EAGER TO LOVE
The Alternative Way
of St. Francis of Assisi
by Richard Rohr, 2014
Franciscan Media, 294 pp.
Hardcover $24.00 CAD.
Kindle $9.99 CAD
Richard Rohr is a globally recognised Catholic
and Christian teacher focusing on mystical and
transformational traditions and is the founder
and director of the Center for Action and
Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico,
home of the Rohr Institute.
He is the author of more than twenty books,
including Yes, And… Daily Meditations;
Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self;
Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves
of Life; and Breathing Under Water: Spirituality
and the Twelve Steps.
Francis of Assisi was master of making room for
the new and letting go of the tired or empty. Much
of Francis’ genius was that he was ready for absolute
“newness” from God and could also trust fresh and
new attitudes in himself…(The visible world provides
a doorway to the invisible world.)
In this book, I want to share with you one of the
most attractive, appealing and accessible of all
frames and doorways to the divine. It is called the
Franciscan way after the man who first exemplified
it – Francis, who lived in Assisi, Italy, from 1182 to
1226 CE. Francis and Clare, (his female religious
associate) – when overly romanticised – can be
“dismissed too easily” (as Francis was not what
he has been too lightly made out to be by would-be
followers, even in our own time.)
Church and world. He was totally at home in both.
He and Clare were both very eager to love both,
and they knew that dying to the old and unneeded
was an essential part of living this love at any depth.
You too can let Francis and Clare show you how to
die into your one and only life, the life you must
learn to love… (I try to help them do this in my
The Franciscan way is to view the Gospel not as
a fire insurance policy for the next world but a life
insurance policy for this world…
My hope and desire in writing this book is that
you can know heaven on your own too, and now!
- from the Preface (with editorial licence)
Review By Wayne A. Holst
(In the June 8th issue of Colleagues List
I introduced the 90 page study guide -
“Embracing an Alternative Orthodoxy:
Richard Rohr on the Legacy of St. Francis”
In a way, the current book under consideration
and the “how to” guide just noted have appeared in
reverse order for whatever reason. At least now,
with the appearance of both volumes, we have
from Rohr a spirituality that is both theoretical
For those unfamiliar with Rohr’s writing what
we have in this book is an introduction to
mysticism – one of his specialties. The mystical
way of living the faith is common to all the
great religious traditions and is also one of the
key linkages between them.
Read what Rohr writes about this.
We used to say – in Christian ecumenical
circles – “doctrine divides, service unites”
and this helped us to work together for
social justice causes with many different
Christians as well as non-believers.
Now, we might say the same about the
phenomenon of mysticism, it seems to me.
“Doctrine divides, mysticism unites,” – and
this helps us to find common spiritual cause
with people of many faiths or no faith.
What Rohr is able to share with us is really
nothing new. It is almost a thousand years
old, since the time of St. Francis. And yet,
because of its nature, it can reflect a very
contemporary way of living.
Rohr describes the meaning of mysticism.
He suggests contemplation is reasonable
but not rational – a different way of knowing.
It is an integrative, rather than an exclusivist
way of understanding reality. It does not
focus on right vs. wrong, positive vs. negative
or male vs. female like so much of our inherited
Franciscan spirituality as interpreted by Rohr,
engages some important contemporary themes -
like atonement theory, eco-spirituality, the
Christ who existed before Christianity and the
Christ who will live beyond it, an approach to
Islam, and living like Jesus lived.
I continue to marvel at the way Rohr helps
us to see that there are within the Christian
tradition many untapped resources that
we did not know existed.
I recommend this book. Whether you are
new to Richard Rohr or a veteran of others
he has written, this title continues the
spiritual journey of a modern pilgrim –
grounded in good tradition – who is not
afraid to confront challenges to Christianity
today, and very open to new ways the Spirit
is guiding us.
A Review Summary:
Rohr’s attempt is to deepen contemporary
spirituality by linking it to Christian mysticism
and the contemplative tradition.
In “Eager to Love” he reclaims the mysticism
inherent in the Franciscan legacy and offers
it as an alternative to the hierarchical,
patriarchal and authoritarian Christianity
that he suggests has primary responsibility
for so much contemporary agnosticism in the
West… He is building a bridge between the
Christian mystical tradition and estranged
seekers of every ilk.
The book contains Rohr’s reflections on the
best aspects of the Franciscan heritage as
lived out by its founder and its early worthies -
Clare, Bonaventure and Dun Scotus.
The message of Francis offers an alternative
way of life, a different way of knowing
and a pedagogy that teaches through living
rather than through creedal affirmation.
According to Rohr, the starting point for Francis
was not the reality of human sinfulness but
rather human suffering. The Franciscan way
is prophetic rather than priestly.
Rohr admits that he is not a scholar but a
popularizer who is laying out a different
approach to the inherited Christian tradition.
His treatment, he acknowledges, is not
Rohr both values the institutional church
and suggests ways to survive within it. He
admonishes Christians give priority to Jesus
and his message which we inherit through
Scripture and theological tools offered
through the church.
Francis was not a theologian, but a living
illumination of one open to the love of
God and eager to love God and all God’s
creation, especially the most lowly.
The church of the future will be mystical,
the author believes, and Rohr is attempting
to drive that message home.
- Dana Greene, National Catholic Reporter
July 23rd, 2014
Buy the book from Amazon.ca:
Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and helps to co-ordinates Adult Spiritual Development at St. David’s United Church in that city.
Colleagues List, Vol. X, No. 8, September 21st, 2014