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Posted October 2, 2014

Book: Eager to Love: The alternative way of Francis of Assisi
Author: Richard Rohr
Franciscan Media. Cincinnati, OH. 2014. Pp. 294

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Richard Rohr brings us to see the doorway to the divine, this alternative way first described and lived by Francis of Assisi and those that followed him.

Francis of Assisi, one of the most beloved of all saints, was at once very traditional and entirely revolutionary in the ways of holiness. A standing paradox, he stood barefoot on the earth yet touched the heavens; he was grounded in the Church yet instinctively moved toward the cosmos; he lived happily inside the visible and tangible, yet both suffered and rejoiced in the invisible.

Rohr places the tradition of Francis within a context to show how this alternative orthodoxy can deepen spiritual life for any one.

Eager to Love is grounded in the Gospels, the prophets, a broad blend of psychology and theology, and in literature and art, communicating through all the sources that alternative way of understanding God with us.

An Excerpt from the book:

One of the earliest accounts of Francis, the "Legend of Perugia," quotes Francis as telling the first friars, "You only know as much as you do." His emphasis on action, practice and lifestyle was foundational and revolutionary for its time and at the heart of Franciscan alternative orthodoxy ("heterodoxy"). For Francis and Clare, Jesus became someone to actually imitate and not just to worship.

Up to this point, most of Christian spirituality was based in desert asceticism, monastic discipline, theories of prayer, or academic theology, which itself was often based I "correct belief" or liturgy, but not in a kind of practical Christianity that could be lived in the streets of the world. Many rightly say Francis emphasized an imitation and love of the humanity of Jesus, and not just the worshiping of his divinity. That is a major shift.

Those who have analyzed the writings of Francis have noted that he uses doing rather than understanding at a ratio of 175 times to five. Heart is used 42 times to one use of mind. Love is used 23 times as opposed to 12 uses of truth. Mercy is used 26 times while intellect is used only one time. This is a very new perspective that is clearly different from (and an antidote to) the verbally argumentative Christianity of his time, and from the highly academic theology that would hold sway for the next thousand years. He took prayer on the road and into the activity of life itself.

Table of Contents:

1. What do we mean by "mysticism"?

2. A happy run downwards: the inner authority of those who have suffered

3. Living on the edge of the inside: simplicity and justice

4. Home base: nature and the road

5. Contemplation: a different way of knowing

6. An alternative orthodoxy: paying attention to different things

7. The Franciscan genius: the integration of the negative

8. Lightness of heart and firmness of foot: the integration of feminine and masculine.

9. The legacy of Clare: living the life at depth

10. Entering the world of another: Francis and the Sultan of Egypt

11. Francis: a natural spiritual genius

12. Bonaventure: to yield to love is to return to the source

13. John Duns Scotus: anything but a Dunce

14. A dynamic unity between Jesus of Nazareth and the cosmic Christ

15. Is God a person: The Franciscan view of the nature of the Divine

16. How are things "caused"?