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

Saturday, December 31, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 31

The Humility of God

"Let humanity kneel in fear, let the whole universe tremble, and let heaven rejoice when Christ the Son of the Living God is on the altar in the hands of the priest!

O wonderful ascent, O stupendous descent!  O sublime humility!  O humble sublimity, that the Lord of the Universe, God and Son of God, should so humbly hide himself, for our salvation, in what seems to be only a small piece of bread!  Look, then, upon the humility of God!  And pour out your hearts before him.  Humble yourselves that he might exalt you.  Hold back nothing of yourselves for yourselves, that he may receive your all who gave his all to you."  -- St. Francis, Letter to the Whole Order

As we close out this year Another Perfect Day 365 will lie fallow in 2017 as I wait for God's leading on how best to use this platform to glorify Him.  May the words of St. Francis stay with you:  Humble yourselves that he might exalt you.  Hold back nothing of yourselves for yourselves, that he may receive your all who gave his all to you.

Friday, December 30, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 30

Jesus Our Sacrifice and Oblation

"Such was the Father's will that his blessed and glorious Son, whom he gave to us and who was born for us, should through his own blood offer himself on the altar of the cross, a sacrifice and oblation, not for himself through whom all things were made, but for our sins, leaving us an example that we should follow in his footsteps.  And the Father wants us all to be saved through him and to receive him with our pure hearts and our chaste bodies.  But few are they who do want to receive him and be saved through him, though his yoke is sweet and his burden light."  -St. Francis, Letter to All the Faithful, Second Version

Francis is correct in his assessment that few want to be saved, and this has not changed.  People do not want to give up their autonomy even though, as Francis points out, "his yoke is sweet and his burden light."  This is the battle between good and evil--love and fear.  In the beginning the doubt Satan planted in our heads caused us to experience fear for the first time and rather than go to God, we took matters into our own hands.  We are still doing that.  So God sent Perfect Love to cast out fear and those who accept this Perfect Love will no longer live by fear.  His yoke is indeed sweet.  It does not at all feel like a burden.  Rather, it sets us free to be all that God created us to be--a child of God, with all the privileges of belonging to Him.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 29

Seeing and Believing

"Now as Jesus Christ appeared to his holy Apostles in true flesh, so now he shows himself to us in consecrated bread and as with their physical sight they saw only his flesh, but contemplating him with the eyes of faith, believed that he was God, so too, now, though we see bread and wine with the eyes of our body, we should see and firmly believe that it is his Most Holy Body and Blood, living and true."  --St. Francis, Admonition 1

The Protestant belief does not hold to this belief that the bread and wine are Christ's body and blood, but they do believe in its symbolic meaning and hold it sacred.  The Quakers do not hold a communion service, but rather consider all sacraments as an "inward, spiritual experience."  A case can be made for all perspectives.  For Francis, seeing the sacrament as a substitution for Christ Himself brought him even closer to his Lord.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 28

Who Receives the Body and Blood of the Lord?

"The Spirit of the Lord, who dwells in his faithful, is the One who receives the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord; all those who do not partake of the same Spirit and presume to receive the Lord, eat and drink to their own judgment (cf. 1 Cr 11:29)."  --St. Francis, Admonition 1

When taking the Holy Eucharist we must be humble ourselves so that we are sure we are partaking of it with a cleansed heart.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 27

"The Daily Humility of God

"See, every day he humbles himself as he did when, from his royal throne, he came into the womb of the Virgin; every day he comes to us with the same humility; every day he descends from his Father's bosom into the hands of the priest at the altar."  --St. Francis, Admonition 1

That God would mingle with us, such undeserving creatures, is truly humbling.  As creations of our Creator we can never be too humble.  This year Francis has shown me that I take my blessings from God for granted far too often.  I too easily begin to think it was my own doing or that I deserved this or that.  That kind of thinking leads us quickly down the road of hubris!  This road leads us away from God.  Away from the freedom being in Christ offers us.

Monday, December 26, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 26

The Miracle of the Hay

"The hay that had been placed in the manger at Greccio was kept, so that the Lord might save beasts of burden and other animals through it.  And in truth it happened that many animals throughout that region, beasts of burden and others with various illnesses, were freed from their ailments after eating of this hay.  Indeed, even some women who had been laboring for a long time in a difficult birth delivered their children easily when some of this hay was placed upon them; and a large number of persons of both sexes, suffering from various illnesses, obtained the health they sought in the same way.

Today, the place on which the manger stood is consecrated to the Lord by a church, and over the manger there is an altar dedicated to St. Francis, so that where once the animals ate the hay, now people eat to health of soul and body the flesh of the Lamb without blemish and without spot, our Lord Jesus Christ, who in highest and ineffable love gave himself to us, and lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God eternally glorious, forever and ever.  Amen.  Alleluia, Alleluia."  --Celano, First Life, 87

The words "gave himself to us" stand out to me because I just wrote about seeking God Himself rather than His blessings.  Now I understand why--it is because in dying on the cross FOR us He was giving Himself TO us in the person of the Holy Spirit.  It is Himself that we seek--have sought all along in our search for meaning and purpose.  Once we have the Holy Spirit, there is nothing else we need.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 25

The Little Baby of Bethlehem

"The gifts of the Almighty were multiplied at Greccio, and a wonderful vision was seen by a virtuous man who was present at the Mass.  He saw the little Child lying in the manger seemingly lifeless, and then Francis, the holy man of God, went up to it and roused the Child as from a deep sleep.  This vision was not unfitting, for the Child Jesus, who had been forgotten in the hearts of many, was brought to life again by God's grace working through his servant Francis and was stamped deeply upon his memory.  And when the solemn vigil of Christmas was brought to a close, each one returned home with unspeakable joy."  --Celano, First Life, 86

The real reason we celebrate Christmas often gets lost in our society's enthusiasm of the holiday and the ways in which it celebrates it.  I've often wondered as Christians whether we should separate our celebration from the secular celebration.  But as Francis has shown, our celebration of Jesus alongside the secular celebration of the holiday is a witness to the lost and dying world of the joy Jesus brings us.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 24

The Little Baby of Bethlehem

"Francis was clothed with the vestments of the deacon, for he was a deacon, and he sang the Holy Gospel in a resonant voice.  And his voice was a strong voice and sweet, a clear voice and sonorous, ravishing everyone there with heavenly desires.  Then he spoke to the people charming words about the poor King re-born and about the little town of Bethlehem.  Frequently, too, when he wished to refer to Christ Jesus, he would call him simply 'the Little Baby of Bethlehem,' and at the word 'Bethlehem' his voice was more like the bleating of a sheep.  And when he said the name 'Little Baby of Bethlehem' or 'Jesus,' his tongue licked his lips, as if he were savoring the sweetness of the words. . ."  --Celano, First Life, 86

Francis's relationship with Jesus was such that the mere speaking of his name brought great joy to his heart.

Friday, December 23, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi -December 23

The First Christmas Crib

"Then was Gospel simplicity resplendent, poverty exalted, humility commended, and Greccio, as it were, a new Bethlehem.  The night was bright as if full of daylight, and it was sweet to people and beasts alike.  The good folk came and were filled with joy as if for the first time over a whole new mystery.  The woods rang with voices, the rocks echoed their festive chorus, the brothers sang choice praises to the Lord, and the whole night seemed to leap rejoicing.  The saint of God stood ecstatically before the manger, his spirit trembling with compassion and ineffable love.  Then the priest celebrated the solemnity of the Eucharist over the manger and he too experienced a consolation he'd never tasted before."  -- Celano, First Life, 84-85

True joy is an energy that fills us to the point of actually experiencing a physical sensation, such as the trembling that Francis experienced.  No wonder the "whole night seemed to leap" as Celano describes Francis's joy.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 22

The First Christmas Crib

"Now the day of joy drew near, the time of great rejoicing!  For this occasion many of the brothers were summoned from various places.  Men and women of the neighborhood came too, dressed in their festive native costumes, and they carried candles and torches, according to their means, to light up that night whose heavenly star lights up all our days and years.  And when the Blessed Francis himself came, and found all things prepared, he was filled with joy.  Then the manger itself was prepared with the hay that had been brought, and the ox and ass were led in . . . ."  --Celano, First Life, 84-85

The night Jesus was born an angel heralded his birth to shepherds tending their flock up in the hills and "suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased."  Francis experienced this kind of awe as he prepared the creche to receive his King.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 21

The First Christmas Crib

"There was a certain man in Greccio by the name of John, of good reputation and an even better life.  He was very dear to Blessed Francis because, although noble and greatly honored in that region, he preferred nobility of spirit to that of the flesh.  Thus it was that about two weeks before the Birth of the Lord, Blessed Francis sent for this man, as he had on other occasions and said to him, 'If you would like to celebrate the Birth of Jesus at the hermitage of Greccio, then go with haste and diligently prepare what I tell you.  For I wish to re-create the birth of the Babe born in Bethlehem, so that we will see with our own eyes how he did not even have the barest necessities, how he lay in a manger, how, with an ox and an ass standing by, he lay upon the hay where he had been placed.'  When the good and faithful man heard these things, he ran with haste and prepared the place according to Francis's instructions. . . ."  --Celano, First Life, 84-85

We often need visual cues to help us fully grasp something.  They take us out of our self-centeredness and put us in the situation.  That is why plays were important to people and how ideas could be conveyed and received.  It's why stories, where we can visualize our own 'play', help us see things from a different perspective.  Anytime we can show people Christ, especially with our lives, we are furthering His Kingdom here on earth and in heaven.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 20

The First Christmas Crib

"Francis's  highest intention, his dominant desire, his firmest will was to observe perfectly and always the Holy Gospel, and with all vigilance, with all zeal, with all the longing of his mind and heart to follow the teaching and footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He would meditate continually on Christ's words and never lose sight of his deeds.  But above all, the humility of the incarnation and the charity of the passion was so imprinted upon his memory that it was difficult for him to think of anything else.  So with this in mind, what he did on the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ near the little town of Greccio in the third year before his glorious death should be devoutly celebrated and reverently remembered each year. . . ."  --Celano, First Life, 84-85

"Meditating on Christ's words".....these words answer my question of what to do on this blog in 2017.  Whose footsteps better to follow in than Christ's!

Monday, December 19, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 19

A Psalm for Christmas

"Sing for joy to God our strength (Ps 81:1), acclaim the Lord God living and true with shouts of joy (cf. Ps 47:1).
For Yahweh, the Most High, is glorious, the great king over all the earth (Ps 47:2).
Because the Most Holy Father of Heaven, our king from the first (cf. Ps 74:12), sent his beloved Son from on high and he was born of the blessed, holy Virgin Mary.
'He will cry to me, 'You are my father' . . . So I shall make him my first-born, the highest of earthly kings' (Ps 8:26-27).
On that day the Lord bestowed his mercy and that night his song (cf. Ps 42:8).
This is the day which Yahweh has made, a day for us to rejoice and be glad (Ps 118:24).
For the Most Holy Beloved Child was given to us and was born for us (cf. Is 9:5) on the way and was laid in a manger, because there was no room at the inn (cf. Lk 2:7)."
--St. Francis, Office of the Passion

For the Christian, every day should be Christmas day in our hearts--each day we should be rejoicing in our Savior.  For Francis, this is how it was.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 18

A Special Law for Christmas

"If I ever have the opportunity to talk with the emperor, I'll beg him, for the love of God and me, to enact a special law:  No one is to capture or kill our sisters the larks or do them any harm.  Furthermore, all mayors and lords of castles and towns are required each year on Christmas Day to order their subjects to scatter wheat and other grain on the roads outside the walls so that our sisters the larks and other birds might have something to eat on so festive a day.  And on Christmas Eve, out of reverence for the Son of God, whom on that night the Virgin Mary placed in a manger between the ox and the ass, anyone having an ox or an ass is to feed it a generous portion of choice fodder.  And on Christmas Day the rich are to give the poor the finest food in abundance."  --Mirror of Perfection, 114

Francis's concern for God's creatures and for the poor was year-long.  This special concern at Christmas was to emphasize the son of God coming into the world.  It is truly a time to celebrate!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 17

Fasting for Christmas

"One Christmas the brothers were discussing whether or not they were obliged to abstain from meat since the feast fell on a Friday.  Francis responded to Brother Morico, 'You sin, little brother, to call the day on which the Child was born for us a Friday.  On a day like this I want even the walls to eat meat, and if they can't, at least let their surface be smeared with it'."   --Celano, Second Life, 199

The day that marks the birth of Christ is no ordinary day.  It shouldn't even be considered a day of the week.  It was the event that brought the Light into the world!  This indeed is worthy of celebration!

Friday, December 16, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 16

St. Francis's Devotion to the Birth of Jesus

"Francis used to observe with inexpressible eagerness and above all other solemnities the Birth of the Child Jesus, calling it the feast of feasts on which God, become a little baby, hung upon human breasts.  He would avidly kiss pictures of those infant limbs, and his compassion for the child overflowed his heart, making him stammer sweet words, even like a child.  The name Baby Jesus was for him honeycomb-sweet in the mouth."  --Celano, Second Life, 199

Have you thought about why God came to us as a baby instead of just appearing at his baptism by John?  I think the virgin birth was absolutely necessary for us in order to accept Jesus as sinless and therefore the perfect lamb.  Even the Gentiles, who never sacrificed lambs to remove their guilt, had an innate knowledge of their guilt.  Healing our damaged consciences is what mankind needed, so God came as a newborn babe to show us how to be newly born into a life created in Christ.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 15

A Psalm of St. Francis

"Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace for those he favors (Lk 2:14).
Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad!
Let the sea thunder, and all it holds!
Let the countryside exult, and all that is in it (Ps 96:11-12).
Sing a new song to Yahweh!
Sing to Yahweh, all the earth! (Ps 96:1).
Great is Yahweh, worthy of all praise,
more awesome than any of the gods (Ps 96:4).
Give to Yahweh, families of nations,
give to Yahweh glory and power,
give to Yahweh the glory due to his name! (Ps 96:7-8).
Take up your bodies and carry his cross (cf. Lk 14:27) and
follow his most holy precepts to the very end."
--St. Francis, Office of the Passion

The Hebrews left the vowels out of the name for God because they regarded it too sacred to be spoken.  In James 3:9-11 we are admonished for cursing men with our mouths while blessing God with the same mouth.  When we truly give God the glory due his name we will be blessing all His creation through our love.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 14

St. Francis's Love for Jesus

"Francis was intimately united with Jesus--Jesus always in his heart, Jesus on his lips, Jesus in his ears, Jesus in his eyes, Jesus in his hands, Jesus in all the other members of his body.  How many times he would be eating dinner and would hear or mention or think about Jesus and forget to eat, so that, as we read about one of the saints, 'looking he did not see, and listening he did not hear!'  Often when he was on a journey, meditating or singing about Jesus, he would leave the road and start inviting all creatures to praise Jesus."  --Celano, First Life, 1155

This reminds me of the children's song, Jesus in the Morning.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 13

Love the Lord God

"God is
without beginning and without end
unchangeable, invisible,
indescribable, ineffable,
incomprehensible, unfathomable,
Blessed, worthy of praise,
glorious, exalted on high, sublime,
most high, gentle, lovable,
delectable and totally desirable above all else
--St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XXIII

Let all who have breath PRAISE THE LORD!

Monday, December 12, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 12

Love the Lord God

"Let us magnify and give thanks to
the Most High and Supreme Eternal God
Trinity and Unity
the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
Creator of all
Savior of all who believe in him
and hope in him
and love him."

--St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XXIII

God is One, but understanding Him as Trinity, deepens our experience with Him.  As Father He was our Creator.  As Son, He becomes our Brother.  As the Holy Spirit, He is our Life.  Knowing God in this way enables us to have the fullness of God.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 11

Love the Lord God

"God is the fullness of good
all good, every good, the true and supreme good.
He alone is good
merciful and gentle
delectable and sweet.
He alone is holy
just and true
holy and right."
--St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XXIII

God is dependable, never changing from His goodness and grace.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 10

Love the Lord God

"Let us desire nothing else
let us wish for nothing else
let nothing else please us
and cause us delight
except our Creator and Redeemer and Savior,
the one true God."
--St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XXIII

By desiring only God all our needs will be met as well as our wants.

Friday, December 9, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 9

Love the Lord God

"God has given and gives each one of us
our whole body, our whole soul, and our whole life.
He created us and redeemed us,
and will save us by his mercy alone . . . ."
--St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XXIII

Remember, that it is God who created us, and that we need to be redeemed by Him.  If we lived in this humble state, our lives would be changed for the better.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 8

Love the Lord God

"Let us keep God in our hearts
and love, honor, adore, serve
praise and bless
glorify and exalt him."
--St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XXIII

God is our heart beat.  He gives us life and it is through us that He loves others and is glorified.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 7

Love the Lord God

"Let all of us
wherever we are
in every place
at every hour
at every time of day
everyday and continually
believe truly and humbly."
--St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XXIII

To believe "truly and humbly" is to believe with faith.  To believe with faith is to believe without seeing or hearing.  It is to "be still and know" that He is God, and therefore in control.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 6

Love the Lord God

"God alone is kind
from whom and through whom and in whom is
all pardon
all grace
all glory
of all the penitent and the just
of all the blessed who rejoice together in heaven."

--St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XXIII

It is by Christ in us that we are enabled to be kind, innocent and pure.  God pardons us and gives us grace so that we may rejoice with Him.

Monday, December 5, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 5

Love the Lord God

"Let us love the Lord God with all our hearts and all our souls, with all our minds and all our strength and with fortitude and with total understanding, with all of our powers, with every effort, every affection, every emotion, every desire, and every wish."  --St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XXIII

If we do not love the Lord God with everything that we are we will not have the full measure of God that is available to us.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 4

The Preaching of Example

"All the brothers are to preach by their works." --St. Francis, Rule of 1221 Chapter XVII

What good are our words if we do not live them ourselves?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 3

The Humility Befitting the Brothers

"In the love which God is (1 Jn 4:16) I beseech all my brothers--speakers, workers, whether clerics or laics:  Seek to humble yourselves in all things, and do not glory in yourselves or rejoice inwardly, or exalt yourselves for the good words and works or, indeed, of any good which God sometimes says or does nor works in you or through you."  --St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Chapter XVII

Humility is the absolute necessity to have a relationship with God.  Without it, you are left to your own devices, which may fill you for a time but will soon run dry.

Friday, December 2, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 2

The Good News of the Incarnation

"Behold the Word of the Father, so worthy, so holy and glorious, whose coming the Most High Father announced from heaven in the womb of the holy and glorious Virgin Mary through his holy angel Gabriel!  From the Virgin Mary's womb he received our human flesh and our frailty.  'Although he was rich' (2 Co 8:9) and was placed above all things, he nevertheless decided, together with the Most Blessed Virgin Mary his mother, to choose poverty in this world."  --St. Francis, Letter to All the Faithful, Second Version

Jesus could have had anything his flesh wanted, but he remained faithful to his calling as the sacrificial lamb.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi - December 1

The Example of Christ's Humility

"Humility, the guardian and ornament of all the virtues, had superabundantly filled Francis, the man of God.  He thought of himself as nothing but a sinner, when in truth he was a mirror shining with all the reflections of holiness.  Like the wise builder he had learned about from Christ, he wanted to build his own edifice on the foundation of humility.  The Son of God, he used to say, left the womb of the Father and descended from heaven's heights into our misery to teach us by word and example, even he the Lord and Master, what humility is.  Therefore he strove, as Christ's disciple, to humble himself in his own eyes and those of others, recalling what his supreme Teacher had said:  "What is highly esteemed in human eyes is loathsome in the sight of God" (Lk 16:15)."  --St. Bonaventure, Major Life, 6:1

Standing in anything but humility is like standing in a quagmire.  You will be sucked down into all that is unholy.