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

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 30

The Way of Holy Obedience

"Holy Wisdom routs Satan
and his whole malicious band.
Pure Holy Simplicity confounds
all the wisdom of this world
and the wisdom of the flesh.
Holy Poverty confounds cupidity
and avarice and the cares of the world.
Holy Humility
confounds pride
and worldly people
and all that is of the world.
Holy Charity
routs diabolic
and carnal temptations
and all human fears."
--St. Francis, Salutation of the Virtues

Holy wisdom, simplicity, poverty, humility, and love is greater than any harm Satan and the world can mete out to us.  We should where these as a cloak of protection.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 29

The Way of Holy Obedience

"Holy Obedience
confounds selfish
and carnal desires,
keeps the body subject
to the obedience of the Spirit
and to obedience to one's neighbor,
rendering one submissive 
to every human being
in the world;
and not only to humans,
but also to all beasts and all wild animals,
so that they can do what they want
to you insofar as the Lord
may permit them from above . . ."
--St. Francis, Salutation of the Virtues

Obedience in essence is self-discipline.  Once you belong to God and He lives in you and you in Him, being obedient to Him is just a matter of keeping self in check.

Monday, November 28, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 28

On Blaming Others

"There are some who, when they sin or suffer some injury, immediately blame their enemies or their neighbors.  But that is not the way it is.  Rather, each of us has the enemy in his or her own power, namely, the flesh by which we sin.  Therefore, 'blessed that servant' (Mt 24:46) who holds captive this enemy given into his or her power and who wisely guards against it; for as long as you do this, no other enemy, visible or invisible, can do you any harm."  --St. Francis, Admonition 10

This is an excellent way to look at it:  we hold the enemy in our own power.  This is because we have the Holy Spirit who is All in All.  The victory has ALREADY been won over the evil one.  By our faith we will always gain the upper hand over sin.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 27

What Alone Is Repulsive

"Nothing should be repulsive to the servant of God but sin."  --St. Francis, Admonition 11

This is because God can work all things for good for those who love Him.  Things that would be repulsive to someone who is not a servant of God cannot be worked out for their good because they have not God.  If you are a servant of God you will not be repulsed by the things that happen to you because you will know that God will not leave you bereft.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 26

Of Spiritual Murderers

"There are man religious who, under the pretext of seeing better things than those which their prelates command, look back (cf. Lk 9:62) and return to the vomit of self-will (cf. Pr 26:11; 2 P 2:22).  Such as these are murderers because by their bad example they cause many souls to be lost."  --St. Francis, Admonition 3

Let this be a warning to us.  Francis is speaking of looking back at our old life for wisdom and likens it to a dog returning to his vomit.  We really must see ourselves as new creatures, for that is what we are, and move forward in that LIGHT which now sustains us.



Friday, November 25, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 25

Prudence in One's Speech

"Blessed are those servants who do not talk in order to gain something and who do not reveal everything about themselves and are not quick to speak, but wisely consider what they are going to say and how they are going to answer."  --St. Francis, Admonition 21

Listening more than you speak and thinking before you speak is, indeed, wise.  And to be wise is to be blessed.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 24

The Value of Work

"I want all my friars to work and to humbly occupy themselves with good works, so that we might be less of a burden to people and not stray toward laziness of heart and tongue.  And whoever does not know a trade, should learn one."  --Mirror of Perfection, 75

The idiom, "Idle hands are the workshop of the devil," says what Francis is cautioning his friars about.  It's not just keeping busy, though.  Doing good works gives us a self-respect that prevents Satan from taking advantage and worming his way in.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 23

Knowledge and Good Works

"The Apostle says, 'The written letters kill, but the Spirit gives life' (2 Co3:36).  They are killed by the written letter who desire to know words so that they might seem wiser than others and be able to acquire riches to leave to their relatives and friends.  And those religious are killed by the letter who do not care to follow the Spirit of Holy Scripture, but desire to know only the words and to explain them to others.  And they are brought to life by the Spirit of Holy Scripture who do not attribute to themselves everything they know and desire to know, but in word and example give credit to the Most High to whom belongs everything that is good."  --St. Francis, Admonition 7

Knowledge can bring life or death depending on how it is used.  When we allow the Holy Spirit to use it to mold us, it brings life.  But if we use it to lord it over others, it brings death.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 22

Perfect Poverty

"You who long to reach the very summit of poverty must renounce not only worldly wisdom, but even, to a degree, the privilege of learning itself.  Divested of these possessions, you will be able to enter in the power of Yahweh (Ps 71:16) and offer yourself naked to the embrace of the Crucified."  --St. Bonaventure, Major Life, 7:2

While education is important in today's world in order to get ahead and stay afloat, it is not the most important thing.  Instead, our relationship with God is the most important and that is grown through life's experiences.  It is there that God's grace is shown and where you receive His power.

Monday, November 21, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 21

Warning Against Hypocrisy

"Beware of all pride and vainglory.  Keep yourselves from the wisdom of this world and the prudence of the flesh.  For the spirit of the flesh is desirous and very eager for words but does little to carry them out.  And it does not seek the interior spirit of religion and holiness but desires of religion and holiness only what is outwardly apparent to people.  It is these that the Lord says, 'In truth I tell you, they have had their reward' (Mt 6:2).  But the Spirit of the Lord wants the flesh to be mortified and despised, worthless and rejected.  And it struggles for humility and patience, and the pure and simple and true peace of the spiritual person.  And above all else it is always yearning for the divine fear and wisdom and love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."  --St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XVII

This is the problem with "religion"--it puffs up the flesh.  It is a relationship that God desires with us--not a set of rules that we can take pride in keeping. The body of Christ--the church--is merely a collection of people united in their relationship with God.  We are meant to encourage and help one another as we serve God and grow in His love.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 20

On Poverty of Spirit

"'How blessed are the poor in spirit:  the kingdom of heaven is theirs' (Mt 5:3).  There are those who apply themselves unceasingly to prayer and to the responsibilities of office;  they abstain and mortify their bodies often; but for one word that seems injurious to their person or any other thing that might detract from them, they are scandalized and thoroughly upset.  These do not have the spirit of poverty; for if you are truly poor in spirit you hate your own life (cf. Lk 14:26) and love those who hit you on the cheek (cf. Mt 5:39)."  --St. Francis, Admonition 14

This Admonition is for all Christians in the election aftermath.  The discourse on social media sites in many cases has degenerated to what Francis warns about--people getting their feelings hurt because they take any criticism of their chosen candidate personally.  He reminds us that even if the harsh words are directed at us, we are to not take it personally.  We are to turn the other cheek and offer it to them as well.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

St. Franics of Assisi - November 19

The Grace of Prayer

"St. Francis used to state firmly that we should desire the grace of prayer above everything else, and in every way possible he would encourage his brothers to the zealous practice of prayer.  It was his conviction that no one could make progress in the service of God without it."  --St. Bonaventure, Major Life, 10:1

How can we serve God if we do not know His mind?  Prayer opens us up so that we can hear Him.

Friday, November 18, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 18

St. Francis's Reverence and Devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist

"With every fiber of his being Francis burned with love for the Sacrament of the Body of the Lord.  It left him overcome with wonder for so great a condescension and merciful love.  He was said to be disconsolate if, even once, he could not hear daily Mass, even if it was possible to do so.  He received communion often and with such devotion as to make others experience a like devotion.  He rendered every reverence to so venerable a sacrament, offering the sacrifice of his whole self; and when he received the Immolated Lamb of God, he immolated his own spirit in that fire which was always burning on the altar of his heart."  --Celano, Second Life, 201

A sacrament is an outward sign of a spiritual grace.  For Francis the Eucharist was of the greatest importance to him.  For me it was my Baptism at age 8.  I remember it well.  It was in the Church of the Open Door in a tank of water behind the pulpit.  I'd come forward a few Sundays before to give my life to God and now I was receiving the rite that identified me as a follower of Christ.  It was at Jesus's baptism that He received the Holy Spirit and now I, too, would be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 17

The Pure of Heart

"'Blessed are the pure in heart:  they shall see God' (Mt 5:8).  The pure of heart are those who despise earthly things and seek those of heaven, and who never cease adoring and looking with pure heart and soul upon the Lord God living and true."  --St. Francis, Admonition 17

When Francis uses the word "despise" he, no doubt, is using the definition "shun," for Francis, a man of love for all God's creation, would not hate earthly things in the way we think of hating--with malice.  We mustn't let the things of the world--whether its cares or its loveliness--distract us from loving God with our whole heart, soul, and mind.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 16

On Peacemakers

"'Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be recognized as children of God' (Mt 5:9).  They are truly peacemakers who, in all they suffer in this world for love of our Lord Jesus Christ, preserve their peace of soul and body."  --St. Francis, Admonition 15

Francis has the right of it.  How can we bring about peace when we have no peace?  "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 15

Humility

"St. Francis used to say:  'You are what you are in God's eyes and no more.'"  --St. Bonaventure, Major Life, 6:1

And what we are in God's eyes are His children.  As a parent I can identify with what it means to have a rebellious child and what it is to have them grow up and be wonderful, loving adults.  This is what God intends for us--and we WILL--if we cooperate, through humility, with His loving hand of discipline.


Monday, November 14, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 14

Sincere Love

"Blessed is the servant who would love and respect brother or sister as much when they are far away as when they are present, and would not say anything behind their back that couldn't be said with charity face to face."  --St. Francis, Admonition 25

This admonition is needed more than ever it seems with social media!  It is far too easy to misinterpret what is being posted.  With what has been happening in politics around the world people are freely and often posting their opinions/feelings/beliefs.  It is easy then to judge their comments based on our own biases further dividing us.  Rather than bringing us closer to people I feel social media is pulling us apart!  Francis believed nothing should be said about someone that could not be said to their face.  This is an admonition I must remember in all my discourses.  If we are saying our words from a place of love, this will show in our face or voice, while the written words often cannot convey what is in our heart.  

Sunday, November 13, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 13

Perfect Obedience

"If you choose to suffer persecution rather than choose to be separated from your brothers and sisters, you truly stand firm in perfect obedience, for you are laying down your life for them."   --St. Francis, Admonition 3

Very few Christians in America are actually persecuted, but we certainly can be maligned or made to feel like outcasts, if we take a stand on what we know to be True.  Francis says if we stick by those who are being truly persecuted our life might be at risk, but we can take joy in our perfect obedience.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 12

Love of Neighbor

"Let us love others as ourselves; and if we do not want to or cannot love them as ourselves, let us at least not do them evil, but good."  --St. Francis, Letter to All the Faithful, Second Version

God does not say we have to LIKE our neighbors, but to LOVE them.  To love means to do good whenever we can.

Friday, November 11, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 11

True Humility

"Blessed are you who are no more puffed up by the good which the Lord says and does through you than you are by what he says and does through others.  But sinners are you who want to receive from your neighbor more than you are willing to give of yourselves to the Lord."  -- St. Francis, Admonition 17

This has convicted me of my need to express my gratitude to the Lord much more than I do!  Love is another area in which we may expect others to give us more than we give the Lord.  When we are feeling a lack of any kind in our lives, we should examine our heart to see if it's because we aren't willing to give of ourselves to the Lord for His work.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 10

On Having One's Faults Pointed Out

"Blessed are those servants who when reproved gently submit, respectfully obey, humbly confess and gladly make reparation."  --St. Francis, Admonition 22

St. Francis has much to teach us on the subject of humility.   It is always a good thing to be reminded that God gives grace to the humble, and by His grace, we are enabled to serve with humility.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 9

True Love

"Blessed is that servant who would love brother or sister just as much when they are sick and cannot do anything in return, as when they are well and can."  --St. Francis, Admonition 24

True love is to do loving acts without expectation of return.    This is how God loves us.  Some might believe there ARE conditions to God's love, but what they are experiencing is the requirements they put on themselves.  Once you truly believe God loves you His love will enable you to do all the things you thought were requirements for being loved.  They are no longer conditions for being loved, but fruits born of your love relationship with God.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 8

On Patience

" 'Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be recognized as children of God.' (Mt 5:9).  Servant of God, you do not know how much patience and humility you really have as long as everything goes along according to your own satisfaction.  But when the time comes that instead of receiving your due, you get just the opposite, as much patience and humility as you have then is what you really have, and no more."  --St. Francis, Admonition 13

I have discovered for myself this is true.  When we are "under fire" our true nature surfaces.  Do not be so quick to tuck it back in!  Instead, take a moment to examine it, then give it over to the Lord for His redemption.



Monday, November 7, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 7

On Taking Correction

"Blessed are those servants who bear correction, accusation, and reproof from another as patiently as if it came from themselves."  --St. Francis, Admonition 20

This is an excellent way to receive criticism.  We are more likely to receive the criticism from ourselves than from others.  This way we will take to heart what is true and let the rest go.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 6

Willingness to Bear Shame

"Blessed are those servants who are not quick to excuse themselves and who humbly put up with shame and reproach for sins they are not guilty of."  --St. Francis, Admonition 22

When we are unjustly maligned we must remember that it God who judges us.  His judgment is the only one that matters.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 5

On Not Being Angry or Troubled

"No matter how someone else sins, if you let yourself be upset or angered over it, except for charity's sake, you store up for yourself--like a treasure--the sin of the other.  But, servant of God, if you do not become angry or indignant over someone else, you are living justly and poorly, that is, without claiming anything for your own."  --St. Francis, Admonition 11

To become angry about someone's action is to be judgmental.  When we are judgmental we can not love that person.

Friday, November 4, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 4

Rendering to God What Is His

"Blessed are you, servant of God, if you attribute all that is good in yourself to the Lord God; for if you hold back anything for yourself, you hide inside yourself your Lord's money (cf. Mt 25:18), and what you think you have will be taken from you (cf. Lk 8:18)."  --St. Francis, Admonition 18

Even if we give God the glory for all that is good about ourselves, such as our talents, but do not use it for His glory, He will take it from us.  This is the simple admonition "use it or lose it."

Thursday, November 3, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 3

The True Spirit of the Lord

"This is how, servant of God, you will know that you have the spirit of the Lord:  If when the Lord does something good through you, the flesh does not get puffed up (for the flesh is ever in opposition to what is good); but instead, you remain less in your own eyes, less than all other people."  --St. Francis, admonition 12

God loves us unconditionally and if we are to serve Him we must serve others unconditionally.  This means we must serve without need of recognition because, as Francis points out, the flesh can be easily "puffed up".  The only way we can do this is by His Spirit because the flesh will always want its due.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 2

The Cursed and the Blessed, Happy Ones

"Those who do not wish to taste how sweet the Lord is and who prefer darkness to light (cf. Jn 3:19), not wishing to observe the commandments of God, are cursed; of these the prophet says:  They are 'accursed, who stray from your commandments' (Ps 119:21).  On the other hand, how happy and blessed are those who love the Lord and do as the same Lord says in the Gospel, 'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbor as yourself' (Mt 22:37-40)."  --St. Francis, Letter to All the Faithful, Second Version

Francis compares life with God and without Him.  When one prefers the dark it is usually because they have something to hide or to hide from.  It is a fearful place to be!  But in the light we are exposed and cannot hide.  It is there God's love can guide and protect us.  It is where His Truth is revealed and peace shall be found.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - November 1

St. Francis Exhorts His Brothers

"Hear, 'listen carefully to what I say' (Ac 2:14).  Bend the ear of your heart and obey the voice of the Son of God.  Keep his precepts in the depths of your heart and fulfill perfectly his counsels.  'Give thanks to Yahweh for he is good' (Ps 136:1) and extol him in your works, because he has sent you into the whole world for this, namely, to give testimony to his voice in word and work and to make known to all that there is no other Almighty besides him."  --St. Francis, Letter to the Whole Order

To "bend the ear" of our hearts is to listen--not just hear.  When we listen to God we imply we intend to do what we hear.  And when we listen with our hearts I should think we can't help but obey!