Benediction Online

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Confidence: The Way of the Mendicant

Notes on Chapter 7 The Holy Way by Paula Huston

When we are forced to lean on God we can give up (at least briefly) our illusion of being in control. St Francis of Assisi believed that complete vulnerability was the central message of the gospel and that we should place ourselves in vulnerable positions in order to learn to rely solely on divine providence.

As a result he lived entirely outside the economic system of his day. His Rule did not allow members of the community to have anything to do with money – they could work and be paid with what they needed but could not be paid in cash. At times this would mean that they would have to ask for help and might be turned away – this was good because it helped them to see the extent of their pride.

Paula Huston noticed that the things of which she was proudest were the things she most hung on to and feared being taken away. So pride and fear are linked. St Francis is remembered for his fearlessness – for example when he confronted and converted the giant wolf of Gubbio who had been devouring the townspeople.

How much of our energy is used trying to avoid the experience of fear? What would it be like if we able to give ourselves over entirely to God? Mother Julian of Norwich said ‘All shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well.” If we choose not just to believe but to act on this, then we must relinquish our fierce self-protectiveness. The whole challenge of faith becomes to live with confidence in God’s care for us, even when we don’t feel it.


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