The great spiritual lesson of St. Francis was that the key to a healthy spiritual life is to have a mindset of constant renewal. We live in a fallen state, among a fallen world, and to enter into the presence of God, we must reclaim the perfection that He intended for us. That is no easy task, nor is it a one-and-done type of objective. It’s the work of a lifetime.
Impermanence is the nature of life; things are always in motion and changing. Embracing a mindset of constant renewal inspires a sense of exhaustion, but also one of hope. When we set out with a new goal, it’s all too easy to plan out every single step, become overwhelmed, and give up on the entire project. It’s also easy to become inspired and hopeful, no longer feeling trapped in your current reality.
Constant renewal is a principle that can help us in our daily decisions. When you wake up in the morning, and you know you should spend a few minutes in prayer, it can guide you into your prayer space. It can remind you of your goal, and lead you into the steps and habits that will get you there. It will give you the grace to fail, knowing that you won’t be defined by your past mistakes.
We seek comfort and stability in a world that’s continually changing. Victories once won can be frittered away by quitting the habits and discipline that got us there. The great paradox in all of this is that by submitting ourselves to discipline and diligence, we are truly free to live the lives that God intended for us.