Monday, September 29, 2008

As the Economy Tanks
some thoughts to keep in mind:

  • One way is to accumulate more. The other is to desire less. -- G K Chesterton
  • Riches prick us with a thousand troubles in getting them, as many cares in preserving them, and yet more anxiety in spending them, and with grief in losing them. -- St. Francis
  • Simplicity begins with a letting go--not letting go of the value of things, or the pleasure of things, but rather a letting go of the possession of things. -- Michael Hechner
Simplicity is a gift that we so easily lose sight of as we acquire mountains of things. Possibly as our wealth tumbles, we will once again (or maybe for the first time) be able to focus on the tokens that truly matter, those of real and lasting value. I suspect these long forgotten treasures are best found in relationships with men and with women and with God, rather than in the lies we bought in our relationship with "stuff."
--John C. N. Hall

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Open Another Bag and Pass the Dip
Thoughts on Giving

by John C. N. Hall

A writer recently reminded me of two television commercials for snack chips that aired about a decade ago. These two ads clarify my approach to “giving,” a widely understood concept, and a word I prefer to use in place of the churchy code word, “stewardship.”

The first ad opened with a scene in which two solitary Eskimos were sitting outside a lone igloo in the middle of a vast field of ice. One Eskimo was slowly eating from a bag of Ruffles potato chips while his friend looked on longingly. Eventually, the friend asked for a chip. The Eskimo with the Ruffles looked around and replied, “If I give one to you, I’ll have to give one to everybody.” This advertisement clearly portrays the idea of limited resources. There will not be enough to go around. Scarcity is the driving force, and all must be done to fend it off.

The other commercial showed comedian Jay Leno with a bag of Doritos. He crunched away and simply said, “Doritos. Eat all you want. We’ll make more.” Here is the notion of abundance rather than dearth. The Doritos customer lacks nothing. The supply is endless.

In the Reign of God, the Creator of all wants for nothing and has supplied a fullness of spirit that overflows. Giving, in God’s plan, springs from the endless gifts God first showers on God’s people. Christians give from their abundance because, ultimately, all is a gift from God. God is a Doritos giver, and Christians are to follow God’s lead.

You might say my approach to giving is one in which I trust God to be a God of abundance. God has already given all the money, people, and talent needed to do God’s will. I believe God can change people’s hearts and open their purse strings. God is not to be tipped, but rather worshipped with all that we have, all that we are, and all we ever will become. I know God, like the maker of Doritos in the commercial, is ready to equip and supply the church to do whatever God calls it to do.

So I say, “Please open another bag, and pass the dip.”

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Franciscan Spirituality
The Seven Basic Franciscan Values

1. Conversion to and love of Jesus Christ, His Gospel and His Church.
2. A Christocentric theology accenting the primacy of love.
3. An Incarnational emphasis as seen in the crib, cross and the Eucharist.
4. Lived experience of the Triune God in prayer and contemplation.
5. Hope, optimism and the goodness of God and His creatures.
6. Fraternity and peace through Reconciliation with Christ and one another.
7. Solidarity, as lesser brothers and sisters, with, among and in service to the Poor.

On anxiety about prayer
From What is Contemplation? by Thomas Merton

“Do not be too anxious about your advancement in the ways of prayer, because you have left the beaten track and are traveling by paths that cannot be charted and measured.

Therefore leave God to take care of your degree of sanctity and of contemplation. If you yourself try to measure your own progress you will waste your time in futile introspection. Seek one thing alone: to purify your love of God more and more, to abandon yourself more and more perfectly to His will and to love Him more exclusively and more completely, but also more simply and more peacefully and with more total and uncompromising trust.”