To reach the place

In Franciscan Spirituality, the poverty and humility of God form the foundation of our entire theology. God’s desire to love us and to be physically with us is manifested in Jesus, the Word of the Father. Our God is not a God of vindication but a God of reckless abandon, giving everything (kenosis) in order to complete His desire to love each one of us.

This is what fed the insatiable desire of Francis to conform himself to Jesus, imitating Him as completely as possible. Francis sees Jesus in the same light as the Father, poor and humble, but the beloved (totally loved) Son of the Father. Francis too wants to become a beloved son of the Father and pursues a life imitating his (as he remarks) elder brother Jesus, who alone can lead him to the Father.

For this reason, Francis for himself sets out on a path of poverty and humility in imitation of the life Jesus lived. This is the only way he sees where it is possible to move beyond personal needs and wants, beyond ourselves, and to reach the place of transformation and surrender.

~ Bob Fitzsimmons, OFS, “Understanding Franciscan Theology, Tradition and Spirituality” (FUN Manual)

The primacy of love

For Bonaventure, as for Scotus, Christ’s redemptive work relates to the overcoming of sin, but it does so in a way that brings God’s creative action in the world to completion. This notion of redemption-completion, underscoring the primacy of Christ, allows for a broader view of salvation, one focused not on sin but on the primacy of love. In this respect, redemption is creative; it is that healing of the brokenness within humanity and Creation that enables the cosmic process to be completed, in which completion itself is a dynamic process of continuous Creation that is oriented toward the new Creation. Redemption, therefore, is not being “saved from” but rather being made “whole for” the healing and wholeness of God’s Creation, and this wholeness is ultimately the transformation of created reality through the unitive power of God’s creative love.

~ Ilia Delio, O.S.F. , “Revisiting the Franciscan Doctrine of Christ“,  Theological Studies 64 (2003)

A constant process of transformation

The world which is seemingly so clearly defined, distinct, sure, and so utterly concrete, is in fact none of these things; in it God is effecting a constant process of transformation. Under cover of the old, in day-to-day events, encounters and actions, grows the new world, which will be completed at the second coming of Christ.

Transformed into living witnesses

A serious life of contemplative prayer is very important for the times in which we live. The traditional structures of support that have made our lives comfortable and easy are presently engulfed in confusion, but transformation is slowly taking place.

God is moving us away from clinging to things, people and institutions. He is calling us to detachment, to the desert, to the journey into the night of naked faith. He is calling us to cling to him, and only him. This journey is difficult, frightening at times, and even risky. But, those who embark upon the journey will be transformed into living witnesses of the God of love.

~ Fr. James Farfaglia, Prayer Is the Only Way

To be transformed

The message of Jesus is folly, in human terms. Anybody who spoke like Jesus today would be considered mad, only good for a psychiatrist. His message is not for the wise; those who think that they have the power, strength and knowledge to transform the world will not understand that the folly of His message is the gift of the Spirit and the transformation of their hearts. The message is for the wounded and the little ones, the poor ones, those who are awaiting the liberator and the good news. The deeply wounded person will always recognise the liberator, because the presence of Jesus will free him, bring him peace and strength and courage, and although he cannot understand the meaning of the little piece of bread and the wine, he knows that he needs them to be transformed.

~ Jean Vanier, Be Not Afraid via Heather King

Our task is enormous

This is the summation of living the Rule: transformation in Christ, messengers of peace and hope in a world with ever more violence, marginalization, secularity, and poverty. Our task is enormous, but by the grace of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we will continue to be Good News to others as we await the Father’s arms.

~ Pat Brandwein-Ball, SFO, “Justice Peace and the Integrity of Creation” (Chapter 13 of the FUN Manual)

The goal of prayer

We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing. Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ; rather, it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation. The goal of prayer, therefore, is to be transformed into the image of the crucified Spouse. This means we are to become vessels of God’s compassionate love for others.

~ Ilia Delio, Franciscan Prayer

To set the human heart on fire

Franciscan prayer, lived to its full, is to set the human heart on fire. It is to transform one’s body into a body of love and one’s actions into actions of love. In this transformation is the fire that can set the earth ablaze—the fire of light, peace, justice, unity and dignity.

~ Ilia Delio, Franciscan Prayer

To choose violence…

To choose violence is not to cut off the possibility of suffering, in other words, but rather to cut off the possibility of good. It’s to forestall the transformation that always comes about when we refrain from violence, for Christ’s sake, when violence would be expedient. Christianity has never, ever claimed to be expedient. Christianity has never remotely claimed to be about results, efficiency, numbers, worldly success. Hitler was efficient. The death camps got results. Christianity is about the one lost sheep.

~Heather King, Shirt of Flame