2015 - "Three Little Words" by Terry Ferguson
The Fruit of the Spirit
2016 - "Through the Year with Francis of Assisi"
by Murray Bodo
2017 - Thanks-Living

Thursday, March 31, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 31

A Prayer of Praise

"We thank you
that your Son himself will come again
in the glory of his majesty
to send the wicked ones
who have not done penance and who have not known you
into the eternal fire,
and to say to all those who have known you and have
adored you and have served you penance:
'Come, you whom my Father has blessed,
take as your heritage the kingdom
prepared for you
since the foundation of the world' (Mt 25:34)."  --St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XXIII

With each coming of Christ (His first and the one yet to come) we are blessed beyond measure.  You don't have to wait even a moment longer if you would receive His kingdom right now.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 30

A Prayer of Praise

"We thank you
that through your Son you created us,
and that through the holy love you had for us
you brought about his birth
as true God and true man
by the glorious, ever-virgin, most blessed, holy Mary,
and that you willed to redeem us captives
through his cross and blood and death."  --St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XXIII

That God would deign to come to earth, in the form of man, is rather astonishing. When we "walk in the shoes" of another so that we can identify with them in order to help them, we are showing them what God did for us and has done for them.





Tuesday, March 29, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 29

A Prayer of Praise

"All-powerful, most holy, most high and supreme God,
Holy and just Father,
Lord, King of heaven and earth,
we thank you for yourself
for through your holy will
and through your only Son
with the Holy Spirit
You have created all things spiritual and corporal
and, having made us in your own image and likeness,
You placed us in paradise.
Then, through our own fault, we fell."  --St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XXIII

This is a good prayer to remind ourselves Who God IS and who we are.

Monday, March 28, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 28

How the Brothers Are to Preach to the People

"All my brothers, whenever they wish, may proclaim to anyone and everyone, with the blessing of God, the following or a similar exhortation and prayer of praise:

   Fear and honor, praise and bless,
   give thanks and adore
   the Lord God All-Powerful,
   Triune and One,
   Father and Son and Holy Spirit,
   Creator of all things.  
   Repent!  (Mt 3:2)
   Bring forth fruits worthy of repentance,
   for you know how soon we die!  
   'Give, and there will be gifts for you' (Lk 6:38).
   'Forgive, and you will be forgiven'  (Lk 6:37).
   And 'if you do not forgive others, your Father will
   not forgive your failings either' (Mt 6:15).
   'Confess your sins to one another' (Jm 5:16).
   Blessed  are you who die in repentance,
   for you will be in the kingdom of heaven.
   Woe to those who do not die in repentance,
   for you will be children of the devil
   whose co-workers you are,
   and you will go into fire everlasting.
   Guard yourselves and abstain
   from every evil and persevere
   in good unto the end."  --St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XXII

Acknowledging God's position in our lives through praise, repentance, and perseverance in being His Light in a dying world is still how we are to live.




Sunday, March 27, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 27

Jesus Christ, Our Peace and Reconciliation

"Kissing your feet and with all the love I'm capable of, I beg you to render, as far as you can, all reverence and total adoration to the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom all things in heaven and on earth are made peaceful and are reconciled to God the Almighty (cf. Col 1:20)."  --St. Francis, Letter to the Whole Order

Today we celebrate the event--Jesus's resurrection--that enables us to be reconciled to God the Almighty.  The peace we experience because of this should bring us great Joy in the midst of any trial or tribulation we may be asked to endure.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 26

God's Seal

"The Lord was pleased to endorse and confirm the teaching and Rule of St. Francis, not only by miraculous signs, but also by the marks of his own stigmata, so that no true believer could possibly question them on external or internal evidence.  And in his goodness God was pleased to affix his own seal to the Rule and teaching of St. Francis, who would never have presumed to teach or write anything other than what he received from the Lord.  As he himself testifies, it was God who revealed to him the entire Rule."  --From a sermon of St. Bonaventure, October 4, 1255

This is the account of St. Francis's experience as related in the Catholic Encyclopedia:  "Early in August, 1224, Francis retired with three companions to "that rugged rock 'twixt Tiber and Arno", as Dantecalled La Verna, there to keep a forty days fast in preparation for Michaelmas. During this retreat the sufferings of Christ became more than ever the burden of his meditations; into few souls, perhaps, had the full meaning of the Passion so deeply entered. It was on or about the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (14 September) while prayingon the mountainside, that he beheld the marvellous vision of the seraph, as a sequel of which there appeared on his body the visible marks of the five wounds of the Crucified which, says an early writer, had long since been impressed upon his heart. Brother Leo, who was with St. Francis when he received the stigmata, has left us in his note to the saint's autograph blessing, preserved at Assisi, a clear and simple account of the miracle, which for the rest is better attested than many another historical fact. The saint's right side is described as bearing on open wound which looked as if made by a lance, while through his hands and feet were black nails of flesh, the points of which were bent backward."

Friday, March 25, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 25

Mirrors

"When you see a poor person, you are looking at a mirror of the Lord and his poor mother.  So, too, in the sick you are contemplating the kind of infirmities he took upon himself for us."  --Celano, Second Life, 85

So the imagery of a mirror I used yesterday is not anything new!  I recently read that the image you see in a mirror does not "reverse" the image as some believe.   It merely reflects light directly back at us.  Therefore, it is showing you what you are showing it.  This video explains it:  
                   

Physics Girls says, "The mirror is showing you what you presented to it."  This is something to keep in mind, not only when we see Christ reflected in others, but when we look at ourselves.  Are we and others seeing Christ reflected in us?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 24

St. Francis's Compassion for Those Who Suffer

"He turned with marvelous tenderness and compassion toward anyone afflicted with physical suffering; and when he noticed deprivation or need in anyone, he saw in that person the suffering Christ himself.  The love of Christ only intensified his natural bent toward compassion."  --St. Bonaventure, Major Life, 8:5

When I read "he saw in that person the suffering Christ himself" I thought of Christ's words in Matthew 25:39-40:  "'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'  'The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, whatever you did for one of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'"  Those who are suffering are mirrors of Christ's suffering for us.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 23

The Importance of Prudence

"I exhort you to know your own constitution; for one of you might be able to get along on less food than another, and I wouldn't want you who may need more food to think you have to imitate someone who needs less.  You each must know your own physical makeup and allow your body its needs, so that it has strength to serve the spirit.  For just as we are bound to avoid overindulgence in food, which harms both body and soul, we must also avoid exaggerated abstinence."  --St. Francis, Mirror of Perfection, 27

I can't say I've ever had this problem--underestimating my need for food!  But I have probably underestimated my need for sleep.  And I've been known to overwork myself in doing yard work.  Paying attention to our body's needs is another way to honor God, for He created our bodies to sustain our souls while doing His work here on earth.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 22

Brother Body

"In eating and drinking, in sleeping and satisfying the other necessities of the body, you should take the measure of your own physical tolerance, so that Brother Body doesn't rebel."  --St. Francis, Mirror of Perfection, 97

Francis was aware that our bodies have limitations and makes allowances for it.  We should, too.  Helping others can lead to our own burnout if we aren't careful.

Monday, March 21, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 21

The Fasting St. Francis Required of His Brothers

"The brothers are to fast from the feast of All Saints to the Nativity of the Lord.  Then, as to the other fast which begins with the Epiphany and lasts uninterruptedly for forty days and which the Lord sanctified with His own fast, those who keep it voluntarily, may they be blessed by the Lord, and those who do not wish to keep it, are not bound to do so.  But the brothers are bound to keep the other fast which ends with the feast of the Resurrection of the Lord.  They are bound to no further fasting, then, except on Fridays.  And whenever necessity requires that a brother not fast, he is not bound to corporal fasting."  --St. Francis, Rule of 1223, Chapter III

Fasting is not something I've ever attempted except for a day and then it was for the purpose of beginning a weight loss method.  The purpose of the fasting in this case was to enable us to experience real hunger so that when we ate again we'd only eat until we felt the sensation of being full.  This would help me not to overeat.  There were no other limitations set on me.  I lost five pounds on that "diet."  I can see where fasting for the purpose of experiencing spiritual fullness would help us discern when we're inadvertently starving ourselves spiritually.  Sometimes you have to experience a real need in order to appreciate what you already have so that you use it to its fullest extent.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 20

The Lukewarm Soul

"When soul is tepid and little by little cools to grace, then flesh and blood leap forward to impose their needs."  --Mirror of Perfection 15

Jesus said that if we aren't with Him we are against Him.  There is no middle ground.  I do not like to eat lukewarm food--it loses much of its flavor.  Likewise, we lose our "flavor" as witnesses for Christ when we are lukewarm.  

Saturday, March 19, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 19

"Prisoners of the Devil"

"All you who do not live in penance and do not receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and who are caught up in vices and sins and go the way of evil concupiscence and the evil desires of your flesh, and who do not observe those things you have promised the Lord, and who serve the world with your body, becoming slaves to the instincts of the flesh and the devil whose children you are and whose works you do.  You are blind, because you do not see the true light, our Lord Jesus Christ; you do not have spiritual wisdom, because you do not possess the Son of God, who is the true Wisdom of the Father, and that you are cursed for having turned away from God's commandments (cf. Ps 119:21).  You see and know what you are doing, you know and still do what is evil; and so you knowingly lose your souls."  --St. Francis, Letter to All the Faithful, First Version

This is an indictment of believers every time we quench the Holy Spirit.  We open ourselves to the evil one and become vulnerable to his enticements.

Friday, March 18, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 18

Busyness and Worry

"We need to be especially alert to the evil subtlety of Satan.  His one desire is to keep people from having a mind and heart disposed to their Lord and God.  He circles, lusting to snatch away the human heart by the ruse of some gain or assistance and to stifle remembrance of the word and precepts of the Lord.  He wants to extinguish the light of the human heart, and so he moves in by means of worldly busyness and worry."  --St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XXII

It seems that Satan has not changed his tactics in all these years.  Being overly busy can promote worry in itself!  I know that when my usual daily routine is disrupted because of additional activities I can easily become overwhelmed with the details of what needs to be done, causing my thoughts to flit from one thing to another generating a type of worry.  But I've found a way to prevent that.  In advance I plan out what I can do ahead of time so that when the unusually busy day arrives I've already accomplished some of the tasks.  I also keep my normal activities at a minimum to allow for unexpected things.  But what helps most of all is to realize that my day belongs to the Lord.  If I begin with that focus, whatever appears on my "plate" will be easily "eaten and digested."

Thursday, March 17, 2016

St. Francis of Assissi - March 17

False Honor

"Did not the Lord's flock actually follow him in tribulation and persecution, shame and hunger, sickness and trial and all the rest, and thereby receive eternal life from the Lord?  What a great shame, then, that while the saints actually followed in the footsteps of the Lord, we, today's servants of God, expect glory and honor simply because we can recite what they did."  --St. Francis, Admonition 6

This is the downside of "religion."  It's all too easy for our flesh to take credit once other followers give us praise for our knowledge or deeds.  This is why I cringe when I hear applause when someone performs a song in church.  It may be a way to say thank you or to encourage the performer, true, but because applause is used in a secular setting, it could easily "turn" a person's head to take the praise for themselves and not for God's glory.  Setting certain gifts in the church above others also invites personal glory.  That is why how we love one another is the only true measure of our love for the Lord.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 16

Those Who Are Our Friends

"Jesus Christ, our Lord, whose footsteps we're to follow, called his betrayer 'friend' and willingly handed himself over to his crucifiers.  Our friends, then, are all those who unjustly inflict upon us tests and ordeals, shame and injury, sorrow and torments, martyrdom and death.  They are the ones we should love most, for what they're really inflicting upon us is eternal life."  --St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XXII


When scripture says we are to love our enemies, it is actually saying what Francis has voiced--our enemies are our friends.




Tuesday, March 15, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 15

St. Francis Addresses His Brothers

"Brother Francis, a man of little account and of weakness, your little servant, salutes you in him who has redeemed us and washed us in his precious Blood, in him whom, when you hear his name, you should adore with reverent fear, prostrate upon the ground.  Jesus Christ the Lord, Son of the Most High, is his name, who is blessed forever and ever. Amen."  --St. Francis, Letter to the Whole Order


St. Francis continually reminded himself and those who chose to follow him, that it was Jesus Christ whom they were to worship and bow down to.

Monday, March 14, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 14

In What Can We All Glory?

"If you were so intelligent and wise that you had all knowledge and wisdom and you knew how to interpret all languages and could accurately divine heavenly things, in all this you could not glory; because even one demon knows more heavenly things and knows more about those of the earth than all people put together; though there may of course be some human being who has received from the Lord a special knowledge of the highest wisdom.  Likewise, if you were more handsome and more rich than others and also could work wonders, like driving out demons, all these things are only obstacles to you and none of them belongs to you, and in none of them can you glory.  But in this we can glory:  in our infirmities, in carrying every day the holy cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."  --St. Francis, Admonition 5


We can glory in our weaknesses because it is when we are weak that He is strong--His power and glory can be seen more clearly as we bear our weaknesses so that His glory can shine through.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 13

The Lord's Bridal Ring

"Temptation overcome is the ring by which the Lord espouses the soul of his servant to himself."  --Celano, Second Life, 118


Christ overcame his temptations and therefore can clearly identify with ours.  When we overcome ours He embraces us into His fold.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 12

Believing Even When You Are Tempted

"Once, for several years, St. Francis suffered a serious temptation of the spirit that caused him great anguish.  Then one day when he was praying at St. Mary of the Angels, he heard in spirit a voice:  'Francis, if you have faith, even if it is as small as a mustard seed, you will say to the mountain, move, and it will move.'  The saint responded, 'Lord, what is the mountain I would want to move?'  And again he heard, 'The mountain is your temptation.'  Then weeping, Francis said, 'Let it be unto me, Lord, as you have said.'  And immediately the temptation was removed, and he was made free and wholly at peace within."  --Celano, Second Life, 115


Sometimes, the only thing left to do is to identify the "mountain." Struggling with wondering whether or not you have enough faith is an ego thing.




Friday, March 11, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 11

Eastertime at Greccio

"One day during Eastertide the brothers at the hermitage of Greccio prepared the table more daintily than they usually did with white linens and glassware.  Coming down from his cell, St. Francis saw the table elevated above the ground and decorated extravagantly.  But though the table was smiling, he was not.  Unseen and little by little he retraced his steps, put on the hat of a poor man who was there, and, taking a staff in his hand, went outside.  He waited outside the door until the brothers began to eat, for they were in the habit of not waiting for him when he did not come at the signal.  They had just begun to eat when this truly poor man cried out at the door, 'For the love of the Lord God an alms, please, for this poor, sick pilgrim.'  The brothers answered, 'Do come in, whoever you are, for the love of him whose name you have invoked.'  He immediately entered and appeared before them as they were eating.  Oh, what astonishment that pilgrim then caused these comfortable citizens!  They gave him the plate he asked for, and he withdrew and sat alone on the floor, placed the dish in the ashes.  'Now I am sitting as a Lesser Brother should sit,' he said,  And turning to the brothers, he said, 'We should be moved by the example of the poverty of the Son of God more than others are.  I saw a table richly prepared, and I thought, this is not the table of poor men who beg from door to door.'"  --Celano, Second Life, 61

When God has called us to a certain way of life we should respond to the call with integrity.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 10

The Dream of Brother Pacifico

"The first minister provincial of the brothers in France was Brother Pacifico.  He was a companion of St. Francis, and was sent by him to establish the Order in France.  One day he dreamed that he was taken up into paradise.  He saw there many thrones, all occupied, and, higher than they, a more impressive throne which was unoccupied.  When he asked whose throne it might be, he was told it was reserved for St. Francis.  Sometime later he asked St. Francis how he saw himself and what he thought of himself.  He answered:  'I think that I am the greatest sinner in the world.  Yes, without question, that is how I see myself.'  Pacifico protested:  'How can you say that?  What about all the thieves, fornicators, and murderers in the world?'  But St. Francis insisted:  'Listen.  There is no man or woman in the world who would not be more pleasing to God than I am, had God bestowed on them the many great graces he's given me.  And that is why I consider myself the worst of sinners."  --From a sermon of St. Bonaventure, October 4, 1262

Why do you think what St. Francis believed made him feel like the worst sinner?  "There is no man or woman in the world who would not be more pleasing to God than I am, had God bestowed on them the many great graces he's given me."

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 9

The Gift That Is Ours

"O to have a Father in heaven, how glorious and holy and great that is!  O to have a Spouse in heaven, how holy, beautiful, and lovable!  O to have such a Brother, how holy and how loved, how pleasing and lowly, peaceful and sweet and lovable and desirable above all things!  And O to have such a Son, who laid down his life for his sheep and who prayed to the Father for us saying:  'Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name.' (Jn 17:11)."  --St. Francis, Letter to All the Faithful, Second Version

Like Francis we should pray that those the Lord has brought into our life should remain faithful to Him.





Tuesday, March 8, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 8

A Prayer of St. Francis

"May the fiery and honey-sweet power of your love, O Lord, wean me from all things under heaven, so that I may die for love of your love, who deigned to die for love of my love."  --Attributed to St. Francis by St. Bernardine of Siena and Ubertino da Casale


St. Francis prayer emphasizes the fact that we are able to love God because He first loved us.


Monday, March 7, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 7

The Salvation of Souls

"St. Francis used to say we should prefer nothing to the salvation of souls, and he said so for this reason:  It was for souls that the only-begotten Son of God deigned to ascend the cross."  --St.  Bonaventure, Major Life, 9:4


This is really what it's all about--our and other's salvation.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 6

Where We Are to Gaze

"Look long at the Good Shepherd, Who, to save His sheep, endured the suffering of the cross."  --St. Francis, Admonition 6

When we look long and hard at anything we begin to see things we did not see at first.  Now that I'm drawing every day, the very practice of looking at an object and drawing it until I get it right is helping me notice things I've not seen before.  Looking at Christ in this way--what He did for us--softens our hearts and opens us more fully to His love.


Saturday, March 5, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 5

What God Has Done for Us

"When he was asked why he went about the countryside weeping, St. Francis said, 'I should travel through all the world and, without any false shame, cry and moan over the passion of my Lord!'"  --Legend of Perugia, 37

The passion (suffering) that Christ endured brought Francis to weeping.  I find it terribly difficult to view photographs depicting Jesus' crucifixion.  But it is a good reminder what Jesus, the man, suffered for me, and the degradation that Christ, the Spirit, endured.  When my youngest was three we were in a Catholic bookstore.  While I was absorbed in browsing he'd picked up a crucifix. Having never seen Christ on the cross (he'd only seen the Protestant cross which is always empty to symbolize Christ has been resurrected) he was horrified.  I'll never forget that look on his face.  I imagine this is what St. Francis experienced every day.

Friday, March 4, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 4

St. Francis and Sacred Scripture

"It is good to read the testimony of the Scriptures, and it is good to seek out the Lord our God in them.  But for me, I have already made so much of Sacred Scripture my own that I have more than enough for my meditation and reflection.  I have need of nothing more.  I know Christ, the poor crucified one."  --Celano, Second Life, 105

In the late 1980s I used the One Year Bible to read through the Bible.  Even though my comprehension was no where near 100% I felt it was stored in my mind where the Holy Spirit could draw upon it.  This is what I feel enabled me to write the daily devotional in 2003 that I called Freedom in Christ.  I'd quote from one of the daily devotionals I was reading at the time and write a response to it.  The scriptures I included at the end came to me as a single word or a few words.  I then went to a concordance to find the reference which I looked up in order to complete the verse.  I had no doubt I was led to these scriptures by the Holy Spirit using the scriptures that had been implanted in my mind that year I read through the Bible.  Even though I may not consciously know all of scripture, it is hid in my heart to be drawn upon to bring me comfort and direction.


Thursday, March 3, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 3

Exhortation on the Fragrant Words of Jesus

"I, Brother Francis, the lesser one among you and your servant:  With the desire to kiss your feet, I pray and beseech you, in the charity which God is, that you receive with humility and with the love they deserve the fragrant words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and use them well and observe them perfectly . . .And all those men and women who receive them with goodness and ponder them and send copies to others, and then persevere in them to the end, may the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit bless them.  Amen."   --Letter to All the Faithful, Second Version

In 2 Corinthians 2:15 Paul tells us, "For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those  who are being saved and those who are perishing."  Last week we had a very warm day so I worked out in the yard.  As I was walking past a stand of trees I caught the lovely scent of flowers.  But there were no flowers yet on the trees or bushes.  Where could it be coming from?  Was it just my imagination because of my strong desire for Spring?  This is a good reminder to me that I can be a pleasing aroma to God and to others even when all around me lies dormant because Christ, the Word, is in me.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 2

Prayer of St. Francis Before the Crucifix

"Most High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart, and give me correct faith, sure hope and perfect charity, with understanding and knowledge, Lord, so that I may fulfill your holy and true command, Amen."  --Writing of St. Francis

"Correct faith" . . . .  I've heard it stated this way....it's not WHAT we believe but WHO we believe in.  This is the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - March 1

The Wounds of the Savior

"With joy-filled devotion Francis dwelt in the heavenly mansions and in complete self-emptying he remained for long periods hidden, as it were, in the wounds of the Savior.  He therefore sought out solitary places where he could cast his soul entirely upon God."  --Celano, First Life, 71

Complete solitude is hard to find these days.  Even when we're by ourselves it's hard to be alone because of all our "devices" that keep us connected to the world.  I've read testimonies of the benefit of meditating and I still feel antsy at just the thought of having to totally clear my mind and just sit there for long periods.  To me solitude is to find something lovely in nature to gaze upon while thinking about my past, present, and future.  Yes, Self-emptying is something I've yet to learn for more than a few moments at a time.  March's theme is all about putting our focus on our Savior and taking it off ourselves.......