Posts Tagged ‘Order of Ecumenical Franciscans’


…Jesus son of Mary, honoured in this world and in the next, and of those granted nearness to God.

-Sura 3:46

                The Crusades were a horrific time within the Empire phase of Christianity. It was about anti-Semitism (travelling to and from the Holy Land was a great excuse for the warriors to cull the Jewish in the lands) and to let blood run high in the Holy Land battling the “infidel”.

During one such crusade time a disgraced Crusader received a call to something different. Francis was a party animal, one of those wealthy ne’er do wells many towns and communities know of. He thought to increase his lot by bravery in the Crusades…suffice to say he was not a good Knight, and wound up injured in a burnt out church where Jesus spoke to him through the San Damiano cross calling him to rebuild his church. After stealing supplies from his father, and rebuilding 3 fine parishes he was once again revisited and redirected to actual community based around hope and loved. Even beaten and imprisoned by his own parents, just emboldened this man to cast of (literally) the clothes of wealth and walk naked into the world.

The Franciscan movement is what began. Part of the life lived that receives little mention outside of the international circles (as most just know Francis for his love of animals, not activism) so he has been reduced to the garden statue or fountain. Yet it was in the midst of crusade times this rabble rouser and friends upset the apple cart, and not just in the challenge for equity and justice for the poor. Nope, he also crossed treasonous lines by going back onto the Crusader path to meet with Sultan.

Why?

To pray together.

To talk.

To share bread.

To be community.

Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was ever inclined to God and obedient to Him, and he was not of those who associate gods with God.

-Sura 3:68

Francis and his community understood an eternal truth. God is the source of all that is, all that exists within and through and lived out of the Holy Mystery. The source-Love- was not to be confused with the manifestations. That is…the wells are not the river.

We want the labels to divide. Those in power hope that we allow the labels to divide. Yet, there is another way. A way where we acknowledge the One River, and sample one another’s well water in a safe place of community, sharing prayers, sharing discourse, sharing bread. Being like Francis and the Sultan. That piece of light in the darkness.

And he will teach them the Book, and The Wisdom, and The Torah and the Gospel.

-Sura 3: 49

This is why my family hosts an inter-faith Questing through the Qur’an; and a Brunch & Bible (where we travel the roads of the Gospel of Luke & Acts of the Apostles) on alternating weeks. To share the foundation stories. To see where we connect. To hear where we differ.

To know  we are still united in our diversity.

                Much like Francis’ call to bring the gifts of peace, hope, faith, joy and love to Sultan. But also to receive these same gifts from Sultan.

For, what are we in humanity,

if not neighbours….

francis

The Gospel story, the faith story has not ended. It is not sealed. Each of us in our journeys, our lives continue to write in the book of life about how we live within, through and out of the love that is the Holy Mystery. So what is the new chapter you are starting in this moment?


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

spong5spong4

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.

 


It has been awhile.

Okay every morning I spend time reflecting, meditating and renewing my energy to keep the soul sludge in check.

Evenings before bed spend some time ruminating what needs to begin anew, and what went well.

Follow through on the vows of justice, simplicity and love within my Franciscanism–yes I realize I am no longer with an official order, but this mystic path is the easiest way to explain why I do what I do without the spiritual baggage for others the name of the Master Teacher brings.

But there is sludge that underlies even our sub conscious, down into the soul chakra level that we are unaware of that takes time to remove, cleanse, essenetially burn away for a fresh start. These are the things that I hold to from my Munay-Ki rites, and the Wisdom Keeper I opened up.

It is this level that will be healed or the journey of renewal to begin this Sunday afternoon at the Calgary Centre for Spiritual Living at “Awakening the Heart” at 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Satsang with Brian Lottman.

What types of things need to be released for a new beginning one may ask from my end?

  • Transitions and transformation within vocational calling
  • The fact we are still storing the accuser’s belongings within our home and all the negative energy that brings into our sanctuary over the past few months and how to get rid of it.
  • A possible new opportuntiy but needing to shed the conditioning of Christendom of being “too old” to do that anymore. Really allowing the spark of a passion to fully fan to life.
  • The shattering of the shadow overlay that blocks the creative flow for the mystery novel setting on the cuspicious of my creative self, the crown chakra.
  • De-fractioning the soul pieces from the losses of Spiritual Matriarch’s within my own journey.

Just a few to bring to the Satsang, and to allow the Spirit that is everything, and in everything, that is me and I it, to be able to move through and be the One that is true for living the calling of love. Simply by moving beyond the labels of society to live a new.

So if you are free this Sunday c’mon over to the Calgary Centre for Spiritual Living. If you cannot make it this Sunday, Brian Lottman has three other stops in Calgary:

June 14, 2015
Unity of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta
1pm to 3pm
(as well as service talk at 10:30am)

June 6, 2015
Spiritus Meetup
6514 Ranchview Dr. NW
Calgary, Alberta
7pm to 9pm

June 4, 2015
Calgary First Spiritualist Church
Calgary, Alberta
7:30pm to 9:30pm

-30- for now.


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—


Some have said I am not a very orthodox or typical Christian, this is true. But I grew up and continue to live in a Canada that is multi-cultural, multi-religious, a true mosaic of God’s creation. We as a people have been blessed by the Constitution Act 1982 and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This blessing and my mixed Canadian heritage (English-Scottish-Irish-Welsh-Norwegian-Quebecois-French-Norwegian-Ojibwa-Cree and religiously Roman Catholic-Anglican-Methodist) I am blessed with a mosaic of ways to experience the Holy Mystery, some as part of a vocation of guest, sojourner, pilgrim, student, laity, religious worker or cleric… to such diverse belief systems that build this amazing nation I call home (it is up to you to assign whatever label you happen to believe I had when I journeyed there):

Anglican Church of Canada, Hindu, Roman Catholic, Sikh, Order of Ecumenical Franciscans, Bahai, Third Order, Society of St. Francis,

Restoration Movement Christians, Presbyterian Church in Canada, Ahmadiyya, Druid, Zen, Tao, Aikido, Marxist, Leninist, World Wide Robin Hood Society, Sherlockian, Order of St. Luke the Physician, Socratic, Sophists, Descartians, Platoists, Para-psychology, Paleo-Seti, Palmistry, Munay-Ki, Aboriginee, Drum Circles, Shaman, Medicine Wheel, Healing Pathways, Yoga, Jedi, Meditation (too many diverse schools to remember), Tibetan Buddhism, Christian & Missionary Alliance, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Tarot, Tendai, New Thought, Religious Science,

Christian Science, Tai Chi

Order of St. Elizabeth I, Scientology, Ecumenical Order of St. John XXIII, Universal Life Church, Universal Life Church Monastery, North American Buddhism, FCJ Companions in Mission, Jungian Psychology, Freudian Psychology

Mandelas

Social Gospel

Primitive Baptist, King James Bible Baptist, Western Canadian Baptist, North American Baptist, United Baptist, Methodist

Free Presbyterian, Free Lutheran

Peace work

Social Work

socialism

communism

Wicca, Tarot, Christian Reformed, Congregationalist, United Church of Canada, Disciples of Christ, Reformed Evangelical, Gnostic, Reformed Judaism, Conservative Judaism, Joehovah’s Witness, Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints

Ishmaeli

Faith healing

Pentecostal, Southern Baptist, Reiki, Associated Gospel Churches, WELS Canada, Lutheran Church-Canada

Nazarene Church, Wesleyan Church, ICROSS, Liberal Party of Canada, Liberalism, Progressive Canadian Party of Canada, Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, Green Peace, Soul Force, Non-Violent Peace Force, Atheism, Humanist Society, Agnostic Coffee Meet up, Spiritualism,

Salvation Army,Green Party, New Democratic Party, Communist Party, Marxist-Leninist Party, Bloc Quebecois, Alberta Party,

Anthropology, Evangelical Missionary, Janism, Sociology, Indiginous Sacredness, Celtic Christianity, Ignatian Spirituality

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

Shinto, Liberation Theology, Catholic Workers Movement

Human Rights, non-denominationalism, charismatic christianity, Interfaith Foodbank, Habitat for Humanity, MSF (Doctor’s without Borders)

The Mustard Seed, Inn from the Cold,  Street Teams


Português: Ordem Franciscana Secular do Brasil...

Português: Ordem Franciscana Secular do Brasil : Fraternidade São Francisco(?) : Igreja Sagrado Coração de Jesus, Petrópolis, estado do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sacred Heart Catholic Church

Sacred Heart Catholic Church (Photo credit: enkrates)

Was it ten or eleven years ago when I was kneeling saying a rosary that I heard Christ speak to me? A voice calling me to rebuild the church? Before then in 1997 when seeking to learn how to pray, my minister guided me to self-discovery that led to a bookshelf at the local Smithbooks of Michael Talbot’s orthopraxy at Little Portion titled “Life Lessons of St. Francis” that began to aid me in synergizing my life lived with my pilgrimage for the holy.

 

Unbeknownst to me (or simply forgotten) that the Catholic Parish I would find myself in, was actually named after a Secular Franciscan, St. Thomas More, where I can honestly say I had my most gospel experience of ministry and what it meant to live out the love of Christ for community—even though I could not complete my R.C.I.A. (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults). Guided by Sister Josie and the Basillian Fathers Bob & John serving in the (prayer) Ministry of Praise and Inn from the Cold.

 

Yet what was the stumbling block? This is something unique, but it could also be my wandering spirit, as I do enjoy attempting to craft new paths. It was shortly after my time in the parish that I began (or was it during?)  my pilgrimage through the churches of my past that had shaped my understanding.

 

It was also during this time that I joined the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans completing my inquiry and Postulancy, during this time my pilgrimage of past churches too me back to the church of my original baptism, St. George’s Anglican and saw me transfer orders into the Third Order, Society of St. Francis to complete my novitiate, and came into fellowship with the local Calgary chapter of my Roman Catholic Brothers and Sisters in the Secular Franciscan Order.

 

A feeling led me to complete my pilgrimage of personal spiritual pilgrimage back at Foothills United Church where I returned to the fold as it were (the church of my confirmation), surrendering my vows in my Franciscan vocation and entering discernment for ministry. Where the committee and I came through guidance by the Holy Spirit that it was not ordination or just being licensed that was my calling (even though Universalists have ordained me, and churches have licensed me as a lay pastor) was to the Diaconal ministry or more specifically those called to justice work.  Which led me to make another decision as I served at The Mustard Seed in Calgary and a call to the ministry of justice and word seemed like seeking an honourific for nothing more than having it…so I concluded my discernment to continue my work for those without voice, my call to make my own corner of this world a little bit better for my children and neighbours.

 

I will save the intervening of other spiritual organizations that have contributed to my journey, (see the endnotesY) , but this winding eclectic path has brought me to my current year of sabbatical, completing my M.A. and awaiting my first unit of C.P.E. it has been an interesting fall. See on October 13, 2012 a syncretise or serendipitous occurrence attending a concert promoted through Franciscan Friends that brought Tony Melendez to Calgary. The true impact aside from his story, aside from this man’s ministry truly being launched because of the loving actions of Blessed John Paul II at World Youth Day 1984 in Los Angeles, was that the concert myself, my soul mate and our friends attended was at…you guessed it…St. Thomas More Catholic Church. To find the words to explain the powerful experience of this man’s testimony that brought tears to my eyes as the parish became a convergence of soul matters. You see it was a powerful time in this church, the last time I had been at church with my Mum & Nan together when they were both still completely healthy was there, it was my most blessed time in ministry, coupled with the music and the story was overwhelming.  It felt like a home coming kind of night. These are the words that took so long to process.

 

Now before this night I was exploring a renewal of my monastic life, as a secular monastic one is able to have the family and be active in the world. Through my research on Mariology I had stumbled across the Ecumenical Catholic Church, which had a lay order through The Order of Mary the Theotokos (OMT) whose rule was basic Franciscanism.

 

As I sit in low Mass at St. Mark’s RC Church or reading my catholic edition NRSV (New Revised Standard Version Bible) during worship with my family at Cornerstone Christian Assembly/King of Glory Lutheran Brethren Church and facilitate bible studies in my home parish of Rainbow Chapel there is a vocational call within my soul, and I wonder if I may have missed it?

 

So, as my beliefs rest within discernment within a community as I continue my sabbatical journey, in this the 50th year of Vatican II, in what has been declared the year of faith…I lay down where my path is right now:

 

Do I join the OMT even though there is no local fellowship or do I pursue concluding my R.C.I.A. and joining the Secular Franciscan Order?

 

What is an ol’ broken down Robin Hood to do folks?


Y Rockyview Alliance Church – My Preschool and where I served with the Young Adults

Centennial Presbyterian Church where I attended Vacation Bible School and was a youth pastor

Symons Valley United where I was a youth and young adult worker

Campbell-Stone United Church where I was a youth pastor

Central United Church – youth group volunteer, attended Alpha Course

Knox United Church- Congregant

Spiritual Directions – trained as a Shaman; didgeridoo making/playing; restorative writing; teacher

Calgary Church of Christ – youth group volunteer

Alberta Bible College- Earned my B.A.; Emerge 2012 Speaker

Canadian Theological Seminary- Earned my M.A.

St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral – Adherent

Calgary Roman Catholic Diocese  – Youth Leader Training

Unity Church of Calgary – attendee

Prince of Faith Lutheran Church – council member, professional lay leader

Taoist Society – learned Tai Chi

Robert McClure United Church – attendee

Calgary Parks n Rec- learned Yoga

Holy Cross Anglican – attendee

Anglican Cursillo weekend

Sufism

Druid International Org – trained in Druidism

Great Bend Church of Christ/Rosscarock Church of Christ – Pulpit Supply

Lakeview United Church – Pulpit Supply

King of Glory Lutheran Brethren Church – Facilitator of Christianity 101

St. George’s Anglican Church – Youth & Children’s coordinator; People’s Warden; First Baby   baptized; Alpha Course Leader

Anglican Sower/Presbyterian Record/ THAW/TSSF Journal – Writer

Christian Science Church (Red Deer)/Church of Christ, Scientist (Calgary) – Attendee

FCJ Christian Life Centre – Dream Work; labyrinth; personal retreats; Companions in Mission     formation

Ordained Universal Life Church Monastery

Trained in Order of St. Luke the Physician

The Mustard Seed- Street Level Support Worker; Em-Beds Support Worked; Sunalta Team Lead; Street Level manager; Chaplaincy relief; Permanent Supportive Housing Team Lead; Community Living Properties Team Lead; Housing Team Lead; Relief Staff; Mountain Mover; Donor; volunteer Street Youth Pastor; Volunteer Apprentice Night Leader; Meal Volunteer;

St. Thomas More Catholic Church – Lay Minister of Praise; Inn from the Cold volunteer; Adherent

Crossroads Community Church – Attendee

Order of Ecumenical Franciscans – inquirer/postulant

Saskatoon Theological Union – Spiritual Direction training and international church understanding; what sanctuary is and what church is.

Third Order, Society of St. Francis – Novitiate

My own personal pilgrimages that were mixtures of spirituality, faith, outreach and history through Canadian cities of Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Ottawa, Hull, Winnipeg, and into the U.S. through Arizona.

Currently at: Cornerstone Christian Assembly/King of Glory Lutheran Brethren Church – attendee

St. Mark’s RC Parish – attendee

 


 

Chapter Six

Throughout 2005 I came to realize that systemic issues of people infested most, if not all institutions.  I had travelled through political ideologies like I did churches. Between St. Thomas More, and St. George’s Anglican, I landed at Centennial Presbyterian as their youth pastor, and defined my call to the pulpit ministry, and did work with the Young Adult Ministry at Rockyview Alliance Church.  It was during this time I began to take seriously my Franciscan Formation, the idea of contemplation during social justice work.

  This period I dubbed my pilgrimage as I began to do relevant ministry in each of the churches that brought me through my beginning years.  St. George’s was what I believed was the final step.

  I transferred from the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans (www.franciscans.com) and joined the Third Order, Society of St. Francis (www.tssf.org).  It was a good time to be Anglican, as I continued the writing I started with the Presbyterian Record, and transferred on as a writer with the Anglican Sower. These reflections of ministerial practice percolated thought throughout the diocese.

  The vow ceremonies with the TSSF[1] raised awareness of the work being done by laity within the church.  Although one of my non-negotiables came to the forefront.  As the Anglican Church wrestles with what they have dubbed, “the question” pc-talk for whether or not the LGBTTQ community can be classed as full Christians, and discovered that due to church cannon, the differently abled could not always be full participants.

  This began to percolate; as well I saw the ugly money monster once again rear its head.  It was an aging congregation (be honest, the ACC is an aging church that is bordering on irrelevancy sadly), and they were transitioning out of relevant ministries for the community they existed in. This irrelevancy concerned me, because their theological school in Saskatoon, SK (Emmanuel & St. Chad) is doing amazing work equipping the next generation of clergy (I attended two sessions of their Summer School for Laity which was amazing).

 I stepped down to pursue my Doctor of (Holistic) Psychology (seeing if I had the chops for post-grad work, cause I really wanted to pursue a D.Min) and was elected as a People’s Warden. Served all of two months before I got the call to go back to Foothills United, yes it was a church I had a love hate relationship with. My Nanny had been attending there since my Granddad passed away, and it was a good way to spend time with her.

  My sacred practice called me back to my Eastern roots as well (I had loved Aikido), and started into Yoga, Laughing Yoga and Tai Chi.

  I was also now working full time with Hull Child & Family Services HOPE Work Experience Program (since closed down by the Alberta Government) which was a work experience program for the differently abled.

  They were once again in an interim ministry (again the institution that does not play well with others, and the money concerns).  Yet here I was. After beginning to attend I started teaching Sunday School and took over the youth group, basically Rob (the interim minister) asked me to step onto the council as the Christian Education Director (I became a committee of one), and started to experiment with ways to reach out to the community, but also to illuminate the youngest in the church whose average age was 85 years old.


[1] During this time I was involved in a long distance relationship with a girl (yes she was older than me in years, but man was she immature) in Mesa, AZ that was a fundamentalist Christian (don’t ask), aside from the cool parts of travelling the Southwestern U.S. and being in Franciscan Bascillica’s for worship, I tired of hearing how evil sex was, what had to be done to be seen as a “Holy Person” (total hypocrisy in her part)  and why these people would burn. She went back to her porn addicted ex, because he was compliant to the church image, and besides, the sex sucked. Yes I know, TMFI.