Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Perfect Joy -- The Little Flowers of St. Francis

Meditating on the thought for today found in the Magnificat (see a snippit below), I was reminded of the words of Saint Francis as he taught what perfect joy is. You can find "Perfect Joy" at

Here is the meditation:

"It is necessary that the saints should live among us, that they should be subject, like us, to all the wretchedness of our human condition, and that they should even seem to be overwhelmed by it; for in this way they teach us to be indifferent to all the glory of the world, proving to us in a striking manner that our true good lies elsewhere. The essence of holiness often manifests itself most clearly in the frustration the saint endures, in the pain which is inflicted on him, or which he inflicts on himself, in torture or in martyrdom... Yet our imagination needs these great examples as a measure of the distance there is between holiness and success... (holiness) is indifferent to worldly success and indeed despises it."

-- Louis Lavelle - (+ 1951) was a professor at the Sorbonne, Paris, France, and was a prominent Christian philosopher.

(Emphasis is mine as I reflect on so many frustrations I seem to run into in my daily walk with God.)


Athos said...

I guess my question is, Aramis, have you found this to be "perfect joy" in your own life?

Finding models worthy of imitation, or being caught by models' desires, is a basic part of human life. Clearly, for you, St Francis embodies this worthy modeling.

But on the experiential level, do you find the Franciscan life that which brings you the most - what? - ontological grounding in subjectivity, personhood?

My question isn't meant to be provocative, but inquisitive for understanding. Best

David Nybakke said...

Dear Ath,

My first Spiritual Director in the late '90s introduced Francis to me. As I explored the RADICALness of Francis the more I desired to become Franciscan.

I found the following writing, somewhat to my liking, about seeing the true RADICAL - an imitation of Christ - that Francis was.

Theology of Francis.
The article concludes with:
"Finally this humility led Francis to redefine perfect joy. This was not to be found in the trappings of power, wealth, and comfort that people in Europe ascribed to, including his family. For Francis, perfect joy was found in being afflicted and responding in love. When this happened eternal life was gained."

“Therefore all my brothers, let us be very much on our guard so that we do not lose or turn away our mind and heart from the Lord under the guise of achieving some reward or doing some work or providing some help. But in the holy love which is God I beg all my brothers both ministers and the others, as they overcome every obstacle and put aside every care and anxiety, to strive as best they can to serve, love, honour, and adore the Lord God with a clean heart and a pure mind, for this is what He desires above all things.”[22]

"...I found his writing inspiring, and difficult. His theology is more traditional and more Catholic than I am. I found his High attitude to God enormously inspiring. His vision of humanity as grotesquely sinful is a difficult picture. And his deep humility and self effacement is both inviting, and beyond what I can aspire to. Yet he offers a vision to pray for, work towards, and one day attain if it is the grace of God."

One last thought Ath, for some time now I have felt that the MOST difficult level (if I may refer to it this way) of the Franciscan orders is the secular level, the SFO. It is mightily tuff to live out the Franciscan charism living in the world, a lay person, constantly surrounded by distractions and noise. This is why I am always trying to find my way back into the chapel, day or night.

Athos said...

That is very helpful, Aramis! And, worthy in and of itself of posting. Thanks for taking the time to write it down for me.