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

Monday, February 29, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 29

The True Value of Money

"We must not think that the utility and value of coin or money is greater than that of stones.  The devil wants to blind those who do desire and value it more.  And so let us who have left all things beware, lest for so little we lose the kingdom of heaven."  --St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter VIII

Money is such an artificial thing.   It merely represents something of value.  For instance, I would rather spend my money on fixing up my home where I spend the majority of my time than on a vacation which is temporary.  But there are others who probably feel the opposite because they value traveling more.  I also value time with my family more than making money.  In St. Francis's example, stones are just as valuable as money.  This reminds me of the stone walls farmers would build to keep their animals from roaming.   The stones came from their own land and were just as valuable as money to the farmer.  If we would give up our quest for money, we might "uncover" valuable "stones" in ourselves, waiting to be put to good use.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 28

A Heavenly Inheritance

"The Son of God was more noble than we; nevertheless, for us he made himself poor in this world.  For love of him we have chosen the way of poverty; we shouldn't, then, feel humiliated to go seeking alms.  It is not seemly for the heirs of the kingdom to feel ashamed of the pledge of their heavenly inheritance."  --Celano, Second Life, 74

There are areas in each of our lives that are poor.  Are you good at asking for help in those areas?  Where we are weak He is strong, and His glory is able to be seen when we ask Him for help.  But because He uses human hands to help us, we must also let our needs be known to others.  I do not like to appear needy in any way, but by not asking for help when I've exhausted my personal means, I'm not only shutting God out of my life, I'm preventing someone else from being a blessing.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 27

The Sin of Appropriation

"When we think of possessions, we usually have material things in mind, but St. Francis used to remind his brothers that possessions are material and spiritual, anything we appropriate to ourselves.  For him it is not possessions which are sinful, but possessiveness, appropriating to ourselves what is not ours.  He says:  'You eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good when you appropriate to yourself your own will, thus crediting yourself with the good which the Lord says and does in you.'"  --St. Francis, Admonition 2

I've not been guilty of possessiveness when it comes to doing good or for any of my talents, but I AM guilty when it comes to wanting recognition for it!  Somewhere between realizing I can do nothing without God and the actual doing of it I claim ownership.  This is what leads to my wanting recognition.  Forgive me, Father, for appropriating Your goodwill towards me and claiming it for myself alone.  It is only mine to give away and not to claim payment for it.

Friday, February 26, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 26

Holding Nothing Back

"Blessed are you who keep nothing back for yourself, but render 'Caesar what belongs to Caesar--and God what belongs to God' (Mt 22:21)."  --St. Francis, Admonition 11

We are truly blessed when we come to the realization that everything belongs to God for then everything that happens becomes His, too.  His yoke is easy, his burden light.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 25

St. Francis and the Rich Young Man

"Once when St. Francis was passing through the district of Borgo San Sepolcro, he came upon a village named Monte Casale.  And there a young man, noble and delicate, came up to him and said, 'Father, I want so much to join your brotherhood.'  St. Francis answered, 'Little son you are so young and a delicate nobleman; I doubt that you could endure the harshness of our poverty.'  But the young man said, 'Father, are you not men like me?  What you can endure, then, so can I with the grace of Christ.'  This answer pleased St. Francis so much that he blessed the young man and received him into the order then and there, giving him the name Brother Angelo."  --Little Flowers of St. Francis, Chapter 26

We must never forget that with the grace of Christ we can endure all things.  Call upon this grace continually.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 24

Poor and Simple Clothing

"All the Lesser Brothers are to wear poor clothes and, with God's blessing, let them mend them with pieces of sackcloth or some other material.  I admonish and encourage them not to look down upon or judge ill of those people they see wearing soft and colorful clothes and enjoying the choicest food and drink.  Instead, let each brother criticize and judge himself."  -- Rule of 1223, Chapter II

This is a good reminder that we must beware of becoming sanctimonious.  The way in which we choose to follow Christ is between us and God.  The way others choose to follow Christ is between them and God.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 23

St. Francis's Teaching Regarding Hypocrisy

"It was winter, and he was wearing only a single habit over his holy body, and it was patched all over with coarse pieces of cloth.  His guardian, who was also his companion, came by a fox hide and gave it to him, saying, 'Father, you're suffering spleen and stomach pain, so I beg you, for the love of God, to let this hide be sewn on the inside of your habit.  Or if that is too much to expect, at least take a small part of the hide to cover your stomach.'   But Francis answered:  'If you want me to wear this fox skin beneath my habit, then let me wear one of equal size on the outside.  Sewn there, it will show others that there is another one hidden inside, too.'"  --Celano, Second Life, 130

Hypocrisy in our Christian walk is never far away so we must constantly be on the lookout for it.  Over the years as I've written and posted on the Web about my faith I've uncovered pockets of hypocrisy in myself.  I find myself saying, "Who are you to write about this, Cathy?!"  I then have to change my sermonizing to confession.  Being authentic means being honest--first with yourself and God, then with others.  I should think preachers and teachers of God's word are in the greatest danger of falling into hypocrisy because they are often put on pedestals on which they do not belong.  In fact, we should never put a minister on a pedestal because only God should be there.  We who do must count ourselves guilty along with the minister if he, in an attempt to remain on the pedestal, dabbles in hypocrisy.

Monday, February 22, 2016

St. Franics of Assisi - February 22

The Royal Dignity of Begging

"Even when St. Francis would know that his host had prepared more than enough food, he would go begging at mealtime to give the brothers an example and to honor the nobility and dignity of Lady Poverty.  He'd usually say something like this to his host:  'I"m going out to beg for alms because I don't want to renounce my royal dignity, my inheritance, my vocation, and the vows the Lesser Brothers and I have made.  I may come back with only a few scraps, but I shall have done what was mine to do.'"  --Writings of Leo, Rufino, and Angelo, 2b

The first thing I think of concerning Francis's begging for alms when his host had sufficient food to give him is this....never "to rest on our laurels" or else the grace that God extends to us might very well become just that:  OUR laurels.  It is very easy to take credit for our accomplishments and become prideful over them.  Francis needed to remind others, and himself, that his purpose was to be poor and dependent on God and the way to do that was to continually fulfill the purpose God had laid upon him.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 21

A Lazy Brother Is Chastised

"In the beginning, when the Order was new and the brothers were living at Rivotorto, there was a brother who didn't pray much, who did no work, and who wouldn't go begging because he was ashamed to.  But he did eat, and quite well.

Now when St. Francis was thinking over what to do about him, he received the word, through the Holy Spirit, that this brother was intent upon things of the flesh.  So St. Francis said to him:  'Good-bye, Brother Fly.  All you want is to eat what your brothers work for and to idle away your time instead of working in God.  You're like Brother Drone, refusing to work or to produce, but eating what the good bees work for, what they produce.'  So that brother left, and flesh-minded man that he was, he didn't even ask forgiveness."  --Legend of Perugia, 62

As I read this I thought about the opponents to government welfare who seem to think that all welfare recipients are like this Brother.  I've heard arguments that "welfare mothers" keep having children so they can collect more welfare, or why don't they get a job and work like the rest of us.  As to the last one, have you seen the cost of childcare lately?  A woman in that situation probably wouldn't be able to earn enough to cover the cost of childcare.  Their situation is not at all like this brother's.  He was able to work.  He did not have children to care for, and the fact that he did not even ask for forgiveness shows he was clueless to his faults.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 20

How to Endure the Winter Cold

"Someone once asked St. Francis how he protected himself from the piercing cold of winter when his clothing was so poor, and he answered fervently, 'If our hearts are on fire with longing for our heavenly home, we will have no trouble enduring this outer cold.'"  --St. Bonaventure, Major Life, 5:2

I recently watched a video by Andy Stanley in which he says people who are in physical or emotional pain will naturally be self-absorbed so they must give themselves time to heal before they make important decisions.  When self-absorbed, one cannot think with clarity.  Francis is showing us that this works in the other direction, too.  If our thinking/focus is on the One who endures all, our attention will be on Him instead of ourselves.  I know this to be true because the last time I was ill with a stomach virus and awoke during the night in a great deal of pain, I put my focus on God and was soon back to sleep.  If I'd lain there focused on how I felt, the pain would have kept me awake.

Friday, February 19, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 19

St. Francis Corrects a Brother

"One day St. Francis heard a brother insinuate to a poor little man who was begging an alms, 'How do I know you're not really rich and pretending to be in need?'  When Francis, the Father of the Poor, heard this, he was deeply saddened.  He severely rebuked the brother who had dared to utter such words and ordered him to strip before the beggar and beg his pardon, kissing his feet."  --Celano, First Life, 76

In light of today's numerous scams for which we have to watch-out, this may be a difficult practice to follow.  I do not respond to any telephone solicitation for that reason--even ones that are probably legitimate.  I tell them all that is my policy.  There are watch-dog websites that can help you weed out the fraudulent charities and even tell you how much of your money actually goes to helping the needy.  In the example above, however, it involved a face-to-face encounter, and I believe the point Francis wanted to make clear is that it's not about the other person's need so much as our need to willingly help the poor--even if it means we might get fleeced a time or two.

A few years ago I was waiting at a long stop light when an obviously homeless man approached my car with his sign asking for money.  It was raining.  I felt compelled to lower my window and hand him $5 and tell him about the local Rescue Mission where he could get help.  He told me he'd been kicked out because he'd broken the rules too many times concerning alcohol.  The light changed, so I didn't have to search for the right response.  I think I just gave him a soulful look and went on my way as I prayed for him in my thoughts.  I'd like to think that our conversation, which forced him to acknowledge out loud that it was his own fault he was standing out in the rain begging for money, stirred something in him to return to the Mission and ask for another chance.  They do a lot for the men who want help getting their lives back together, and I make sure I contribute to them every year.  That $5 I gave was not wasted because it was given in good faith.  I was trusting God to use it for good--and He did, even if it was to just show me I mustn't pass up opportunities to show God's grace.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 18

Of Poverty and Weapons

"The Bishop of Assisi once said to St. Francis, 'I think your life is too hard, too rough.  You don't possess anything in this world.'  And Francis replied:  'My Lord if we had possessions, we would need weapons to defend them.' " --Anonymous of Perugia, 17

If we do not possess anything--including our own lives--but instead see everything as belonging to the Lord, Christians would not feel they needed to carry guns.  Late last year several people were killed by a man with a gun while in church.  We have had school shootings, theatre shootings, mall shootings.  The response has been to call for pastors and teachers to carry guns.  Now a Christian university is allowing students to have guns in their dorms.  What kind of message is this sending about our beliefs?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 17

Lady Poverty Speaks. . . .

"I was once in the paradise of my God, where people walked naked; in fact, I walked in them and with them in their nakedness throughout that most splendid paradise, fearing nothing, doubting nothing, and suspecting no evil.  I thought I would be with them forever, for the Most High created them just, good, and wise and placed them in that pleasant and beautiful place.  I rejoiced exceedingly and played before them all the while, for possessing nothing, they belonged entirely to God."  --Sacrum Commercium, 25

This intensifies my understanding of Lady Poverty in Francis's life.  When we were first created everything we needed was provided for us as we needed.  We belonged entirely to Him.  Just like a newborn child we did not need to possess anything and saw no need to.  But when we broke the one rule God gave us, we saw that we were naked, meaning we saw that we are needy.  We felt shame because now we could see our nakedness.  It showed us we'd taken our care out of God's Hands and put it in our own hands, and for the first time we experienced fear.   But instead of going to God, we hid.  He came looking for us then, but we were already hiding.  Eventually we understood what our disobedience meant and why we hid from Him--that we no longer trusting God to take care of us.  We knew too much now--or at least we thought we did (but it was our pride telling us this).  But He did not give up on us.  His Spirit called to us through the ages and then He sent His Son to find us and lead us back to Him.   Sadly, only a few have come out of hiding.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 16

Choosing Holy Poverty

"Never am I so ashamed than when I find someone more miserably poor than I, for I've chosen Holy Poverty for my lady, my delight, my spiritual and material treasure."   --Mirror of Perfection, 17

The author of this quote is not attributed--just that it came from Mirror of Perfection which is dated 1317/18.  Francis had set a very high standard for his brothers so I'm not surprised that those after him would feel they could never measure up.  This is a good reminder that we should look to Christ, not His followers because He may very well have us follow a different path that leads to Him.

Monday, February 15, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 15

St. Francis Praises Lady Poverty's Fidelity

"You, most faithful spouse, sweetest lover, were never for one moment separated from your Lord.  In fact, you clung all the more fiercely to him, the more others despised him.  Of course, had you not been with him, he would not have been so despised by all.

You were with him amid the shouts and insults of the Pharisees, the reproaches of the chief priests; you were with him buffeted and spit upon and scourged.  He deserved the veneration of all; he received mockery instead, and you alone comforted him.  You did not abandon him, 'even to accepting death, death on a cross' (Ph 2:8).  And on the cross, when his body hung there naked, his arms outstretched, his hands and feet nailed to the wood, you suffered with him, and nothing appeared more glorious in him than you.

Then when he went to heaven he left with you the seal of the kingdom of heaven so that you could seal the elect.  Whoever, then, would sigh for the eternal kingdom must come to you, must ask you for it, and must enter it through you, for no one can enter into the kingdom without the imprint of your seal."  --Sacrum Commercium, 20-21

What does it mean for Lady Poverty to be loyal to Jesus?  When I remember that we are to be "poor in spirit"--meaning humble--I understand.  If humility was personified I'd see her in this way:  She'd be so close of a friend to me that she would keep me from being prideful and from insisting on my way with no thought of others.  She'd constantly turn my attention toward God and how much He loves me which would keep me from lacking anything in my life.  She and I would be so in tune with one another that I'd feel no burden, only opportunity to serve my Lord.  Lady Poverty would bring much joy into my life as she saw me safely home.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 14

St. Valentine's Day

"Tell me, I pray you, where does she dwell, my Lady Poverty?  Where does she dine, and where does she lie down at noon, for I am faint with love for her?"  --Sacrum Commercium, 9

The Sacrum Commercium  is an "allegory offering insights into Francis's vision of poverty."  It is an "exhortation written to encourage Francis's followers to live in an authentic way the saint's biblical vision of poverty."  It reminds me of the Song of Solomon only there the allegory uses people to show what God's love looks like.  Here the personification of poverty is used to express how we are to love God.   Jesus used allergories all the time to get his message across.  Stories have a way of opening our hearts and minds to hear truths we might otherwise overlook or ignore.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 13

Lady Poverty as the Bride of the Canticle of Canticles

"While he lived in this valley of tears, the Blessed Father Francis spurned the poor riches of this world and, longing for what is higher, panted with all his heart after Lady Poverty.  And when he considered how she had been the constant companion of the Son of God, he abandoned everything of the world, wanting to bind her to himself with a chain of eternal love  He was enamored of her beauty; and in order to be intimately united to her as to a wife, so that the two of them would form one spirit, he not only abandoned his father and mother, but he distanced himself from all things  His Lady he held in a chaste embrace, and he was never, even for an hour, anything but a faithful spouse.  This, he said to his sons, is the way of perfection, this the pledge and earnest of eternal riches."  --Celano, Second Life, 55

Anyone who is married knows that it is absolutely necessary to "abandon" one's father and mother if their marriage is going to succeed.  This does not mean we must neglect them or no longer love and see them, but we must cut the cord that bound us to them when we were children so that this connection can be established with our spouse.  I think this is why mothers of the groom and bride cry at weddings.....they know this cutting of the cord must also happen from them.  Cutting the umbilical cord is only the first step in what is to come.  St. Francis knew that he could not marry because of his devotion to Lady Poverty for "she" represented his marriage to the Son of God.

As a child, even though I was not Catholic, I wanted to be a nun when I grew up.  I do not remember how I came to this conclusion since I did not even have Catholic friends, but looking back I know it must have appealed because of the devotion to God that it represented.  This is why it is so important to marry another believer because it is in your union that you will be able to devote yourselves to God as one.

Friday, February 12, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 12

Helping Those in Need

"Strip the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary and cart off its varied furnishing if you cannot otherwise satisfy one who is in need.  Believe me, it is dearer to Mary that the Gospel of her Son be kept, though it means stripping her altar, than to see her altar ornamented and her Son neglected."  --Celano, Second Life, 67

Before you sneak into the nearest church to do this, you must remember Celano was speaking to his fellow brothers who had nothing of their own to give to the poor.  After giving away all that you have and exhausted other ways to get alms for the poor, then these words can speak to your heart.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 11

How to Use the New Testament

"It happened once that the mother of two of the brothers came to St. Francis and his companions seeking alms.  Now St. Francis used to call the mother of any of the brothers his mother and the mother of all the brothers.  But when this poor woman came seeking alms, St. Francis was sad because they had nothing in the house but the New Testament which they used for prayer.  So he said to his vicar, Brother Peter:  'Give our mother the New Testament.  And let her sell it to take care of her needs.  I'm sure it is more pleasing to God that we give away the New Testament we use for prayer than hold on to it.  After all, it is this very book that teaches us to help the poor."  --Celano, Second Life, 91

I came across this quote again this morning:  "Integrity is the essence of everything successful."  It was in an article about uncomplicating your life that I'd included in a post on my Another Perfect Day blog three years ago.  St. Francis lived this kind of integrity.  He followed the essence of the New Testament rather than living "by the book"--both figuratively and literally!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 10

On Simple Dwellings

"If at any time the brothers abandon their small, poor dwellings because someone has offered them something more spacious and comfortable, they thereby give the worst kind of scandalous example." --Writings of Leo, Rufino, and Angelo, 61d

I don't know if it's the area of the country I moved to after I married (mid-atlantic) or just the changing times, but it seems most people I know kept "moving up" as soon as they could afford it.  I spent the second half of my childhood in the mid-west where all my relatives still lived in the small house they bought when they were first married.  They may have added on a bedroom if their family outgrew the house, or maybe moved once to a larger house, but that was it.  I've resisted doing this only because I chose this house with long-term in mind, but as I wrote the other day we were house poor for a number of years because of it.  I can see the wisdom  now in choosing to live in a simple dwelling.  The time, energy, and money devoted to our dwellings can be easily out of portion to the things that really matter in our walk with Christ. When I think I need to add or change something in my house I should first ask myself why do I feel I need to do this?  The answer may change how I feel about what I already have.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 9

The Danger of Accepting Rich Gifts

"The brothers should guard against accepting churches, dwellings, even poor ones, and whatever else might be built for them, unless these are truly in keeping with the holy poverty we have promised in the Rule, and let them always dwell there only as guests, as pilgrims and strangers (cf. 1 P 2:11)."  --The Testament of St. Francis

Seeing ourselves as guests and pilgrims--people merely on a journey who have just stopped for the "night"--will help us keep the clutter out of our lives--those things and possessions that can "wage war with our souls."

Monday, February 8, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 8

The Embrace of Lady Poverty

"As far as the brothers distance themselves from poverty, that far will the world distance itself from the brothers, and they will search and not find (cf. Lk 11:10).  But if they remain in the embrace of my Lady Poverty, the world will nourish them, for then they are given the world for its salvation."  --Celano, Second Life, 70

What does it mean to remain in the embrace of Lady Poverty and how will that give us the world for its salvation?  I believe it means that until we become comfortable with giving up the world's treasures--that is to say, to no longer see our possessions as belonging to us--our focus will be on ourselves.  And when your focus is on yourself, that is what you present to the world and what people will see.  What we want people to see is God in us so that they can be brought to salvation.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 7

The Special Way of Salvation

"Poverty is an extraordinary way of salvation, since it nourishes humility, the root of perfection.  Its fruits are manifold, though hidden.  This is the Gospel treasure hidden in the field.  To buy it we have to sell everything, and what we cannot sell, we should consider worthless in comparison to the treasure."  --St. Bonaventure, Major Life, 7:1

The verse St. Bonaventure is referring to is Matthew 13:44: "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field."  His statements, "poverty nourishes humility" and "humility is the root of perfection" truly sums up what is necessary to come to God since He only gives grace to those who recognize their need for Him.  I've read that Jesus used money as a metaphor more often than anything else in his teachings.  I'm not surprised.  Everything seems to come down to money because it represents our life in the flesh.  Without it we die.  But the thing is, we're all going to die sooner or later anyway.  Whenever I read that a very rich person, who could well afford the best medical care, has died from some disease, I'm reminded that money isn't the answer to a person's troubles.  Yes, we need money to live in this world, but we need the kingdom that God offers more.

But I think the more profound statement St. Bonaventure makes is, "What we cannot sell, we should consider worthless in comparison to the treasure." On January 27 I wrote about this very thing--that after selling or giving away all the things someone else might be able to use, I'd still be left with "a house full of things to dispose of."  I was thinking only in terms of physical possessions then.  Now I'm hearing that there is other "clutter" in my life--the time, energy, and thought stealers--the things that have no value whatsoever in our life--the things that keep me from enJOYing the freedom that living in Christ brings.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 6

The Brothers Are Not to Receive Money for Their Work

"In return for the work they have done, the brothers may receive whatever they need, except money.  And when the need arises, they may beg alms like other people.  And they may have the instruments and tools required for their trade."  --St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter VII

This puts me in mind of the manna God provided for the Israelites in the desert.  They needed to learn to trust God daily for their needs, so He only gave them one-day's worth of provisions.  It also reminds me of the first three years of living in this house.   We'd stretched to buy it and then Ken's income (he was in commission sales) dropped off dramatically.  We lived hand-to-mouth as they say, and had to borrow in order to pay the mortgage.  But God used that time to show me that He does indeed provide!  I've never doubted since even when Ken was laid off twice.  Now I can be trusted to have some money in reserve because I no longer depend on IT, but instead on God when it comes to money.  Hmmm.....it sounds like I need to look at the other areas of my life to see if I'm relying on God to provide there also.

Friday, February 5, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 5

Seeking and Receiving Alms

"I have never been a thief of alms, seeking or using more than I need.  I always accepted less than was necessary, lest other poor people be cheated of their share."  --Mirror of Perfection, 12

This is a quote from a Medieval source (I will always add St. Francis, to the source when it is not clear the quote is from him), but I'm sure it was true of Francis.  For those of us who pay taxes, it might be likened to voting for candidates who want to end welfare.  The problem isn't allocating money to help people who need it, but rather the wasteful spending of our taxes.  But for some reason the balanced-budget proponents seem to think doing away with our welfare programs will solve our country's budget problems.  To me this is stealing alms from the poor.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 4

A Royal Dignity

"God is well pleased with poverty, and above all with voluntary poverty.  For my part I possess royal dignity and special nobility, in that I follow the Lord, who was rich but became poor for our sakes (cf. 2 Co 8:9)."  --Celano, Second Life, 73

The entire month is about poverty so I'm wondering what I can say differently about it!  Perhaps today's key word is "voluntary."  Of course, there is worth in doing things for the sake of doing them because we should.  However, we are told that God looks at the heart and judges us there--not on our works.  If we are giving because we should instead of because we want to, it is time to examine our hearts.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 3

The Great Almsgiver

"Go humbly begging alms.  Don't be ashamed, because after sin everything comes to us as an alms, and the Great Almsgiver gives generously and kindly to all, to the worthy and unworthy."  --Celano, Second Life, 77

Yes, we are all poor and in need of the alms that God gives us.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 2

St. Francis Addresses Lady Poverty

"Enamored of your beauty, the Son of the Most High Father clung tightly to you when he was in the world and he knew your fidelity, proven in every instance.  Even before he came to earth from the splendid light of his true home, you prepared a worthy dwelling place for him, a throne to support him, a wedding bed to receive him:  the Virgin most poor, from whom he was born to shine his light upon this world.  And hardly was he born when you ran in haste to meet him, for he had already found his home in you instead of in easy comfort.  He was laid 'in a manger,' the Evangelist says, 'because there was no room' for him 'in the living-space' (Lk 2:7).  And from then on you were never separated from him and were always at his side, so that all his life long when he appeared on earth and moved among people (cf. Ba 3:38), even though 'foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests,' he nevertheless had 'nowhere to lay his head' (Mt 8:20).  Then when he opened his mouth to teach, as in times past he had opened the mouths of the prophets, you were the first one he praised, the first one he exalted with the words "How blessed are the poor in spirit:  the kingdom of heaven is theirs" (Mt 5:3)."  --Sacrum Commercium, 19

Francis confirms what I wrote on January 28.  I went in search of further clarification and found this on the Billy Graham website:  "We must be humble in our spirits. If you put the word “humble” in place of the word “poor,” you will understand what He meant.  In other words, when we come to God, we must realize our own sin and our spiritual emptiness and poverty. We must not be self-satisfied or proud in our hearts, thinking we don’t really need God. If we are, God cannot bless us. The Bible says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6)."

Monday, February 1, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - February 1

Hearing the Gospel on the Feast of St. Matthias, 1208

"One day at the very beginning of his conversion, St. Francis was attending Mass at the Portiuncula, and he heard the priest proclaim the words of Christ whereby he sends out his disciples to preach and admonishes them as to their life on the road:  'Provide yourselves with no gold or silver, not even with coppers for your purses, with no haversack for the journey or spare tunic or footwear or a staff' (Mt 10:9-10)"  --St. Bonaventure, Major Life, 3:1

We could see this as a parable for us today, but instead of gold or silver or copper and a suitcase full of clothes, what we are to leave behind on our journey to follow Christ is all our self-defense mechanisms and paraphernalia we drag along to insure our protection.  These things have nothing to do with Love and become not only burdensome but divisive.  The only way to Love is with empty arms and open hearts.