“One of the earliest accounts of Saint Francis, the ‘Legend of Perugia,’ quotes him as telling the first friars that ‘You only know as much as you do.’ His emphasis on action, practice, and lifestyle was foundational and revolutionary for its time and at the heart of Franciscan alternative orthodoxy (“heterodoxy”). For Francis and Clare, Jesus became someone to actually imitate and not just to worship. Up to this point, most of Christian spirituality was based in desert asceticism, monastic discipline, theories of prayer, or academic theology, which itself was often founded in ‘correct belief’ or liturgy, but not in a kind of practical Christianity that could be lived in the streets of the world. Many rightly say Francis emphasized an imitation and love of the humanity of Jesus, and not just the worshiping of his divinity. That is a major shift. Those who have analyzed the writings of Francis have noted that he uses the word doing rather than understanding at a ratio of 175 times to 5. Heart is used 42 times to 1 use of mind. Love is used 23 times as opposed to 12 uses of truth. Mercy is used 26 times while intellect is used only 1 time. This is a very new perspective that is clearly different from (and an antidote to) the verbally argumentative Christianity of his time, and from the highly academic theology that would hold sway from then on. …Francis and Clare’s approach has been called a ‘performative spirituality’ which means that things are only found to be true in the doing of them. At the level of idea, issues will be forever argued about, because thinking is invariably dualistic. Francis wanted us to know things in an almost ‘cellular’ and energetic way, and not just in our heads. This knowing is a kind of “muscle memory” which only comes from practice.” Richard Rohr
“…faith by itself isn’t enough.
Unless it produces good deeds,
it is dead and useless.”
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- What’s wrong with “verbally argumentative Christianity?”
- Does your faith require you to “imitate Jesus” in specific ways? How so?
- In reality is your Christian life more about ideas and words (right doctrine), or actually imitating Jesus (loving practices)?
- If … “You only know as much as you do.”, how much do you know?
Abba, help me practice daily what I believe.
For More: Eager to Love by Richard Rohr
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)
“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”
“If transformation is not an accomplishment and is something that must come from beyond the small self that we presently are, where does it come from? I have no better answer than that it comes from God. God, who is both within and beyond us, constantly calls us to be more than we are. All growth, healing and transformation are mediated by this outpouring of the Divine Self. They come to us as gifts, but there is something we must do to accept them. That something is responding to life with a “YES” of openness, acceptance and gratitude and then living with the inner stillness and presence that is part of being a good host to the Spirit of God who dwells within. In a word, it is faith. But remember – faith is much, much more than beliefs. Faith as belief – this being how it has commonly been understood in Christianity since the Enlightenment – is far too weak to transform anything. However, faith involves much more than giving cognitive assent to propositions. It is a whole-person orientation of trusting openness. Faith in God is leaning into life with openness and trust. This is why genuine openness to life is openness to God – and openness to God is openness to life.” David G. Benner
“…let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Romans 12 2
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Does your faith in God include responding to him and to life “with a ‘YES’ of openness, acceptance and gratitude?” Consider each of these three traits.
- Are you “living with the inner stillness and presence that is part of being a good host to the Spirit of God who dwells within?”
- Is your approach to the Christian life working for you? Is it more and more a moving from “head to heart?” an entering into a kind of spaciousness?
Abba, I will stop and look for your gracious work of transformation in me and my world today. Help me to move from my head to my heart. Help me to live in openness to you and to life.
For More: Spirituality and the Awakening Self by David G. Benner
Thomas Merton expresses my heart for Daily Riches: “If I dare, in these few words, to ask you some direct and personal questions, it is because I address them as much to myself as to you. It is because I am still able to hope that a civil exchange of ideas can take place between two persons — that we have not yet reached the stage where we are all hermetically sealed, each one in the collective arrogance and despair of his own herd.” I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. (Psalm 90:14) . I appreciate your interest! – Bill