Today is the Feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. He is well known for his relationship with animals and animals’ relationship with him. Churches that hold “blessings for animals” on or near Francis’s feast day often have crowds attend—with animals in hand—that rival Easter or Christmas attendance.
This says a lot about Francis but also about the importance of our relationships to the more-than-human-ones in our lives, the four-legged and winged and slithering companions who are closer to the earth than we are and remind us how special relationships with the more-than-human creatures can be.
Francis was many things—poet and prophet and church critic and parent of a new version of Christianity that sought to return to a life of simplicity in the spirit of Jesus who birthed a new movement that was, sad to say, in many ways taken from him in his lifetime. But much of his spirit still inspires many.
We have been meditating for several weeks on alternative images of Divinity and ourselves (they go together after all) with special emphasis on the return of the divine feminine including of course the Black Madonna.
St. Francis Feast Day seems like an appropriate time to turn to the return of the Sacred Masculine, for Francis in the thirteenth century, like Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Thomas Berry, Teilhard de Chardin, Bede Griffiths and many other men in the twentieth/twenty first century, stands for a deeper and sacred masculine.
It is not enough that the divine feminine return in force. A deeper understanding of masculinity has to return as well. More vulnerable, more aware of the suffering of others: women, mother Earth, her other creatures, and of oneself at the hands of patriarchy. And more aware of and grateful for the gifts of existence. St. Francis was such a man.
See Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, pp. 112-114. And Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spiritualty of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine.
Banner Image: A ranger teaches a child about plants in Atlanta’s community food forest (photo: U.S. Forest Service)
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Queries for Contemplation
What are your thoughts and experiences with Francis of Assisi? With animals as spiritual companions? With the return of the Sacred Masculine?
The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance
In what may be considered the most comprehensive outline of the Christian paradigm shift of our Age, Matthew Fox eloquently foreshadows the manner in which the spirit of Christ resurrects in terms of the return to an earth-based mysticism, the expression of creativity, mystical sexuality, the respect due the young, the rebirth of effective forms of worship—all of these mirroring the ongoing blessings of Mother Earth and the recovery of Eros, the feminine aspect of the Divine.
“The eighth wonder of the world…convincing proof that our Western religious tradition does indeed have the depth of imagination to reinvent its faith.” — Brian Swimme, author of The Universe Story and Journey of the Universe.
The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine
To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature, to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God