Eight hundred years ago is a long time, and yet the spirituality of St. Francis is for our time.
In this month-long e-course, we will look at the trajectory of St. Francis's life of conversion: from privileged son and party-goer, to penitent and self-educated hermit, to founder of a spiritual movement focused on healing and friendship and helping people discover the joy and love of God in their lives.
He was not a monk, on purpose. He didn’t join an established religious order, on purpose. He did not spend time going to Rome to seek permission for what he was doing — on purpose. Francis of Assisi was a creative, a spiritual innovator, most of all a practitioner. What he taught others was the result of the experiments of his own life. It is no surprise that he is the world’s most popular Christian saint, and one that’s widely admired by Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, spiritual independents, agnostics, and others, including people of native spiritual paths.
Francis of Assisi did not spend time talking about theological matters. He was a person of intense and deliberate spiritual practice. Why would he teach his followers to walk gently on stones? Why would he refuse to eat at the tables of the rich? Why would he make his home in caves or under the stars? His commitment to these kinds of practices is one of the reasons that millions of people have been drawn to Francis of Assisi, and we will explore how this spiritual approach to daily living can be adapted today.
Your guide for this spiritual adventure into the distinctive Franciscan approach to spirituality will be Jon M. Sweeney. One of the leading interpreters of the life of St. Francis, he is the author of a dozen books on St. Francis, St. Clare (we will look carefully at her too), and the early Franciscans, including those “holy fools” who were the counter-cultural foils of the rich, the conceited, and the powerful of late medieval society. The Franciscans turned their society on its head. Their foolery has not-so-surprising applications for us today.
The e-course consists of 12 emails which will be delivered to your inbox on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Each will offer you:
- An introduction to a key aspect of Franciscan spirituality evident through the example of St. Francis.
- Practical pointers for personal reflection and action.
- Suggestions for putting what has been offered into practice in your daily life.
- Access to a Practice Circle, an online forum open 24/7, for you to share your reflections about this course, read those of other participants around the world, and receive additional guidance from Jon M. Sweeney.
- Access to a teleconference with Jon M. Sweeney in which he will respond to our experience of the e-course and discuss key resources for your continued exploration of Franciscan spirituality. The teleconference will be from 8-9 p.m. Eastern Time (7-8 p.m. Central, 6-7 p.m. Mountain, 5-6 p.m. Pacific) on Tuesday, October 22, and will be recorded so that those who cannot attend can listen.
We warmly invite you to meet the real St. Francis and to answer the call to become more fully the person you are created to be — the person you truly are — guided by one who lived long ago but whose insights and way of conversion remain fresh and relevant today.
(4 CEHs for Chaplains available.)
Monday, September 30 - Friday, October 25