May 4, 2011

A Little Capuchin Contra Mundum

I've finally gotten around to reading one of the classics of American Capuchin literature, Theodosius Foley's Spiritual Conferences on the Rule and Life of the Friars Minor Capuchin. Don't look too hard for it; I don't think it was ever published outside of the Order.

It's pretty challenging stuff, I have to say. Some of the examinations of conscience pierce the heart. For example, from the conference, "Sensuality and the World: Opponents of Chastity":

It seems so plausible to live as everyone else is living, to enjoy our inborn liberties of choice and action without inhibitions, to possess what others have--home, friends, comforts, and the good things of this life. The world will always seduce us with its loose principles, its gaiety, its luxury and cult of the body. It is a formidable opponent of the friar in his otherworldly way of life. It entices him constantly to conform to its spirit, to its habits, and customs. And how many yield to its promptings in so many devious ways!

Why should we friars ape the style and customs of the world, which we have solemnly renounced? Can we be Franciscan followers of Christ and yet consort with worldlings, use their language and frequent their haunts? We want both the good things of Christ and of the world, but draw back from the burdens of either. We enjoy to the full the temporal advantages of the religious life, and obtain economic security, but we omit to fulfill the condition of such blessings, namely, to "seek the Kingdom of God in the first place." We can have either the advantages and burdens of the world, or the cloister--be religious or not. But to seek the advantages of both world and religion at the same time and elude the burdens of either is tempting God.


Rachel Gray said...

I think that's really good. To a great extent it applies to every Christian.

Just to hear the world described in those words: "its gaiety, its luxury and cult of the body" and how it entices us "to conform to its spirit, to its habits, and customs"... that's thinking we don't hear enough of.

Reminds me of when a Christian friend told me she thought it was important for her to watch the same TV shows her secular co-workers watch, so she'd have a platform from which to communicate with them. (!)

Needless to say I find that passage very challenging too.

Lee Gilbert said...

Well, I have good news and bad news. First, it was published and is available for purchase. The bad news is the price, which is unbelievably ironic.

1. Spiritual Conferences on the Rule and Life of Friars Minor Capuchin
Foley, Theodosius
Bookseller: JP Cooper Books
(Napa, CA, U.S.A.)

Quantity Available: 1
Book Description: Privately Printed 1943, 1943. 490 pp. -- fine / no dj/ hardcover. Bookseller Inventory # 4178

Price: US$ 250.00

2. Spiritual conferences on the rule and life of the Friars Minor Capuchin
Theodosius Foley
Bookseller: Books From California
(Simi Valley, CA, U.S.A.)

Quantity Available: 1
Book Description: s.n, 1943. Unknown Binding. Book Condition: Good. Ex-Library Copy. No dust jacket. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000417727

Price: US$ 395.00

However, there are several other titles of his available on ABE books for far less.