“…terrifying insight…”

Here is something I just read that I want to share with you:

Francis saw with terrifying insight how human nature  was dehumanized by affluence. He saw it among many of the clergy and even in the Bishop of Assisi. He saw it in his own father.

In our day we likewise see some of the worst sins committed by people who have impulsive drives for wealth: sins such as envy, jealousy, revenge, bribery, graft, even murder. Using people as things, valuing possessions over persons; using possessions to make people think we are something more than we really are. And the end result? Might becomes right; fear dominates our relationships and love can gain no entrance; unhappiness, depressions, nervous disorders, but above all violence ensues.

From Francis’ own example in rejecting his father’s materialistic values, he stands before us as a rather awesome sign that all this need not be. A thousand weights can fall from our shoulders, along with finding peace of heart and mind, if we could take the simple steps that Francis took:

  1. Confront the materialistic mentality of the society that we belong to with a spirit of detachment: “The land is yours, but the landscape is mine” is a real Franciscan attitude.
  2. Learn to value the sacredness of all being (Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother Wind, Sister Water) but especially and uniquely the sacredness of persons.
  3. See everything superfluous as belonging to others who are in need.
  4. Have faith enough to cast one’s care upon the Lord, and have a free, child-like relationship with him.

The famed British historian, Arnold Toynbxee, once said: “Why is it that with the example of the greatest human western civilization has produced clearly before us, the world has chosen to follow Francis’ father instead of Francis?”

(From a 1977 article in The Furrow [28-3] by Donal O’Mahony, OFMCap.)

Today we visited the Sanctuary of La Verna, about a two-hour bus trip to the north. This was a place dear to Frances’ heart. Although he visited here only a few times because of the distance, he spent extended periods of fasting in solitude and prayer. It was here he received the Stigmata after praying to feel in his body the love of Christ on the cross. It was here also that he expressed anxiety about his Order after his death because it was experiencing divisions and conflict, and was told by Jesus, “You have done your part, but remember the Order is Mine, not yours.”

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Author: tomwelbers

I have been a Catholic priest for nearly fifty years, most of that time serving in parish and college campus ministry. I also have professional degrees in theology and liturgy, as well as institutional management, and continue avidly to explore pastoral theology, Scripture, liturgy, ecumenical and interfaith relations, and spiritual direction. I have a passion for sharing insight into our Christian heritage through teaching, writing, and leading pilgrimages, especially to Early Christian World sites in Turkey. Now actively retired from parish ministry, I live at Nazareth House in Los Angeles.

1 thought on ““…terrifying insight…””

  1. Your reflection today brought the ache in heart to the fore. I have become increasingly aware of this process even more so since moving to Orange County. The sorrow becomes more acute as I become aware of how it has affected my own family, my children and grandchildren. It is a very materialistic, hedonistic environment in which to live. My awareness in no way denies the presence of God or the efforts of many people of God who attempt to maintain some qualities of a Faith life, but even that is contaminated in many ways to which most are not even aware. I often reflect upon how this way of life must affect the Sacred Heart of Jesus, particularly when praying and meditating upon the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary.

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