or false. Francis directly said to the first friars, “You only know as much as you do!” —Richard Rohr
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Alternative Orthodoxy

Mysticism and Eco-Spirituality 

Friday, February 7, 2020 

When the bow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature—every mortal being that is on the earth. —Genesis 9:16

Franciscan alternative orthodoxy emphasized mysticism over morality. Moralism is the task of low-level religion, concerned with creating an ego identity that seemingly places us on moral high ground. But moralism is normally not a primary concern for love, the focus of mature spirituality. Scripture, Jesus, the mystics, and the saints recognized that the goal of religion is not a perfect moral stance, but union with God. Mysticism is about connection not perfection. [1] Perfectionism always leads to individualism—as if the individual could ever be perfect.

The single biggest heresy that allows us to misinterpret the scriptural tradition is individualism, revealed now in the problems we are facing with climate change, pollution, the loss of biodiversity, and the extinction of many species. We became so anthropocentric and self-referential that we thought God cared not about “every living creature” nor about the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21:1), but just about “us people” and not even very many of us. That’s what happens when we go down the track of individualism and lose the mystical level of perception.

Eco-spirituality could be considered another gift of Franciscan alternative orthodoxy. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of ecology because he granted animals, elements, and the earth subjectivity, respect, and mutuality. In his Canticle of the Creatures, Francis the mystic describes a participatory universe in which God loves and cares for us through Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brothers Wind and Air, Sister Water, Brother Fire, and “through our sister, Mother Earth.” [2] At the same time, God receives praise, honor, glory, and blessing through each of God’s creations. On the mystical level, Francis could see the transformational power of Love’s presence within all creation.

I often wonder if the one thing we all share in common—our planet—could ultimately bring us all together. We stand on this same “sister, Mother Earth” and we look up at this same Brother Sun and Sister Moon. Could it be that the Mystery of God is already hidden and revealed here? I believe so. Naming the universal Christ helps us to recognize the inherent sacrality, holiness, goodness, and value of the whole material world. For those who see deeply, there is only One Reality; there is no distinction between sacred and profane. [3] Humanity is becoming capable of a truly global spirituality which is desperately needed for the common good to be realized.

God has come to save us all by grace. No exceptions. The mystics have no trouble surrendering to such fullness. For Bonaventure, God is a “fountain fullness” of outflowing love, only flowing in one positive direction, always and forever. There is no wrath in God. There is only outpouring love.

References:
[1] This is related to one of the Center for Action and Contemplation’s Seven Themes of an Alternative Orthodoxy: “Divine union, not private perfection is the goal of all religion.” Join the CONSPIRE 2020 webcast to explore this and other themes: https://cac.org/conspire-2020/.

[2] Francis wrote this song praising God through all creation during the last year of his life; the full text of the Canticle can be found at https://www.franciscantradition.org/francis-of-assisi-early-documents/the-saint/writings-of-francis/the-canticle-of-the-creatures/129-fa-ed-1-page-113.

[3] This is another of the Center’s Seven Themes of an Alternative Orthodoxy.

Adapted from Richard Rohr with Tim Scorer, Embracing an Alternative Orthodoxy: Richard Rohr on the Legacy of St. Francis, sessions 2 and 5 (Morehouse Education Resources: 2014), Participants’ Workbook and DVD.

Image credit: St. Francis of Assisi (detail), Jusepe de Ribera, 1642, El Escorial.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Francis loved God above all and wanted to imitate Jesus in very practical ways. Action and lifestyle mattered much more to him than mentally believing dogmatic or moral positions to be true or false. Francis directly said to the first friars, “You only know as much as you do!” —Richard Rohr
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Alternative Orthodoxy

The Universal Christ

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Grace had already been granted to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, and now it has been revealed to us in the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus. —2 Timothy 1:9-10

It seems we only give attention to that which we are told to give attention. The Franciscan alternative orthodoxy has given me the intellectual and spiritual freedom to quietly but firmly pay attention to different things. For the most part, Christianity has ignored the fact that Christ existed from all eternity, but Franciscan teaching emphasizes the significance of the universal Christ.

The word Christ means “anointed one.” The divine anointing began with the first incarnation when God decided to show God’s self, almost 13.8 billion years ago. We now call it the Big Bang. Franciscan philosopher John Duns Scotus basically taught that the first idea in the mind of God was Christ. Christ was the Alpha point. Good biblical theology calls creation itself the birth of the Christ, the materialization of God. Whenever matter and spirit coinhere, coincide, you have the Christ Mystery, which is a phrase the Apostle Paul introduces. Paul has a deep intuition of this, which leads to his understanding of the Eucharistic Body of Christ. Paul intuits that this incarnation of Christ is spread throughout creation, human nature, and even the elements of bread and wine. It’s everywhere.

Francis himself was not a theologian, he was not an academic, he was not highly educated. He was just a sincere spiritual genius who intuited these things. When the next generation of Franciscans, including St. Bonaventure (1221–1274) and John Duns Scotus, came along, they created a philosophy and theology to substantiate Francis’ intuitive vision. They homed in on the first chapters of Colossians, Ephesians, John’s Gospel, Hebrews, and the Letter of 1 John which say the Christ existed from all eternity. The universal Christ is a totally biblical notion.

The universal Christ is one of the crown jewels of early Franciscan theology and part of our alternative orthodoxy. It was there from the beginning, but it’s only now becoming widely known, as the study of cosmology itself says that the very shape of the universe is dynamic and relational. It is all about relationship! The mystery of the universe reveals the mystery of a Trinitarian Creator God. So once cosmology becomes the framework for theology, we suddenly recognize the need to name what Christianity has always had—a cosmic notion of Jesus, which is the Christ. [1]

If we don’t balance out Jesus with Christ, I think our theology is going to become a more and more limited worldview that will end up being in competition with the other world religions. Balancing Jesus with Christ gives us a vision that is so big, so universal that it includes every thing and everybody. You don’t even have to use the words Jesus or Christ to contemplate this Mystery.

References:

[1] Visit universalchrist.org to learn much, much more about the Universal Christ. Or read my book, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent: 2019).

Adapted from Richard Rohr with Tim Scorer, Embracing an Alternative Orthodoxy: Richard Rohr on the Legacy of St. Francis, session 3 (Morehouse Education Resources: 2014), Participants’ Workbook and DVD.

Image credit: St. Francis of Assisi (detail), Jusepe de Ribera, 1642, El Escorial.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Francis loved God above all and wanted to imitate Jesus in very practical ways. Action and lifestyle mattered much more to him than mentally believing dogmatic or moral positions to be true or false. Francis directly said to the first friars, “You only know as much as you do!” —Richard Rohr
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Alternative Orthodoxy

At-one-ment, Not Atonement

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Franciscan view of atonement theory is a prime example of our alternative orthodoxy. The Franciscan School was dissatisfied with the popular theological idea that Jesus came to Earth as a necessary sacrifice to appease an angry God. As human consciousness advances, more and more people cannot believe that God would demand Jesus’ blood as payment for our sins. It seems to be inevitable that our old logic needs to break up before we can begin to grow up.

The most common reading of the Bible is that Jesus “died for our sins”—either to pay a debt to the devil (generally believed in the first millennium) or to pay a debt to God (proposed by Anselm of Canterbury in the 11th century and holding sway for most of the second millennium). But even in the 13th century, Franciscan philosopher and theologian John Duns Scotus (1266–1308) agreed with neither of these understandings.

Duns Scotus was not guided by the Temple language of debt, atonement, and blood sacrifice, which was understandably used by the Gospel writers and by Paul. Instead, he was inspired by the cosmic hymns in the first chapters of Colossians and Ephesians and the Prologue to John’s Gospel (1:1-18). While the Church has never rejected the Franciscan position, it has remained a minority view.

The terrible and un-critiqued premise of many “substitutionary atonement theories” is that God demanded Jesus to be a blood sacrifice to “atone” for our sin-drenched humanity. As if God could need payment, and even a very violent transaction, to be able to love and accept God’s own children! These theories are based on retributive justice rather than the restorative justice that the prophets and Jesus taught.

For Duns Scotus, the incarnation of God and the redemption of the world could never be a mere Plan B or mop-up exercise in response to human sinfulness; Jesus’ birth, life, and death had to be Plan A, the proactive work of God from the very beginning. We were “chosen in Christ before the world was made” (Ephesians 1:4). Our sin could not possibly be the motive for the incarnation! Only perfect love and divine self-revelation could inspire God to come in human form. God never merely reacts, but supremely and freely acts—out of love.

Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity. It did not need changing. Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God! God is not someone to be afraid of but is the Ground of Being and on our side. [1]

The Franciscan minority position, our alternative orthodoxy, is basically saying that no atonement is necessary. Some call it “at-one-ment” instead of atonement. There is no bill to be paid; there is simply a union to be named. Jesus didn’t come to solve a problem; he came to reveal the true nature of God as Love.

References:

[1] This is one of the Center for Action and Contemplation’s Seven Themes of an Alternative Orthodoxy. Join the CONSPIRE 2020 webcast to learn more about this and other themes: https://cac.org/conspire-2020/.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Returning to Essentials: Teaching an Alternative Orthodoxy, disc 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2015), CD, MP3 download;

Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014), 183-188;

Richard Rohr with Tim Scorer, Embracing an Alternative Orthodoxy: Richard Rohr on the Legacy of St. Francis, session 1 (Morehouse Education Resources: 2014), Participants’ Workbook and DVD.

Image credit: St. Francis of Assisi (detail), Jusepe de Ribera, 1642, El Escorial.

Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Francis loved God above all and wanted to imitate Jesus in very practical ways. Action and lifestyle mattered much more to him than mentally believing dogmatic or moral positions to be true or false. Francis directly said to the first friars, “You only know as much as you do!” —Richard Rohr
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Alternative Orthodoxy

A Minority Position

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. Oppositional energy only creates more of the same. One of the Center for Action & Contemplation’s Eight Core Principles [1]

Throughout history, the Franciscan School has typically been a minority position inside of the Roman Catholic and larger Christian tradition. While not everyone shares our way of thinking, it has never been condemned or considered heretical—in fact quite the opposite. It has been allowed and affirmed because we simply emphasize different teachings of Jesus, offer new perspectives and behaviors, and focus on the full and final implications of the incarnation of God in Christ. (I’m not sure why that puts us in the minority of Christians, but so be it!) For Franciscans, the incarnation is not just about Jesus but is manifested everywhere. Once we learn how to see spiritually, “The whole world is our cloister!” in the words of St. Francis himself. [2]

From the very beginning, Franciscanism was sort of a para-church on the edge of the inside of organized Christianity, similar to others who had occupied that same position: desert fathers and mothers, many early monastics before they become clericalized and domesticated, Celtic Christianity, and even some religious orders down to our own time. Most Catholics are accustomed to such groups living on the side and the edge of the parish church system, but this is also why Francis of Assisi has often been called “the first Protestant.”

But how did Francis do what he did, from the inside and without oppositional energy?  Francis’ starting place was human suffering instead of human sinfulness and God’s identification with that suffering in Jesus. That did not put him in conflict with any Catholic dogmas or structures, merely to the side of them. His Christ was universal while also deeply personal, his cathedral was creation itself, he preferred the bottom of society to the top. Francis showed us that practical truth is more likely found at the bottom and the edges than at the top or the center of most groups, institutions, and cultures (another one of the Center’s Core Principles).

Since Jesus himself was humble and poor, then the pure and simple imitation of Jesus became Francis’ life agenda. He was a fundamentalist, not about doctrinal Scriptures, but about lifestyle Scriptures: take nothing for your journey; eat what is set before you; work for your wages; wear no shoes. This is still revolutionary thinking for most Christians, although it is the very “marrow of the Gospel,” to use Francis’ own phrase. [3] He knew intuitively what many educators have now proven—that humans tend to live themselves into new ways of thinking more than think themselves into new ways of living (yet another Core Principle). The lecture method changes very few people at any deep or long-lasting level. It normally does not touch the unconscious, where all our hurts and motives lie hidden and disguised.

References:

[1] See “The Eight Core Principle of the Center for Action and Contemplation” under Mission and Vision, https://cac.org/about-cac/missionvision/.

[2] “Sacred Exchange between St. Francis & Lady Poverty,” Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1 (New City Press: 1999), 552.

[3] Thomas of Celano, “The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul,” chapter 158, Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2 (New City Press: 2000), 380.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014), 82-85.

Image credit: St. Francis of Assisi (detail), Jusepe de Ribera, 1642, El Escorial.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Francis loved God above all and wanted to imitate Jesus in very practical ways. Action and lifestyle mattered much more to him than mentally believing dogmatic or moral positions to be true or false. Francis directly said to the first friars, “You only know as much as you do!” —Richard Rohr
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Alternative Orthodoxy

Dancing Standing Still

Monday, February 3, 2020

The Franciscans found a way to be both very traditional and very revolutionary at the same time. By emphasizing practice over theory, or orthopraxy over orthodoxy, the Franciscan tradition taught that love and action are more important than intellect or speculative truth. Love is the highest category for the Franciscan School, and we believe that authentic love is not possible without true inner freedom, nor will love be real or tested unless we somehow live close to the disadvantaged, who frankly teach us how little we know about love.

Love is the goal; contemplative practice and solidarity with suffering are the path. Orthodoxy teaches us the theoretical importance of love; orthopraxy helps us learn how to love, which is much more difficult. To be honest, even my Franciscan seminary training was far better at teaching me how to obey and conform than how to love. I’m still trying to learn how to love every day of my life.

As we endeavor to put love into action, we come to realize that, on our own, we are unable to obey Jesus’ command to “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34). To love as Jesus loves, we must be connected to the Source of love. Franciscanism found that connection in solitude, silence, and some form of contemplative prayer, all of which quiet the monkey mind and teach us emotional sobriety and psychological freedom from our addictions and attachments. Otherwise, most talk of “repentance” or “change of life” is largely an illusion and pretense.

Early on, Francis found himself so attracted to contemplation, and to living out in the caves and in nature, that he was not sure if he should dedicate his life to prayer or to action. So he asked Sister Clare and Brother Sylvester to spend some time in prayer about it and then tell him what they thought he should do. When they came back after a few weeks, Francis was prepared to do whatever they told him. They both, in perfect agreement, without having talked to one another, said Francis should not be solely a contemplative, nor should he only be active in ministry. Francis was to go back and forth between the two as Jesus did. Francis jumped up with great excitement and immediately went on the road with this new permission and freedom.

Before Francis, the “secular” priests worked with the people in the parishes and were considered “active.” Those who belonged to religious orders went off to monasteries to be “contemplative” and pray. Francis found a way to do both and took his prayer on the road. (That’s why Franciscans are called friars instead of monks.) In fact, prayer is what enabled him to sustain his life of love and service to others over the long haul, without becoming cynical or angry. Francis didn’t want a stable form of monastic life; he wanted us to mix with the world and to find God amidst its pain, confusion, and disorder. [1] For me, that is still the greatest art form—to dance while standing still!

References:

[1] I wrote my Bachelor’s thesis on this theme in 1966.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014), 81, 87, 98;

Franciscan Mysticism: I AM That which I Am Seeking, disc 1 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2012), CDMP3 download;

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

Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer (Paulist Press: 2014).

Image credit: St. Francis of Assisi (detail), Jusepe de Ribera, 1642, El Escorial.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Francis loved God above all and wanted to imitate Jesus in very practical ways. Action and lifestyle mattered much more to him than mentally believing dogmatic or moral positions to be true or false. Francis directly said to the first friars, “You only know as much as you do!” —Richard Rohr
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Alternative Orthodoxy

Simply Living the Gospel

Sunday, February 2, 2020

The Rule and the life of the Friars Minor is to simply live the Gospel. —St. Francis of Assisi (1182–1226) [1]

One of the things I most appreciate about my Franciscan heritage is its alternative orthodoxy. The Franciscan tradition has applied this phrase to itself and its emphasis on “orthopraxy”; we believe that lifestyle and practice are much more important than mere verbal orthodoxy. While orthodoxy is about correct beliefs, orthopraxy is about right practice. St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), the famous Dominican Doctor of the Church, may have been influenced by St. Francis when he wrote, “Prius vita quam doctrina.” [2] Or, “Life is more important than doctrine.” All too often Christianity has lost sight of that in spite of Jesus’ teaching and example.

Jesus’ first recorded word in at least two Gospels, metanoia, is unfortunately translated with the moralistic, churchy word repent. The word quite literally means change or even more precisely “Change your minds!” (Mark 1:15; Matthew 4:17). Given that, it is quite strange that the religion founded in Jesus’ name has been so resistant to change and has tended to love and protect the past and the status quo much more than the positive and hopeful futures that could be brought about by people agreeing to change. Maybe that is why our earth is so depleted and our politics are so pathetic. We have not taught a spirituality of actual change or growth, which an alternative orthodoxy always asks of us.

Francis loved God above all and wanted to imitate Jesus in very practical ways. Action and lifestyle mattered much more to him than mentally believing dogmatic or moral positions to be true or false. Francis directly said to the first friars, “You only know as much as you do!” [3] Franciscan alternative orthodoxy has never bothered fighting popes, bishops, Scriptures, or dogmas. It just quietly but firmly pays attention to different things—like simplicity, humility, non-violence, contemplation, solitude and silence, earth care, nature and other creatures, and the “least of the brothers and sisters.” These are our true teachers.

The Rule of Saint Francis—which Rome demanded Francis develop—was hardly a rule at all and was more thought of as “Tips for the Road.” Like Jesus, Francis taught his disciples while walking from place to place and finding ways to serve, to observe, and to love the world that was right in front of them. Observation with love is a good description of contemplation.

In Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis writes, “In the heart of this world, the Lord of life, who loves us so much, is always present. God does not abandon us, God does not leave us alone, for God has united . . . definitively to our earth, and God’s love constantly impels us to find new ways forward. Praise be to God!” [4] I believe the Franciscan worldview with its alternative orthodoxy can help us “find new ways forward” and stop being so afraid of change.

References:

[1] Francis of Assisi, “The Later Rule” (1223), chapter 1. See Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1 (New City Press: 1999), 100.

[2] Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 5.

[3] “The Legend of Perugia,” Saint Francis of Assisi: Omnibus of Sources (Franciscan Press: 1991), 74.

[4] Pope Francis, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html. Emphasis mine; I replaced masculine pronouns with the word “God.”

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Returning to Essentials: Teaching an Alternative Orthodoxy (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2015), CDMP3 download;

and The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of Saint Francis (Sounds True: 2010), CD.

Image credit: St. Francis of Assisi (detail), Jusepe de Ribera, 1642, El Escorial.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Francis loved God above all and wanted to imitate Jesus in very practical ways. Action and lifestyle mattered much more to him than mentally believing dogmatic or moral positions to be true or false. Francis directly said to the first friars, “You only know as much as you do!” —Richard Rohr
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