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, June 30, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 30

The Good God

"All good belongs
to the Lord who is God Most High and Supreme.
Every good is his.
so let us thank him
from whom all good things come.
All honor and reverence,
all praise and blessing,
all thanks and glory
may he have and be given and receive,
he who is the Highest, the Supreme,
who alone is true God,
for every good is his
who alone is good.
And when we see or hear
someone speak or do evil
or blaspheme God,
let us speak and do what is good
and praise God
who is blessed forever. Amen."
--St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XVII

Whenever someone expresses doubts about God's goodness we need to speak up!  It is hard to do so, I realize, in the midst of someone's suffering, but there are ways for us to "speak up" without saying words to that effect.  By praying with them to seek God's peace shows that we believe God is good and will comfort them in their time of need.  We do not know why God seemingly let the circumstance happen and should not speak to that, but we can put our trust in Him to bring good from it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 29

St. Francis Meditates on the Our Father

"'And lead us not into temptation,' hidden or visible, sudden or continuous.  'But deliver us from evil,' past, present, and to come.  Amen."  --Paraphrase of the Our Father

We must be in communication with God continually.  As Euguenia Price, a Christian writer, put it, "Praying without ceasing is being constantly aware of Him."  If our minds stray from a God even for a moment we are in danger of falling into temptation.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 28

St. Francis Meditates on the Our Father

"'As we forgive those who trespass against us,' and what we do not fully forgive, do you, O Lord, make us fully forgive, so that for your sake we may truly love our enemies and devoutly intercede for them with you, thereby rendering no evil for evil, but striving in you do good to all . . ."  --St. Francis

The importance of this part of the prayer cannot be overstated!  God made us for a relationship with Him, and if we have anything in our heart other than Love, that relationship is broken.  It's like having a pinched nerve.  The pain will distract us and the extremity that the nerve is meant to serve will be compromised.

Monday, June 27, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 27

St. Francis Meditates on the Our Father

"'And forgive us our trespasses,' by your ineffable mercy in virtue of the passion of your Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and through the merits and intercession of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary and of all your elect . . ."  --St. Francis

Acknowledging daily that we have fallen short of God's expectations for us not only encourages us to once again place our lives in His Hands so that we can have victory over the flesh, but also reminds us that without Him it is impossible to not sin.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 26

St. Francis Meditates of the Our Father

"'Give us this day'--through remembering and understanding and reverencing the love which he had for us and for what he said, did, and suffered for us--'our daily bread,' your Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ . . ."  --St. Francis

I've always thought of this part of the Lord's Prayer (as Protestants call it) to be about asking God for our daily food.  But now I realize that because Jesus is called the Bread of Life, this could also be about partaking of Him daily, and therefore we should acknowledge our need for Him daily.  It's not that we have to ask God for anything in order to receive it, but rather, in our asking we are acknowledging our needs can only be met by Him.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 25

St. Francis Meditates on the Our Father

"'Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,' that we may love you with our whole heart by always thinking of you; with our whole soul by always desiring you; with our whole mind by directing all our intentions to you and seeking your honor in all things; with all our strength by spending all the powers and senses of body and soul in the service of your love and not in anything else; and that we may love our neighbor even as ourselves, drawing everything, to the best of our power, to your love rejoicing in the good of others as in our own, and being compassionate in their troubles, and giving offense to no one . . .'"  --St. Francis

Because I believe our mind directs our intentions that is where we must begin in order to pray God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  The kingdom of God (heaven) is within those who have the Holy Spirit so we must direct our thoughts there, at all times, in order to love God with our whole heart and soul.  Adam and Eve let their thoughts be sent off in a rebellious direction and look what happened.

Friday, June 24, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 24

St. Francis Meditates on the Our Father

"'Thy kingdom come,' that you may reign in us by grace and make us come to your kingdom, where there is clear vision of you, and perfect love of you, and the company and enjoyment of you. . . ."  --St. Francis

I feel that too many Christians do not realize that the kingdom of God has already come for them.  It is clearly stated in scripture that the kingdom of God is within once you receive the Holy Spirit.  So why don't we live as though it were true?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 23

St. Francis Meditates on the Our Father

"'Hallowed be thy name.'  May your knowledge shine in us that we may know the breadth of your benefits, the length of your promises, the height of your majesty, and the depth of your judgments . . ." -  St. Francis

God's name is holy because of Who and What He is.  Our names represent our reputations, as well.  As children of God, we should be cognizant of this continually.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 22

St. Francis Meditates on the Our Father

"'Who art in heaven,' in the angels and saints enlightening them to knowledge, for you, O Lord, are light; inflaming them to love, for you, O Lord, are love; dwelling in them and filling them with blessedness, for you, O Lord, are the highest good, the eternal good from whom is all good and without whom there is no good . . . ."  --St. Francis

"Who art in heaven".....when Jesus started his instructions to his disciples on how to pray to God, He began with emphasizing God's position as our Father in heaven.  I looked up "heaven" in the concordance and it means everything  "as opposed to the earth."  Heaven was somewhere above the earth.  It would be equivalent of what we now call the universe--where God could oversee all that was happening here on earth.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 21

St. Francis Meditates on the Our Father

"'Our Father,' Holiest One, our Creator, Redeemer, Comforter  . . . ."  -- St. Francis

To meditate on the attributes of God is to savor a fragrant flower in the garden. . .

Monday, June 20, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 20

True Love

"The Lord says in the Gospel, 'Love your enemies . . .' (Mt 5:44).  You do in fact love your enemy when you do not brood over the evil another has done to you, but grieve instead over the sin on the other's soul, while continuing to act with love for the love of God."  --St. Francis, Admonition 9

This is a good way to check your own heart concerning the wrongdoing.  You may think you've forgiven because you do not think about it anymore, but if you have not reached the point of being able to grieve over their misdeed, you have not really forgiven them.  You've merely put them out of your life.  We are told, however, to love our enemy.  Grieving over their sin and praying for them even if they are no longer in your life are acts of love.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 19

To Be With Christ

"Above everything else St. Francis desired "to be gone and to be with Christ" (Ph l:23).  That was why he was so concerned with freeing himself from every worldly care:  lest his peace of mind be disturbed by the taint of what was mere dust.  He made himself insensible to external noise and controlled his external senses and desires so that he could live absorbed in God alone."  --Celano, First Life, 71

This is what we must do, as well, if we do not want to be lured away from what is most important.  Too often the "good" can lead us away from the "best".  We must never settle for anything less than God Himself.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 18

Praises of God Most High

"You are strength.
You are refreshment.
You are our hope.
You are our faith.
You are our charity.
You are all our sweetness.
You are our eternal life,
great and wondrous Lord,
God All-Powerful,
merciful Savior."

--Monograph of St. Francis

I  love the name God gives Himself when He tells Moses, "This is what you are to say to the Israelites:  I AM has sent me to you."  I AM, capitalized.  He IS and always shall BE.

Friday, June 17, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 17

Praises of God Most High

"You are beauty.
You are meekness.
You are our protector.
You are our guardian and defender. . ."
--St. Francis

Working in my garden brings God's beauty into focus for me.  The structure, texture, fragrance, and colors that come together in perfection never cease to amaze and delight me.  The fact that the flowering plants die each Autumn and come back to life each Spring after lying dormant under the earth emphasizes their willingness let the evergreens take center stage for a while.  The trees on our property offer protection from the hot sun and shelter to birds, and defend weaker plants from the strong winds we experience from time to time.  Even after the tree dies and falls to the ground it continues to shelter other animals that inhabit our woods.  I saw a fox the other morning near a thicket of dead branches and wondered if he'd made a den there.  Yes, God's creation shows His beauty and power.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 16

Praises of God Most High

"You are love, charity.
You are wisdom.
You are humility.
You are patience.
You are beauty.
You are safety.
You are rest.
You are joy and gladness.
You are our hope.
You are our justice.
You are temperance.
You are all our treasure overflowing. . ."
--St. Francis

Listing God's attributes helps us remember that we need Him in all of our life!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 15

Praises of God Most High

You are the Good,
every good,
the highest good,
the Lord God, living and true. . .
--St. Francis

When you finally come to truly believe that God is good and wants only what is best for you, you will be able to trust Him in all things.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 14

Praises of God Most High

"You are the All-Powerful King,
You, Holy Father,
King of heaven and earth.
You are three and one,
Lord God of gods. . . ."  
--St. Francis

Praising God for Who He is also reminds us who we are.

Monday, June 13, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 13

Praises of God Most High

"These are the praises which Brother Leo says Francis wrote with his own hand on the front side of the parchment which contains Francis's blessing to Brother Leo.  The parchment is preserved in the Convento of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi.

You are holy, Lord,
God alone,
who works marvels.
You are strong.
You are grand
You are Most High . . . ."  --Murray Bodo

Writing praises to God is deeply satisfying to me because it feels more permanent than just thinking them or even saying them aloud.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 12

Whenever the Bells Are Rung

"You are to announce and preach to all the people his glory, so that every hour and whenever the bells are rung, all the people on earth may give praise and thanks to Almighty God."  --St. Francis, First Letter to the Custodes

 I  have often felt that having a clock that chimed every 15 minutes would be helpful in reminding me to do whatever I was doing at that moment for the Lord and not for myself (or even for someone else).   St. Francis used the bells to remind his followers to "announce and preach....his glory" so it seems it is a human condition to need help in keeping our focus on the Lord.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 11

A Noble Prodigality

"St. Francis used to say:  'To offer the precious patrimony of the love of God in exchange for an alms is a noble prodigality, and those who value this prodigality less than money are very stupid, for only the incalculable price of divine love can purchase the kingdom of heaven.'"  --St. Bonaventure, Major Life, 9:1

God's love, which is incalculable, is far greater than money.

Friday, June 10, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 10

What God Asks Above All Else

"In holy charity, which God is, I beg all of you, that, removing every obstacle and putting aside every worry and every care as best you can, you strive to serve, love, adore, and honor the Lord God with pure heart and pure mind, which is what he asks above all else."  --St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XXII

The only way TO serve, love, adore and honor the Lord God with a pure heart and mind IS to put aside every worry and care.  Otherwise, we will put our focus on ourselves and thereby do all things for ourselves.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 9

The Love of God

"If St. Francis heard people use lightly the words 'love of God,' he didn't like it and would often rebuke them for it.  He would say, 'The love of God is so exalted that it should be mentioned rarely, in extreme need, and then with great reverence.'"  --Writings of Leo, Rufino, and Angelo, 116

To use words that take God's character lightly is the same as profaning His name which cannot be separated from Who He is--the great I AM.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 8

The Gifts of God

"God gave and keeps on giving to each one of us a whole body, a whole soul, a whole life.  He created us and redeemed us, and he will save us by his mercy along.  He has done and keeps on doing everything good for us."  --St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XXII

If we would but remember that God is our Creator Father we might trust Him to take care of us.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 7

Holy Bread

"The bread we beg is holy bread.  It is made holy by our praise and love of God.  When a Lesser Brother goes begging, his first words are, 'Praised and blessed be the Lord our God,' and then, 'Give us alms for the love of the Lord our God.'"  --Legend of Perugia, 61

After reading a book about the history of the Religious Society of Friends  (Quakers) one of the things that drew me to attend a Quaker meeting for worship was the fact that they treated each meal as an act of Communion.  They did not hold a special service to commemorate the Lord's last supper, but instead incorporated it into a daily practice of remembering what Christ did for them on the cross.  For them each meal was reverent.  In today's world where, for most of us at least, getting food and eating it is taken for granted.  Some families eat in their cars on the way to some activity their children participate in.  Sitting down together as a family for a meal, thanking God for our food, can be a time of worship if we put our minds and heart to it.

Monday, June 6, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 6

Reverence for the Sacrament and Word of the Lord

"In this world we possess and see nothing bodily of the Most High, except his Body and Blood, and the nouns and verbs through which we were made and redeemed from death to life.  Therefore, wherever the Most Holy Body has been put in an unbecoming place and left there neglected, let it be removed and placed in a secure and precious dwelling place.  Likewise with the written words of the Lord that are found in unseemly place.  Let us remember to gather them up and keep them in a becoming place."  --St. Francis, Letter to the Clergy

When I was growing up I was told I must never write in my Bible.  Now there are Study Bibles just for that purpose.  But how we treat the Bible is really more about intent.  There is a children's book called Petunia about a goose who carries a book under her wing with great pride because it makes her look like she is wise.  But the truth was she didn't even know how to read.  We mustn't elevate the Bible for our own purposes, but rather honor it by doing what it says.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 5

Reverence for Words

"I admonish you and encourage you in Christ to show all possible reverence for the written words of God wherever you may find them; and if you come upon God's words, and you see that they are not being cared for or are piled up sloppily or are scattered about, gather them up and care for them, for in honoring the words, you honor the Lord who spoke them.  How may things are sanctified by means of God's words!  By the power of Christ's words, in fact, the Sacrament of the Altar is celebrated."  --St. Francis, Letter to the Whole Order

Words have power to hurt or to heal.   God spoke the world into being.  His Son was the Word.  We must always maintain a respect for God's word and not desecrate it in any way.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 4

The Holy Words of God

"'Whoever comes from God listens to the words of God' (Jn 8:47).  We who have been commissioned to deal with things divine should not only hear and fulfill what God says, but, what is more, in order to root in ourselves the transcendence of our Creator and our obedience to him, we should take reverent care of the sacred vessels and the liturgical books which contain his holy words."  --St. Francis, Letter to the Whole Order

To take reverent care is to make sure we give scripture its due.  The more we read God's words the more we'll be confident it is the Holy Spirit speaking to and through us rather than our own thoughts being expressed.

Friday, June 3, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 3

My God and My All

"Lifting his eyes and hands to heaven, Francis prayed with the greatest devotion and fervor, saying, 'My God and my all!  My God and my all!'  And he continued saying nothing but 'My God and my all!' and weeping profusely until matins.  St. Francis said this prayer while contemplating in awe the excellence of the Divine Majesty which had bent down to this perishing world and was about to provide a saving remedy for Francis and others through the little poor man, Francis himself.  For, enlightened by the Holy Spirit through a prophetic spirit,  Francis saw the great things God was going to accomplish through him and his Order.  But when he considered how inadequate he was and how meager was his virtue, he cried out in prayer to God that in his mercy, without which human frailty can do nothing, he would supply, help, and fill up what was lacking in Francis."  --Little Flowers of St. Francis, Chapter 2

This is the only way any of us can really do anything for God--with His help.  Otherwise, we are in danger of doing it for ourselves.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 2

Never Refuse Anyone Who Asks for the Love of God

"One of the expressions we use in ordinary speech always moved Francis profoundly whenever he heard it, and that was, 'For the love of God.'  As soon as he would hear these words, they would excite him, work upon him, and enkindle him, as if an inner chord had been plucked by them.  And he kept faithfully till his death the promise he made to himself when he was still living a worldly life, that he would never refuse a poor person who begged anything 'for the love of God.'  He used to say, 'How greatly we should love the very love with which God has loved us so much.'"  --Celano, Second Life, 196

This is what God desires from us--a heart so open to His love that He is able to work through us to love others.  

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - June 1

The Beginning of St. Francis's Conversion

"One day, as usual, Francis was in his shop preoccupied with selling cloth when a beggar appeared asking alms for the love of God.  Francis, deep in his dreams of riches, ignored him.  Then, as the beggar shuffled away, the young Francis, touched by divine grace, began to reproach himself for what he had done, thinking:  'If that poor man had asked you to contribute something in the name of some count or some great baron, you'd have accommodated him, for sure.  Shouldn't you have been even more eager to do so in the name of the King of Kings, the Lord of the Universe?'  And with that thought in mind, he promised himself from that moment on never to refuse a request made in the name of the Lord.  Then he called the poor man back and gave him a handsome sum of money. "  --Anonymous of Perugia, 4

If we would acknowledge that all that we have comes from the Lord and belongs to Him, we should be willing to give to anyone in His name.