Franciscan Spirituality

Writings about Franciscan Spirituality

12 Marks of A New Franciscan Celtic Monasticism

Posted by on Jul 24, 2014 in Articles, Franciscan Spirituality | 1 comment

Moved by God’s Holy Spirit in this time called the Global Village to assemble with the Tau Community of Saint Francis worldwide, we the Monastic members wish to acknowledge a movement of radical rebirth, grounded in God’s love and drawing on the rich traditions of Interspiritual /Christian practices that have formed disciples in the simple Way of Jesus, The Cosmic Christ.

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Making a Celtic Franciscan Retreat Led by Brother Sean

Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Franciscan Spirituality | 1 comment

Making a Celtic Franciscan Retreat  

So, what does a Franciscan Retreat consist of?

Firstly, it embraces the Divine within your soul and instead of feeling afraid of the Divine, there is an insatiable longing within the soul to return to its’ spiritual home. As with all faith journeys, there is a sense of real expectancy to receive a miracle and live in an eternal euphoric state of mind.

Franciscan spirituality is unlike anything else! It is spirituality that is practical, accessible, effortless and affordable for all who ask for it. It embraces the ancient principles and values of all the world’s major religions placing an emphasis, not on academia, but more on giving the heart permission to breathe and Be!

A Franciscan retreat in the 21st century is an encounter with God that has no beginning or end. It is open and yet, it is endless for the soul in search of clarity and truth. Unlike many other retreats, a Franciscan retreat has no stipulations other than come with an ‘open mind to receive’ and that your heart is ready to dance the ‘sacred dance’ with Mother Earth, her helpers and friends of the animal kingdom. When the soul takes responsibility to actively engage in such an experience, Saint Francis walks alongside each and every soul as it enters the cathedral of Mother Nature’s domain. There, the birds become the eternal choristers chanting the praises to God. The animal kingdom patiently waits for us to join them in song too. All that they ask is that we reverently respect that they too have a rightful place with mankind in their search for a more peaceful and loving world that recognises God as their Creator. A Celtic Franciscan Retreat embraces all of creation but especially the following: The senses have an important part to play in acknowledging the beauty of all creation. Holism and Alternatives play an equal part in our self healing process. K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Server) is the key that unlocks the very heart of God in all creation.

The Angelic Messengers of the Four Spheres as represented in the Angel (Feng Shui) Healing Bagua. A sacred tool given to Brother Sean in 1999 as a self healing tool to overcome the impact of severe mental illness using colour and plant essences. Creating a sacred space to rest, play and enjoy being a co creator or child of God. Embracing the seasons and their gifts. Connecting with the energies associated with the Divine Feminine (Magdalene) and with the Divine Masculine (Jesus Christ). Both energies when combined as one create balance, harmony and Divine Connectedness within the soul. Honouring the responses from the heart as coming from God. Discourages the use of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), or similar techniques that control the heart to deny channeled messages from Source.

The ancient teachings of the Essenes to re-programme the mind and bring it into subjection of the heart centre. Embracing the positive view-point within all religious faith teachings that will enable the heart embrace a God of live not fear. Using all that Mother Nature provides for us and adopting a more holistic, alternative approach to wellness and wholeness. Embracing an eco friendly understanding of the Earth.

Adhering to the earth’s code. Adopting the Tree of Life and the symbolism of the 7 Branches and 7 Roots connecting mankind with the sacred healing energies of Heaven and Earth. Working with all groups who show respect for the diversity of the human being.

A Franciscan Retreat really does provide the soul with: Joy. Liberation. Clarity. Freedom. Reverence. Respect. Humility. Spiritual Abundance. Prosperity Consciousness A clearer understanding of the differences between religion and spirituality. A desire to want to actively engage with God and creation as part of one’s faith journey. The desire to surrender and submit one’s ego, dreams and aspirations to God in service for the whole family of God’s creation to be liberated and set free of ‘self.’ When can one make such a retreat? A Celtic Franciscan retreat can be made at any time. What to do now? For information about making an online Franciscan retreat with Brother Sean, please direct your enquiries to brothersean@btinternet.com

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A Franciscan World View ?

Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Articles, Franciscan Spirituality | 0 comments

What is a worldview?

According to Loretta Abbott she states that, ‘Every person has a worldview. Here’s how some have defined it: “How we view the world. Our ideas about the world that determine how we live, decisions we make, and our response to others.

The ideas we have that determine our thoughts, decisions, and actions.” (Rewired Worldview Curriculum by Chuck Colson and Teen Mania) “A worldview is your belief system – a total way of looking at the world, the way you understand reality, or what the world is all about.

A worldview is the ‘Big Picture’ of life, and it is a coherent view that gives meaning to the individual pieces of your life.” (Worldviews in Focus: Thinking Like a Christian by David Nobel and Chuck Edwards) In other words, your worldview is what you believe, which in turn affects your value system which then determines your behaviour and actions.’

Jesus is the basis of a Christian worldview. “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” Colossians 2:6-8

Saint Francis is the basis of a Franciscan Interfaith Worldview. The updated Franciscan worldview may be perceived by many Catholic Christians who are ‘set in their religious belief,’ as nothing more than an over indulgence in a New Age philosophy that has no relevance for followers of Saint Francis.

To adopt the Franciscan worldview, the soul needs to be open and receptive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit of Divine Love that enriches the soul with ‘regular updates’ using modern technology such as the Internet Highway, to convey the word of God to those who have ‘ears to hear and receive God’s Truth.’

I believe that at the very heart of Franciscan Spirituality there is an acceptance that our Creator God has both male and female energy as evident by the reference to, ‘Our Holy Father Mother God.’ Saint Francis approached God through simplicity and humility and his spiritual life was greatly inspired by His Master Jesus.

This selfless, reverent spiritual love affair that both men shared on a purely spiritual level became the sole driving force behind many of the teachings that Saint Francis wrote for his followers to adopt in their search for God through simplicity and humility. The intense spiritual live affair that engulfed the soul of Saint Francis became so intense that finally he was given the stigmata, or same hallmarks of his crucified Lord, Jesus Christ.

In his personal faith journey, Saint Francis acknowledged against the teachings of his Church, the presence of both the Divine Feminine, Mary Magdalene as well as the Masculine energies of Jesus. Yes, he had a devotion to Mother Mary but he knew that as Magdalene was the ‘Beloved Disciple, whom Jesus loved,’ he restored allegiance to balancing both energies and avoided the route of adherence to the traditional doctrines imposed by the Catholic Church.

Franciscan spirituality embraces a new concept of balance, harmony and divine connectedness by not only acknowledging the presence of the Divine Feminine but also shows a great reverence to Mother Earth and all creation as noted in the respected ‘Canticle of the Creatures.’

The spirituality of Saint Francis embraced a ‘New World Order’ of four important ecologies that would challenge the entire Christian world of that era to the present day. Instead of adhering to the Roman Catholic view point, Saint Francis adopted the Catholic or Universal view that as children of the same loving God/dess, we are all one in the eyes of God.

Here we have the birth of interfaith dialogue between Saint Francis and Jesus seeking reconciliation for all mankind to be as one, just as Jesus is with His Father Mother God. Franciscan Spirituality takes the cry of Jesus from the cross to his heart, ‘Father, I pray that they will be one as You and I are One.’ The wearing of the Tau symbol is a daily reminder of God’s cry for the unity and reconciliation of all faiths and none to unite as one spiritual family in God for God.

The Tau symbol represents our arms outstretched in prayerful supplication to God for that unity.

Franciscan Spirituality is an Ecology for Soul Seekers Everywhere.

Francis of Assisi, in his living the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the full, gives us an example of ‘Four Ecologies: an environmental ecology, living in harmony with creation and Mother Nature and the Elements.

  • a social ecology, embracing all people as brothers and sisters regardless of colour, race or status.
  • a spiritual ecology, in praise of the Father Mother God as Creator of all things.
  • an interfaith ecology, inviting all soul seekers of truth enter a new concept of living practical spirituality in the modern world regardless of one’s religious persuasions.

The Tau Community of Saint Francis is a ‘Virtual Interfaith Spiritual Community of ordinary men and women who have heard the call of Saint Francis speaking to their hearts about how they can be of service to the same loving God as they seek to express and share this ‘integrated spiritual vision/ecology’ for the sake of and out of love for God’s world by providing the following:

۞ a vehicle whereby mankind can embrace religious diversity without 
 compromising one’s spiritual values as they search for lasting peace and 
 reconciliation of all Faiths to unite as ‘One Spiritual Family’ sharing
 God’s love for all and to all

۞ a unique concept of sharing God’s Love through a common sensed 
 approach of putting practical religious/spirituality into positive action 
 for all who are seeking peace where mutual respect is essential for the 
 integration of all faiths/beliefs.

۞ a spiritual monastic community, (a monastery without walls) based on the 
 core values of Franciscan Spirituality, where the Creator God is Love 
 and by inviting all to come and share that love as brothers and sisters by 
 embracing a ‘spiritual way life,’ from the comforts of their own home.

۞ an online network providing spiritual support for those in need of spiritual 
 guidance and daily prayer.

۞ An online network providing spiritual information for those who are 
 guided by God to advance their spiritual life further.

The Franciscan worldview of entering a ‘Franciscan spiritual retreat’ for personal soul development, entails a spiritual journey of re-treating from the world for a closer personal relationship with one’s God/Dess.

The teachings of Saint Francis are rooted in both the ancient and modern concepts of God as demonstrated by the Essenes, Druids, Celts, to name but a few. Though the Catholic/Christian Churches down through the centuries have added their own perception of how they perceived the soul’s journey for a ‘religious/mystical’ experience, it would suggest that they have focused to a great extent more on the individual/s adopting their dogmatic teachings as emphasised in Canon Law. On the other hand, it is regrettable that the New Age Movement have liberalised and apparently trivialised the simplicity and integrity of the 12th century man of God, Saint Francis of Assisi.

In every generation God summons ordinary men and women to take on the might of the ‘Religious and Civil Authorities’ who shackle God’s people with their agendas to coerce and default on offering to God what is rightfully Gods’.

I believe that Saint Francis was chosen by God to repair the damage caused to by His chosen representatives in the 12th century. Who could have imagined that a group of ordinary men and women disguised as a peasants under the leadership of Saint Francis could effectively change the course of spirituality.

Because of the imposing threat from their reverence for God, their humility and fellowship soon began to spread from the fields and valleys of the Italian landscapes to the very heart of the Catholic Church in Rome itself. Clearly, it was never the intention for Saint Francis to establish a monastic community, God had other plans for this vibrant breath of Divine Love that was attracting thousands and millions of followers away from the corrupt Church to serving God by embracing the ordinariness and simplicity of a fulfilled life in union with Mother Earth, the animal kingdom as demonstrated by the Canticle of the Creatures and the love that Saint Francis afforded to his beloved Brother Sun and Sister Moon.

In this age of religious disquiet and public unrest, mankind it would seem has lost its way and has become ‘spiritually impoverished’ whilst desperately seeking clarity to the mayhem and confusion perpetrated by the many false prophets of gloom and doom who sell their wares and whose sole aim is to enslave the innocent and vulnerable into their schools of false ideology that denies the very existence of God or a Supreme Being that is known by many other different names.

Saint Francis is perceived by many who are involved in the ‘Interfaith Arena’ as the Founding Father of Peace and Unity of all faiths and none. He demonstrated a way of life as opposed to standing in a pulpit and screaming at God’s children to live in fear of a loving God. Instead, Saint Francis opened his arms to everyone regardless of their status in the local community.

His intense love for God was a hand’s on love as demonstrated by his active care and support of lepers. His wisdom spread far afield and soon he was seen as a ‘man of God’ who reflected the face of His Master Jesus. His spirituality was soon labelled ‘Franciscan Spirituality’ and has attracted many thousands of men and women to forsake the worldly pleasures for the cloistered life. Why?

Today, the spirit of Saint Francis is alive not just at his birthplace of Assisi, but has found a new spiritual watering hole ‘The Celtic Assisi of the South Lakes. At the Monastery of Saint Francis, we not only honour and respect the 12th century traditional teachings of Saint Francis as well as all other Faith traditions that lives to the spirit of embracing God/Dess through the Natural World- The Franciscan Soul of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity and Simplicity which unites our hearts as lay monastic’s of the Tau Community of Interfaith Franciscans. www.interfaithfranciscans.com

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FRANCISCAN  SPIRITUALITY  and what it means 4 our Oblates

Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Articles, Franciscan Spirituality | 0 comments

Being asked to find a key word that fully describes the spirituality of Francis of Assisi, I personally would use: BEAUTY. The word “beauty”, and the search for beauty paraphrases  Francesco (Giovanni) Bernadone’s  experiences, his psychic needs and plans for his future  while living in the rich house of his father, supported and pampered from his cultivated French mother. So far his search for beauty stayed within the field of elementary but transmuted immediately to the realms of metaphysics after the failure of his dream to become a knight and to participate on crusades.

After having lived a life of pleasure with his friends, as a “king” of their feasts, Francis finally got bored and experienced a period of reflection and conversion. During this time his material, earthly search for beauty and love transmuted into the search for the endless mystery of divine beauty and love. Every search for beauty, wherever and whenever it appears first, is in my opinion basically a search for God’s love. Where  is beauty there is love, and vice versa, because we can only love what we consider to be beautiful. And where is love, there is God. Searching for divine love, charitas, means to get involved into paradoxes  because it embraces the most ordinary and lowly just as the most high.

In this dialectic relation begins Francis’ spiritual life from now on to enfold. The ordinary, the simplicity, the earth: the “humus”, “humilitas”, humbleness ascends and transcends during all his life experiences into the most high, the  source of all beauty, to the sacred union, the “hieros gamos”.  But it was still far to go there and reach this goal, as it is for all of us… Looking at Francis’  way of conversion is fascinating! It shows a spiritual path that grows out of the ordinary and enfolds to the extraordinary while his personality slowly  gets transformed  through God’s grace and becomes a  “bridge”, or an “instrument” of faith, peace and love for the society of his century and for us, he became a link between Heaven and Earth. Human psychological situations are often reviewed to be stumbling blocks, but can be changed into stepping stones on the spiritual path to holiness. That’s the way God works, He uses our vulnerabilities to perform them miraculously into virtues.

To proof this postulate and my opinion regarding the spiritual transformation of Francis’  earthly, materialistic search for beauty into the infinite beauty of the divine, I’ll take now a closer look  on different events during his life: As we know, Francis loved pleasure, society, feasts, exclusive clothing, beautiful horses and to become a knight. To fulfill all his wants and needs he generously spent  his father’s money. He enjoyed the beauty of this world! As a step in the direction of his conversion Francis refused to return to his father’s  house,  and to his old way of life. He gave the money he had acquired for repairing San Damiano back to his father,  and did much more: he stripped himself naked in front of the bishop,  presenting his clothes and all his belongings to his father and called out: “

From now onwards I can turn to God and call Him my Father in Heaven! His father Pietro had to return home convinced that his son must be crazy and while doing so  will ruin his family’s reputation. Francis left Assisi for a while, dressed in the poor garments of a hermit. He had replaced the beauty and richness of his father’s house  with the beauty of love and freedom and surrendered his heart to  his heavenly father. But still a while before he has already done a transforming step into a new  view of life after having met a leper face to face. He must have gotten the sudden understanding that real beauty and real greatness isn’t superficial but lies hidden within a person’s heart. By embracing and kissing the poor man he demonstrated  to have seen this man’s inner beauty and greatness despite his repulsing appearance. Francis had a radical character. He not only changed the beauty of a costly outfit into an – in its simplicity beautiful – habit in the form of a Tau, he also removed his shoes and went barefoot after having heard the gospel about Christ,  sending his apostles to preach, barefoot, with no staff or wallets.

The TAU – the beauty of Jesus Christ’s Cross The Hebrew and Greek letter TAU became the symbol of Francis’ mystic. He meditated on it, he signed his letters and decorated the walls of his brothers cells with this symbol, the initial cross in times before Pilate. Francis worshiped the Tau as a sign of repentance and penance  (by Ezekiel) that has turned to the symbol of salvation through Jesus Christ’s  devoted love and sacrifice. If one considers Francis’ mystical connection and love for “Mother Earth” he  may also have recognized the Tau as the symbol of the ancient Tree of Life. ……… Another characteristic note about Francis, showing his spirituality was his openness to universal dialog. He became the first interfaith-practitioner. He wanted to meet heretics, Saracenes, robbers.. His old dreams of glory with the crusades changed into the desire to embark upon a peaceful crusade to preach the  Saracenes. He left Italy 1211, but his plan failed. His ship got caught in a storm and he was shipwrecked and had to return home. Nevertheless, 1219 he met Sultan Melek el Kamil  for a friendly, peaceful conversation. One of St. Francis’ best known qualities was his love for nature. Through this love are earthly and  heavenly beauty melting into another, and become one. Francis didn’t only see God’s love and beauty in every living being, he saw God Himself.

Life in all its manifestations is divine and makes God visible, audible, touchable. Francis understood God’s language expressed through the singing birds, the wild animals, the colourful flowers, the stones and trees. He had the Tau, the Tree of Life not only sewed onto his habit but imprinted into his heart. The famous canticle was written AFTER having lost his eyesight, after immensely pain, and distressing, useless treatments. Francis saw brother sun and sister moon and all the beauty of creation with his spiritual eyes, he felt their warmth and coolness in his heart. He felt Mother Earth, God’s “female companion”, and her love, when he laid down on the naked soil. The canticle proofs the profound union between Francis  and the whole creation. This union is built upon the category of universal fraternity, so that every creature, even a terrible wolf, becomes a “frater et soror”. And now my résumé: Every part of Francis’ life reveals that his proverbial lightness of being, his cheerfulness, joy and poetry arised from surrendering the experiences of disappointment, of having been misunderstood and judged as foolish, of illness, rejection, and pain. It is told that he once asked one of his brothers what complete joy would mean for him, and when and how it possibly could be experienced. St. Francis found  for himself the answer: only through total unity with his beloved Jesus Christ, including the unity in suffering. This helps to understand that he , during a vision of a crucified seraph got the unimaginable and indescribable blessing of the holy stigmata. Every authentic life is confronted with paradoxes. One has to accept ones limitations, and on the other hand one has to pass over barriers and restrictions. Francis’ radical understanding regarding penance, his excessive demands and interpretations of poverty have certainly to be adjusted to  our time and way of life without ignoring the central message that God is the giver of all our needs. In this sense I do believe that our spiritual understanding has evolved from an external interpretation to  an perception of inner and outer detachment.

A saint is always a saint of his special time. All centuries have the saints they need, and they live the spirituality their time needs most. The way how he or she expresses spirituality changes but the root remains the same in every time: Having got the T-mark on one’s forehead, and one’s life contract put down in one’s DNA, one will never be able to stop searching divine beauty, and where beauty is, is love. Where love is, is peace. Love, peace and beauty are three synonyms of the “hundred names of God”. I believe, Francis of Assisi lived  a very personal form of essenic spirituality. Sr.Joy

What does Franciscan spirituality mean for me as a human being, as a spiritual person and as an oblate within the soul. Sr. Fiona Watts  When I hear the words Franciscan spirituality I immediately think of acceptance, warmth, comfort, Understanding and non judgmental souls. People who are aware of and embrace god in their daily lives no matter what religion they are. The words Franciscan spirituality fill me with warmth and comfort as I know people who follow the Franciscan way of life are embracing something wonderful and a good, pure way to live their life, following in the great footsteps of St Francis. Trying to heal the world and the people in it with their support and love in whatever small way they are able to. A lot of people in today’s world only care for them and are often blind or do not want to be bothered with other peoples suffering. So they ignore the pleas for help or fail to see that people could be helped with even just a kind word or a smile. They abuse nature and do not realize that she is the power that sustains us as humans. They do not realize that by neglecting others and their needs and suffering just adds more suffering to the Universe and those about them and can make their souls a duller place. I have always loved St Francis, he has been my favorite saint since Childhood and I was not raised in a religious background so he sort of just popped into my life from somewhere. It seems natural for me to be drawn towards the Franciscan way of life. When I first heard about the Tau interfaith Franciscan community I felt a very strong pull towards it because it resonated very strongly with me, the ideals. Living in the way of Franciscan spirituality means acceptance to me, acceptance of any and all people, no matter what their circumstances, faith, wealth, health personal foibles and standing in the community. In fact I feel that the Franciscan way is to help the more needy, the poor, the sick those less able to help themselves. To give support and feel compassion to help and to not judge or condemn because it is not for us to judge people. We do not know their lives, their ordeals and suffering, their joys and happiness. We can try to put ourselves in their shoes but ultimately everyone is different and what may help one will not help another, so i think trying to understand that person’s point of view and not be dismissive of them is very important. Helping people in what big or little way we are able to. We may not have money to spare but we can give support and hold their hands when they need to feel secure and that someone really cares for them. To talk through their problems with them in a non judgmental way. To say a prayer with them. To strive for peace always, to be forgiving and understanding but not to be soft. To join together in worship, prayer and song. To be happy about being Franciscan to embrace with joy and love. Franciscan spirituality is to love the earth and it’s creatures, to try to stop the abuse of the earth and teach people to love and respect the very thing that sustains us. To embrace the animals and creatures of the earth and treat them with the respect we would want to receive ourselves. Not to think of them as lesser beings than us but just as important in the huge planet that is earth. I think Franciscan spirituality feels the right way for me because it is so familiar with the way I try to live my life and I know that as an oblate this feeling, this striving to try to live my life in this way will help people I may meet in my journey through life and in my oblate studies. To see God’s presence in everything and everyone. To look for the good and not the bad, to see the beauty in everything around me even what people perceive of as ugly because everything is Gods creation and should be respected and loved as he loves. My soul feels Franciscan and probably always has even from a child although I did not have a name to put to it then. Not sure if this is enough, i am a bit out of the swing of writing been a while!! I know what I feel in my heart about it and it is not something I can really describe in words because it is colors and a big burst of warmth and sunshine and connection and acceptance. A loving and glowing feeling that comes from deep inside. This loving and colors and bright golden light I feel and see inside myself is my Franciscan spirituality, it is not always something that can be described in words but only felt within my soul. Sr. Fiona Watts

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