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Papa Francis The First | His Holiness Papa Francisco

Living on the Edge of the Inside: Simplicity and Justice...

Our guest blogger today is Richard Rohr, best-selling author of the new book Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi. To learn more about Richard, click here.

Francis and Clare were not so much prophets by what they said as in the radical, system-critiquing way that they lived their lives. They found both their inner and outer freedom by structurally living on the edge of the inside of both church and society. Too often people seek either inner freedom or outer freedom, but seldom—very seldom in my opinion—do people find both. They did.

Francis and Clare’s agenda for justice was the most foundational and undercutting of all others: a very simple lifestyle outside the system of production and consumption (the real meaning of the vow of poverty), plus a conscious identification with the marginalized of society (the communion of saints pushed to its outer edge). In this position you do not “do” acts of peace and justice as much as your life is itself peace and justice. You take your small and sufficient place in the great and grand scheme of God. By “living on the edge of the inside” I mean building on the solid Tradition (“from the inside”) but doing it from a new and creative stance where you cannot be coopted for purposes of security, possessions, or the illusions of power (“on the edge”).

It is worth repeating that Francis and Clare placed themselves outside the system of not just social production and consumption, but ecclesiastical too! Remember, Francis was not a priest, nor were Franciscan men originally or primarily priests.

Theirs was not a spirituality of earning, or any seeking of worthiness, career, church status, moral one-upmanship, or divine favor (which they knew they already had). They represented in their own unique way the old tradition of “holy fools” among the desert fathers and mothers and the Eastern Church, and offered that notion to the very organized and “efficient” Western Church. For the most part, the path they offered has been ignored or not understood, just as restorative justice usually is. Most prefer quid pro quo justice (retributive justice), which is the best that most secular systems can offer. But those formed by the Gospels should know better.

Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


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"And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome, which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood.

I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will."

-Papa Francis quote

He does not know you, yet he prays for you.
He will most likely never meet you, yet he loves you.

This is your chance to show your love, for as the Bible teaches, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."