Today was one of the best days of my first five weeks at St. Anthony Messenger Press.
After a discussion about branding, I raised some questions at the periodicals department meeting regarding St. Francis and what it means to be Franciscan.
The ensuing conversation, led by Father Pat McCloskey, OFM, was fascinating and inspiring, and I came away feeling like we'd had an "aha! moment" about some key (re)building blocks for our company.
I went through my notes to jot down key points and had an "aha! moment" of my own: This, I determined, merited a blog post.
So with apologies for oversimplification, here are 26 things I learned today about Franciscans, all of which made me feel energized for the work that is to come.
1. Care for creation is a priority.
2. At heart, all Franciscans might be anarchists. (So says Father Pat!)
3. Franciscans believe in accepting the Church, warts and all.
4. They recognize the problems with the Church, but they don't criticize.
5. "Common values, unique expressions."
6. Francis was a free spirit, but his values apply to people who do a variety of things.
7. Franciscans are wary of structure and formula.
8. They trust that a person "is what he is before God -- and nothing more."
9. Humility flows from the Franciscans' honesty.
10. Franciscans can be pretty liberal, generally.
11. They believe God doesn't love just humanity, but he loves each person as an individual.
12. The Church should serve.
13. Franciscans find a thread that connects.
14. They are on a faith journey, and they respect where anyone else might be on his/her journey.
15. "A Franciscan at their best is humble and honest. That's the yardstick."
16. A core belief is respect for creation, stemming from their trust in the goodness of God and their focus on the Incarnation.
17. The Incarnation is seen as God showing humility -- a revolutionary concept when it first was espoused.
18. Inclusivity and simplicity are key tenets.
19. The first Cincinnati friars were former preachers; they somewhat just transferred forms of pastoral ministry.
20. Franciscans embrace St. Anthony because he was a popular (of the people) preacher. They tapped into his following; he was engaged in society differently from Francis.
21. "If Anthony went down to Fountain Square and started speaking, he'd get an audience."
22. "Any whiff of pretense is going to undermine what (Franciscans are) trying to do."
23. Honesty without criticism.
24. Acceptance that the Church is run by people and people are flawed, so the Church never will be perfect.
25. Original Franciscans beat naysayers at their own game by being honest about problems in the Church, not denying them. It was a kind of grassroots reform.
26. Franciscans believe in the "uniqueness of each person precisely because he/she was created by God."
Amen to that.
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