Monday, May 08, 2006

Sine proprio...

People usually translate the Latin phrase sine proprio as "without property", or "poverty". But as Francis of Assisi used it, perhaps a better translation would be "without possessing".

Gordon Plumb, in an article in the Third Order Chronicle for Summer 2003, remarks that the words "... refer rather to a way of living without grasping (and are thus far more about attitudes and values than about intrinsic wealth or the lack of it)."

I've been increasing being challenged recently by the thought that God's call on my life is to prayer, and that my own Franciscan vocation is probably to be understood, at least in a great part, as living sine proprio anything else. There has been a process of stripping going on here that dates back at least to that occasion some years ago when I really asked God to let me know his Son, really know him, before anything else. It's since then that this has been going on, that everything I've tried to do that isn't at least in some sense prayer has just come to bits in my hands, to the point that I'm almost scared to touch anything in case I break it.
After all, every "career move", whether in the world or in the church, has fallen to nothing in ways that surely bear the imprint of God's hand, his holy and paradoxical way doing things that is so alien to us: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD" (Isaiah 55:8)

By now, the challenge is acute, almost a daily pain. It wakes me in the night; all my thoughts and desires are confronted by it, measured against it. It will not go away.

What I need to do now, I suppose, is to try, with the help and discernment of my Franciscan brothers and sisters, not to mention (as always!) Jan, to find out how this is to be lived practically. Following Francis following Christ is always an entirely practical exercise, however ridiculous that may seem to the average pair of eyes in the world!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this. I'm just starting along the Franciscan path as an Enquirer and your reflections have given me some food for thought.