“Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance. ” – Francis of Assisi
What is the ‘pulling power’ that draws hearts to embrace God to a life of lay monasticism in the modern world? Could it be escape? Or, could it be considered pure unadulterated madness? Either way, the heart that searches for God will not rest until it finds God! The Psalmist reminds us that, ‘like the deer that yearns for restful waters, so my soul is thirsting for you my God.’
Within each soul there is a special place known as our ‘Inner Sanctum’ where we embrace the Divine in a deep restful silence. It is my understanding that silence is the true gateway to the soul and the soul is the gateway to God. Saint Francis of Assisi was no different to many of us who spend life searching for God but never really looking where the heart leads us. Instead, we are guided by the head or ego to search for spiritual food in places where the wells of true wisdom and joy are absent. Instead, we go on searching for a recipe for inner happiness in all the wrong places.
Eventually, we do find that sacred oasis where we finally surrender our heart to God’s unconditional love. So when the Psalmist says, ‘my soul is searching for you my God,’ it is then that we affirmed as a beautiful child of God who has found one’s life’s purpose for our very existence.
There is within the soul of every man and women a deep yearning to pursue personal intimacy with God. As an enclosed Franciscan monk within the Tau Community of Saint Francis, it is my understanding that this spiritual relationship is inspired by the teachings and examples of Jesus, the Barefoot Galilean, Saint Francis and many of the world’s great spiritual masters. Their message was simple! ‘That we embrace God in everyone, regardless of belief, or none’ without making judgments.
True Franciscan Interfaith Spirituality given to Brother Sean in April 2008 at the tomb of Saint Francis in Assisi gave a simple blueprint for embracing Franciscan Interfaith lay monasticism from our monastery without walls. Embedded within the 7 Keys of Franciscan Spirituality is the Sevenfold Peace of the Therapeutia Essenes of Mount Sinai. For the lay monastic who has embraced both the 7 Keys of St Francis and the Essenes, reiterated daily by Jesus, Magdalene, Mother Mary, Quan Yin and Saint Francis is pathway for our spiritual wellness and wholeness in a life of Divine service as lay monastics living in the modern world. They are:
The 7 Keys of Franciscan Interfaith Spirituality encompasses:
The Sevenfold Peace of the Essenes
The Sevenfold peace is how the Essenes lived their lives – seven days to a week, the tree of life with fourteen forces, seven visible and seven invisible. The Essenes believed that the human life could be divided into seven departments, physical, mental, emotional, social, cultural, its relationships with nature and the entire cosmos. Each Sabbath was dedicated to one aspect, so all phases of mans life was completed every seven weeks.
The Sevenfold Peace of the Essenes was the summation of their inner teaching.
Their Tree of Life and the Communions taught man his relationship with the fourteen forces of the visible and invisible worlds. The Sevenfold Peace explains his relationship to the parts of his own being and to his fellow men, showing how to create peace, harmony in the seven categories of his life.
Harmony to the Essenes meant peace.
They considered that human life can be divided into seven departments or compartments:
Relationships with Nature
Relationships with the entire Cosmos
The Therapeutia Essenes of Mount Sinai were the therapists and healers. They believed that ‘Man, it was held, has three bodies that function in each of these departments:
A Feeling Body – the feeling body’s highest Power is LOVE.
A Thinking Body – the thinking body’s highest Power is WISDOM.
An Acting Body – the acting body’s FUNCTION is to translate the WISDOM of the Thinking Body and the LOVE of the Feeling Body into ACTION in an individual’s social and cultural worlds and in his utilization of the Terrestrial and Heavenly Forces. ‘
On a personal level, the Sevenfold Peace explains to my mind, body and soul more about the utilization of these Powers and Forces with the utmost clarity. Every Noon, a Peace Contemplation was held with one aspect of Peace; and every Sabbath was collectively dedicated to one, the entire cycle covering all phases of man’s life
When God invites our soul to ‘Come and Follow the Divine Source’ there is no hesitation. Why? Because, at soul level we know that our life will evolve more into the ‘Hierus Gamus,’ or Mystical Marriage, we continue to surrender our heart to God’s perfect love. Once we consciously make that decision to let go of ‘The Self’ we engage more in a loving relationship like that of a child for a loving parent. The relationship between God and the monastic provides the soul with clarity to choose whether to follow one’s heart or choose to abandon the lifelong search for inner peace. At no time does the LIGHT of GOD try to force our free will!
For those of us who have answered the personal invitation from God to live the enclosed contemplative life as a modern day monastic in the world, we are only too well aware of another powerful force of pure negativism, or evil which can influence the mind and heart to become ‘battle weary’ in divine service. This is a force of pure evil which never relents for the monastic. Yes, it raises its head almost on a daily basis to coerce the heart to abandon God for the pleasures of a non monastic life. But, in sharing this, we have absolutely nothing to fear. I see the daily onslaught as a positive key indicator that as a monastic I am meeting God’s targets. If I were not, then there would be no attack from the forces of evil!
Today, it would appear that within the psyche there is a hungering for a more simplified lifestyle. Many ‘high-flyers’ from the city are so desperate to abandon the fast lane for peace and tranquility and return back to nature. Also, many men and women who at heart, remain deeply spiritual, have become disillusioned with conventional religion and its practices. They continue to return to more ancient spiritual beliefs such as Shamanic and Celtic traditions to nurture their longing for personal intimacy with the Supreme Source through Nature.
In conclusion, we believe that the Tau Community of Saint Francis is a self-governing interfaith monastic community which has no denominational ties except as they pertain to each individual member. We believe that the flexibility of the Order enables a person to find the right mixture of supports to live the religious life successfully.
We are convinced that we are a viable model of religious life for the future and we believe that God has called the Members of the Tau Interfaith Franciscan Community of St. Francis to unite as one spiritual family whose love will empower mankind embrace the Natural World- The Franciscan Soul and lead by example of what interfaith unity and compassion represents in a spiritually impoverished century.
The questions I put to your heart today:
Are you seeking personal intimacy with God?
Are you ready to live in the world but not engage with its dramas?
Are you considering a simpler lifestyle change?
Are you led to follow your heart?
Are you thinking about becoming a lay monastic from your own home- your monastery without walls?
Are you ready to make such a commitment to embrace life as a modern day monastic?
Are you mature enough to commit to such an undertaking as this?
Are you searching for a lay monastic family; one that would accept you as you are regardless of belief, sexuality or disability?
If you have answered YES to any of the above, then why not consider joining our online lay monastic community- the Franclara Abbey of Peace and Compassion………
In a nutshell, when we reach the crossroads of our life, so many times we sense a deep inner longing within our heart to reflect on why I am here and what my life’s purposes are……..
If you are still on that road of self discovery and would like to test whether or not you have a monastic calling to live as a modern day lay monastic without having to leave family or friends, then seek divine guidance within your heart-then honour it and explore the choices right for your spiritual pathway. Why miss this golden opportunity today.
Pax et Bonum,