Sign of our openness

Poverty invites us to go beyond ourselves, by taking from us everything on which we might tend to lean. It is not a matter of simply being poor but of having nothing that can prevent us from being wholly open to the grace of God. The practice of poverty, therefore, is the condition and sign of our openness to the mystery of God.

~ Ilia Delio, Franciscan Prayer

Not knowing

But a look at our tradition will show that faith is really the opposite of certitude. Rather, it is being willing to move into darkness, into not being sure. It means taking risks, allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of, having the grace to move through chancy, uncertain waters, letting go of control and trusting that God will always be there. It means living with the mystery of things, not knowing for sure what’s going to happen or that it’ll turn out okay.

~ Richard Rohr, “Out of a Prayerful Heart,” Near Occasions of Grace

Laudato Si: Rather than a problem to be solved

What is more, Saint Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness. “Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker” (Wis 13:5); indeed, “his eternal power and divinity have been made known through his works since the creation of the world” (Rom 1:20). For this reason, Francis asked that part of the friary garden always be left untouched, so that wild flowers and herbs could grow there, and those who saw them could raise their minds to God, the Creator of such beauty. Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.

~ Pope Francis, Laudato Si (Praise be to you – On Care For Our Common Home), Paragraph 12

In silence and wonder

For Secular Franciscans, conversion is the singular character of the Order, which is supported by the initial and ongoing processes of formation in the life of the fraternity. In the end, conversion is shot through with mystery. While personal stories, biblical insights, the sacraments of initiation, theological reflections and psychological categories are helpful to understand and explain the experience, the Christian tradition in the end must stand before the grace of God in silence and wonder.

~ Ron Pihokker, OFS, “Penitence and Conversion: Spirituality of Conversion” (Chapter 17 of the FUN Manual)

The finite things of the world

The issue is that we commonly fail to read the book of creation properly. We too easily give distorted importance to the finite things of the world which should be—in their goodness, truth, and beauty—symbols of the divine. Instead, we let them become ends in themselves, replacing the mystery of God, who alone can fill the emptiness that yawns in our depths.

~ St. Bonaventure, Soliloquium

The soul of all they are and do

The brothers and sisters should love meeting God as His children and they should let prayer and contemplation be the soul of all they are and do. They should seek to discover the presence of the Father in their own heart, in nature, and in the history of humanity in which His plan of salvation is fulfilled. The contemplation of this mystery will dispose them to collaborate in this loving plan.

~ General Constitution of the Secular Franciscan Order, Article 12

Our inability to become like a little child

I realize that no one will believe me, but I have no hesitation about affirming that a serious beginning is made in the spiritual life the moment a man makes a genuine act of humility. So often for most men the early stages of faith, or, in the case of others its development, is blocked, poisoned, distorted, or relegated to an everlasting tomorrow by our inability to become like a little child and to cast ourselves, in the spirit of a child, into the enfolding arms of God’s mystery. We try to show God how clever we are, when no class of men is so abhorrent to the Gospel; we want to lay down conditions to the Eternal and Infinite One, but the Infinite does not respond, and the Eternal allows time to destroy us.

–Carlo Carretto, In Search of the Beyond, via SHIRT OF FLAME

The only way we have of knowing

The mystery of the poor is this: That they are Jesus, and what you do for them you do for Him. It is the only way we have of knowing and believing in our love. The mystery of poverty is that by sharing in it, making ourselves poor in giving to others, we increase our knowledge of and belief in love.

~Dorothy Day, The Mystery of the Poor