Posts Tagged ‘Francis of Assisi’


Mendicant. It is Latin, and as such appears to hold airs of awe-ness. Yet when the word is translated it means open hand or to be more abrupt how it was used back in the 13th century for Francis of Assisi and his circle of friends—pan handler, beggar. That which we attempt to continually criminalize today. Those that seek a share of blessings of others, and then continue to spread out from there.

For Franciscans Mendicant is a call to remember where the blessings and possessions flow from. The Source of the Holy Mystery that will continue to provide, given that the flow is continued within the blessings to continually move out and not store up.

The teaching of the Exodus Story as the people wandered, Quail and Manna was sent each day to be gathered, on the 6th day, there was more so an extra portion could be gathered. When there was attempt to horde, it rotted.

In Acts 5:1-10 the physician Luke recounts this tale of the early church:

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

A desire to remind the community the source of blessings, the choice to openly share, the need not to lie or horde. The choice to live out of the love of the Holy Mystery within. If you would like a bonus spiritual practice, take this story and write it from the perspective of Ananias or Sapphira, what is revealed about your own journey?

These thoughts bring us into meditating upon the Aquarian gospel 111:

Jesus teaches. A man requests him to compel his brother to deal justly. Jesus reveals the divine law, the power of truth and the universality of possessions. Relates the parable of the rich man and his abundant harvest.

1. And Jesus taught the multitudes; and while he spoke a man stood forth and said,
2. Rabboni, hear my plea: My father died and left a large estate; my brother seized it all, and now refuses me my share.
3. I pray that you will bid him do the right, and give what is mine.
4. And Jesus said, I am not come to be a judge in such affairs; I am no henchman of the court.
5. God sent me not to force a man to do the right.
6. In every man there is a sense of right; but many men regard it not.
7. The fumes that rise from selfishness have formed a crust about their sense of right that veils their inner light, so that they cannot comprehend nor recognise the rights of other men.
8. This veil you cannot tear away by force of arms, and there is naught that can dissolve this crust but knowledge and love of God.
9. While men are in the mire, the skies seem far away; when men are on the mountain top, the skies are near, and they can almost touch the stars.
10. Then Jesus turned and to the twelve he said, Behold the many in the mire of carnal life!
11. The leaven of truth will change the miry clay to solid rock, and men can walk and find the path that leads up to the mountain top.
12. You cannot haste; but you can scatter forth this leaven with a generous hand.
13. When men have learned the truth that bears upon its face the law of right, then they will haste to every man his dues.
14. Then to the people Jesus said, Take heed, and covet not. The wealth of men does not consist in what they seem to have–in lands, in silver and in gold.
15. These things are only borrowed wealth. No man can corner up the gifts of God.
16. The things of nature are the things of God, and what is God’s belongs to every man alike.
17. The wealth of soul lies in the purity of life, and in the wisdom that descends from heaven.
18. Behold, a rich man’s ground brought forth abundantly; his barns were far too small to hold his grain, and to himself he said,
19. What shall I do? I must not give my grain away; I must not let it go to waste; and then he said,
20. This will I do; I will tear down these little barns and built up larger ones; there I will store away my grain and I will say,
21. My soul take now your ease; you have enough for many years; eat, drink and fill yourself and be content.
22. But God looked down and saw the man; he saw his selfish heart and said,
23. You foolish man, this night your soul will quit its house of flesh; then who will have your garnered wealth?
24. You men of Galilee, lay not up treasures in the vaults of earth; accumulated wealth will blight your soul.
25. God does not give men wealth to hoard away in secret vaults. Men are but stewards of God’s wealth, and they must use it for the common good.
26. To every steward who is true to self, to other men, to every thing that is, the Lord will say, Well done.

Get comfortable, and prepare to enter the story. Slow your breathing down. Feel the chair you are in melt away. Feel the room fall away. Move back into the time of the ancestors. In the gathered market place, you have travelled from a small centre to hear the travelling labourer turned teacher. The words you have heard of this man speaking have shaken up the wealthy in your town, and scare the religious leaders.

 

  1. As you hear Brother Jesus for the first time, let the words truly sink in. When were you lost in the mire? When were you like the farmer trying to horde away all the crops and letting them rot instead of trusting provision. What emotions does it bring up? What memory really sticks out? Sit with the memory and what happened within it? What is revealed of your heart in these moments in your journey?
  2. As you hear Brother Jesus for the second time, let the words truly sink in. When has the clay slipped away to allow you to ascend the mountain top? What memories come up in the moment when you know you were in sync with the Holy Mystery, a true mendicant? Stay with the feelings. What opens within your soul?
  3. As the words tumble from Brother Jesus’ lips a third time Let the heart of the Holy Mystery become one with yours. Where are you being called to wealth and wisdom within your vocational life? Sit with this call and let it resonate within you. Are you ready to take the first step?

Slowly bring your breathing back to normal. Feel the dust vanish. The noises of the market place vanish. You travel forward in time, feel the room reshape around you. Your chair again. When you are ready open your eyes.

The call is as simple as when Jesus offered Peter the keys to the kingdom. He stands in your heart, all is connected. The Cosmic Christ offering you the keys to the kingdom. Are you ready:

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[b] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e]loosed in heaven.”

-Matthew 16:17-19

To answer are you ready for your call, re-read the passage above from Matthew, only replace Simon, Son of Jonah, with your first name and who your parents are, replace Peter with your name. Now re-read it 3 times, pausing each time to let the words and sentiment truly set in.

Our Brother Jesus has laid out a path of unity and oneness for the family of humanity, it is simply bound together in L-O-V-E. The Cosmic Christ holds the key to unlock Universal love for you.

Are you open to stepping out of materialism, and into the Holy Mystery?


John XXIII called for Vatican II to open up the windows of the musty old church and let the transforming love of the Holy Spirit blow on through. Part of this process was calling the Religious Orders back to their original Charism, at least on paper, for practice does tend to strip away institutional control.

Why does this thought pop into my mind? It has been two years or so since I have had anything to affiliate with the regular religious church. Although as Butler-Bass writes I would not call myself spiritual, not religious and I am both and. I am Spiritual-Religious. It is what drives my journey, and can frustrate me to no end. In Church History class at seminary I remember bombing an assignment to look at the historical documents of our church history (those tied to your family) and see how they shaped you. A very creedal exercise for an evangelical school if you will. It was a disconnected mess, for I knew the works that shaped my thinking, but the rest was a so what per-function.

And reading Richard Rohr (2014) Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi reminded me…my Franciscan spirituality is what rubs “churchdom” wrong for it is not based around creedal theology, but since Francis first rebuild San Damiano, walked out naked from city centre…it is about praxis. Just like the early church Paul wrote about before the gospel writers tried to shape something more, before Constantine institutionalized. It is about living a life of love.

It is the reminder I needed as I started back into my cultural church roots. Not saying I will be taking a pulpit anytime soon (although to the Baptist church that offered me a ministry, thank you, one day I may be there again)…but through reflecting on Living the Questions, reading some Richard Rohr, Sister Simone Campbell, Diana Butler Bass, Matthew Fox, Marcus Borg, John Crossan, John Shelby Spong and Tutu/Dalai Lama’s Book of Joy, and listening to Jay Bakker’s podcast of Dec. 11 on Galatians Again and Again part One..will the Spirit is being renewed. The Cosmic Christ is the meta-narrative that resonates, and the source is love.

This is where spiritual homes are for me. Shaped on practice. Do they live out love?

Do they include?

There is much pain in the world, but I remember in my seminary days a quote from Spong that essentially stated I will no longer enter into arguments about equality, love and proper ecology…this is where my faith begins and where the conversation must start at for change to happen (probably a brutalized paraphrase, but I hope the heart is there).

What the labourer born to a single mum, executed for preaching justice, equality and love that shook and empire…this itinerant preacher/teacher, lover of creation, showing the way to living within and out of the source Love…the true resurrection is when this resonates out of our daily actions… this is the story of the Brother Jesus.

Yes, once we realize that titles mean nothing, that wealth should be used to bless not oppress (Thank you Brueggemann for your amazing insights into the Exodus story as the release of the gospel of scarcity that Pharaoh used to control and enslave, into the Gospel of abundance and Neighbour that Yahweh had Moses lead the way in…)… then we can truly understand what it is to love our neighbour.

Then the Spirit has blown through and ignited love. For from heart to heart what we see in the world is simply beloved family.
And the “big” social justice questions that are debated become quite simple, for it is no longer talk of money it becomes even simpler: How do we care for grandma/grandpa,brother/sister, mum and dad? For we all have one of these roles in someone’s life, and that is what the conversation is about.

That is the original blessing of leaving the Garden in Genesis 3 when God gave Adam and Eve the world to care for and be blessed by and with. It was the original blessing of love, place and belonging. It was shining the light on human development into the roles of family and what that means for each one of us.

So…will we let the Spirit blow on through? Will we let Love renew and transform our world?

It begins, as it did 2000 years ago…with one person simply saying one word in answer:

Yes.


This is the first of a series of reflections coming from a book study that we are involved in with the Universal Church of the Master Alberta. It is an exploration of the 1908 metaphysical text The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ

 

  1. That naught can make them one but Love; that God so loved the world that he has clothed his son in flesh that man may comprehend.
    21.The only Saviour of the world is love, and Jesus, son of Mary, comes to manifest that love to men.

                                                -Aquarian Gospel 7:20-21

There is a golden cord that resonates throughout this Gospel, that ties through the sacred texts of eternity, and for long time readers of this site will recognize the word as a basis for my faith: L-O-V-E.

Please ignore the term “men” or “man” it is not about only one gender being saved or mattering, it is the terminology of 1908, and we cannot let that hold us up for these terms were used universally for all humanity (and this is a universal teaching).

It is true in each cycle of life on this planet there is a prophet/apostle/teacher that emerges to lead the way back to the one true source of life, that being love. Think of the ancient mystics, the shamans, the medicine people, clerics, heroes of lore, and current spiritual masters… which ones can you name and why?

Mother Teresa. Clare & Francis of Assisi. Dalai Lama. Martin Luther King Jr. Louis Riel. Desmond Tutu. To name but a few.

This was laying out that within this cycle of teachers came Jesus and his Mum. I say Mary, as mentioned in earlier e-books and talks, Mary since her ascension, has had many appearances that shatter ideological and divisive ways of the name Jesus, to point people back to the true source of Love. This cumulative work that shows a take on the life of Jesus—a story, allegory, metaphor, that ties everything together in love points us to what the Gospels were saying in the New Testament and Gnostics, not to mention other texts. Strip away the cultural laws, to the core message and that is the core message that works, not necessarily the literal black and white words on the page.

So with this golden cord, what are you choosing today?

What is love lived in you going to look like?


It is highly entertaining that many spiritual tomes throughout history have been written in regards to simplicity. One of my spiritual roots that allowed me to rise, was the Franciscan ideal of “mendicant”-the open hand, used as a slur, but empowered through the idea that it is all God’s…so let it flow.

Yet how often does one take the idea of flow and the new, releasing the old, into their on-line presence?

How often do you enter mindfulness and truly look at who you are following on Twitter? Who you are a friend with on Facebook? What groups or likes you have on Facebook? Or as I did this last week updated my blog to better reflect where I am now in life.

So as a spiritual practice of simplicity within this new reality, take time to reflect on your social media presence and does it still truly reflect you? Go back through like you would the closet and basement with the clean up idea?

Are you ready for 21st century simplicity practice?

 


Prologue

800 years ago, give or take a few years St. Francis of Assisi, the Patron of my Spiritual Charism, cast a new order to go beyond Order of Friars Minor (think Robin Hood’s Friar Tuck) and the Poor Clares (think Nun’s with Feminism dashed in, kind of like Sister Act with Whoopi Goldberg if you will)…

Yet. Much better than a but, Y-E-T- as Francis’ mendicants (insult meaning beggar) travelled spreading the gospel message of poverty, charity, love, and justice for all the interconnected of creation many who were married wanted to forsake their vows and join the celibate orders and…

Yup plus an A-N-D- there was some friars and sisters that well, let’s be honest humanity like every species on the planet is designed for procreation. Francis was an astute spiritual guide in that he realized this and blessed those that are called to be together, to make babies, to populate the world for that is the original commission within the Hebrew Scriptures go forth and out of the indwelling love of Spirit populate the world in love.

This is what birthed the Third, Lay or Secular Order. It was a work by one of these Franciscan’s 19 years into my journey of trying to remember paradise, discover the Spirit within, that working in a bookstore I stumbled upon John Michael Talbot’s (1998) The Life Lessons of St. Francis: How to bring Simplicity and Spirituality into your Daily Life. For someone who had journeyed through many Eastern, Celtic, Pagan, Western and Alien spiritual paths finding myself back in the Christian Church as a Sunday School teacher, this little volume showed me how my beliefs around love and inclusion worked together with belief and living out of God’s love, from the divine spark, the star dust that we are created from.

So dear reader, you are probably wondering what this 800 year history lesson has to do with anything? Especially the book you have picked up to read on different centering values to create a fuller you?

Simple, it is part of the formation of the writer of this book, it has influenced my understanding and shaped any bias within the stories to be found within. Also, when in the mid-2000’s I took the Munay-Ki Shamanic Rites, I was blessed to be labelled a Wisdom Keeper, one that holds the truths of the ancient stories for today.

In the Franciscan story there are many truths for today, but the one to remember as we move through these pages is perhaps the simplest lesson of all:

Within Francsicanism there is no historical Reformation (where the Protestant Church split from the Roman Catholic Church) rather it is a moment by moment reformation of one’s own heart, soul, spirit and community that one is called into.

So thank you for stepping into this new journey, it is a collection of values for all ages. To prepare for this spend time cleansing your energy, exhaling out the negative, and opening your heart to seeing things in a new light. There may be terms that are unfamiliar or may not resonate with you, this is due to my family’s Judeo-Christian Heritage, simply as you are reading replace them with terms that resonate with you.

I encourage you to find the best time of day to do the soul work with these values, take along a prepared kit:

Monk’s Bag of Tricks

  1. A simple bag, back pack or attache case
  2. Place within pens, pencils, crayons, pencil crayons, pastels,
  3. A fidget toy (perhaps a koosh, some Lego, a slinky, mystery box figures, something to play with to clear your mind when you get stumped).
  4. A journal
  5. A book of Wisdom teachings that you can read a snippet of each day.

Armed with this bag in your daily life, either identify a place in your community or your home that you can use as a retreat space to commune deeper within yourself.

So are you ready? This will not be your traditional spiritual formation journey, I mean the book is called Left Field, which for any sports metaphor you know it is usually the unusual team members that do not fit anywhere else.

That is us, those that are seeking the personal ongoing moment by moment reformation of St. Francis of Assisi, not only for ourselves but for our community and out world. So the question is now in your hands, close the book and walk away…

Or turn the page, step into left field with gusto and accept the challenge to create a new you.

Left Field


 

year we would like to see your parishes take a few minutes to think about consciously including AYC in your parish plans and budget.

 

We hope families with children will consider a week at camp in August for your children.

 

At AYC, we had 34 parishes represented among our campers and staff last year. Of the 83 parishes in our Diocese last year, only four parishes donated money to sponsor 12 children who needed bursaries. Yet those 12 children were from eight different Anglican parishes.

 

We have been blessed by a number of individuals donors to our camp who do not even belong to an Anglican parish yet want to make sure we never have to say no to a request that a child go to camp.

 

Special thanks goes out to all those who recognize the importance of this ministry. We could never do it without all of you. Because we rent the site with kitchen and support staff included, we incur extra expenses.

 

In the past, the Diocese has not included AYC in their annual budget. However, we have been very grateful when the Diocese covers our deposits and any shortfalls we may have incurred.

 

This past fall as we welcomed our new Bishop, the Executive blessed us with a one-time gift to help us with our deposits for the coming year.

 

There is also a group of people who volunteer hours of their time to work at camp, plus donate supplies to keep camp going. We could not operate without the commitment of these people.

 

AYC is held for two weeks in August at a site we rent on Red Deer Lake (west of Hobbema) called Livings Springs Bible Camp. Over the last several years, we have built a wonderful relationship with the Living Springs Board and Staff.

 

Living Springs is owned and operated for the summer months as a joint venture between six local Evangelical Churches. We have reached approximately 100 children each year. We could accommodate 75 children each week.

 

This is where you come in. Spread the word to every family you meet. Perhaps your parish would consider sponsoring children connected to your parish.

 

No children? A donation to AYC directly will help sponsor children whom you may not know but whose parents may not be able to afford the full fee. The AYC philosophy is that every child should be able to attend camp. The cost to sponsor one child is $330 and through the Diocese, we can offer a tax-deductible receipt for your donations.

 

If you feel you would like to get involved with this important ministry or would like to learn more about what we do, then we would like to invite you to our Annual Camp Reunion and Dessert fundraiser on March 3, 2007 at Holy Trinity Church, 18 Hidden Creek Road N.W. from 2-4pm.

 

We will have desert, a silent auction and lots of pictures from past camps. Itʼs a chance to visit old camp friends and to get a real feel for what camp is all about. I challenge every parish to send someone to our reunion to see what camp means to the children who attend. Better still send one child to camp.

 

Lastly, we ask all of you for your prayers. Pray that we receive the children to attend, the volunteers to staff camp and the funds to pay our way. This is a Diocesan ministry and our hope is that every parish large or small with children or not, will see the importance of this ministry and find it in their hearts to participate in some small way.

 

Please visit our website for more information. http://www.anglicanyc.ca or call us directly on our AYC phone (403)835-3555. See you at the reunion!

Sheila Taylor was

AYC Director for 2006

 

 

 

 

.

 

Summer’s Coming

 

Ë

 

Free for all at Senior Camp.

 

Fun at Junior Camp.

 

Why Join a

 

Religious Order?

 

by Ty Ragan

 

I began the second phase of my Novitiate with the Third Order, Society of St. Francis of Assisi on the eve of the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4).

 

I watched with joy as the animals God entrusted to us were blessed. A question is asked by a friend as I help him write a term paper in the history of Christian spirituality, why a Religious Order? Why strive to be “of no higher office than that of minor” as Francis phrased it in his earliest Rule?

 

Why? Because it gives me the freedom to move in life among those who need help unhindered by red tape. St. Francis of Assisi is not only the patron of animals and ecology, but also became the patron of political activism. The front line of social justice work came from the spirit of Francis and Clareʼs journey to the heart of Christ.

 

It is a vocation that fits my character, running for office, writing articles or letters, challenging the leaders of our church and nation or simply buying lunch for someone who is hungry or helping someone achieve. Yet then the question arises, isnʼt this what being a Christian is all about?

 

The answer is yes. Part of it is community. Itʼs being connected internationally with brethren that share the same heart of faith.

 

But it is more than community. Part of it is accountability. But you can also find that by being part of Cursillo, TEC or any host of other men or womenʼs ministries.

 

Recently I have been going through a rough patch of discouragement in my calling. Itʼs not about my vocation, for my vocation is Franciscan. Currently my calling is ministry to youth and children in the church. I also work with Hull Child & Family Services.

 

That is the joy of the Gospel life. The Holy Spirit moved within me over a year and a bit as I wrote my personal Rule of Life to be a Franciscan. Over this past year I have been living this rule more consciously.

 

The rule is designed to be general enough for life, yet specific enough to constantly cause growth in ministry in the world.

 

I am in the home stretch as I move towards life profession. In my heart I know this is where I should be. But in the religious life it is a community decision reached through prayer.

 

My vocation is not mine alone, but a community decision. This goes back to the earliest rule where Francis wrote about missionaries. He said their calling had to be seen by the friars, the priest, and the church. They had to be willing to learn about the culture and become fluent in the language.

 

I am a missionary. I have to remember that. A document challenges me to never give up. The religious life is not for every believer. It is a call to obedience, simplicity, prayer, and action.

 

It is a call never to remain silent when injustice is seen and to help those who are in need. It is a challenge to daily examination and transformation. As Francis wrote in those early days about education; a brother should not move on from one teaching of. Jesus until it is inwardly digested and outwardly lived out.

 

To be a Franciscan is to literally live out the heart of Christ in the world. The answer is simple for me when I am asked why the Religious Life? It is the same for all of us; God called and I answered.

Ty Ragan is a lay Franciscan working in ministry to youth and children at St. Georgeʼs Anglican Church, Calgary. He is a frequent contributor to the Sower.

(http://www.calgary.anglican.ca/Sower/2007/SowerFeb07.pdf p.8)


A garden statue of Francis of Assisi with birds

A garden statue of Francis of Assisi with birds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has been a blessing to re-enter a relationship with the Roman Catholic Church, I still look fondly upon my time there as a lay minister of praise. One of the great resources that has come to me is Elizabeth Rapley’s The Lord as Their Portion: The story of the Religious Orders and How they shaped our world. I am not done this work so there may still be more musings afoot. But what has come to mind is when I hit the section on the rise of the Mendicants, and more earnestly her snapshot of Francis The Poverello.

She points out his failure as a merchant (more enjoyed spending of the money, than the makin of) and then his less that successful soldiering, where on his first mission he was injured, captured and became a prisoner of war for  seven years. See Francis of Assisi is my patron, and one of the reasons I am attracted to his mysticism and story is that he lives. Meaning that there is no hiding what he truly was.

Rapley raises a new question to show the relevance of the story of saints today (ancient or contemporary as with Dorothy Day or even the 14 year old girl shot by the Taliban). After Francis’ return from captivity he entered a spiral of self-destruction, addiction, partying, thieving, etc… hmmm…a spiral of self-destruction with erratic behaviours…

I am pondering if Francis doesn’t hold another story of redemption and healing for today, with all those that have suffered trauma and now live with the mixed blessing of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Why? Simple, he responded as one returning from war time. Yet in the midst of it, there was a point of clarity where he discoverd a true purpose for life.

A true purpose, the rise of the mendicants that followed him into poverty to care for the world, a reflection of the true life of Christ, the true gospel.

How does this story reflect on those we journey with who may have encountered trauma and are still living through and into the darkness? How can we shine the light? How did Francis leave the darkness?