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Notes from "Prayer and Contemplation in the Franciscan Tradition" by Fr. Dan Horan


By Elizabeth Schumaker, OSF

Fr. Dan Horan, OSF was the presenter for the Inter-Franciscan Formation Conference held at Graymoor in Garrison, NY this November 2016. What follows are notes from Fr. Dan's lectures taken during the conference. My hope is to convey important concepts Fr. Dan covered which may be of help to others as Franciscans in order to gain a deeper understanding of Franciscan prayer and contemplation. I hope I have not misstated anything. This review is in three parts. What follows is part one.


Fr. Dan Horan, OSF, begins by referring to the starting point for all Franciscan prayer: God (the father) and draws our attention to the very name of God. Contrary to popular belief, God's name is not "I am who am" [EX 3:14] or all the names for God in the bible. God's name is in fact: RELATIONSHIP.

At the very opening of the book of Genesis we read that: --- in the beginning - - - the earth was formless and empty, --- and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. [GN 1: 1-2 NIV]. Spirit of God,--- Ruah in Hebrew, means "breath of God". In Fr. Dan's words "God creates by getting near" after which he says "let there be light".

When the prophets are initially called by God, their first response is "No thanks!". (What a relief! How many times have I/we said no thanks?). Moses actually attempts to escape God's call five times. Moses and the burning bush story in Exodus Chapter 3, is attempt number five.

Of significance in this passage is not that the bush does not burn but, that Moses tries to trick God in a way, to get out of doing what God wants. Moses does this by saying to God in effect "When I go to the Israelites they will ask me 'who sent you'? so who do I say that you are?" knowing full well that Jews are not permitted to utter God's name.

God responds "I am who am" [EX 3:14] but that is not all God says. God also says "Say to the Israelites, 'The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob has sent me to you'". "This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation". [EX 3:15]. In other words, the God of the past, present and future, the one who is with you--- the one who is 'RELATIONSHIP'.

In Genesis 2:7 the Lord forms us from the dust/dirt of the earth, what everything on earth is formed from, but then he breathes into us. We are the ones God wants to be part of. In Hebrews 1:1-6 (the second reading for Christmas Day), we see that the God-self has entered the world: "In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he has spoken to us through the Son". And in the Christmas Day Gospel of John 1:1-18 we hear that "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" and that "no one has ever seen God. The only Son, God who is at the Father's right side (a sign of equivalence) has revealed him". Jesus now makes God's self known to us; therefore, to know God, look at the Son.

There are two reflection questions to consider here: 1) "How do I understand the name of God" and 2) "What images reveal how I relate to God?"

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