A Time to Strip Away.

[Editor’s Note: Father Liam is away in Assisi, Italy on an extended pilgrimage retreat. This is his reflection.. We are grateful for his sharing.]

Today we walked with our retreatants/pilgrims/seekers to the Santuario della Spogliazione—which means stripping or undressing.

This is the bishop’s residence and courtyard where Francis’ father brought Francis before the bishop to have the bishop settle the matter of Francis giving away his dad’s merchandise to the poor.

Francis acknowledged he owed his father, so he stripped himself and gave the clothes back to his earthly father and said he would now serve his Heavenly Father.

What courage to break away from what is safe and comfortable and what could guarantee security for an easy, stable, respectable life!

What motivated Francis?

He was coming to know his Center, his core, his True Self as a child of God, as one with God who is Love. And he knew he could never separate himself from the poor anymore, or from anyone else because all are brothers and sisters of the same Lover!

Francis was coming to know that all are one in the One in whom Francis discovered he lived and moved and had his being.

I love how Richard Rohr words it in his introduction to Mirabai Starr’s amazing little book on Saint Francis:

Francis came to understand “that the entire circle of life had a Great Lover at the center.”

A Great Lover indeed.

And Francis determined to focus the entirety of his life on Love.

He stripped himself of all that didn’t matter, that didn’t last, that was illusion, and committed to live always rooted in the One that lasts eternally: Love.

And oh how it changed his life! How it changed the Church. How it changed the world.

It’s worth considering what needs to be stripped in us, what clothing do we need to take off, what is holding us back, weighing us down from full flourishing, from complete commitment to discovering our true self in the Great Lover at the center of all.

What are the attitudes, fears, old stories/lies that were told to us that we keep telling ourselves?What are the false identities others perhaps tried to impose on us or that we imposed on ourselves to be accepted or respected?

Who are the people and what are the mindsets we need to let go of, strip ourselves of, to move forward? To discover the Great Lover at the core of our being? And to live always in that Love and out of that Love.

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