Tag Archives: Richard Rohr

making room

© erin dunigan 2012

nara, japan                                                     © erin dunigan 2012

“….any happiness that is demanded from life never becomes happiness because it is too narcissistically and self-consciously pursued. The ‘joy that the world cannot give’ always comes as a gift to those who wait for it, expect it and make room for it inside themselves.”

-Richard Rohr, Preparing for Christmas Day 2

advent: waiting


waiting                                                                                   © erin dunigan 2009


“Perfect fullness is always to come, and we do not need to demand it now. This keeps the field of life wide open and especially open to grace and to a future created by God rather than ourselves. This is exactly what it means to be ‘awake’ as the Gospel urges us.”

-Richard Rohr, Preparing for Christmas, Day 1

who is my… leper?


st. francis                                                                                    © erin dunigan 2011

For quite a while now I’ve been captivated by the life of Francis of Assisi, primarily as I have learned of it through the teachings of Franciscan (and Catholic priest) Richard Rohr. Francis is perhaps most known for his love of animals (he is said to have preached to birds) and of the created world (he acknowledged brother sun and sister moon) or even his conversion-related streak through town (really!). 

But what has captivated me even more than those aspects of his life, which I deeply admire, is his sense that God was calling him to ‘rebuild my church, for it is in ruins.’

Francis initially heard this as a literal calling – to rebuild the crumbling San Damiano church in which he was praying when he received the vision, and he did work to physically rebuild that church building and transform it from the ruins which it had become. But eventually Francis realized that this call from God was something larger still – to rebuild the Church (in the big, broad, wide sense) which had fallen into ruins in a spiritual sense. 

It is also said of Francis that, rather than take on the institutional church structures of the day, which perhaps may have embroiled him within the conflict that would come of that ‘fight’ he simply opted to model a different way of being in the world, of relating to Christ, and of relating to those around him. Instead of fighting against what wasn’t working, he stepped to the side and lived the life he was called to live – while still remaining within the bounds of the church, but finding a new and fresh way of incarnating that reality. He lived what he was preaching – giving rise to the quote most often attributed to him, “To preach the gospel at all times – if necessary, use words.” 

A central component of this dedication to living differently, to preaching the gospel at all times through the actual living of his life, was to embrace all of God’s creation – bird, sun, moon and stars, but also to embrace of the outcast, the marginalized, the forgotten and the ostracized. Nothing, and no one, was outside of God’s love and God’s care. 

“One day, Francis met a leper on the road. Something impelled him to dismount his horse and not only to place coins in the leper’s hand, but to embrace the leper. In so doing, he was filled with indescribable sweetness.

When he withdrew and turned to wave, he saw no one on the road. In that instant he knew he had embraced Jesus Christ. He knew then what he was to do with his life: to embrace Jesus in the poor and rejected, in those who previously had repulsed him.”

from St. Francis of Assisi: The Practical Mystic By Murray Bodo, OFM

This vision was apparently compelling to others – and Francis not only attracted a following, but was able to convince the Pope at the time (Pope Innocent III) to authorize this ‘Order of Friars Minor’ as they had come to be called. 

Rebuild my church, for it is in ruins. 

What might that look like, today? 

I can’t help but wonder if it might not look something like the life of Francis of Assisi…



photo: franciscans peace

“Up to now, we have been more driven by outer authority (“it is a sin if you don’t” or “the church says…”) than drawn in by the calm and loving inner authority (the in-dwelling Holy Spirit) of prayer, practice, and inner experience… For all practical purposes, this change of identity is the major – almost seismic – shift in motivation and consciousness itself that mature religion rightly calls conversion. It is the very heart of all religious transformation (“changing forms”). Without it, religion is mostly a mere belonging system or a mere belief system, but it does not radically change your consciousness or motivation.

Christianity is much more about living and doing than thinking.”

-Richard Rohr, the Immortal Diamond


franciscans peace
© erin dunigan 2013