Minute Meditations

The Long Journey into God

Love your Neighbor graffiti on side of building

Once Francis knew God’s love, he knew, as well, what St. Augustine put so beautifully. “And you see, you were within, and I was in the external world and sought you there, and in my unlovely state I plunged into those lovely created things you have made.” That is the meaning of conversion: you realize that all your loves and desires were really misdirected love; what you really desired was God, the God who has been there with you all the time, within you and in the lovely things God created that you mistook for God. You mistook the creature for the Creator, the very Creator who made them beautiful and in the Creator’s own image. And thus began Francis’s long journey into God that at each step along the way was punctuated by learning again and again another truth that St. Augustine articulates at the beginning of his Confessions: “You have made us for You and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in You.” It was a journey that involved learning to love anew the things of creation, his love constantly being purified by the overarching love of God. It was like a return to the Garden of Eden seeking again and again to restore the Paradise humans had so cavalierly destroyed.

The journey forward into God is a journey backward to an original innocence we never fully recover but where a sort of semi-paradise happens when love turns into charity. This is the highest of all loves, which Christ defined as the love of God and the love of neighbor, the total love of God leading to true love of neighbor and the true love of neighbor leading to the love of God. Love God and do as you will, says St. Augustine, for love is its own commandment. That is how St. Francis took it and lived it. He sinned, as all humans do, but after his conversion, he always knew when he had sinned because Love’s commandment drew him back to the divine love that underpinned everything he was and did. It was not so much fear of punishment that motivated Francis but rather his commitment to him whom he loved, Jesus Christ. To separate oneself from Christ would be the sin for Francis. If he feared anything, it would have been that he would betray Christ, the love of his life. And Francis held fast to his commitment to Christ to the very end of his life.

—from the book Surrounded by Love: Seven Teachings from Saint Francis
by Murray Bodo, OFM

Surrounded by Love by Murray Bodo


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign Up for Our Daily Newsletter

Includes Saint of the Day, Minute Meditations, and Pause + Pray.

Skip to content