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.
Just as the root feeds the tree, so humility feeds the soul. The spirit of humility is sweeter than honey, and whoever is fed by this sweetness produces fruit.
The Third Order of St. Francis was born to satisfy this thirst for heroism among those who though having to remain in the world did not wish to be of the world. The Third Order, then, seeks souls who long for Perfection in their own state.
Soon we shall be in eternity, and then we shall see how very petty are the things of this earth and how inconsequential it is whether we are involved in them or not. Now we get all worked up as if they were terribly important! When we were small children, how carefully we collected pieces of wood, stone and such to build huts, and if someone knocked them down we cried; then we were all put out, but now we understand how unimportant these things were. We will feel the same way one day in Heaven, when we see that all our preoccupations in this world were nothing but childish concerns. Be faithful to your duties, but be convinced that there is nothing more worthy or more important than eternal salvation and the perfection of your soul.
Be sure, my daughter, that if you seek to lead a devout life, you must not merely forsake sin; but you must further cleanse your heart from all affections pertaining to sin; for, to say nothing of the danger of a relapse, these wretched affections will perpetually enfeeble your mind, and clog it, so that you will be unable to be diligent, ready and frequent in good works, wherein nevertheless lies the very essence of all true devotion. Souls which, in spite of having forsaken sin, yet retain such likings and longings, remind us of those persons who, without being actually ill, are pale and sickly, languid in all they do, eating without appetite, sleeping without refreshment, laughing without mirth, dragging themselves about rather than walking briskly.
~ St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life via a minor friar blog
The way to the goal of the spiritual journey, therefore, is only through the most burning love. But love demands a price. Insofar as the specific object of St. Francis’s reflection is the crucified Christ, when the religious subject is bound to such an object in the furnace of burning love, it becomes clear why at least the spirit of St. Francis would be deeply marked by the cruciform love of Christ. But because of the intensity of this experience, that which marked the soul poured over into his body as well. As the Journey of the Soul into God puts it: “his spirit shone through his flesh” (JS prol. 3 [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”][5:295]).
~ Zachary Hayes OFM, Bonaventure: Mystical Writings[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]
This is the verse from Matthew: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. In the Gospel, when Jesus says these words, he’s ravenous from forty days in the desert. But he’s speaking with the devil here about a great deal more than bread. Men and women need food and shelter to survive. These things are basic to their dignity. But they need God to be fully alive. Human beings are more than a bundle of appetites. Our longings go beyond what we can see and touch and taste. We were made for God. And material answers to questions of the soul can never be more than a narcotic. The proof is all around us. So much of the suffering in modern American life—we see it every day—can be traced to our misdirected desires, and the distractions we use to feed them. We look for joy and purpose in things that can never give us either.
~ Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M.Cap., Remarks delivered October 1, 2013 at Philadelphia’s St. Charles Borromeo Seminary as part of a Year of Faith discussion series, via First Things
And I saw the river over which every soul must pass to reach the kingdom of heaven and the name of that river was suffering and I saw a boat which carries souls across the river and the name of that boat was love.
~ St. John of the Cross
The simplification of our lives is not so much in what we rid ourselves of as in what we concentrate on, what focuses the soul.
~ Murray Bodo, O.F.M. — The Way of St. Francis: The Challenge of Franciscan Spirituality for Everyone
No one in the world can change Truth. What we can do and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the catacombs of concentration camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are victories on the battlefield if we ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?
~ Regis Armstrong, The Franciscan Tradition (Spirituality in History)