Monday, June 18, 2012

From the Friars' Bookshelf

Finished the books I plucked three weeks ago from the St. Fidelis Friary library. Now on to the following reads:

Harvey Cox, The Secular City, revised ed. (New York: Macmillan, 1966).
Gustavo Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1973).
Rollo May, Love and Will (New York: Dell, 1969).

For me, religious formation is also continuing education. We are not yet in formal theological studies at accredited colleges, universities, or seminaries, but our intellectual development continues apace. Initial formation into Capuchin Franciscan life has been education largely by other means. I have been learning from a fraternal community, not a scholarly community. The "texts" we read are each other, mostly. Each brother is a talking book.

But my community is larger than the fraternity. There are other persons I want to learn from, other voices I want to hear. The great thinkers, speakers, and doers of Christianity who leave traces of their thoughts and deeds in writings leave a precious treasure for all communities, Christian and otherwise, for all time. I want to be in conversation with this timeless community of dreamers and disciples. My initial formation takes place in this time and space with the Capuchins. But this formation is extended from here to eternity through my encounters with the Word, both in the words of Scripture and in the words of men and women whose lives and lively thought preach Christ into an eternal present. I am drawn to them just as I am drawn to the prophets and saints, just as I am drawn to the example of Francis of Assisi.

So I want to read Cox because I want to understand his so-called "secular theology" better. I want to read Gutierrez because I want to understand his so-called "liberation theology" better. I will read them both to understand my so-called "theology" better, that is, how I speak about the God of Jesus, the God of Francis. I want to read May because I want to understand the theological virtue of love and the faculty of will through psychological ideas. Psychologists and religious ministers are both healers of the soul. I will read May to know myself and know better how to live and love like a fully human person, that is, like a disciple of Jesus.

I chose these books inspired by conversations with the brothers and conversations with other texts I have read. Curiosity led me back to the friars' bookshelf; intuition guided my choice. Discipleship desires the encounter with the Word within every word. Let the conversations continue. Let me read, dwell, listen, and be formed.

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