Notes on Chapter 5: Learning More about St Francis and Creation

Eager to loveChapter five, “Contemplation: A Different Way of Knowing

Quote from page 61-62

I believe the very foundation of what we mean by holiness or, in this case, mysticism, is that [Francis and Clare] knew and loved from a different source; they knew by participation in a Larger Knowing that many of us call God. Or, as Paul says, “They knew as fully as they were known” ( 1 Corinthians 13:12)

This kind of shared knowing, which is nothing but full consciousness is what many of us mean by contemplation. True contemplatives surrender some of their own ego boundaries and identity so that God can see through them, with them, and in them – with a larger pair of eyes. It is quite simply a higher level of seeing, and, if you do not like the religious language, you can just call it consciousness, or deep consciousness. But you still have to let go of your small, egoic self to get there (John 12:24). “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

Conversation Question

  • What could you let go of and how could you let go in order for you to experience a closer union with God?

Quote from page 70-71

One must fully recognize that mystics like Francis and Clare were speaking from this place of conscious, chosen, and loving union with God, and such union was realized by surrendering to it and not by any achieving of it! Surrender to Another, participation with Another, and divine union are finally the same thing…. This is precisely what it means to “live in Christ” (en Cristo), to pray “through” Christ, or to do anything “in the name of God,” phrases with which we are all quite familiar

Such a letting go of our own small vantage point is the core of what we mean by conversion , but also what we mean by Franciscan “poverty.” Poverty is not just a life of simplicity, humility, restraint, or even lack. Poverty is when we recognize that myself – by itself – is powerless and ineffective.

Conversation Question

  • How would or do you go about surrendering to God?

Quote from page 80

Let me end by quoting Bonaventure who is quoting Augustine, who speaks directly to the human capacity for a true experiential union with God. I believe the joy that is at the heart of the Franciscan alleluia proceeds from this inner realization, which descends upon us at ever deeper levels as we walk our faith journey. This deepening is the only real goal of Christian contemplation and is at the heart of the Perennial Tradition of wisdom This is how Francis and Clare, and all contemplatives, “know” things: “The soul itself is an image of God, to which God is so present that the soul can actually grasp God, and ‘is capable of possessing God and of being a partaker in God.’

Conversation Question

  • What does the last sentence in the quote mean to you?