By BOB and MARY STRONACH, SFO
The world is pregnant with Christ, and Franciscans and other Christians are like midwives helping to reveal his sacred presence.
That was powerful imagery, which Ed Shirley, SFO, brought forth in his July 6th workshop, “Spirituality in Today’s World.” A professor of religious studies at St. Edward’s University in Texas, Ed began his discussion with a look at the word secular. In the church it can distinguish laity and non-religious ordained from religious who take vows. Or, it can describe civil government not ruled by religious authorities.
It’s different from the secularism, the belief that religion should hold no place in public discourse. “Though we live in a secular society, we do not as yet live in a society that espouses secularism, though some people seem to want that,” he said.
The word secularity, on the other hand, describes “the quality of our Secular Franciscan charism,” Ed said. It’s sacramental, and it acknowledges that Christ in some ways is already present in the world.
He offered three images or symbols of the way people see the relationship between God and the world.
(1) Praying with arms outstretched. This would connote separating religion from life.
(3) Praying with hands together. This is very Catholic as it recognizes that “nature and grace move together.”
(3) Praying with hands clasped together, fingers intertwined. This is where Franciscans take it one step further. “We can’t tell where God leaves off and the world begins. God and the world are so intimately wrapped together. As Bonaventure would say, ‘Every creature has an imprint of the Trinity’.”
From a Franciscan point of view, “we are not so much farmers as we are midwives,” he said. “The world is already pregnant with Christ. Everything that is, is holy. What we’re called to do is help bring that out.”