This is from another thread on argument vs mystical union:
Br. JR or anyone with ties to this tradition, can you elaborate? I often feel called to keep silence during conflict, which goes against my nature something awful – then afterward I hate myself for it. I have fantasies of how I could have saved the day, for myself or others, and can spend months beating myself up for not having given “them” a piece of my mind.
I’m so glad to see that you started this thread and that you want to understand this concept. I’ll try as best I can to explain. First, allow me to share that there are more than one million Franciscan brothers and sisters around the world. I mention theses stats is because the tradition is going to take different expressions in different cultures and diffferent conflicts.
Now let’s get to answering your question using the spirituality, theology and writings of our holy Father Francis. I put it in bullets to make for easier reading. It really is a lot of information and I can’t explain it all on this tiny space.
The mission and gift that St. Francis received from Jesus himself, not from the Church or anyone else, but through a private revelation that we Franciscans and the Church have accepted as real, that mission was to build. Jesus said to Francis, “Go build my house. Can’t you see that it’s fallen into ruins.”
At the time, the Church was in terrible crisis. The politics and the heresies of the time were threatening to tear down the fabric of the Church.
Francis never went up against the enemies of the Church, either inside or outside. Instead, he preached to whomever listened. He preached the Gospel. This is the first lesson to avod conflict. He did not avoid the issues of the day. He avoided engaging in battle with people. This is why he was loved by all. He never pointed fingers and never told anyone that they were wrong and he was right.
Francis simply said, "Francis would say “Abortion is wrong becaues it offends our Lord that human life which he created and which he bestowed upon his only son is destroyed by man.” So you see, he’s not engaging with anyone in particular. He is engaging with the moral question.
When people challenged him, as many did, Francis answer was to invite the person to sit with him to look at what the Gospel said. He would explain the teachings of the Gospel using the words of the Church. If the person wanted to listen, fine. If the person walked away,Francis would then enter into a period of prayer and penance for the conversion of that soul. But he would not turn the conversation into a heated debate to win his point.
Francis went on a missionary journey to the Muslims. He preached to them about Jesus Christ. He made no converts. But he made a friend in the sultan. In fact, that sultan was so impressed by Francis’ faith, humility and courage that he opened the path for the Franciscans to travel to the Holy Land through Egypt. Unfortunately, Francis was not able to travel more extensively to other Muslim nations. Never having met Francis, those nations were not as friendly to the friars and they martyred them. But to this day, the path to the Holy Land has been open to the Franciscans and the alliance between the Franciscans, Muslims and Jews remains in place.
The agreement was that the friars would go to the Holy Land and serve the Christians, but they would not preach to the Muslims or the Jews. This agreement has been upheld by the Church and the Franciscan Order to this day. Howeverl, there are many ways of preaching. The friars have preached through their kindness, the holiness of their lives and their charity to all the people in the Holy Land. How many converts have they made? We really don’t know, because in some countries it is illegal for Muslims to convert. Therefore, those conversions are not going to be revealed to the pulic so as not to endanger lives.
When Europe was threatened by the Nazis and later by the Communists, the Franciscans never preached against them. However, they did two very important things. First of all they preached against violence and for peace and justice toward all people. Second, they started the Assisi underground. They led many Jews to Assisi and hid them in our houses there. They also led many out of harms way to other places. They simply preached the Gospel of love and of peace.
On current issues in the Church the Franciscans have taken the same action. They do not engage in battles over the liturgy, same sex marriage, abortion, euthenasia, stem cell research, etc. However, they have been very public in writing and preaching about these issues. Two very good examples in the USA are Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap and Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap. Neither of them engages in public debates. But both are very willing to speak to the media, the lay person, the politician and whomever will listen and to teach these truths. I had the honor or living and working with both of them when I was a young friar. They were young too.
The Franciscan tradition is one of preaching and living the Gospel, but always being kind and compassionate toward those who do not. We do not exchange character attacks. We do not challenge bishops or the Holy Father. We consider them our masters and ourselves to be nothing in this world.
If you watch the friars on EWTN you will notice that they speak about all of these and other important issues. But they never leave their friary. Their life is dedicated to making this ministry reach around the world through EWTN. But you will not see them in a debate with anyhone.
My community is totally dedicated to respect life. We care for the unborn by protecting their rights. We minister to their parents and try to help them find an alternative to abortion. We counsel those who have had an abortion and lead them to finding healing and fogiveness. We even speak with those who perform abortions and try to preach to them the Gospel of Life. But we always maintain a very postive attitude when speaking to all these people. We do not argue. We encourage, we teach, we guide, we help and we correct. If the person tells us to go blow smoke out of our noses, we leave calmly, always asking them to pray for us and promising to pray for them.
In essence, our entire Franciscan family is very active in correcting error and in preaching the Gospel. But we are not here to fight with people. An instrument of peace is not very convincing if his acts as a moral policeman. He is much more convincing if he is at peace within himself and always in union with the Divine through prayer and sacrament.
St. Francis did not just want this for his friars and nuns. He wanted this for the laity as well. That’s why he founded the Secular Franciscan Order. Pope Leo XIII wrote an encyclical encouraging every bishop of the wrold to promote vocations among the laity to join the Secular Franciscan Order. He believed that this was the way to live and spread the Gospel.
You may be interested in reading St. Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of the Muslims by the Catholic author Frank M. Rega. Below is a review of said work. Also–in the next link is an interview with the author made by LifeSiteNews.
Rega’s book is actually very good. I still prefer Bonaventure’s biography of St. Francis for its historical accuracy and becaues Bonaventure does not try to speculate what Francis is thinking. His writing is more of a theological nature. He proceeds to explain the theological signficance of Francis’ words and works. But Rega is good in that he provides the modern reader the same information that we Franciscans have handed down from generation to generation. That is that Francis’ strength came from his intimate relationship with Christ and his love for the Church. His charm was not that he was a simpleton, but that he was actually very humble, gentle, respectful, charitable and courageous. He was also charming, let’s not deny that. He had the gift of talking people down. By that I don’t mean taking them down a peg, but talking them down when they were agitated. This was his effect on the sultan.
Rega does make reference in his book to the sultan’s alleged conversion on his death bed. This is not a fact. We don’t know this. This came from the Fioretti. The problem with the Fioretti is that it was written long after Francis’ death and many of the stories in it a legends. They contain great truths taught and believed by St. Francis, but most of the accounts cannot be historically proven. St. Bonaventure ordered them burned when he was the Superior General. Fortunately, someone saved a copy. So we really do not know if the sultan converted. The Franciscan School neither denies nor confirms this. Rega mentions it, but he too reminds the reader that there is no historical proof. We hope that it was true.
Another very good work on St. Francis is Brother Francis by Ignacio Larañaga, OFM Cap. But again, Fra. Ignacio gets into Francis’ head and tries to give you a glimpse into what he perceives Francis was thinking. He does an excellent job at it.
If you want pure facts, then go with Bonaventure’s St. Francis of Assisi. It is the only authorized biography of St. Francis by the Franciscan Order. It was authorized by the General Chapter of the Order. It is the biography that is used in Franciscan formation programs by the friars of the two orders: Order of Friars Minor (OFM, OFM Cap, OFM Conv) and Brothers of Penance: (TOR, OSF, CFR, LBF, SA, FMVE). That does not mean that the other biographies are ot good. There are many that are. Chesterton wrote a very good one too.
Well, it is not feasible that Bonaventure holds a monopoly on St. Francis. Seems the time came for another look and understanding of St. Francis.
St. Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of the Muslims
by Frank M. Rega, S.F.O.
“The most important book on St. Francis in English, in recent years.” Brother Alexis Bugnolo, Editor, the Franciscan Archive, www.franciscan-archive.org/.
“This is a rare and daring approach to the life of St. Francis and one that is so necessary in our world at this time.” From the Preface by Father Angelus M. Shaughnessy, O.F.M. Capuchin and EWTN Priest.
“. . . ecumenical revisionists are now seeking to deconstruct the great Franciscan and refashion him into a multi-cultural icon, as forewarned in this . . . book, which concentrates on his Islamic encounters during the 5th Crusade.” Rod Pead - Editor, “Christian Order.”
“In his latest book, Mr. Rega gives us a more in-depth insight into the life of one of our greatest saints. St. Francis was so much more Francis’ mission, after his conversion, was to save souls, even at great, personal risk.” Carolyn E. Protin, Regional Minister, St. Margaret of Cortona Region, Secular Franciscan Order.
St. Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of the Muslims; With Concise Biography of the Saint,
is published by TAN Books.
I did not say that I oppose Rega’s book. I liked it very much. I said that. I said I pefer Bonaventure. That’s all. Rega is a very good writer and is legitimate Franciscan historian. There is nothing in his work that is wrong. It’s a matter of taste, not the content of the book.
Please do not misunderstand me. If you read my response to your post, I have nothing but good things to say aboutr Rega’s book. I enjoyed it. Have you had a chance to read it yet? It’s very well written. I’m just a lover of the classics. But you have to understnad why. I’m a major in Mystical Theology. Reading Bonaventure affords me two benefits, the mysticism of Francis and the mysticism of Bonaventure.
Speaking of which, there is a wonderful book called, The Disciple and the Master: St. Bonaventure’s Sermons on St. Francis of Assisi edited by Eric Doyle, OFM. Bonaventure’s sermons are full of mystical theology. Even though Bonnie tries to get you to focus on Francis’ mysticisn and his relationship to the scriptures, his own mysticism comes through very strongly as well as his passion for Francis. It’s one of the best books that I have read. I’m not sure if it’s in print. But there are used copies floating around. I don’t offer mine, because it’s hard to find another.
I did not say that I oppose Rega’s book. I liked it very much. I said that. I said I pefer Bonaventure. That’s all. Rega is a very good writer and is legitimate Franciscan historian. There is nothing in his work that is wrong. It’s a matter of taste, not the content of the book.
Well—I acknowledged that you acknowledge–that Rega is a very good writer and a legitimate Franciscan historian. So what did I misunderstand on that. Reading about one side of St. Francis (his mysticism) does not adequately give the complete picture of St. Francis. By reading other works ex. Rega–a person can attain a more clear understanding of St.Francis and his life.
Frank Rega: There is no doubt that ecumenism since Vatican II has diluted and weakened the efforts at evangelization. On the other hand, diplomatic dialog is quite necessary; for example, in negotiating to have the Saudi’s allow Catholic worship and churches in their nation. But the pendulum is swinging towards the more traditional view of converting unbelievers rather than only dialoging for the sake of mutual understanding. One indication of the paradigm shift is the very public reception of Magdi Christiano Allam into the Church by the Holy Father himself.
Also, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a document last December reminding Catholics that ecumenical efforts should not cause us to neglect the gospel mandate to seek the conversion of others to Christ. This must be accomplished without coercion, but rather by a dialog of conversion. This is what Francis did in his conversations with the Sultan.
The problem arises with a certain philosophy of ecumenism that seeks some type of indefinite mutual coexistence of differing religions, or worse yet, that would strive for a for “pan-religion” by the merging of religious traditions. This approach is a denial that the Catholic Religion is the one true faith founded by Jesus Christ.
It seems that Mr Rega has a view of ecumenism that doesn’t jive with what the Church teaches. If a person uses ecumenism to dilute the faith, he had a diluted faith to begin with. The Church clearly taught that the purity of the Catholic doctrine and the truth of it is not to be compromised. From UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO:
**11. The way and method in which the Catholic faith is expressed should never become an obstacle to dialogue with our brethren. It is, of course, essential that the doctrine should be clearly presented in its entirety. Nothing is so foreign to the spirit of ecumenism as a false irenicism, in which the purity of Catholic doctrine suffers loss and its genuine and certain meaning is clouded.
At the same time, the Catholic faith must be explained more profoundly and precisely, in such a way and in such terms as our separated brethren can also really understand.
Moreover, in ecumenical dialogue, Catholic theologians standing fast by the teaching of the Church and investigating the divine mysteries with the separated brethren must proceed with love for the truth, with charity, and with humility. When comparing doctrines with one another, they should remember that in Catholic doctrine there exists a “hierarchy” of truths, since they vary in their relation to the fundamental Christian faith. Thus the way will be opened by which through fraternal rivalry all will be stirred to a deeper understanding and a clearer presentation of the unfathomable riches of Christ.**
In light of this, I would look at Mr. Rega’s book carefully. Assuming that the lack of faith is in any way the result of Vat II is wrong. False ecumenism results in a dilution of the Catholic faith by BEING evangelized by those who you are trying to convert. This comes from not knowing your faith well enough as well as not living it. The true faith of Catholic Christianity lived has behind it no less than union with God. Sin, not the teachings of the Church, leads us away from God.
Thank you, Brother JR, this makes a lot of sense to me now. Not just intellectual sense, liveable sense.
I went to Mass this morning thinking over what you said, and today‘s Scriptures underscored it for me.
Isaiah 50: 5-9: You don‘t have to win, just be found on God‘s side. God will win.
Mark 8:27-35: Being quick on the draw with the verbal „right answer“ (You are the Messiah) isn‘t enough. And being con-“front“-ational more often than not messes things up, even does Satan‘s work, and earns the rebuke "Get thee behind Me“ - get behind and follow.
Thanks also to everyone who has suggested literature – I have food for lots of thought and a lot of learning to do.
I’m so glad that you used that word, liveable, because this is how Francis and his sons and daughters have embraced the Gospel. When we make vows, we promise to observe the rule. Now, you may find our formula for profession very interesting in its wording. Take a look.
“I, Brother N, vow and promise to almighty God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to our holy Father St. Francis, to all the angels and saints, and to you Brother, **to observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ **in the manner of our holy Father St. Francis, in obedience, without property and in chastity, all the days of my life.”
Observe that the vow is to observe the Gospel. Therefore, the Gospel becomes our way of life. The Gospel is the rule of the Franciscan family. The rule of St. Francis is a commentary on the Gospel. He adds to this his mandates on how the Gospel is best lived. So there is a combination of evangelical spirituality with Franciscan legislation. In other words, Francis creates for us a syllabus, just like a teacher. He says, “Here is the rule (the Gospel) and here is what it means and how you shall live it day to day.”
In later years he wrote a Testament, before he died. In his Testament he goes on to further explain that one cannot live this life without the Gospel and that one cannot live the Gospel without following the manner that Christ has revealed to him. He acknowledges that he is nothing, but that he is insisting on total obedience and submission to this way of living, because Christ revealed it to him. In essence, his last will and testament is a reminder that we are not to follow him, just because he says so, but we are to follow Christ, because Christ set up this way of life and he is just the messenger.
If you observe very closely, Francis does not set out to win a battle, but to deliver a message. His dying concern is to make sure that the message is delivered and preserved for all time. He doesn’t even focus too much on whether anyone actually accepts the message. That is between the individual and God. His mission is to deliver the message.
What was that message? “Go and build.” You cannot build if you’re constantly in conflict with your fellow workers. You certainly cannot build, if others view you as a threat or as an antagonist or simply as oen who likes to argue for the sake of hearing yourself speak.
To build is to bring pieces together. The pieces that the Lord asked Francis and his family to bring together were human beings with soul, mind and body. You cannot bring human beings together who are reluctant or bullied. The building will only stand if there is the cement is there. The cement is love. You must love those whom you bring into the building called the Church and they must love you. Why so? The Church is modeled on the Trinity. What binds the Trinity are two things: all three persons are of the same divine essence and they love each other.
To build the Church all the members must be of the same heart, as it says in the Acts of the Apostles when it describes the early Church. And all the members love one another.
The silence of which we speak is not the absence of words, but the absence of prozeletism. To preach with words and with one’s life one need not prozeletize. This is why many fundamentalists find Francis a hard pill to swallow. But in the Franciscan tradition, we strongly believe that the faith, if it is lived properly, sells itself. Therefore, as Pope Benedict recently told the entire Franciscan family, the first place where we have to begin to build is within ourselves.
As you can see, this concept is very active. One is in a constant state of change for the better. At the same time it is very silent. One avoids any confrontation that will lead to the violation of charity in words, in actions or even in perception. We must never be perceived as violating charity. Our whole life is to live the Gospel. The Gospel is the perfection of charity.
I’m always reminded of Jn 6. Jesus speaks about the Bread of Life and people walk away. He has only one comment. He asked the apostles if they were leaving too. He did not chase down those who walked away. He did not say a single negative thing about them or to them. He was saddened, as we can tell by the tone in which he asks the apostles, “Are you leaving too?” But he is not going to chase those who left and he is not going to speak negatively about them.
We have a tendency to either chase people down to get them to see our way or to haunt them and make their life impossible. We also have a tendency to begin to label people as heretics, schismatics, dissidents, liberals, neocons, and the list goes on. That was not Jesus’ style. Therefore, it is not in the Gospel, so it is not in the rule, because the Gospel is the rule.
There are times when Jesus does get pushed against the wall by the Pharisees and he lets them have it, such as when he calls them whitened sepulchers and vipers. But we have to observe what is happening in those scenes. Jesus is not defending himself or his point. He is defending the people whom the Pharisees are trying to oppressed into submission. Jesus comes out in a strong defense of the underdog. This is true of Franciscan spirituality also. You must always come out in defense of the underdog, not of yourself. This we can see so clearly in the action of St. Maximilian Kolbe and Archbishop Chaput.
Our spirit is one that says, “You can attack me; but never hurt the innocent in my presence.” Just as Jesus did not allow the Parisees to hurt anyone in his presence. Even when Jesus turns the tables in the temple. What was happening was that the money changes were cheating the poor. That’s why he says that they would not turn his fathers house into a den of thieves. We often overlook the word thief. He was not opposed to using the temple to do good.
Silence is very much a part of the Franciscan tradition. But the silence must be broken when the innocent are being hurt. When words are used for the sake of conflict and debate, there is no use engaging. It is not going to serve a good purpose. Conflict is the work of the devil. The devil loves to divide the sons and daughters of God.
This non-confrontational style is perhaps what keeps the novelties of Fr. Richard Rohr from being condemned. Ignoring Sacred Tradition is less noticeable then denigrating it but it is still in opposition to it if one says things that are not in the same sense as what was handed down. “Cosmic Christ”, Telliard de Chardin’s “Omega Point” of evolutionism that is the very definition of modernist, and his views on “blood atonement” are accepted as “enlightened” by progressive Catholics. By not expounding on his views, he gets inside the Church as an advancement of doctrine but is exactly what Pope St. Pius X was calling “modernist”, defining the faith in light of worldly knowledge instead of defining worldly knowledge in light of the truth of the faith.
Debate has its place, animus and hostility do not, and must be seen as a way we humans come to realization of that which is true. It does not serve religion to argue amongst ourselves on matters of personal preference or to try to argue a man into faith, but to accept teachings opposed to Sacred Tradition without a well informed response is what those traditionalists wrongly say of the Church and Vat II, to accept heresy for a peace that is false.
I see Jesus opposing false “truth” in those not doing the will of the Father, the Pharisees. I see the same in Fr. Rohr presiding at a lesbian “commitment” ceremony in October of 1996. Not representative of Franciscan Spirituality, Fr. Rohr must be denounced by credible exegetical scholarship, even debate, if necessary.
I am not a fan of Fr. Richard Rohr. Not an indictment of Franciscans everywhere but the style of his preaching is maybe that which leads to acceptance among those who wish not to argue. Far from the modern day contention that one is right and thus the other person is wrong, argument arrives at statements arriving at the truth. Even as most argue today to be right and not to come to that which is true, we should argue when one is clearly wrong.
I am more of a fan of the Dominicans and St. Thomas Aquinas, not to the exclusion of others, but I see in Fr. Rohr a definition of what is modernist. I do not discount the term “modernist” because traditionalists have used it against anything “modern”, it does remains a viable heresy that changes the truth of the faith. Fr. Rohr’s style may be associated with this acceptance.
This style is the subject of your post and my opinion of how Fr. Rohr is accepted is related to this style of preaching. He stated in an interview that his lack of antagonism toward that which is opposed to his view is why he thinks he is not reprimanded for going against Church teaching and Tradition. His lack of clarifying his views leads those not well versed in Sacred Tradition to accept Duns Scotus’ “Incarnation Atonement” in place of, and in opposition to, “Blood Atonement”, despite what the Church has offered Traditionally.
Actually, Incarnation Atonement was nor originally an idea of John Duns Scotus. It was an idea of St. Francis of Assisi and it has been accepted by the Church along with Aquinas’ Blood Atonement. They are both regarded as right. The confusion in many lay peopel’s mind is often caused by not following Francis’ thought to completion. Francis of Assisi begins with John’s Prologue. The eternal Son of God become human for the sake of redemption and his entire life is one of redeeming mankind from sin, so that when Christ arrives at Calvary he fulfills the mission that is begun at the Incarnation, which is to bring all things into one with him and present a redeemed humanity to the Father. Without the Incarnation there would be no cross. This was Francis’ thesis. Unless God becomes man, love is not known. It is God’s love that saves. But God’s love is not encapsauled at the cross. Rather, the cross is the summit of love. God’s love for humanity begins in eternity before humanity is even created. God’s love saves man from sin. Even if man had not sinned, God would have become incarnate out of love. That is the entire teaching.
As to Fr. Rohr, we cannot condemn the man for obedience to what he has sworn to live until his death, that is obedience to the rule of Francis of Assisi, confirmed by Pope Innocent III and sealed with the Bull of Pope Honorius for all time. As Pope Leo XIII and Pius X have said, the rule of St. Francis cannot be changed, because it is the perfect rule of life. While it would be a sin against the Holy Spirit to compare it to other rules of life and imply that it is superior than those written by other holy founders, it did lead Francis to become the Mirror of Perfection or as Pope Leo XII called him, the Perfect Christian.
Fr. Rohr’s apparent silence on some issues may not be an embrace of those issues. Rather, it is a position of preaching through presence and through example, rather than through confrontation and conflict. If you observe contemporary Franciscans such as Benedict Groeschel, Sean O’Malley, Charles Chaput, the Franciscans of the Renewal, the Franciscans of the Eternal Word, the Capuchins, the Friars Minor, the Conventuals, the Secular Franciscans, the Third Order Regular, none of our brothers ever engage in public disputes. This is contrary to the image of Francis of Assisi.
Our rule is very specific. We are to live the Gospel. We are to preach the Gospel using words when necessary, but most importantly, we are to imitate Francis of Assisi. Francis commanded aboslute obedience and imitation to this way even after his death. He was so convinced that his way had been revealed to him directly by Christ that in later writings, after he wrote the rule, he adds a threat of hell to those who do not follow his way.
The Church studied this rule several times. It was under scrutiny by Innocent III and Honoirus, as I already said and found to be consistent with the truths that have been revealed to the Church. Later it was studied by Leo XIII and Pius X, both Franciscans. Both found that it was consistent with the teachings of the Church. Later it was reviewed again by John XXIII and Paul VI and again it was found consistent with the teachings of the Church. Finally, it has been reviewed this past year by Pope Benedict and not found lacking in anything. Therefore, no pope has ever changed a letter of it. Only a pope can change the rule or its demands. Even the friars cannot change the rule. Once a rule receives a papal bull, it has the same binding force as an encyclical and can only be changed or revised by a pope.
What may look like modernism is really an attitude of peace and inner silence that has to be protected at all costs and obedience to Francis’ command that the brothers and sisters should not be quarrelsome, but should preach only when required to do so. And when they preach, they may never engage in disputes. Their preaching must be direct teaching of truth without engaging with anyone. If you’re watching a Franciscan in an interview, that is not the forum for a Franciscan to dispute an error; because that kind of forum allows the other person to engage you. That is the part that has to be avoided, not the proclamation of truth. We avoid the engagement.
You will always see Franciscans preaching the faith, but always in an envrionment where there is no possibility for confrontation or dispute. The idea is that the Gospel is not up for dispute. Therefore, you do not provide an opportunity for it. The Gospel is sacred and must always be protected from being dragged into a debate that may result in a lack of charity or in behavior that disturbs the inner silence and inner peace of the Franciscan.
We become Franciscans to imitate Christ as Francis did, not to preach, teach or do as the laity wants us to do. That is not the charism of our life. Sometimes we disappoint the laity, because all too often the laity does not understand the complete picture. But if they did, they would not be disappointed.
Finally, not knowing Fr. Richard, I cannot say if he’s being faithful to the rule or not. You have seen him or heard him. Maybe with the little information about the rule that I have shared, you may be able to say whether he’s living up to it or not. I’ll let you be the judge of that. I can’t judge a behaviior that I have not seen. I wish I could be more helpful.
Thank you for posting this thread. Brother JR’s words struck me profoundly when I read them in the other thread and I was hoping to follow up on them myself.
Thank you for answering so completely and profoundly. I have always seen myself as more Dominican than Franciscan, but I have recently struggled with the confrontations that a more direct approach involves, and your words about the way of St Francis strike a deep chord in me.
Your comments about incarnation atonement are very interesting to me. I have personal (not doctrinal) difficulties with blood atonement, and that idea also speaks to me.
I will read further on both issues. Thank you and God bless you.
You’re very welcome. That being said, it’s important to remember that what the Franciscan school proposes does not negate the sacrifice of the cross. The Franciscan proposal is simply a very holistic approach to the mystery of the redemption. It begins with the second person of the Trinity becoming human. Without an incarnation, Calvary would not be possible. Then one has to reflect on the why of the incarnation. Of course the answer is love. As we look at Christ’s saving act what we see is that God’s love is what saves. God’s love for us existed before the begining of time and it is brought to full disclosure in the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Christ. So that when Francis looks at the cross he sees the incarnate son of God offering his life for love. Therefore, the cross is goes beyond a sign of suffering and becomes a sign of love being poured out for the sake of the beloved: humanity.