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Loving Lady Poverty

A very early Franciscan document, Sacrum Commercium, The Sacred Exchange, begins with words reminiscent of the Bible’s Song of Songs: “Francis began to go about in the streets and crossings of the city, relentlessly, like a persistent hunter, diligently seeking whom his heart loved. He inquired of those standing about, he questioned those who came near to him, saying, ‘Have you seen her whom my heart loves?’” This kind of language and imagery for Franciscan poverty makes of poverty and penance a joyful enterprise, the joyful knight, Francis, going about the countryside as the embodiment of the good knight whose virtues are those of a knight of the new Round Table of the Lord. Poverty and penance, then, are not a grim affair, but the kind of derring-do a knight would perform to impress the Lady of the Castle, even rolling in briar bushes in the dead of winter to show his fidelity to her. This charges the tone of the early Franciscan Order with the chivalry and adventure of the Quest, a Spiritual Battle, fired by a deep and abiding love for Christ the Lord whose self-emptying is symbolized in Lady Poverty who was Christ’s vesture.

—from Surrounded by Love: Seven Teachings from Saint Francis

 

 

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A Grand Humility

In these “Praises of the Lord God Most High” are contained Francis’s experience of God. This is who this God he has loved late and long has become for him. These praises say, “O God, this is your song, you who are beauty so old and new. Late have I loved you.” And through it all Francis has tried to return such incredible love, a return of love that, Francis being Francis, was a great, though humble, love. As he sang at the end of his “Canticle of the Creatures,” we are to praise God “con grande umilitate,” with grand humility, not a puny, wimpy humility but a paradoxically huge, grand humility. For all his littleness and humility, there was in Francis something big, a heart full of largeness and largesse. Once Francis knew God’s love, he knew, as well, what St. Augustine put so beautifully. “And you see, you were within, and I was in the external world and sought you there, and in my unlovely state I plunged into those lovely created things you have made.”

—from Surrounded by Love: Seven Teachings from Saint Francis

 

 

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The Underlying Mystery Is Always Present

If we are to come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity, then we will come to that belief by developing the capacity for a simple, clear, and uncluttered presence. Those who can be present with head, heart, and body at the same time will always encounter The Presence, whether they call it God or not. For the most part, those skills are learned by letting life come at us on its own terms, and not resisting the wonderful underlying Mystery that is everywhere, all the time, and offered to us too.

—from the book Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps by Richard Rohr, OFM

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Healing Past Hurts

To keep our bodies less defended, to live in our body right now, to be present to others in a cellular way, is also the work of healing of past hurts and the many memories that seem to store themselves in the body. The body seems to never stop offering its messages; but fortunately, the body never lies, even though the mind will deceive you constantly. Zen practitioners tend to be well-trained in seeing this. It is very telling that Jesus usually physically touched people when he healed them; he knew where the memory and hurt was lodged, and it was in the body itself.

—from the book Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps by Richard Rohr, OFM

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The Soul Desires, Loves, and Lets Go

An ego response is always an inadequate or even wrong response to the moment. It will not deepen or broaden life, love, or inner laughter. Your ego self is always attached to mere externals, since it has no inner substance itself. The ego defines itself by its attachments and revulsions. The soul does not attach nor does it hate; it desires and loves and lets go. Please think about that, it can change your very notion of religion.

—from the book Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps by Richard Rohr, OFM

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God Desires Our Happiness

How helpful it is to see sin, like addiction, as a disease, a very destructive disease, instead of merely something that was culpable, punishable, or “made God unhappy.” If sin indeed made God unhappy, it was because God desires nothing more than our happiness, and wills the healing of our disease. The healing ministry of Jesus should have made that crystal clear; healing was about all that he did, with much of his teaching illustrating the healings—and vice versa.

—from the book Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps by Richard Rohr, OFM

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Success Isn't Everything

I cannot pretend to understand God, but this is what I see: People who have moved from seeming success to seeming success seldom understand success at all, except a very limited version of their own. People who fail to do it right, by even their own definition of right, are those who often break through to enlightenment and compassion.

—from the book Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps by Richard Rohr, OFM

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The Genius of the Twelve Steps

The absolute genius of the Twelve Steps is that it refuses to bless and reward what looks like any moral worthiness game or mere heroic willpower. It spotted the counterfeit and “drags it publicly behind it in a triumphal parade” (Colossians 2:15). With Gospel brilliance and insight, A.A. says that the starting point and, in fact, the continuing point, is not any kind of worthiness at all but in fact unworthiness! (“I am an alcoholic!”) Suddenly religion loses all capacity for elitism and is democratic to the bone. This is what Jesus affirmed in prostitutes, drunkards, and tax collectors, and what Paul praised when he said, “It is when I am weak that I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

—from the book Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps by Richard Rohr, OFM

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