St. Francis of Assisi and His Theology
Brian Durocher led the discussion on this feast day of St. Francis of Assisi (1182 – 1226) who, while stripping himself naked in front of the local bishop, took vows of extreme poverty and dedicated himself to living and spreading the Gospel. You can read a short biographical sketch here.
St. Francis is associated with cataphatic theology, a belief in the presence or immanence of God and ability of humans to experience and love and make positive statements about God. Apophatic theology, on the other hand, emphasizes the transcendence of God and our inability to describe or explain Him. Describing God as “the man upstairs” perhaps goes too far in the former direction and as a distant and mysterious clock maker who just set things in motion too far in the latter direction.
Here is an interesting discussion of apophatic or negative theology.
Brian mentioned St. John of the Cross as a mystic who expressed apophatic theology, and this post mentions him and others.
A good example from Sacred Scripture of cataphatic theology is the phrase encountered several times in the Psalms: “God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.” And perhaps John 4:24 – “God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.” would fall in the apophatic category.
Because of the Incarnation, Immanuel, God with us, God in flesh, Catholicism seems to lean more in the direction of cataphatic theology. We can certainly say that Jesus teaches us all we need to know, if not all we might want to know, about The Triune God and that we experience His presence, and that what we learn is consistent with that Old Testament description: “Gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.” Still, there is that Divine Mystery.
My apologies for that wandering, but I did it for self edification and figured I might as well share it.
Today’s Gospel – Luke 9:57-62 – About those Jesus Seemed to Reject
Without getting too hung up on the specifics of Jesus’s dismissive comments, we can perhaps generalize that being too hung up on material things (a place to rest our heads), the past (burying the dead), or bonds we have (family at home), can hamper our progress toward true discipleship.
Fred Belinga, a member of the Men’s Prayer Group and a Stephen Minister at St. Peters, explained the Stephen Ministry and invited us to join the upcoming training and perhaps become Stephen Ministers. Here is a link to the Stephen Ministry Website.
For more information or to join the class you can email Fred: firstname.lastname@example.org