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

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 30

Patience and Humility

"Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor worry."  --St. Francis, Admonition 27

When we are patient we soon come to realize that to be angry is worse than having to wait for something to happen because I lose my peace.  And when we are humble all worry is taken away because we know that God is with us.

Monday, August 29, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 29

Poverty and Joy

"Where there is poverty and joy, there is neither cupidity nor avarice."  --St. Francis, Admonition 27

Taking joy in whatever/wherever we have or are is the only way to prevent jealousy or greed.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 28

Fear of the Lord

"Where there is the fear of the Lord to guard the house, there the enemy cannot find a way to enter (cf. Lk 11:21." --St. Francis, Admonition 27

Being strong in the Lord is our protection against the enemy, which sometimes is our own desires!

St. Francis of Assisi - August 27

Now That We Have Left the World

"Now that we have left the world, we have nothing further to do but be solicitous in following the will of the Lord and pleasing him."  --St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XXII

The rest of us who have not left the world to live in a monastery are told to be in the world but not of it.  This is our edict to "have nothing further to do but be solicitous in following the will of the Lord and pleasing him."

Friday, August 26, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 26

God's Minstrels

"Who are God's servants but his minstrels who should comfort the human heart and lead it to spiritual joy?  --Mirror of Perfection, 100

Music can lift us out of ourselves and set our hearts on the things of God such as love and beauty, and most of all, Joy!  If you haven't already, please take a moment to listen to the song in the sidebar:  Joy in the Journey.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 25

St. Francis's Letter to All the Faithful

"In the name of the Lord, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  To all Christians:  religious, clerics, and lay people, men and women; to all who inhabit the whole world, Brother Francis, your servant and subject, offers the homage of reverence, true peace from heaven, and sincere love in the Lord.  Since I am everyone's servant, I am bound to serve and to minister to everyone the fragrant words of my Lord."  --St Francis, Letter to All the Faithful, Second Version

When we serve the Lord we are a servant to all.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 24

St. Francis's Love for the Angels

"He was united with an unbreakable bond of love to the angelic spirits who burn with a marvelous fire and who inflame the hearts of the faithful and enable them to enter into God."  --St. Bonaventure, Major Life, 9:3

I'm surprised we do not hear more about angels in the Christian world since they played such a relevant part in the Christ's life.  They still exist and are busy doing God's bidding.  Perhaps we need to be more aware of our surroundings......

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 23

Our Only Delight

"Blessed are those religious who have no joy or delight except in the most holy words and works of the Lord, and who use them to lead others to the love of God in joy and gladness."  --St. Francis, Admonition 20

If we do this, then we will truly be blessed in a way that can never be taken from us.

Monday, August 22, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 22

Guarding the Lord's Treasure

"Blessed are you servants who lay up as treasure in heaven (cf. Mt 6:20) what the Lord shows you and do not desire to show it to others, hoping for personal gain from the Lord's treasure.  For the same Most High will manifest your works to whomever he pleases.  Blessed then are you servants who keep in your heart the secrets of the Lord (cf. Lk 2:19, 51; Lk 8:15)."  --St. Francis, Admonition 28

Because the world loves to worship celebrities and those who excel at what they do, we can easily be tempted to seek the glory for ourselves when God uses us in mighty ways.  This is why we should do what we do for the Lord's sake and not our own, leaving the outcome to Him.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 21

A Paradox

"Know that there are some things in life which are exalted and sublime before the Lord but are low and despicable in others' eyes; and other things which people consider grand and noble, in the eyes of God are counted worthless and vile."  --St. Francis, Second Letter to the Custodes

This is why we must do all things "as unto the Lord."

Saturday, August 20, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 20

True Worshipers

"Let us love God and adore him with purity of heart and mind, because he himself, singling this out above everything else, says, 'True worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth' (Jn 4:23).  For all who adore him must adore him in spirit and truth.  And let us adore him and pray to him day and night saying, 'Our Father, who art in heaven,' because we 'need to pray continually and never lose heart' (Lk 18:1)."  --St. Francis, Letter to All the Faithful, Second Version

Because God is spirit we must worship Him from our spirit--that is to say, we must worship Him not with our bodies but with our essence. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 19

The True Witness

"A theologian once asked St. Francis about this passage from Ezekiel:  If you proclaim not to the wicked their wickedness, I will require their soul at your hand (Ezk 3:18).  'Good Father,' the theologian said, 'I know many who, as far as I can tell, are in the state of mortal sin, and yet I don't point it out to them.  Will then their souls be required at my hand?'  But the Blessed Francis answered that he was unlettered and should be taught by the theologian rather than attempt his own interpretation of Scripture.  In response the humble master said, 'I've heard this passage interpreted by the learned, but I would like to hear your understanding of it.'  So the Blessed Francis said, 'If the passage is to be applied to everyone, I would take it to mean that you should be so on fire with life and holiness that the light of your example and the manner of your speaking would be a reproach to the wicked.  So, as I understand it, your life shining and your goodness spreading like a sweet odor will proclaim to the wicked their own wickedness.'"  --Celano, Second Life, 103

The witness of our life is more powerful than our words if those who watch us know we are followers of Christ.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 18

Those Who Are Happy and Blessed

"All of you who love the Lord with your whole heart, with your whole soul and mind, and with all your strength (cf. Mk 12:30), and who love your neighbor as yourselves (cf. Mt 22:39), and who hate the vices and sins of the body, and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and produce fruits worthy of penance (cf. Lk 3:8)!  How happy and blessed are you who do these things and persevere in them.  The Spirit of the Lord shall rest on you (cf. Is 11:2) and make his dwelling and abode in you (cf. Jn 14:23), and you are children of the Heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:45) whose works you accomplish."  --St. Francis Letter to All the Faithful, First Version

Our reward for loving ourselves and others is that God will dwell in us.  We should remember this when our love is rejected by some or not appreciated.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 17

How the Brothers Are to Conduct Themselves

"Let the brothers love one another, as the Lord says, 'This is my commandment:  love one another, as I have loved you' (Jn 15:12).  And let them show by their deeds the love they have for one another, as the Apostle says, 'Our love must be not just words or mere talk, but something active and genuine' (1 Jn 3:18).  And they are 'not to go slandering other people' (Tt 3:2); nor are they to grumble or speak evil for it is written, 'Libelers and slanderers are enemies of God' (cf. Rm 1:30).  And they are 'to be peaceable and gentle, and always polite to people of all kinds' (Tt 3:2)."  --St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XI

Have you ever said something negative about someone then justified saying it because it was true and therefore not slander?  Perhaps if we put our tales to the "peaceable and gentle" test, we'd change the way we talk about others.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 16

The Innocent, Prayerful Heart

"Since spiritual joy springs from the heart's innocence and the purity of incessant prayer, these are the two virtues we need to acquire and keep.  Then that joy which I long to see and feel in myself and in others, that inward and outward joy, will be an edification to neighbor and a reproach to the Enemy.   For sadness is his and those who follow him; rejoicing and always being happy in the Lord is ours."  --Mirror of Perfection, 95

The incessant prayer that is spoken of here is the constant putting of one's thoughts in God's light.  If your thoughts are pure, it will be an unspoken prayer of praise.  If your thoughts are unloving but in your hear you desire to be loving, the unspoken prayer will be one of confession and repentance.  Once you become aware of your thoughts, to respond in prayer, glorifies God.  Glorifying God always bring Joy!

Monday, August 15, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 15

Joy Is Contagious

"If at times temptation or despondency comes along to try me, and I see joy in my companions, then I immediately recover and let go of the temptation or depression.  The joy I admire in others restores my own inward and outward joy."  --Mirror of Perfection, 96

I find myself attracted to people who find joy in their everyday activities.  They have a zest for life not dependent on circumstances.  It makes me desire to be like them and motivates me to find my own joy in my circumstances.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 14

On Hospitality

"Anyone who comes to the brothers, friend or enemy, thief or robber, is to be received with kindness. And wherever the brothers are and anywhere they meet other brothers, they are to greet one another wholeheartedly and lovingly, and honor one another without grumbling (cf. 1 P 4:9).  And they are to be careful not to look outwardly sad, like gloomy hypocrites, but they are to show themselves happy in the Lord (cf. Ph 4:4), and cheerful and truly gracious."  --St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter VII

It is easy to give in to bodily weariness or pain and let it show on our face.  But as Francis points out to succumb to it makes us hypocrites.  Instead, remembering that we belong to the Lord and He is able to help us, should restore our cheerful countenance.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 13

Of True and Perfect Joy

"'Father Francis, what then is true and perfect joy?'  'Well, I am returning from Perugia, say, and I arrive at our Friary of the Portiuncula very late at night.  It is wintertime, muddy, and so cold that icicles have gathered at the fringes of my habit and keep cutting into my legs until they bleed.  But at last, cold, and covered with mud, I make it to the entrance of the Portiuncula.  I knock and knock and call out, and finally a brother comes and asks, 'Who are you?' and when I answer, 'Brother Francis,' he says, 'Go away.  This isn't the hour to be wandering about.  How dare you want to come in!'  And when I insist, he snaps back, 'Get out of here, you simpleton, you idiot!  We have brothers enough here and we don't need one more like you.'  But I again move toward the door and say, 'For the love of God, please take me in tonight.'  'Absolutely not!' he says, 'Go to the Crosiers' hostel and ask them.' 'Now I tell you this:  If I keep my patience through all this and do not get upset, then that is true joy and true virtue and salvation of soul.'"  --Dictated writing of St. Francis

I can identify with what Francis is saying.  Whenever I've been able to respond in love to an "unlovable" situation I know it is God in me enabling me to do so.  This is the greatest kind of joy!

Friday, August 12, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 12

What Is Not True and Perfect Joy

"St. Francis summoned Brother Leo and said, 'Brother Leo, are you ready to take down some words?'  And he answered, 'I am ready.'  'Write, then, this story about true joy:  A messenger comes and says that all the teachers of the University of Paris have entered our Order--write that this is not true joy.  Or so have all the prelates north of the Alps, and the archbishops and bishops as well, or the King of France and the King of England, too--write that neither is this true joy.  Or if he announces that my brothers have gone among nonbelievers and converted them all to the faith, or that I have so much Divine Grace that I heal the sick and perform miracles--I tell you, Brother Leo, none of these things is true joy'......" --Dictated writing of St. Francis

True joy, as we will see in the rest of St. Francis's words, cannot be found outside ourselves.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 11

A True Lesser Brother

"I wouldn't seem to be a Lesser Brother if I didn't have the disposition I am about to describe to you.  As superior of the Lesser Brothers I go to the chapter where I preach and admonish, and in the end it is said of me, 'A man so unlettered and contemptible isn't fit for us.  Therefore we do not want you to lead us with your lack of eloquence,  your simplemindedness and ignorance,'  Finally I am dismissed in disgrace and scorned by all.  I tell you, if I can't hear these words and keep the same expression, the same joy of soul, the same purpose of sanctity, then I am in no way a Lesser Brother."  --Celano, Second Life, 145

Celano describes what it means to be a Lesser Brother, such as Francis.  They must be able to maintain their joy no matter what.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 10

Love and Wisdom

"Where there is love and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance."  --St. Francis, Admonition 27

Wisdom comes from God.  Once we surrender all to God we become channels of His Love and Wisdom.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 9

Joy Wards Off Evil

"Servant of God, if you apply yourself to acquiring and preserving, both in heart and demeanor, that joy which comes from a pure heart and is won by devotion to prayer, the devils can do you no harm.  They say, 'This servant of God is as happy when things are going badly as when all is well, and so we cannot find an opening to enter him and hurt him.'"  --Mirror of Perfection, 95

This reminds me of my discovery this morning while out in my garden.  The Christmas cactus I put out on the screened porch every summer had grown through the screen!  If you are familiar with that plant you will realize that the branch is too large to fit through the tiny openings in the screen.  The reason it was able to fit is because only the tip of the growing branch had to fit.  Once through, the branch continued to grow as normal.  When we leave openings for sin in our hearts, it will also enter in and continue to grow.  Keep your heart pure through unceasing prayer.

Monday, August 8, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 8

The Power of Spiritual Joy

"St. Francis was sure that spiritual joy is the safest remedy against the thousand snares and wiles of the enemy.  He used to say, 'The devil is most happy when he can snatch from a servant of God true joy of spirit.  He carries dust with him to throw into the smallest chinks of conscience and thus soil one's mental candor and purity of life.  But if joy of spirit fills the heart, the serpent shoots his deadly venom in vain.'"  --Celano, Second Life, 125

There are lines in a letter written by Fra Giovanni, a 15/16th-century friar, that have become my motto:  "The gloom of the world is but a shadow.  Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.  Take Joy!"  Taking joy in the Lord and all that He is should be the way of life for his children.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 7

Trust in God

"In his courtesy and good pleasure, God can banish the darkness and give us his wonder-working light."  --St. Bonaventure, Major Life, 5:12

Putting our trust in God always bears fruit.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 6

Admonition for Peacemakers

"The peace which you proclaim with words must dwell even more abundantly in your hearts.  Do not provoke others to anger or give scandal.  Rather, let your gentleness draw them to peace, goodness, and concord.  This is our vocation:  to heal wounds, to bind what is broken, to bring home those who are lost.  And remember that many who may now seem to be of the devil can one day become disciples of Christ."  --Legend of the Three Companions, 58

This is truly the only way to bring others to Christ.  We can tell them about Him, but that won't entice them to come unless their hearts are already prepared.  Someone has to love them into coming.  Why not you and me?

Friday, August 5, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 5

A Warning

"We must take good care that under the pretext of reward, of doing good, of giving assistance, we do not lose or turn our minds and hearts from the Lord."  --St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XXII

It is far too easy to take pride in our accomplishments.  As soon as we do, we step out of needing God which is a path that leads us astray.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 4

Of Blame and Praise

"For his part, Francis preferred insult to praise, because he knew that insult leads to self-improvement, praise to downfall.  And so when people praised his merits and holiness, he would command one of the brothers to assault his ears with phrases that humiliated and mortified him.  And when the brother, although unwilling, called him uncouth and mercenary, unskilled and useless, Francis would reply, his face shining with his heart's joy, 'The Lord bless you, dearest son, for you have spoken the very truth.  These are the kind of words that suit well the son of Peter Bernardone.'"  --St. Bonaventure, Major Life, 6:1

I find myself deflecting words of praise for the same reason--I am too easily led into vanity.  This is a good reminder that while we should be gracious to those who compliment us we must always give the praise to God.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 3

When Are We God's Servants?

"I prayed that God would deign to show me when it is I am his servant and when not, for I want nothing else but to be his servant.  And the Lord answered most graciously:  'Know that you are truly my servant when you think, do, and say what is holy.'"  --Mirror of Perfection, 74

Because Francis was already totally given over to the Lord that was all he needed to hear.  I would add to that, for those of us who still struggle with total surrender to God, the test of Love.  Is what I do for God out of love for Him or for what I might gain?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 2

Quiet and Meditation

"Where there is quiet and meditation, there is neither preoccupation nor dissipation."  --St. Francis, Admonition 27

This is so true.  The quiet encourages us to focus on the here and now where God is.  God's grace is accessed only presently.  It cannot be stored up for the future.

Monday, August 1, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - August 1

Putting Up with Insults and Scorn

"In the beginning, when St. Francis was still wearing the clothes of a layman, although he had already renounced the world, he went about Assisi for a long time looking wretched and so emaciated by penance that many thought he'd turned simple-minded.  They laughed at him as though he were mad, and relatives and strangers alike drove him away with insults and stones and mud.  But he was already seasoned with a divine salt and rooted in peace of soul by the Holy Spirit, so he bore patiently all their insults and scorn with a joyful countenance, as if he were deaf and mute."  --Little Flowers of St. Francis, Chapter 2

Being able to turn the other cheek is a fruit of the Spirit.  We no longer have to "take a stand" for our worth because we know we are worthy in the eyes of God.