Ecstacy of St. Francis
We think of the 12th-century Catholic friar as the founder of the Franciscan Order and the teacher of God in all of the living creatures. He is often pictured holding a bowl of water for the birds. Much of what we know of St. Francis has been filtered, edited, and diluted by the Catholic church.
If you study him long enough, or with the right eye, you begin to see how this little friar described a life of mysticism: cultivating a deep personal relationship with *God* through prayer, contemplation, and meditation. The part that breaks with his Catholic vows and that is mostly removed from any writing or thoughts attributed to St. Francis is the connection to God directly and through personal experience. There is no Jesus or church necessary for the modern-day mystic. We’ve been shown a template, a map for living our lives, that involves prayers to God, the deep appreciation for all life, and a one-to-one communion with God.
He spent time in solitude in conversations with God. The dangerous part of this idea, the part the church still fears today, is this: you can connect with the holy spirit without any help from the church. In some ways, church is the antithesis of mysticism. So you often don’t hear of, or associate St. Francis and his bowl of birds with mysticism.
Today, mystical experiences are all around us, if we’re paying attention. St. Francis believed that these epiphanies were gifts from God and should be accepted with gratitude and humility, rather than pursued. Yes, and as a modern mystic myself, I can accept his idea while contradicting it with one primary point. Do pursue a mystical connection with God. Do bask in the glow of epiphanies about your life, your loves, your future. Only through listening to the inner spirituality within can you fully embrace your part as a perfect fragment of God. Tuning to a spiritual awakening is a life goal. Pursue what gives you joy. Bless those around you with the way you live your life.
His ecstasy was complete and perfect in each moment of his life. Most of what we know of St. Francis’s direction connection with a mystical life has been written by the Franciscan priests who followed his teachings. He remained true to his own teaching to let the mystical experiences be part but not all of his life.
St. Francis didn’t pursue epiphanies, his entire life was a living thread of God’s good work on Earth.
Read more Short-Short Stories from John.