Posts Tagged ‘Francis of Assisi’


Introduction

Throughout my travels since April 2019 I have come into contact with young and seasoned youth pastors seeking to break the cycle of “trying to compete” and “bigger-better events” to realize it was not creating depth of Christian life. It led to conversations around spiritual formation and discipleship, investing in the person before you, with coffee with my minister it was talk of the emerging discussion of Liturgical Living. That is the rhythm of life. When we think of Liturgy, it is Latin for “work of the People”. It is the way the church year, and worship service is structured. It gives the ebb and flow of birth, life, death and resurrection and the Holy Spirit. Yet, it is an emergence of ancient practices for our modern world and led me to bring together some thoughts from my years of community building, and monastic formation with the Franciscans.

Corporate Personhood

On the 6th Day in the ancient Hebrew Poem[1] that is Genesis 1 lets us know that humanity is made in God’s Image (Imageo Dei). What a beautiful image that each of us is a reflection of the Holy? This idea is then carried further by the writings of Paul (Romans 12:5,1 Corinthians 12:12–27, Ephesians 3:6 and 5:23, Colossians 1:18 and 1:24) that points to Christ as the head, but we are all parts of the body. Each one of us significant, and different, but together functioning, it is a coming together of the personal and corporate personhood. Within the work of community building this sometimes takes the look at discovery what our own names mean (first, middle, last) and has it had any effect we were not aware or are aware of in shaping who we are. What does the name of our community have on shaping that? For youth, it was the work then of discussion and choosing a name through consensus that reflected our new Body of Christ, and from that flows out who we are.

Corporate Identity

As individuals we encounter tough situations in life. We have our own guide posts. Our own mentors, family and friends that feed into our being whether positively or negatively for our own growth, and shape our core being that is given the guideposts of core values, beliefs, and learning. The corporate religious person is the same. The challenge is that each part of the body exists within a spectrum of spiritual development. Yet, in a corporate gathering we can work together with the guideposts. For Paul wrote to the church of Corinth “I fed you with milk, not solid food, for eyou were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,” (1 Corinthians 3:2, English Standard Version). It is the beginning of a journey, but we are laying ground work and preparing, working as one to cast a vision for who we are now, and who we are being called to be. It is like the Liturgy, for what the Liturgy in a service builds to reflect what is valued most by the gathered community, same as with the spiritual formation process.

It leads to opening up to setting of core values that become the guide posts for behaviour, and conversation creators. I remember in the late 1990’s when I began working with youth and children, doing events and retreats, the standard across mainline and evangelical circles was rules based on “thou shalt nots” and SAD rules (No Sex, Alcohol or Drugs). Discussing with colleagues and finding that incidents were up quite high at events, we entered a time of discernment for something different. That was the shift to the Values, and the who we are, and out of that our actions will be shaped. Much like Jesus when he would sit with the woman at the Well, the religious leaders, or even his disciples…remember when he called Peter Satan? It was a teaching moment to remind Peter who he truly was based on the Shema (the Great Commandments, a prayer of the Temple) and to get out of his head and back to his Godly heart. So too this conversation of Corporate Personhood, shapes the community and creates the courageous safe space for any to enter, and know what they are joining, and that it is a journey of transformational change ahead.

Just like the rhythm of prayers in the Liturgy of gratitude-thanksgiving, grace, confession, reconciliation, assurance of pardon, prayers of the people…so too the community values set the rhythm of life for each gathering. It also allows for the courageous conversations of what topics the gathered are struggling with or curious about to set the Holy Conversations (curriculum) and what aspects of the Bible and faith they want to deep dive into.

One Example

There are many examples that can be drawn of those within church families and those that came from community and the change this type of rhythm created in their life. Positive shifts, minute or major, yet each story is personalized and contextualized. What happens though with the corporate personhood becomes the lighthouse in the community, “Your word is a lamp for my feet,  a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105, New International Version). This is what shaped my coming to corporate personhood. It is the benchmarks in the Rule of Life Ministry of the lay Franciscan Orders. I have modified some of the questions that can arise, as I have used this in many contexts of spiritual formation classes for the Christian to the Non-Christian in church, spiritual direction centres, simple communities, and post-secondary classes (non-Christian schools), please note my thoughts are italicized (and on my YouTube channel short thoughts about each):

The Holy Eucharist.

Since we see the Eucharist as the heart of our prayer, our personal rule would call us to frequent participation in this Sacrament. We partake of the Eucharist on all Sundays and all these Principal Feast Days — Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension Day, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, and All Saints Day (if available in your area.)

Eucharist, or communion, a sacred gathering of being family, at the Institution of the Sacrament we have two versions, in the synoptic gospels it is highly focused on the meal and the symbolism. In John, we get the sacrament of service, with the foot washing that became part of early practice within Ana-Baptist communities, and a part of the Maundy Thursday Service, highly powerful if uncomfortable. The symbol of care for feet, the often ignored, but most important part of the body, for one who uses a wheel chair it could be the hands. It is showing care for the least thought of symbolically.

It is also more, for in these stories, it is Christ shifting from Master to friends. The equality of all. There is a structure given, but also the acknowledgement that something holy happens each time we gather in community to eat together. The being present in the now, and listening not simply to respond, but the shift to listening from the heart. That is to understand one another, and discover who each other are. It shows the power, as Peter’s anxiety is revealed, Judas’ treachery, all in the conversation, and letting the silence rest to be filled. It creates space for the corporate Personhood to become healthier, and a place of belonging.

What questions does it raise for the value placed around ensuring enough for all?

Ensuring that all are heard?

That all are valued?

What is the practice of the Eucharist for yourself and community?

Penitence. (Daily Self Examin)

Regular examination of our obedience to Christ is necessary. To be reconcilers we must first be deeply reconciled to God. We practice daily self-examination and annual use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

I have used in my own praxis the concept of self-Examin, instead of penitence. The reason of heart is simple, not everything is about self-flagellation. In the course of the day there is oops, could’ve done that better, should apologize, but there is also beautiful moments of knowing the Holy Spirit, seeing God show up unexpectedly, feeling gratitude, joy, hope and love. It becomes a look at our own day, and knowing that God is in it all, and it is okay to have the full spectrum of emotions. The journey takes us through, as Psalm 23 phrases “The valley of the Shadow of Death” but also in Psalm 23 it lets us know that all we need is God, for all the rest creates white noise, that is if we truly come into our understanding how does it shift our experience of life?

What is reconciliation? Obviously not a Presbyterian Sacrament, it is Roman Catholic and-or Anglican. It is not just the sin list, but the work that comes to reconcile with those harmed by actions. Yet, there are a time when that is not safe, or times when the reconciliation is about yourself to God. Sometimes reconciliation is about coming to love yourself, and letting what the world or church has put on you to be blown away with the Ruah (breath of God) to be who we are truly called to be.

For beginning learning about this, the space for positivity can be created by asking for 3 things thankful for, 1 thing to do for health or helping, and one thing that has been learned between each gathering from members.

Personal Prayer.

We set aside a definite time for prayer each day to spend time with God, to pray for others, to meditate and to express our thankfulness. Prayer is the root from which our lives and ministries grow and are nourished.

Set times, and all times. It is the discovery of healthy relationship with God and others. Understanding the wide variety of prayers and way of prayers that are out there- labyrinths, art, music, drama, writing, journaling, liturgical prayers, personal, prayers of petition, prayers of celebration, and the list goes on. Prayer is about learning how to build a relationship, to get to know God, you and neighbour, much like the Psalms show us (Billy Graham encouraged a reading of 5 Psalms a day so each month you would read through the whole book, the idea being that it shows how to be with God).

Self-Denial.

This is the discipline of saying “No” to oneself by putting God first. We are often aware of the places in our lives where additional self- discipline is needed, but our Spiritual Directors should be asked to help in this area. We also focus on eliminating the ways we may manipulate others to our own ends.

In Lent we practice giving something up. This is a step into this. The idea of fasting. It can be giving something up to replace that time to know God more. What does it mean? Within spiritual communities I would create the shock by making the time “phone free” that is the youth turning their phones in at beginning of the night to be completely present with one another. It is about understanding that there are moments in time when we step outside of ourselves to be present with neighbour, self and God for learning, discovery and growth. Too often we use things to create walls between ourselves.

Retreat.

Silent retreats and quiet days provide an opportunity to rest and grow physically, mentally and spiritually. At least once a year, we participate in organized or private retreats of at least 24 hours of silence.

Silence is hard for a retreat, trust me. I look to teaching in short spurts to enjoy silence, with prayer working on meditation, and sitting in the silence. But the idea of retreat is important. This is the understanding of Sabbath in life. Turning off the work of the day, the burdens (and yes many times this can be technology). It is also about creating structured times of being with God individually and corporately. There can be themes, specific Bible stories and spiritual practices used, but no fixed outcome. It is not like a business retreat where we are creating a vision, this is about being in the Holy Conversation with God and seeing what emerges for the next of life.

Study.

We all need to learn more about God’s will for us. Study of the Scriptures and of Franciscan spirituality is important to our Christian growth.

How does life and faith interact? What do we need to discover about culture? About our faith? Billy Graham also noted reading a chapter of proverbs a day to learn how to be with neighbour, perhaps this is like that. We spend time with our Bible, and with our newspaper and other scholarly materials to discover the intersection of life. Scholarly does not mean heady tombs, these can be books found in the non-fiction sections of bookstores and libraries on a variety of topics of interest or need.

Simplicity of Living.

Simplicity calls us to examine our giving of self as well as the material things over which we have control. Our cluttered lives, our preoccupations with “belonging”, can interfere in our relationships with God and our brothers and sisters. We are called to a life of simplicity, eliminating those aspects of ourselves and our lives which prevent our full expression of God’s love.

Work.

Service has always been an important part of the Franciscan vocation. Daily work is one way in which Tertiaries serve God and others; we are often also called to serve God and our brothers and sisters in individual ministries, ranging from prayer to social activism.

We have a cultural narrative that sets out what is valued. We miss in the cultural narrative that each person has a vocational call upon their soul from God. It is about knowing what work we have to do for survival or paying the bills. There are moments work is a must (you own a house you need to mow the lawn whether you like it or not), chores, etc. Yet, there is also choices of what we pursue in our own time as volunteers or actual callings. We live in a society that takes all types of work for our world to function, and all that needs to be honoured as we help one another discern who we are meant to be, and how to serve, learn and grow.

Obedience.

All Tertiaries are obedient to the decisions of Third Order Chapter. We say the Daily Offices, we support each other by prayer, attendance at Fellowship meetings and a pledge of financial support to the Third Order. We report regularly to the Order on the keeping of our Rule. We have Spiritual Directors whom we see regularly.

What is obedience in this day and age? Being a part of an organization usually has reporting structures. What this speaks to is an understanding of who we are (our core values), and are we living out of those values? What challenges are arising? What times of redirection? Times of change? New opportunities? Doors closing for us? New doors opening? It is about developing one’s character so that we are living our profession, and when we aren’t we are aware and go to the safe (sanctuary) space to renew and replenish.

Conclusion

St. Francis of Assisi was an odd-duck as most of the Mystics and Monastics of the Church were and are. In Franciscism there is no set “Reformation” moment in church history, it is about constant rebirths, resurrections and reformations as we continue to discover how to live the Gospel life and be the Body of Christ in our own pockets of this world. The lighthouse that casts a light. The teaching was simple, you took a Biblical teaching to heart, once it was part of you then you moved on to the next one, not before, so it was not simply knowledge amassing, but wisdom.

In the world of creating youth religious communities, it is the investment, the commitment and knowing that the goal is not confirmation but rather, does the youth know what they believe? Why the believe it? And when they are on their own, will they live it? That is discipleship, which in my humble opinion is the crux of the liturgical life.

 

 

 

[1] Poetry as in Hebrew it rhymes ideas not words as in English.


Much of the conversion drive is using points of Romans to prove that it is necessary to convert as noted previously. What is missed though is Paul’s beautiful discourse that echoes in many ways the wisdom teacher of Ecclesiastes. He is writing to the gathering of Rome, a diverse community struggling to understand a way forward in unity. Each has their own understanding of culture, norms, law, prophets and yet here they all are together. What is one to do?

Paul moves into the second chapter (Romans 2) presenting a very young type of God with creation. That is one that is wrathful, but proxies the wrath though and the mercy dependent on how the individual carries their whole being. Do they carry these judgments, hatreds and doubts? If so what is being done to help them move forward healthily, and be complete. Paul points out that it is how we live our life is what we will reap, will we need to be purged completely to enter the afterlife, or sail seamlessly from this to the next?

Works grow out of faith. Many try to create the false dichotomy between Paul and James, but as Paul had pointed out in Corinth he was involved in Jerusalem. He was aware of the teachings and the living of the life. It is the life lived that had transformed Paul that allowed Paul into the leadership circle of the Way. It was not position, but character transfigured that shone through. This is a very Franciscan principle. Many view the Franciscans as anti-learning as it is not the major pursuit as say with the Jesuits. But what Francis of Assisi had stated was simple, once you are living the first lesson then move to the next.

It is as Paul was laying out, faith becomes second nature, there is times when we are first entering and growing into our new life where we may need to pause and practice but eventually it becomes second nature. Like remembering to take your medications or practicing mindfulness (or DBT/CBT) or other forms of Soul Work. It takes practice, but eventually they become a part of who you are (Romans 3). That is that you have awoke the holy love that created you, you are becoming and have become whole, this is where you are living out of now. Not out of fear, or out of desire to be acknowledged, but simply because it is the right heart to be in (Romans 4). Like Abraham and Sarah learned, the means justify the ends, and the ends need to be achieved through a moral way, not through things that tear down, but that build up.

In the darkness we knew hope. Think about that. Anyone that has ever stepped out of themselves and sought aid, whether a spiritual director, a mentor, a life coach, a therapist, a doctor, a friend…in that moment we acknowledge we cannot do it alone (Romans 5). In that moment a courageous safe space is created. We know the cycle we are on is destroying us. It can be literal or we just know we are in the wrong groove and need to shift paths. We may need to stop a destructive behaviour, or end a toxic relationship or employment. Perhaps it is something good dangling before us but our inner quiet voice is a saboteur, or as the ancients would say a demon? That voice that keeps us frozen to keep us in what we believe is safe. But safety also has a price to pay for we are truly not who we are meant to be.

This is the step of faith. The step of opening ourselves up in hope to connect with another’s love to carry us through into our own soul-self actualized. That is right, a true whole person. It is what Jesus spoke of in the Great Commandments, the Love Commandment, connecting self-neighbour-Holy Mystery.

The bedrock of true community.

Living out of faith,

In love.

 

 


It was a statement by Jack Knight, Starman (written by James Robinson) in the 90’s that maturity was about beginning to enjoy the Groucho harp solo’s in a Marx Brothers starmanmovie. Perhaps there is something to that. For maturity is about beginning to appreciate the other, the different, or looking into something from a different point of view and growing from it.

Spiritual maturity is something found in the teachings of Brother Jesus (and let’s face it every spiritual teacher/writer in perpetuity). It is about moving from the comfortable and rote, that is from rules based, to intuition based living in the Holy Mystery. That is right.

Jesus taught in parables because of the layers of meanings that could be drawn out of it. Mystic Brother Francis of Assisi taught in wisdom to have internalized a teaching so it was like breathing before moving on. It sounds weird I know, but really it was not about amassing knowledge that mattered, it was about living within Holy Wisdom.

 

Great double talk you say. Okay, so let’s take it to a Trekkie geek level. Think of Star Trek: The Next Generation as a set of parables (not much of a stretch). Then, like most believers we have our favourite parables. Just like in Star Trek. I like the concept of these three, which do you prefer:

  1. Data and Geordi as Sherlock Holmes and Watson battling a Moriarty designed to best Data.
  2. Jean Luc-Picard’s escapades as Dixon Hill, Private Eye.
  3. Worf as Will Scarlett proudly stating “I am not a Merry Man.”

Images, thoughts and lessons can be drawn from each. These jump to your mind whether it is about team work, problem solving, love, family, etc.

Much like the parables challenge us to continue to go deeper. Yet, it is also a challenge for much like the idea of the harp solo as we grow in our understanding of spiritual life lived out a new appreciation and understanding grows. Or as some spiritual writers would state, moving from pablum to meat in the spiritual diet (or for our vegetarian/vegan readers- solid foods).

For those who read my thoughts An Epistle of Straw? this is what I see within understanding the family dynamics of leadership James, son of Mary, brother to Jesus of Nazareth brings out in his words. Striking to the heart of the parables and delivering the hard lessons that some were not willing to move into. Even though the risk could be huge as he was seeking depth of character and caring community, not breadth in numbers. Y’know like some labourer from Galilee had before him.

The question for you in your daily practice, and for me, is are we willing to see the otherside?

Are we willing to be with the harp solo?

Be with Holmes & Watson, Dixon Hill and Worf as he discovers to be a Merry Man?

Will we journey to the heart of the Sacred,

And be better for it?


Did you know in Franciscanism there is no historic Reformation?

Just a community constantly called to invention, reformation, restoration and reconciliation.

spong3I am monastically formed. I have done my Curseillo. The wife and I were blessed to be apart of a formation/discernment process for Companions in Mission with the FCJ Sisters that renewed a call to expansive-cosmic Christianity. I would also work alongside the formation materials of the Order of St. Luke the Physician in healing ministries. I continued to learn from the ancient writers, and their orders ala Ignatius of Loyola.

Before that though, I was and still hold to Franciscan formation. It began with a book, John Michael Talbot’s The Lessons of St. Francis when I was trying to understand Christian prayer in 1998-1999 upon returning to church.

From there the journey opened a world of formation and community. For my writing opened the ability to write for and be an editor on an international journal; write for another national religious publication, be a writer/editor for a local publication and locally aided in provided great spiritual formation for youth who had never even heard of Christianity, and created a dialogue within the political realm federally of our nation when I ran. It saw me go through and be mentored by members of the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans; Third Order, Society of St. Francis; and as both the OEF and TSSF had no Calgary chapter, but community of Franciscans transcended denominationalism, I could fellowship, journey and learn with the Roman Catholic Order of Secular Franciscans. All these orders were what is dubbed, Third, or as Francis told his fellow Friar when the brother received the call of love…go forth, marry and carry on living the life, for without new families and communities growing the work of the other orders dies away (just ask the Shakers).

It was a formation that some would understand as putting works above faith, yet that is wrong. It is a formation that shows faith and works as so woven together it would be like pulling apart your own DNA strands.

Preach the Gospel everywhere you go, if you must use words.

-St. Francis of Assisi

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The most important part of the formation the drive for mystic wisdom. Understanding it is easy to accumulate knowledge (anyone who has a smart phone knows knowledge is at our fingertips). Within Franciscan teaching it is the application that matters. I am a student of life, psychology, sociology, anthropology, culture, religion, spirituality, politics, history, story—the list can go on. Learning is the first step, but it is not moving from the learning until it is so applied it becomes second nature. Francis discipled his followers not to move onto the next teaching of Jesus until they were living the first one this way. The underpinning to be learned was the Great Commandments for out of that flows everything.

The question asked by the lawyer of Jesus in the market after Jesus shared the Great Commandments, the commandments that had me decide to go back to church when I read them in a broken and discarded Gideon’s New Testament in the bottom of my closet…the question that led to another shaking of the institutional foundations:

Who is my Neighbour?

spongUpcoming: Watch for my review on John Shelby Spong’s last call to reformation Unbelievable: Why Neither Ancient Creeds Nor the Reformation Can Produce a Living Faith today (2018) as he enters retirement following a stroke, here he stands once more.

 


poor

This past week’s of reflections from the Aquarian Gospel have wound around a similar theme of faith in action. That is actually living out that which we profess to live inwardly. In Franciscan Charism it is the sacred practice of open hand, knowing that which we are given is not ours, but we are stewards for a time until the true purpose comes to fruition.

This Facebook meme I posted three years ago screamed this, and came to mind as I re-read Levi’s re-imagining of these teachings have remained true to the way presented in Canonical Gospels found in the Aquarian Gospel 142 It is the wealthy asking what more they must do than follow rules and profess creeds. To which Jesus aptly replies:

22. The young man asked, To which commands did he refer?
23. And Jesus said, You shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not do adulterous things; you shall not falsely testify;
24. and you shall love your God with all your heart, and you shall love your neighbour as yourself.
25. The man replied, These things I have observed from youth; what lack I yet?
26. And Jesus said, One thing you lack; your heart is fixed on things of earth; you are not free.
27. Go forth and sell all that you have, and give your money to the poor, and come follow me, and you shall have eternal life.
28. The man was grieved at what the master said; for he was rich; he hid his face and went in sorrow on his way.
29. And Jesus looked upon the sorrowing man and said, It is so hard for men with hoarded wealth to enter through the door into the kingdom of the soul.

-Aquarian Gospel 142:22-29

The wealth wasn’t the challenge for being in unity. Look at the word: HOARD. That is keeping things beyond logic and reason, beyond usefulness simply for having. That is what wealth had become, something that must be so held on to it could no longer be used for its intended purpose.

Saint Paul writes to Timothy as tradition teaches:

For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.

-1 Timothy 6:10 (New Living Translation)

So then what is the purpose of wealth?

To spend, to help, to grow, to live, to build—

to

L-O-V-E.

So this ruler was unwilling to let that which held his soul in EGO to be released so he could finally have freedom and understand what are tools, and what is unity. He had made his tools his Holy Mystery, and for that he was truly drowning in this life.

Are we ready to rediscover what is the true rhythm of life?

Where do we travel?

Are we the Rich Man or are we Lazarus?

35. A rich man lived in splendid state; he wore the finest garments men could make; his boards were loaded with the costliest viands of the land.
36. A beggar, blind and lame, whose name was Lazarus, was wont to sit beside the waste gate of this home that he might share with dogs the refuse from the rich man’s board.
37. It came to pass that Lazarus died, and angels carried him away unto the bosom of our father Abraham.
38. The rich man also died, and he was buried in a costly tomb; but in the purifying fires he opened up his eyes dissatisfied.
39. He looked and saw the beggar resting peacefully in the bosom of his father Abraham, and in the bitterness of his soul he cried,
40. My father Abraham, look down in mercy on your son; I am tormented in these flames.
41. Send Lazarus, I beseech, that he may give me just a sup of water to cool my parched tongue.
42. But Abraham replied, My son, in mortal life, you had the best things of the earth and Lazarus had the worst, and you would not give him a cup of water there, but drove him from your door.
43. The law must be fulfilled, and Lazarus now is comforted, and you are paying what you owe.
44. Besides, there is a great gulf fixed between your zone and us, and if I would I could not send Lazarus to you, and you cannot come up to us till you have paid your debts.
45. Again the man in anguish said, O father Abraham, I pray, send Lazarus back to earth, and to my father’s house, that he may tell my brothers who are yet in life, for I have five of them, about the horrors of this place, lest they come down to me and not to you.
46. And Abraham replied, They have the words of Moses and the seers, let them hear them.
47. The man replied, They will not hearken to the written word; bit if a man would go up from the grave they might believe.
48. But Abraham replied, If they hear not the words of Moses and the seers they would not be persuaded even though one from the dead stood in their midst.

-Aquarian Gospel 142:35-48

St. Francis of Assisi has been derided as non-scholarly for many a century, in comparison to other monastic movements ala Jesuits that focused more on scholarship. But what Francis taught was that each gospel story need not be only understood, but internalized, and then externally lived out through almost muscle memory before moving onto the next. For he knew the story is more than the words spoken or on the page. The story is life. And life lived is how we connect-unify with the Holy, and nieghbour, as the Shema tells us through Love that resonates from self.

So where does this lead us? You? Me?

To simply answer a question, what does it mean to internalize and externalize this story for us, here and now?

Are we ready for such a leap from page to life?

 


And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against  arobber, with swords and 

clubs to capture me? 49 qDay after day I was with you in the temple rteaching, and you did not seize me. But slet the Scriptures be fulfilled.” 50 tAnd they all left him and fled.51 And a young man followed him, with nothing but ua linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.

Mark 14:48-52

 

Tradition teaches that the young man is John Mark, author of the gospel of Mark (earliest written on the Canonical gospels) whose parents owned the Upper Room that Jesus’ community had gathered in for the Last Supper. A turning point in their lives. A new beginning, while they entered the darkest hours. Having fled the oppressive authorities and entered what is termed today Holy or Vigil Saturday.  A day that many overlook with exclamations of Friday is here, but Saturday is coming and not realizing the full scope of the journey.

Francis of Assisi shared a mystical experience where he literally believed he had transported back in time and entered the story as the naked boy.  Think about that. Astral projection and time travel, yet how would it shape your life to see the moment authentically and realize that fear would over run as well? This is the time of the Saturday. A time to reflect.

For you see it comes into a time to truly reflect on the life lived. In the passage that is to come from the Aquarian Gospel, some may say it reflects the Akashic records. That which one can tap into for understanding/experiencing their past lives.

This will become a point of consternation for those that do not hold to reincarnation as a staple of the spiritual journey, but then they are missing the rebirth of the Judeo-Christian culture. For as John Shelby Spong, retired Bishop of Newark, would put out the life lived can be viewed in thirds. Each third marking a rebirth. A renewal.

Holy Saturday is time for one, as with Brother Jesus’ earliest community to enter a time of reflection and release. A time to look at one’s journey and realize that we are a culmination of all the good-bad-in different adventures and voices up to this point. But it is only up to this point. For like the celebration of new life to come with Easter Sunday (Spring Solstice). It is time to celebrate our new life by releasing the old.

Before you enter reading and meditating on the words that are to follow. Take a moment to prepare your space at a table/desk. Clear it of anything except some blank paper, a box of colours (crayons, markers, pencil crayons and/or pastels) but do not leave them in the box—dump them out into random chaos upon the table top. Lower the lighting to simply a few candles, this is how the ancients did their spiritual work and sometimes by removing artificial electric lights a different aspect of creativity can be accessed.

Slowly enter into meditative breathing as you read these words:

The Christines go to a place apart to pray. Jesus warns them against the leaven of the Pharisees and reveals the fact that all thoughts and deeds are recorded in God’s Book of Remembrance. Man’s responsibility and God’s care.

1. Now, when the feast was finished Jesus with the foreign masters and the twelve, with Mary, Miriam and a band of loyal women who believed in Christ, went to a place apart to pray.
2. And when their silence ended Jesus said, Be on your guard; the leaven of the Pharisees is being thrown in every measure of the meal of life.
3. It is a poison that will taint whatever it may touch; and it will blight the soul as sure as fumes of the Diabolos; it is hypocrisy.
4. The Pharisees seem fair in speech, but they are diabolical in heart.
5. And then they seem to think that thought is something they can lock within themselves.
6. They do not seem to know that every thought and wish is photographed and then preserved within the Book of Life to be revealed at any time the masters will.
7. That which is thought, or wished, or done in darkest night shall be proclaimed in brightest day;
8. That which is whispered in the ear within the secret place shall be made known upon the streets.
9. And in the judgment day when all the books are opened up, these men, and every other man, shall be a-judged, not by what they’ve said or done,
10. But by the ways in which they used the thoughts of God, and how the ethers of eternal love were made to serve;
11. For men may make these ethers serve the carnal self, or serve the holy self within.
12. Behold, these men may kill the body of this flesh; but what of that? the flesh is but a transitory thing, and soon, by natural law, will pass;
13. Their slaughter only hastens nature’s work a little time.
14. And when they kill the flesh they reach their bounds of power; they cannot kill the soul.
15. But nature is the keeper of the soul as of the flesh, and in the harvest time of soul, the trees of life are all inspected by the judge;
16. And every tree that bears no fruit of good is plucked up by the roots and cast into the flames.
17. Who then shall you regard? Not him who has the power to kill the flesh, and nothing more.
18. Regard the mighty one who has the power to dissolve both soul and body in the flames of nature’s fire.
19. But man is king; he may direct his thoughts, his loves, his life, and gain the prize of everlasting life.
20. And you are not abandoned in your struggle for the crown of life. Your Father lives, and you shall live.
21. God has a care for every living thing. He numbers stars, and suns, and moons;
22. He numbers angels, men and every thing below; the birds, the flowers, the trees;
23. The very petals of the rose he knows by name, and every one is numbered in his Book of Life;
24. And every hair upon your head, and every drop of blood within your veins, he knows by number and by rhythm.
25. He hears the birdling’s call, the cricket’s chirp, the glow worm’s song; and not a sparrow falls to earth without his knowledge and consent.
26. A sparrow seems a thing of little worth; yea, five of them are worth two farthings in the market place, and yet God cares for every one of them.
27. Will he not care much more for you who bear his image in your soul?
28. Fear not to make confession of the Christ before the sons of men, and God will own you as his sons and daughters in the presence of the host of heaven.
29. If you deny the Christ before the sons of men, then God will not receive you as his own before the hosts of heaven.
30. And more I say, Fear not when men shall bring you up before the rulers of the land to answer for your faith.
31. Behold, the Holy Breath shall teach you in your hour of need what you should say, and what is best leave unsaid.
32. And then the Christines went again to teach the multitudes.

Aquarian Gospel 109

As you let the words roll into your being. Take time to simply close your eyes. Allow your hands to seek out the colours and the paper without judgment, without earthly vision. Begin moving them on the page. Slowly open your eyes as you work the colours and images out.

What is coming through?

What is being revealed about your journey?

What is to be released as you complete the image of colours?

What has the Holy Mystery released from your past?

Now take a moment to slowly enter a meditative breath again. This is the past, this is what has brought you to this point. Take a moment to acknowledge the journey. To thank it for bringing you hear, honouring it.

Now take a moment.

Are you ready to release it?

If so, light it on fire with a candle and watch it burn away.

The past is simply the stepping stones to now. Now is the path revealed for the future.

Are you able to watch the ashes fly and enter the now?


It is funny that in Genesis 1 for those of a Judeo-Christian-Islamic belief that the Holy Mystery created Male-Female in Its image. Each tradition, and religions before and after, have used many words, images, and rites to share what the Holy Breath means in each of us. Yet what cannot be lost in translation is that all of us carry that divine spark. All of us, although different (yes we are all unique), yet we are all unified within one river. We just choose to drink from different wells.

Francis of Assisi knew this, when after returning from the Crusades wounded, having his San Damiano moment, and moving into the mendicant life with brothers and sisters—those called to celibacy, those called to family life, all included—would travel back to the Crusades to open peace prayers with the Sultan.

But why on this Good Friday do I reflect on this idea of inclusion, equality. Simple, we tend to focus on what happens today. The oppressive powers of control. Political and Religious, stand united to finally silence in their belief a thorn in their side. Jesus was one of many active “messiahs” at the time. The difference being unlike the Zealots or types like Barabbas it wasn’t acts of terror, or getting those to enter into slaughter as the legions would pour out to silence them. Brother Jesus hit with something deeper: B-E-L-O-N-G-I-N-G.

No more labels.

A new order.

A new community.

Better yet.

A new family.

That was the danger of Brother Jesus, it was what 1200ish years later Brother Francis would tap into—belonging…family. And now 2000 years on this Good Friday, we need to tap into as well. It is not about breaking down separate groups, although in moments they have their time, it is about a family gathering, like the old United Church Hymn “Part of the Family.”

And Brother Jesus knew this was not something to be simply preached, it had to be lived. This is where Levi’s writings in the early 1900’s strike into the heart the Gospel writers were trying to get to. For historically we know that there was 7 women that worked diligently to support Jesus financially (and many others) while the men went forward and preached/healed and worked to craft this new family out of love.

Nothing can be clearer:

Now, many women who possessed much wealth, and abode in other towns of Galilee, implored that Jesus and the twelve, together with the masters from the foreign lands, would thither go and preach and heal.

Aquarian Gospel 105:1

Then will the Holy Breath again breathe on your fires of life, and fan them to a living flame.
Then she will open up the doors again, and you may let her in to sup with you for evermore, or you may slight her once again, and then again.

Aquarian Gospel 105:37-38

The Holy Breath, or Holy Ghost/Spirit is a part of the Trinity in Christendom, that is tied to the ancient ideal of Wisdom, which was also a female. It was the divine feminine aspect coming back. We have seen this moving forward since the early church with the visions/interventions of Mary of Nazareth and the message of hope she brings for those who cannot see how new oppressive powers have twisted her son’s life and teachings.

For Francis, this reminder was seen with Clare of Assisi, in her run from wealth to him. Her surrender of the “carnal” world, to become closer in union with the Holy Mystery. Yet she also took up Francis’ fight for equality. This was a time when women were not allowed their own voice. Religious orders of women were to be sequestered away from the world for prayer only. Clare and her sisters were feisty, they knew the call that Brother Jesus had laid out.

They left their cloister.

They fed the hungry. Healed the sick. Visited the prisoner. Taught and loved. Laughed and prayed. And Clare stood firm that like her soul companion, Francis had written a rule for his Friars, so shall she write one with her Sisters for transfiguration. Two popes actively fought against this woman. A third tried.

Why do I say a Third tried? Because what is truly out of the heart of the Holy Mystery cannot be silenced.

A group of old clerical men were dispatched to the cloister to finally silence this woman, and if they could not heal as they said in Jesus’ name, arrest them and well, do what was done with heretics back in the day.

The men arrived and were welcomed by the sisters with the utmost hospitality. As is with old men, their bodies ached, they had medical issues that their stubbornness would not let them admit to. They came to have dinner, as it was a simple mendicant cloister that gave away that which was not essential, dinner was simple stew and bread.

Clare called the group together in a circle, they joined hands, and she said the blessing.

What happened during the blessing is amazing. As she prayed on the bread arose crosses. As the crosses arose, the old aching men, felt at ease. Their pains vanished, their medical conditions healed.

They were in shock, struck dumb until the could return to the Holy See and report what they had experienced in this cloister of inclusion and belonging. These women could heal. The Pope had no choice but the cede to Clare’s wish and allow for them to leave cloister and continue on with the work Brother Jesus called them too.

(Yes this is the story of Hot Cross buns at Easter as well).

So keep in mind the many things that have happened with women’s rights, civil rights, equal rights—(insert group lacking rights here) …basically human rights. Think of how different our world would be if we had simply continued to live the way Brother Jesus laid out, the way that had gotten him executed, how different our world would be?

To close, take time to meditate on this example from chapter 112:

Chapter 112

The Christines in the home of Mary of Magdala. Jesus calls his disciples, “Little Flock,” and charges them to place their affections on divine things. He teaches them regarding the inner life.

1. And Jesus left the multitudes and went with his disciples up to Mary’s home; and as they sat about the board to dine he said,
2. My little flock, fear not; it is your Father’s will that you shall rule the kingdom of the soul.
3. A ruler in the house of God is servant of the Lord of Hosts, and man cannot serve God except by serving men.
4. A servant in the house of God cannot be servant in the house of wealth; nor in the synagogue of sense.
5. If you are tied to lands, or bonds, or wealth of earth, your hearts are knit to things of earth; for where your treasures are there are your hearts.
6. Dispose of all your wealth, distribute it among the poor, and put your trust in God, and you nor yours will ever come to want.
7. This is a test of faith, and God will not accept the service of faithless one.
8. The time is ripe; your Master comes upon the clouds; the eastern sky is glowing with his presence now.
9. Put on reception robes; gird up your loins; trim up your lamps and fill them well with oil, and be prepared to meet your Lord; when you are ready, he will come.
10. Thrice blessed are the servants who are ready to receive their Lord.
11. Behold, for he will gird himself, and will prepare a sumptuous feast for every one, and he himself will serve.
12. It matters not when he shall come; it may be at the second watch; it may be at the third; but blessed are the servants who are ready to receive.
13. You cannot leave your door ajar and go to sleep, and wait in blissful ignorance of the fleeting time;
14. For thieves will surely come and take away your goods and bind and carry you away to robbers’ dens.
15. And if you are not carried forth, the Master when he comes will not regard a sleeping guard as friend, but as a foe.
16. Beloved, these are times when every man must be awake and at his post, for none can tell the hour nor the day when man shall be revealed.
17. And Peter said, Lord is this parable for us, or for the multitudes?
18. And Jesus, Why need you ask? God is not a man that he should show respect for one and cast another off.
19. Whoever will may come and gird himself, and trim his lamp, and find a turret in the tower of life where he may watch, and be prepared to meet the Lord.
20. But you, as children of the light, have come, and you have learned the language of the court, and may stand forth and lead the way.
21. But you may wait, and think that you are ready to receive the Lord, and still he does not come.
22. And you may grow impatient and begin to long for carnal ways again, and may begin to exercise your rule;
23. To beat, and otherwise maltreat the servants of the house, and fill yourselves with wine and meat.
24. And what will say the Lord when he shall come?
25. Behold, for he will cast the faithless servant from his house; and many years will come and go before he can be cleansed, and be thought worthy to receive his Lord.
26. The servant who has come into the light, who knows the Master’s will and does it not; the trusted guard who goes to sleep within the turret of the tower of life,
27. Shall feel the lash of justice many times, while he who does not know his Master’s will and does it not, will not receive the graver punishment.
28. The man who comes and stands before the open door of opportunity and does not enter in, but goes his way,
29. Will come again and find the door made fast, and when he calls, the door will open not,
30. The guard will say, you had the pass-word once, but you threw it away and now the Master knows you not; depart.
31. And verily I say to you, To whom much has been given, much is required; to whom a little has been given, a little only is required

How different from the world they lived? A house owned by a woman, Peter and the men being guests.  Take time to render this in your journal whether you choose art imagery or writing. Work it out through the heart of Peter and the Heart of Mary of Magdala?

Contemplate what has emerged. What has been shown to you of your Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine? How more complete do you feel?

As one Divine Soul:

Where is the Holy Mystery guiding you next?

Are you ready to step into more unity?