The Franciscan Vision

November 26th, 2018 by Dave Leave a reply »

The Joy of the Gospel
Sunday, November 25, 2018

I believe that St. Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. . . . [He] was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his open-heartedness. —Pope Francis [1]

Just as Pope Francis has exercised a worldwide and major imaginal change, Francis and Clare of Assisi are still having a profound impact in the Christian world, eight hundred years later. They told us by their lives that Christianity could be joyful, simple, sweet, and beautiful.

I believe that the Gospel itself, and the Franciscan vision of the Gospel, is primarily communicated by highly symbolic human lives that operate as “Prime Attractors”: through actions visibly done in love; by a nonviolent, humble, and liberated lifestyle; and through identification with the edged out and the excluded of every system. The very presence of such Prime Attractors “gives others reasons for spiritual joy,” as St. Francis said. [2]

Both St. Francis and Pope Francis are simply following Jesus’ lead. In his apostolic exhortation The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis writes:

The Gospel . . . constantly invites us to rejoice. A few examples will suffice. “Rejoice!” is the angel’s greeting to Mary (Luke 1:28). Mary’s visit to Elizabeth makes John leap for joy in his mother’s womb (cf. Luke 1:41). In her song of praise, Mary proclaims: “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47). When Jesus begins his ministry, John cries out: “For this reason, my joy has been fulfilled” (John 3:29). Jesus himself “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” (Luke 10:21). His message brings us joy: “I have said these things to you, so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). . . . He promises his disciples: “You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (John 16:20). He then goes on to say: “But I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22). The disciples “rejoiced” (John 20:20) at the sight of the risen Christ. . . . Wherever the disciples went, “there was great joy” (Acts 8:8); even amid persecution they continued to be “filled with joy” (Acts 13:52). . . . Why should we not also enter into this great stream of joy? [3]
. . . I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty. Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved. [4]


The Franciscan Vision
Monday, November 26, 2018

St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio (1217–1274) took Francis and Clare’s practical lifestyle to the level of theology, philosophy, and worldview. Unlike many theologians of his time, Bonaventure paid little attention to fire and brimstone, sin, merit, justification, or atonement. His vision is positive, mystic, cosmic, intimately relational, and largely concerned with cleaning the lens of our perception and our intention so we can see and enjoy fully!

He starts very simply: “Unless we are able to view things in terms of how they originate, how they are to return to their end, and how God shines forth in them, we will not be able to understand.” [1] For Bonaventure, the perfection of God and God’s creation is a full circle, and to be perfect the circle must and will complete itself. He knows that Alpha and Omega are finally the same, and the lynchpin holding it all in unity is the “Christ Mystery,” or the essential unity of matter and spirit, humanity and divinity. The Christ Mystery is thus the template for all creation, and even more precisely the crucified Christ, who reveals the necessary cycle of loss and renewal that keeps all things moving toward ever further life. Now we know that the death and birth of every star and every atom is this same pattern of loss and renewal, yet this pattern is invariably hidden or denied, and therefore must be revealed by God—which is “the cross.”

Bonaventure’s theology is never about trying to placate a distant or angry God, earn forgiveness, or find some abstract theory of justification. He sees humanity as already being included in—and delighting in—an all-pervasive plan. As Paul’s school says, “Before the world was made, God chose us, chose us in Christ” (Ephesians 1:4). The problem is solved from the beginning. Rather than seeing history as a “fall from grace,” Bonaventure reveals a slow but real emergence and evolution into ever-greater consciousness of Love. He was the Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) of the 13th century.

One reason Bonaventure was so hopeful and positive is that he was profoundly Trinitarian. He saw love always and forever flowing between Father, Son, and Spirit and on to us. Bonaventure’s strong foundation in the Trinity gave him a nondual mind to deal with the ineffable mystery of God and creation. A dualistic mind closes down at any notion of Trinity or infinite love, because it cannot process it.

For Bonaventure, God, is not an offended monarch on a throne throwing down thunderbolts, but a “fountain fullness” that flows, overflows, and fills all things in one positive direction. Reality is thus in process and participatory; it is love itself, and not a mere Platonic world, an abstract idea, or a static impersonal principle. God as Trinitarian Flow is the blueprint and pattern for all relationships and thus all of creation, which we now know from contemporary science is exactly the case.

Journal DJR
Good Morning Lord
Thank you for these words today, And the messages I’ve been hearing recently. This life in the kingdom which is mystically apprehended has been the basic track that I’ve been on for a couple of years. But it’s off and on. It’s so easy to fall back into a rational and judgmental place. But it’s getting easier to recognize as is knowing the way back… as I get more sure of your love. Most recently I’ve been listening to and liking a Baptist pastor who we’ve visited. I was really surprised, he had a lot of stuff that seemed to resonate. And there were a lot of happy people at his place. But then I realized that the thing that I was liking was causing a dissonance in me. What I like and gravitate to is the formulaic way that he had things worked out and the way he presented them. Kind of a formula for becoming a Christian and then the formula for staying happily on the path. My brain really likes that kind of thing. … And it works… until it doesn’t. And it seems to conflict with the mystical, perhaps even shut it out. Like Calvin and Luther both decided, “no more mysticism” I’m loving Jesus and life and everyone more since I’ve started down the road of the mystic… and I’m not willing to give it up for formulas that make my left brain comfortable. I’m seeing trap of the Enlightenment and Rationalism. I’m seeing that a mystical, non-dual view is essential to living in your kingdom. Help me to live in the world but not be of the world, as Paul said. Bring your kingdom here. Thank you. I love you.


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