Those who habitual seek to avoid all pain and experience only what is pleasant and comfortable, will sooner or later find themselves carrying far heavier crosses than those who try to consent to sufferings it would be unrealistic to try to eliminate.
Francis was a true lover of Christ, according to Bonaventure, because he was perfectly conformed to the Crucified Christ both in spirit and in flesh. The stigmatized Francis signifies to Bonaventure that if one desires happiness and peace, one must contemplate God and strive for mystical union through conformity to Christ Crucified, the Word of God.
The saints habitually lived in that interior time. To do that required great inner freedom, total detachment from our own plans and programs and inclinations. We must be ready to do in an instant just what we hadn’t expected, to live in total self-abandonment, with no other concern than doing God’s will and being fully available to people and events. We also need to experience in prayer God’s presence within us and to listen inwardly to the Holy Spirit so as to follow his suggestions.
The reality of following Jesus is always communal. The first disciples formed a community around Jesus. They were together when he was arrested. They were together when he was resurrected. They were together when the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost. In Acts 2:4 they stayed together as an intentional community, which evangelized Jerusalem and grew. The only time they were split up was when they lost their courage in the face of the cross or were forced to do so through persecution.
The new way to live our lives is found in the embodiment of the position of minority rooted in a commitment to lifelong conversion. When capital gain and power over others are the measures of success, voluntarily embracing minority is indeed a novel way to live. [St.] Francis demonstrates that authentic Christian living is rooted in becoming subject to our brothers and sisters and, by doing so, avoiding the pitfalls of power and unjust authority. Merton teaches us that it is God who models the greatest example of humility through the Incarnation, and it is through contemplation that we come to see this more clearly. The lives of Francis and Merton show us that this is not an overnight process. Rather, we must remain committed to the process of lifelong conversion that draws us nearer to God and each other.
It is simply that [Pope] Francis, following the tradition of the name he has taken, has changed, not the essence of the message, but its tone, dialect, and presentation. Francis feels the void into which he must reach — he knows the materialism, nihilism, and skepticism from which he must reclaim men’s minds. Thus, he does not emphasize morality so much as compassion, and he is ready at every moment to mingle acts of mercy with calls for justice. He does not fear paradox. He is capable of writing theology, but he prefers a gospel of encounter. He does not lead with condemnation; he leads with the caress. He affirms neither Right nor Left, neither socialist nor capitalist. He moves through such mental barricades as if they were not even there, declaring openly the hollowness of ideology.”
Living the spirit spelled out in the Rule and Constitutions is the criterion that proves the legitimacy of our calling. Our vocation expects us to give flesh, in daily life, to the words of our Franciscan profession. Love of people, conversion, reconciliation, forgiveness, contemplation, love for all of creation, prayerfulness, etc. become normal for us.
Looking at the history of the Church, the “reforms” that stick tend to flow from the “spirited” energy of a charismatic founder: Benedict, Francis, Dominic. The monastic and mendicant movements were not options debated academically. Nor were they more-or-less well-planned alternatives to the status quo. They were the fruit of the Spirit, raising up leaders among the anawim of their time. No one movement is condemned into obsolescence by the arrival of a new charism. They are many parts serving the One Body; each aiming to live the vita evangelica in their own cultural context. At present, the majority of the “option” conversations seem too heady, lacking the spirit necessary to function effectively as creative minorities. Such conversations are not useless. They might even be necessary. History shows, however, that in times of upheaval, the Church – and thus the world – is kept afloat not by brilliant schemes but by the intervention of the Spirit.
For [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][St.] Francis, only God is truly pure. The person who desires friendship with God must strive to be free from all attachments and from all commitments that are exclusively human or in relation to earthly realities. This does not mean that we are to give up our friends or sacrifice our desire for a better job or position. Rather, we may understand attachment here as possessiveness. We are called to be dispossessed of earthly things so as to possess God. To possess means to “cling to,” to hold on to something so tightly that other possibilities are “squeezed out.” Each of us is called to be poor, to empty ourselves of all that we cling to so that we may receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
~ Ilia Delio, Franciscan Prayer
Furthermore, when media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously. In this context, the great sages of the past run the risk of going unheard amid the noise and distractions of an information overload. Efforts need to be made to help these media become sources of new cultural progress for humanity and not a threat to our deepest riches. True wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution. Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature. Today’s media do enable us to communicate and to share our knowledge and affections. Yet at times they also shield us from direct contact with the pain, the fears and the joys of others and the complexity of their personal experiences. For this reason, we should be concerned that, alongside the exciting possibilities offered by these media, a deep and melancholic dissatisfaction with interpersonal relations, or a harmful sense of isolation, can also arise.