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God's Presence in Our Neighbors

The heart of Christianity is the great and incomprehensible truth that God’s true majesty, God’s authentic immensity, consists in God’s willingness to become lowly and forsaken, to pitch a tent among us and become one of us. God’s presence is sometimes revealed in lightning and thunder and smoke on Mount Sinai, but it’s much more likely to show up in the faces of our neighbors. And not just our respectable neighbors, either, but those whom we generally go out of our way to avoid: the poor, the ill, the imprisoned, the aged, the weak, and the despised. In their faces, if we but have eyes to see, we encounter God. In their lowliness and helplessness we discover the real majesty of a God of love and self-sacrifice.

—from the book Perfect Joy: 30 Days with Francis of Assisi  by Kerry Walters

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Christianity Is a Complete Way of Life

Christianity isn’t an abstract philosophy. It’s a complete way of life. Consequently, profession of belief in Christianity isn’t simply an intellectual nod of the head, but a commitment to live in such a way as to express concretely one’s convictions in the everyday world. Such engagement demands a sense of direction, a sense of individual mission and purpose. This is supplied by the particular vocation each of us is given. When we discover our own unique calling, regardless of what it may be, we find the spiritual true north by which to plot our course.

—from the book Perfect Joy: 30 Days with Francis of Assisi  by Kerry Walters

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Christ Cannot Be Limited

Through his life in Christ, Francis came to see that Christ cannot be limited to a single human person; rather, Christ encompasses the whole creation. Nowhere is this more evident than in his Canticle of the Creatures. By entering into the heart of Christ, Francis found Christ at the heart of the world. The life of Francis indicates to us that to be a Christian is to find Christ in every person and living creature, and to be in union with Christ is to experience God’s goodness throughout creation, not just in a church. Christ, the risen incarnate Word of God, encompasses the whole creation.

—from the book The Humility of God: A Franciscan Perspective  by Ilia Delio, OSF

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God Rejoices in Diversity

I live in the area of Washington, D.C., which is a kaleidoscope of various cultures, languages and ethnicities. Is everyone Catholic? No. Is everyone Christian? No. So what does a humble God of love do in such a diverse world? Rejoice! Because God’s creation is a wonderful celebration of diversity. Our God is not a boring God! But somehow our Catholic doctrine still creates walls of separation, paths of exclusivity, “in” and “out” groups. By exploring the relationship of a humble God to a world of difference we come to a more broadly conceived notion of the meaning of Christ.

—from the book The Humility of God: A Franciscan Perspective  by Ilia Delio, OSF

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God Bends Down to Lift Us Up

While the weight of the mystery rests on the part of the divine, it rests equally on the human nature that God has humbly bent down to lift up as his own. The figure of the stigmatized Francis reminds each of us of our Christian  vocation: to be another incarnation of the Word in all its mystery. Through the burning compassionate love of the Crucified, we are called to reenact the mystery of the Crucified in our own life. Until we enter into that mystery and express that mystery through compassionate “burning” love, for our neighbor and for creation, the world remains incomplete.

—from the book Crucified Love: Bonaventure's Mysticism of the Crucified Christ by Ilia Delio, OSF

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A Love Purified by the Love of God

In Francis’s life, it was the crucified Savior who spoke to him from the cross of San Damiano and whom he saw in lepers. And it was the crucified Savior he first fell in love with. The suffering Jesus moved him to tears, and in pity and compassion he wanted to join Jesus in his suffering to show how much he loved him. And so he did “foolish” things at times to show his love, to keep focused and faithful to the Christ who revealed  himself to a shopkeeper’s son who longed to be a knight and ended up choosing instead to be a happy beggar who sang songs of love and lived and preached the Gospel of the love of God who was made real for him in the words and life of God’s Son. The human condition being what it is, love in the end involves a choice to love the Love that created and redeemed us, even in the face of affliction, abandonment, and death. “And that, Brother Leo, is perfect joy, a love purified by the love of God.” That is the secret and perfect teaching of St. Francis of Assisi.

—from the book Surrounded by Love: Seven Teachings from Saint Francis

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The Supreme Love of God

Francis demonstrated a type of love that ascends to God and descends to neighbor, a love that expressed itself in the desire for martyrdom and strove for unity with neighbor and creation. Francis, therefore, is not only the model of relationship with God but he models the relationship of the human person to others, to community, and to the created world. The Stigmata signify that Francis attained the supreme love of God through his imitation of and conformity to Christ. Union with Christ Crucified, the center of all reality, enabled Francis to stand with Christ at the center of the world, united to humanity and creation in solidarity, in the spirit of compassionate love—“burning” for love of God and love of neighbor who has been created and redeemed by God. In light of the stigmatized Francis, we can say that the mysticism of the human person means that in the human person, united to Christ, the self-diffusing goodness of the Creator is clearly and perfectly manifested. 

—from the book Crucified Love: Bonaventure's Mysticism of the Crucified Christ by Ilia Delio, OSF

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Where Is God in Human Suffering?

The book of Job reminds us that good people are vulnerable to suffering. The September 11 terrorist attacks tell us that our lives are contingent and finite; we may go to work one morning and never return. While we live in an age of terrorism, we have emerged from one of the bloodiest centuries of history. Where is God in all of this human suffering? Is God indifferent to human suffering? How about the suffering of the earth, the pillaging and stripping of natural resources? Is this of concern to God? Like the challenges of the new science today, the questions of suffering are broad and not easily addressed. However, looking at the question of suffering from the view of God’s humble love may give us a better insight as to how God relates to a world of suffering. Bonaventure’s profound emphasis on the crucified Christ indicates to us that God is no  stranger to suffering and, indeed, the cross is the hope of new life in God.

—from the book The Humility of God: A Franciscan Perspective  by Ilia Delio, OSF

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Jesus Meant What He Said

Francis took Christ’s teaching seriously. He was too honest to read Scripture selectively and too unsophisticated to spin elaborate no-risk interpretations of it. Instead, he championed the radical notion that Christ meant what he said when he spoke of love and poverty and sacrifice. To presume otherwise is to conclude that Christ was in the strange habit of always saying one thing but meaning something quite different.

—from the book Perfect Joy: 30 Days with Francis of Assisi  by Kerry Walters

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