Franciscans view the world and God c creative presence in a particular way. How we understand God and how we relate to God is at the heart of Franciscan spirituality. The following are key themes in Franciscan theology (understanding) and spirituality (relating,).
- God is infinity of all that is good — love, beauty, truth, etc... There are no limits to God other than those of integrity (God must act like God, i.e. God can’t be evil). Who God is and what God does are always integrated. All things depend on God to exist, while God depends upon nothing. The on-going development of creation reflects God’s inexhaustible ability to be creative.
- God has freely chosen incarnation. The incarnation is not “chosen” by God because humanity chose sin and thereby forced God to come and fix the mess. The incarnation would have happened whether or not humans sinned because creation exists for the sake of Christ. Given the real human choice for sin, God comes to us in the role of redeemer out of freedom, not because God is limited to a particular form of behavior to effect salvation. God chose to humble himself in the incarnation and still chooses to humble himself in the form of the Eucharist in order to be among us. Humility must be the best way to express love and conquer sin.
- Christmas is more important than Easter. The resurrection depended on the incarnation, not the other way around. The incarnation is the greatest thing God could do in terms of creation. God incarnated in order to affirm that we are called to be co-lovers with the Holy Trinity.
- Christ is the chosen image of God in creation, He is the image of what all creation is called to be in his humanity, while he uniquely unites creation to his divinity. Creatures participate in this to the capacity of their natures. Through her freedom from original sin, Mary is the perfect image of what all humanity is by nature.
- Every creature is unique, gifted, and in relationship. The relationships of life are meant to be perfected according to the capacity of the creature. Within the Trinity, each person has a particular quality which makes it unique even while being One in divinity. Consequently every creature has a unique quality which makes it different from every other of its kind. This reflects the nature of God who lives in Trinity and lives the greatest depth of relationship possible while remaining one. The natural world actively expresses God.
- Creatures don’t make God do things. No creature can own God this was Lucifer’s sin. Creatures are all beggars at God’s table, because God owes us nothing but instead gifts us with our particular nature and existence. God’s will is accomplished no matter what humans do. Our actions, whether pious, evil or meritorious, don’t force God to act in particular ways. We are not the center of the universe.
- Mercy, forgiveness, and justification are God’s actions. They do not result from ours. We are called to work on achieving our salvation (1 Pet), but we must realize that our desire to act morally was placed in us by God. God respects our freedom so much that he asks us to co-operate with him in bringing about good, even though we aren’t necessary and we are affected by sin. We’re not ruined by original sin, but we are wounded. The sacraments help free us from slavery to sin.