With all the challenges we face in the world today isn’t it time that we return to the essentials of the Good News of the Gospel?
Join us as we explore the life of St. Francis and three unique, life-transforming ways he points to the life of Jesus. This journey is entitled, “The Way of Joy.” One pilgrimage participant summed up her experience with these words, “I feel like I was born again, again.”
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your soul.”
“St. Francis found his Beloved everywhere, making of all things a ladder in which he would climb up and embrace Him who is utterly desirable.”
Thoughts from our Assisi Pilgrimage Journey
“Our whole business in this life is to restore to health the eyes of our hearts, whereby God may be seen.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”
A favorite time of our pilgrimage was when we climbed the slopes of Mt. Subasio, above Assisi, where we could look down upon the quilted countryside of Umbria, peppered with cypress trees and ancient bell towers. It was there that we individually examined the state of our cluttered minds and distracted hearts. It was there we were challenged to practice the discipline of detachment . . . of letting go. (What is attachment? A emotional state of clinging caused by the belief that without some particular thing, identity, or person we cannot be fulfilled. We can also unconsciously cling to things like security, respectability, hurts and regrets.)
St. Francis encountered a similar journey of the heart on the same mountainside over 500 years ago. His encounter with Christ caused him to turn worldly values upside down. Where others saw security, he saw only captivity; what for others represented success was for him a source of strife, an “obstacle to the love of God and others.” Moreover, for Francis, letting go did not end with wealth or poverty. He had to let go of his reputation and status in society, his anger, his pride, and his ambitions – everything, in short, that hindered his ability to love.
In the end he was not left barren, but left simple. Rather the space in his heart previously occupied by all these things was now filled with a joy greater than anything the world could provide. His gratefulness exceeded his power of description. Addressing our God he wrote:
“You are love. You are charity. You are beauty. You are security. You are inner peace and true simplicity. You are our joy and hope . . .our Great Wonderful God!”
When we descended the slopes of Mt. Subasio we were exclaiming the same words. Some of us descended forever changed with a new awareness of the worth of Jesus and a challenge to bring our lives into alignment with His values. Others returned in a new state of inner poverty, understanding what is meant by “being poor in spirit,” to live with an ache that is only meant to be filled by God, or to be left empty till He chooses to come. What is the state of your heart?
“My Axiom Pilgrimage Tour to Assisi, Italy was both a life-changing and culturally invigorating experience. To be away from everything familiar for a weekend, and to be in such a beautiful part of the world that has such a rich spiritual heritage, helped me find God anew. I’m now in the process of finding “The Simple” life – thank you for putting so much of your heart into our time together.” – Birte Rolhieser , Germany
“I’m now determining to not be a product of our crazy busy world, but to slow down and “Consider the lilies of the field. . . “Consider the wonders of Jesus. . .” How he loved and how He lived. I now see it is within my grasp.” – Rick and Jan Smith, Billings, MT
“My retreat in Assisi helped me realize which attachments in my life were healthy and which needed to be surrendered to create a greater place for Jesus. Now I feel empty of needless clutter, more simple, and extremely alive.” – Mark Thompson, England