I have come to think that care of the soul requires a high degree of resistance to the culture around us, simply because that culture is dedicated to values that have no concern for the soul. To preserve our precious hearts, we may have to live economically against the grain, perhaps so as not to be forced into soul maiming work just to place bread on the table or put our children through college. We may not want to be plugged into electronic media and have our thoughts laundered daily with biased news, superficial commentary, and “lite” entertainment. We may not want to contribute to disastrous pollution of nature or participate in the current value empty philosophy of education. This comtemptus mundi is not a misanthropic, superior rejection of life’s pleasures but, rather, a compassionate attempt to find more grounded pleasure and communal fulfillment in deep appreciation for life relieved of ambition and control.
To place anything—be it another deity or something more commonplace like romantic love, anger, ambition, or fear—before the Almighty is to give it preeminence in our regard. To become too attached to a thought or feeling or thing is to place it between God and ourselves. When we attach ourselves to something other than God, God’s presence is blocked, unseen, and disconnected from our awareness. The straight line between creature and Creator is then impeded, and—as with most unwise detours—disorientation follows.
If I were to be a good Franciscan, that is, Christlike, I would first of all have to be in almost all points as this peasant appears to be. That is–to set no store on pride in knowledge, or possessions, or ambitions, but completely obscure looking and acting: and with all that not envious, not ambitious, but quiet and good, and giving people things, and being patient, and working and living on little food. But being, first, nobody: this peasant, obscure and dark, and silent, and not knowing much how to talk: of such were Christ’s Apostles.
~ Thomas Merton, Run to the Mountain: The Story of a Vocation
At the foot of the cross,
I give up my vain ambition
And I leave my selfish pride
In the peace that is there,
will You restore my vision?
In all the places I am blind
My name is Lee Potts. I became a fully professed member of the Secular Franciscan Order in November 2008 and this site is a place for me to share writings that resonate with my ongoing Franciscan formation.
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