For the last couple weeks I've been enjoying reading Chesterton's St. Francis of Assisi. It's a wonderful read that I would recommend to those of you who want to begin reading Chesterton because he writes this biography with the aim of revealing the romance and wonder of St. Francis's extraordinary life of faith to the modern, secular reader.
Chesterton is the best at going off topic. This can produce almost mind-blowing effects when we realize the connections he's making that we could never have thought of, or it can sometimes be a little overwhelming and slow down the reading until we wrap our brains around his connections. In St. Francis of Assisi so far his random diatribes have been delightful snippets of historical wisdom, commentaries on modern philosophy, and ideas about the Church.
Here's one passage that stuck out to me:
This comes shortly after St. Francis's "conversion" where he is intent on rebuilding God's church, and has even gone to the lengths of selling his father's goods so that he can give money to the poor and help restore churches in disrepair. But his father considered this stealing and took him to court which in turn made St. Francis give his father the clothes off his back and walk out of the court room with absolutely nothing. St. Francis then began begging for actual stones in which to rebuild the Church.
The beauty of this metaphor, even if it was an actual event, is gripping. Begging for stones. The image is great for inspiration not just in our spiritual life, but in practicing it in a concrete way.
I also had to include the description of this being a paradox because I can't resist Chesterton's obsession with paradox and how he finds them everywhere. The paradox being that to build a spiritual church one must physically build a church. I believe Pope Francis knows a thing or two about this.
Swing by Amongst Lovely Things this weekend for more Chestertonian thoughts to ponder!
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