Yes, it’s a rhetorical question. I’m pretty sure Francis would have been too busy living to blog! But it’s also a larger question of how the spirit of Francis fits with the world of blogging.
I’ve learned through hard experience not to get sucked into the maelstrom of most of the Catholic blogosphere. I can’t control the news, but I can control how deeply I let it affect me and how I react to it, both personally and publicly. My friends and coworkers will tell you that I have strong feelings about a number of issues. But I’m learning that getting pulled into controversial discussions is rarely the right response.
Endless wrangling and church politics have always been the deepest threat to my spiritual life. The Church militant has never struck me as an image that meshes well with the gospel. Personal experiences in family and parish settings distanced me from the church more than once. I can still be tempted to the same response, but I know in my heart that it’s not an option. So I need to find another way.
As I explore a deeper personal commitment to a Franciscan way of life, Francis and his commitment to the gospel is always front and center. The wooden tau cross I wear, complete with the three knots of poverty, chastity and obedience on the cord, reminds me of the challenge to follow the gospel mandate. And it convicts me when I stray from my best intentions.
In mulling over many things in this past week, I found this passage in Murray Bodo’s profile of Francis, the practical mystic, particularly compelling:
“Rival families lived in constant tension in anticipation of the next brawl or outright battle between their houses. As a boy and young man, Francis saw these divisions and this omnipresent hostility and quarreling. War was a reality that ran through Francis’ years as a river of blood. This was his Assisi, the interminable conflicts between the supporters of the pope and the emperor, the papal Guelfs and imperial Ghibellines, whose struggles for supremacy tore apart city after city and divided one city from another, their walled fortress-like towns a now-dumb tribute to the clamor of their dissensions…. The man who longed to be a knight, a man of war, died a man of peace—at peace with God, with himself and with all of creation. God changed his heart, and his changed heart changed the world.”
Fortunately in the midst of the latest tempests in church news, there have been a few bright spots, particularly this reminder from Pope Benedict that as disciples of Jesus we respond to crises with prayer, not strategic campaigns. The ability to step back, to take things to prayer, to remember that all authority in the church resides with God, is too often forgotten in the heat of the moment.
Last weekend I listened to a webcast by Richard Rohr on Franciscan Mysticism. One of the things he talked about was the need to guard one’s heart and mind, to return to contemplation, to the gospel, to the mind of Christ. He talked about doing whatever it took to keep your focus on Jesus.
“Find some practice that helps you stop commenting and judging. When you do that you cannot see the inherent goodness, truth and beauty. The continual stating of preferences, judgments, and wants makes it impossible to delight in anything.”
I was knitting while I listened (one of my best ways to stay focused and relaxed). Saying the rosary or praying the psalms helps, too. So does sitting quietly, going for a walk, playing with the dogs.
If I hadn’t been knitting while I listened to Richard’s talk, I would have made more notes, but I did catch this:
“The final point of Franciscan Mysticism is a sense of optimism, hope, and cosmic joy. Francis gave us the eyes to see the foundational blessing of the true, the good and the beautiful.”
I suspect that what Francis would blog wouldn’t draw a series of heated comments. But it would give people a way to draw closer to Jesus.