Meister Eckhart rightly pointed out that spirituality has much more to do with subtraction than it does with addition. I am sad to say that most spirituality in the West has largely become a matter of addition. This “spiritual consumerism” focuses on learning more spiritual ideas, earning merit badges from God, trying to attain enlightenment, and the will power of heroic moral behavior. Yet the counter-intuitive nature of the Jesus-journey shows it is not at all about getting, attaining, achieving, performing, or succeeding (all of which tend to pander to the ego). Jesus’ spirituality is much more about letting go of what we do not need anyway. It more often involves unlearning than learning. Jesus taught us the way of descent, which we later called “the way of the cross.” Like few other Christians, Francis profoundly understood such a major turn-around. He wanted God, not his ego, to steer his life; so he practiced letting go of his own will, his own needs, and his own preferences until he was free of their domination and able to find happiness at a much deeper and more truthful level. Continue reading “Richard Rohr – A Spirituality of Subtraction”
St. Francis illustrates this stage in many memorable ways. When he hears one day that the people of Assisi are calling him a saint, he invites Brother Juniper to join him in a walk through his old home town. Brother Juniper was the first simpleton (that is a compliment!), the holy fool of the original friars. Francis knew he could always trust him to understand what he was saying. Francis once said, “I wish I had a whole forest of such Junipers!”
Francis told Brother Juniper, “Let’s take off these robes, get down to our underwear, and just walk back and forth through Assisi. Then all these people who are thinking we are saints will know who we really are!” Now that’s a saint: someone who doesn’t need to be considered a saint, who can walk foolishly in his underwear the full length of Assisi. Continue reading “Richard Rohr on ‘Holy Fools’”
Shane Claiborne on Francis of Assisi
Francis of Assisi was a poor little man who astounded and inspired the Church by taking the gospel literally—not in a narrow fundamentalist sense, but by actually following all that Jesus said and did, joyfully, without limit and without a sense of self-importance.
Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his frolicking life as leader of Assisi’s youth. Prayer—lengthy and difficult—led him to a self-emptying like that of Christ, climaxed by embracing a leper he met on the road. It symbolized his complete obedience to what he had heard in prayer: “Francis! Everything you have loved and desired in the flesh it is your duty to despise and hate, if you wish to know my will. And when you have begun this, all that now seems sweet and lovely to you will become intolerable and bitter, but all that you used to avoid will turn itself to great sweetness and exceeding joy.” Continue reading “Feast of St Francis”
Today is the Feast of St Francis of Assisi. Here is today’s meditation of Fr. Richard Rohr on Franciscan mysticism, particularly on what he calls the ‘univocity of being’.
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Giotto – St Francis Preaching to Birds,
fragment from St. Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmata
Yesterday was the feast of St Francis, the patron saint of the order of Fr Richard Rohr. Here is a short meditation on the well known episode of St Francis preaching to birds. Continue reading “Fr Rohr – St. Francis Preaching to Birds”