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Are you restless or hungry for more in your life? Are you seeking wisdom or looking for inspiration? The Gospel gave guidance to Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi as they followed in the footprints of Jesus some 800 years ago. The witness of their lives and values continue to inspire those of us on a spiritual journey today. Join Sister Michelle L’Allier and her guest, ordinarily on the first and third Tuesday of each month, for a time of shared reflection and conversation.

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Mar 1, 2022

Join Sister Elise Saggau as she explores Franciscan life, like the gospel from which it takes its inspiration, as offering us a meaningful way of viewing life, which in turn translates into practical daily choices.

 

From Sister Elise’s interview:

“Conversion means a lifelong process by which each of us grows and matures into as full a human being as we can possibly be; this process involves stages or passages. … And these passages are essentially transformative in our life. When we undergo a conversion or when we undergo a new stage of personal growth, we have to leave behind what's familiar, what's comfortable, and we have to move into the unknown. I think that is often scary for people; it has been scary for me at different times of my life. ... It's only by moving into it that you find out that you not only have room for it, but it expands you and it gives you more room, more space to move about, more space to grow. And each of these stages brings you into a new stage of this greater expanded way of living.”

 

“All human beings go through this. And we who are in a religious way of living and reflecting on our life in a religious way, we believe these transformative moments lead us into becoming the very person that God intended from the moment of our creation. God didn't make us complete at the beginning. God created us, but God created us as possibility, and those possibilities have to keep getting fulfilled. Otherwise, if we don't die physically, we die internally.”

 

“St. Francis really understood conversion. And he understood it as an ever greater turning towards Christ and towards the gospel. He saw in the gospel...a universal formula for human growth and for the kind of growth that God intends for us. And he saw in Christ an absolute model of what human life can be. [Francis] wanted to follow Christ through the stages of life, to a greater life. He underwent this process in such a way that he was able then to provide a model for other people. They were drawn to his spirit and to his way of understanding…. They began to learn from Francis and follow him. It's very natural because it's part of our nature to be this way, to be growing people. To be growing beyond where we are into a larger and more complete form of ourselves.”

 

“Being a Franciscan is not primarily a matter of how one serves or what ministry. To me, it's a matter of how one lives. I believe that essential to our Franciscan Third Order Regular way of life is a community life centered on the other. …. I believe that the Franciscan view is that the other, no matter who he or she is, is a brother or a sister. That is fundamental to our Franciscan understanding.… this view of being sister or brother, recognizing the other as sister or brother, extends even to the more extensive creation. This is very Franciscan too -- the earth and all that it supports, the sun, the moon, the stars, the universe is part of a vast relationship, and all are worthy of attention and respect, and all speak to us of God, the source of all good.”

 

“This Franciscan way of life is like the gospel itself, from which it takes its inspiration. … It offers human beings a meaningful way of viewing life that translates into practical daily consequences. That's what a spirituality is; it takes a great spiritual concept and translates it into a way that we can live. And Francis and his way have been perennially, for 800 years attractive to human beings. Now I keep asking myself, how is this possible that this little guy over 800 years ago started something with so much power, it just spread around the world and it's still going. ... It gives color, it gives texture to our life in ways that are unique to the particular tradition. And we understand through our Franciscan way, our gospel way, that life is a pure gift, that every day is to be cherished and received with gratitude.”

 

“Just like Franciscanism has endured for 800 years, Gospel values have endured for over 2000 years, and millions of human beings have found meaning for their lives in the Christian way. 800 years ago, Francis and his followers chose to live the gospel in a way that was accessible to anyone, anywhere. It crossed all social and cultural lines and it continues to do so, even up to the present moment…. What is there about it that is so appealing?”

 

“We call our way of life Franciscan, but that's because we have received a certain historical spiritual tradition shaped and modeled by Francis of Assisi. He was a paradigmatic figure who lived in Italy in the 13th century and shared a spirit with a large community of people. An international community. We can shift away from that idea of an identifiable religious spirituality, because I think a life lived in gratitude and generosity, a life open to the wonder of the world around us and a life oriented to the welfare of others, a humble attitude that does not take any of life's opportunities or gifts for granted can be lived by anyone, anywhere. Models of such a life are abundant and are all around us. And each of our lives matters a great deal in the circles in which we live. And each one of us -- it doesn't matter what our religious background is -- every single day, each one of us decides what kind of a life we will live today and what we decide matters. It makes a difference. That decision has to be made every single day of our life. It's not something we decide once and then that's it. There's a universalism about this and you can go anywhere in the world and you can find these values. When we systematize them and classify them under a religious category or a spiritual category, that's all very good and helpful. But it's not exclusive. This is … a call to human beings. I think that somehow in the core of the Christian way of life and the core of Franciscan way of life, there is this call and message to anyone anywhere.”

 

For a full transcript, please include episode number and email: fslfpodcast@fslf.org.

 

References:

Haecceitas, term coined by Franciscan friar John Duns Scotus refers the uniqueness and dignity of all that exists; here are two references: https://cac.org/irreplaceable-thisness-2018-03-18/ , and https://www.ssfamericas.org/post/a-hagiography-of-blessed-john-duns-scotus  

 

Pope John XXIII convened the Vatican II; Council: here is a link to his opening prayer for the Council: https://www.papalartifacts.com/september-23-1959-pope-st-john-xxiiis-prayer-for-vatican-ii/ . To hear other podcast guests references to Vatican II, as well as to see show note links (click on ‘Read More’), type ‘Vatican’ into the search bar of this website, and several options will come up to explore.

 

Discernment: There are many spiritual traditions of discernment; here are some Franciscan discernment resources: https://osfphila.org/discernment-franciscan-style/ , together with a practical example from the Franciscan Mission Service: https://franciscanmissionservice.org/programs/apply/discernment/ .

 

Metanoia: Greek word with a rich range of translations ranging from biblical penance, to change of mind, to spiritual conversion. In our Third Order Regular Rule and Life commentary on article 2, three elements of metanoia are highlighted: to acknowledge God in creation, Scripture and in Jesus Christ; to adore God with one’s whole life; and to serve God in one’s neighbor. (1982, p. 37)

 

Saint Francis meeting with Leper: one contemporary reflection on this experience of Francis is: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/franciscan-spirit-blog/st-francis-meets-the-leper . For links to original texts and other resources, type ‘leper’ into the search bar of this website, and several options will come up to explore by listening to the cited podcasts, and/or by going to the show note links (click on ‘Read More’) for each indicated episode.