Sunday, February 10, 2019

St. Francis of Assisi and the Virtues

Although you will seldom hear the word in public discourse, virtue is making a comeback among those who study and teach philosophy and theology.

I put this presentation together on St. Francis and the Virtues. Feel free to share it with others. Of course, it is not the last word on the subject. However, it is a good start. I encourage you to begin your own exploration of Franciscan Virtues.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

November 2018 Gathering

The next gathering of the People of Peace SFO fraternity will be on Sunday, November 11, 2018 at 12:30 pm in room 105 of the Michael A. Evans Center for Health Sciences on the campus of Marian University. We try to wrap things up by 2:30 pm. All are welcome. For more information, feel free to contact me at

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Franciscan Creation Therapy

We live in a busy world. So much is going on. Often, we feel overwhelmed by it all. I don't know about you, but my screen time on my iPhone is too high. And, I see too much depressing news on it.

Spending time outdoors in God's creation can help us deal with the busyness and stress of modern life. It is called nature therapy and there is a good deal of evidence that being in nature helps us cope. In this blog post I sketch out a Franciscan version of nature therapy. It uses techniques associated with Japanese Forest Bathing, which is related to nature therapy.

To begin, rather than using the word nature the Franciscan version uses the word creation because doing so presupposes a Creator, i.e., God.

In the 13th century, Saint Francis of Assisi spent a lot of time praying to God in the midst of creation. Everything we read about him suggests that he was very mindful of the created world that surrounded him. He was fully present to it. He saw the beauty of God's creation. After a time he saw everything as his brother or sister because he realized everything was created by God and was sustained by God. He saw God's active presence in everything around him and that gave him peace and a different perspective on many aspects of life.

Regarding the world around us, Saint Bonaventure, the great medival Franciscan theologian, urged us to open our eyes and atune our ears to see some sign of God in all aspects of creation. Bonaventure saw the contemplation of creation as the first step in a process that he created that leads to a mystical experience of God.

For Blessed John Duns Scotus, another Franciscan theologian of that era, creation was created for the incarnation of Christ. Every rock, animal and person in some way gives material, outward expression of the Word of God, i.e., Christ.

By now, it should be clear that creation is important to Franciscans. For Franciscans, God is found in the world. The goodness of God permeates the world.

What I am calling Franciscan Creation Therapy is like nature therapy or Japanese Forest Bathing, but with a Franciscan twist.

Like Forest Bathing, Franciscan Creation Therapy requires mindfulness. Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present, aware of where you are and what you're doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around you. In other words, when you are outside enjoying God's creation don't think about work or family issues. Just be there. Be fully present.

To get started, go to a place where you can enjoy God's creation. That can be the shore or in a forest, woods, a field, a city park, or even a backyard garden.

Start by praying your favorite prayer or reflecting on Francis' poem The Canticle of the Creatures. (I have downloaded Francis' poem to my iPhone so that it is always handy.)

It is important that you unplug from the digital world. You don't want interruptions. Put your cellphone in your pocket and leave it there. You won't need it.

Now relax and take a deep breath.

Your experience of God's creation should not be part of your exercise routine. And, there is no need to rush. Actually, rushing is the last thing you want to do. There is no need to hike for miles, meandering a few hundred feet will do just fine. In fact, you don't need to move much at all.

Concentrate on experiencing your immediate surroundings. Pay attention to what's going on. Note the uniqueness of the things you see and hear.

What sounds do you hear? Do you hear the wind blowing through the trees? Birds singing or geese honking? How about squirrels running through dry leaves?

What textures can you feel? Do different leaves feel different? How about the bark of different trees? Are the rocks you pick up smooth, rough, or sharp?

What can you smell? The flowers? The spicy odor of the leaves of a walnut tree? The fragrance of pine needles?

What colors do you see? Are the leaves different colors? What color is the sky? What shadows do you see? Is the sun glistening off the sand or the water?

What is moving? Are tree limbs blowing in the wind? Is a spider moving across its web? Are squirrels jumping from branch to branch of a nearby tree? Is a hawk soaring overhead? Do you see a hummingbird flitting from flower to flower? Is a caterpillar making its way across your path? Are clouds moving slowly or quickly across the sky?

Once you are satisfied with the experience, say one of your favorite prayer, e.g., Glory be the Father, to conclude your creation therapy session.

You will find Franciscan Creation Therapy very relaxing and enjoyable. You will feel closer to God. It will help you deal with busyness and stress of modern life. Plus, you may see a drop in your cellphone screen time.

By the way, if you see something that just doesn't belong, e.g., paper wrappers, plastic bottles, pop cans, make a mental note and try to come back later and spend some time caring for God's creation. Try leaving the place you experienced just a little bit better for the next person. You will feel good about that. And so will those who come after you.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

What Are We To Do?

Francis of Assisi lived during the late 12th and early 13th centuries. The Church at that time had many problems. It was a mess.

Soon after his conversion, Francis was praying alone in front of a crucifix in the abandoned chapel of San Damiano, located down the hill from Assisi. Suddenly, Francis heard these words of Christ coming from the cross: “Francis, repair my house, which is falling into ruin.” Francis realized later that it was a much bigger house— the Catholic Church itself—that Christ was asking him to rebuild.

Francis heard the call to rebuild the Church. Particularly in times of scandal, we should follow his lead and do what Franciscans have always done. Rebuild the Church!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Saturday August 4, 2018
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Rethinking Franciscan
Theology of Creation
Daniel P. Horan, OFM
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St. Vivian Church
7600 Winton Road
Cincinnati, Ohio 45224

For more information contact:
Jason McMahon, OFS