Posts Tagged ‘Franciscans’

Image result for richard rohr universal christ"Universal Christ (2019) by Richard Rohr, a Franciscan in the mystic tradition of the Cosmic Christ raises many great points of contemplation. This won’t be my only reflection out of his words. This is a great intro tomb to those seeking the missing mystic within the Christianities, it is also a good starting point for someone who is leaving the Christendom (Empire, Command and control) style of the religious oppressor and stepping into the new.

Some of the concepts may be new, but I also will lay out if it intrigues you read more of Rohr, pick up Oscar Romero, Henri Nouwen, Dorothy Day, Desmond Tutu, Matthew Fox, Marcus Borg, John Crossan and John Shelby Spong to name a few in your reframe. What triggered this reflection is an astute statement by him about the Apostle’s Creed, which for those from a liturgical background such as myself struck home. As many readers know I have struggled with my place in the Christianities throughout my life due to the overt emphasis on Advent and Easter, but negating the entire life of Jesus on Earth. For, as Rohr points out, Christ was not his last name, rather this was his other full self, which is ingrained throughout, within, and without all of Creation (the Cosmic Christ).

But, the idea he raises of the Great Comma, created a moment of pause. For over my healing journey within church I must admit I have stumbled a bit in saying the Apostle’s Creed when we attended Creedal churches and I believe this could be why:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary,
      He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

-Apostle’s Creed

Note the bold section.  The creed states he was born, then died. The comma covers the entire 33 years of Jesus of Nazareth of his teachings, living the love of God (love as I have loved you), miracles, and social justice. This Great Comma is the basis for what once was termed theology of the margins ala liberation theology, queer theology, feminist theology, social gospel, Catholic Workers Movement, Truth & Reconciliation, etc… why is it not mentioned in one of the earliest agreed upon Creeds?

Simple, the 7 councils that were called post-Biblical, were not called by elders, presbyter-bishops, apostles, ministers-pastors-priests or disciples. These ecumenical councils post Constantine’s conversion and conquering of Rome under the sign of the Cross were called by Emperors of the Orthodox (East) and Catholic (West), by the time the tree broke again into Protestantism in the 16th Century the mystic-allegory was even more stripped away for rational thought. Why would they strip away the life of Jesus? Simple, that life challenged Empire on the basis of Justice, love, hope, equity and belonging for all. Not exactly teachings Empires want to have their people focus upon.

Why do I struggle with the established church and my call for ministry? Because, I struggle with the Great Comma, that the only important things about a person’s life are birth and death in Christ, not living in and out of Christ’s love breathed into us at Creation and that flows through the Power of the Holy Spirit.

How does the Great Comma hamper your journey?

What are you going to do to step boldly into and live out of that Comma?

*apologies reader of earlier version where it read “Great Coma”, though that creates a whole other understanding of the erasure of the life of Christ from the Creeds.

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


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.


What things are buried in one’s basement? Many people keep on top of their storage rooms, clearing out and down sizing. Others let that which they no longer use over run them. But this is not a post about aestheticism or hoarding, it is the story of spring cleaning. Within Science of Mind the idea of clearing out the old to allow new energy and the new to flow in, for Franciscans it is the open hand, things that are held in care until they are no longer usable or passed onto those who need them.

That was the day today, a load off to the Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Store, and then Just Junk by to pick up, but aside from the broken bed frame or rotting wood, old water hot tank there is things that stick in your mind and carry memories which is just funny. Not ha ha, just unique.

There is the cathartics of using one’s sledgehammer to destroy a wardrobe that had been ruined by two former tenants, begun by one and finished off by another but just cast aside into storage. Finally shattered, feeling the energy of negativity of these past tenants leaving as it is broken down and cast on the front lawn.

I look at an old television of the tube variety that is 22 years old and almost 40 inches big. I remember getting it with my Dad. We were sent to get our television repaired, and the old Chinese gentleman that ran the t.v. repair shop in Forest Lawn talked us out of repairing the old t.v. and buying the new one that he guaranteed would last forever.

As we upgraded, not only t.v. but in size we brought it home, and well it did not fit in the t.v. stand, so Dad and me, being well Ragan boys, did what we say fit with hacksaw and cut the top half of the television stand off so the new television would fit… Mum was not amused 🙂

To the couch that originally started out as new with my Grandparents and then be handed down to my parents, it would migrate from upstairs to downstairs and then 14 years ago wind up in a store room…mostly due to the fact that no one could remember how this 40 year old couch got into the basement and how to get it out…Just Junk had to literally smash it. So many warm memories of family, and generations, that residual positive energy trapped within a piece of furniture, that if I am to tap my Shamanic side, can say as it was released and cleansed the soul sludge of a room that had rescued two lives for people that only attacked the family, and brought rest to this old house.

It is weird this act of spring cleaning to get fresh air in, clear out old stuff, help others where you can…in the end it comes down to being able to look upon a life lived, and realize that the good actually does outweigh the bad, and in the end…we are all family.


Our home has always been a bee hive of activity. During my journey in the ministry, one saint has been there, St. Francis of Assisi, former rich boy, failed soldier, and beggar. Trouble Maker, or as I worked spiritual development with the Lay orders and explained it to my Dad, apptly described as “shit disturber.”

It is interesting that as my family goes deeper within the New Thought Movements, and we begin to discern which path for us to take, and perhaps rejoin the ministry within (Centres for Spiritual Living or Unity) it strikes me that Francis re-enters my mind more deeply. The formation, the vows, the Rule of Life all have spoken so deeply and engrained themselves within my life that I walk the Charism daily without even formerly acknowledging it, it just happens when I am healthy.

It was the basis of my book, Pilgrimage to the Heart of the Sacred, how to develop one’s own spiritual praxis.

Matthew Fox’s (the defrocked Dominican priest, current Episcopal Priest, wisdom teacher) recent works around Hildegard of Bengin and Meister Eckhart showing the connection of wisdom/mystery schools, panentheism, mysticism and the Holy Mystery.

For the untrained reader this may appear as a senseless ramble, yet like the two mystics Fox writes on and works with, Francis shook the world just as much– it not more. When he renounced the world of materialism to be one with Holy (full on acknowledgement of the Unity of all things) and entered into the world to transform it…well he attracted followers that also challenged and shaped his understanding of the world.

Clare, a wealthy young lady, who renounced aristocracy, and would prayerfully fight four popes on equality fo women to choose their own path…an she would win (we remember this blessing each Easter with our eating of Hot Crossed Buns).

And then little randy Brother Leo, who well couldn’t keep from leering at the ladies, and chasing them, Francis could have cast this friar out, but Francis was astute. If the whole world was celibate, soon there would be no more children of God for it is very hard to have babies in celibacy. So Francis would commend, release and re-vow Leo to go forth with the love of his life, And with a slight wink, to produce many fine bambinos.

As I continue to reflect, I ponder the metaphysics that connect with Francis’ story, connect with the Master Teacher, Rabbi Jesus, and wonder about my own city and community, and wonder if there is a place for a grassroots Franciscan Mystic movement within Alberta?

Discernment continues—

Okay honestly I do not buy into the old idiom of “Spring Cleaning” but it makes sense historically as the farm was closed up over the winter and you need to get the dust and old food out. But in urban centres at least on the Prairies we have kept the farm rhythm in spite of not being agriculturally oriented. For proof just look at the idea of “Church Year” (September to June) and the school year (September to June).

Okay end that piece of the rant, for what is this about? It is about proper distribution of resources. Our family goes through “clearings” every so often (no real rhythm), but after a few years of turbulence it actually falls around spring cleaning time this year. In the New Thought movement it speaks of clearing to keep energy flow in the Law of Circulation, under my Franciscan Charism it was the vow of Simplicity/Poverty- being a Mendicant, which was a slur for beggar, but literally translated means open hand, an understanding that belongings are not ours, but we hold them and use them until another one who needs them comes along.

This has seen us move quite a through things through our home, if we have a yard sale (which only has happened once) the monies went to other charities/political parties to support causes we feel called to support. Last year’s big clean out to create a room for a relative in transition, coincided with our church’s garage sale in support of local youth which worked out wonderfully.

This year we are back to our rhythm of cleaning and giving to those who can still use items, especially when it comes to establishing homes. There has been three local non-profits we find useful in their building of homes for individuals worldwide and locally that as you continue your spring cleaning I encourage you to support:

Calgary Drop In & Rehab Centre

The Mustard Seed

The Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Store

So this season of Spring Cleaning keep in mind it is not just an opportunity to clean up your house and discard the junk, but for those items that are not used but usable it is a time to share, collaborate, give hope and build homes with our neighbours.