In his newest book, Fr. Murray Bodo, OFM, brings to life seven teachings from the life and writings of St. Francis of Assisi in the prayerful, lyrical style his readers will recognize. These seven teachings are both a way and a destination, the way being transformation and the destination being the love of God. St Francis invites us to go on a journey from love through love into love.
The seven teachings outlined here--plus an eighth teaching on love, the teaching behind all teachings--define a spirituality for our own time that anyone can learn to practice in his or her own life, anyone who has an attitude of reverence for others and for the earth and all of nature, and who acknowledges the existence of a higher power that is beyond what one can perceive with the senses.
St. Francis was not a medieval theologian but a teacher of wisdom who used sayings, stories, and rituals to show us how we can allow God to transform our lives. In this, as in everything else, he was following in the footsteps of Jesus, who is the mystery of the fullness of God among us. You, too, can follow in Jesus' footsteps with these teachings:
The First Teaching: The Wonder of the Incarnation
The Second Teaching: The Paradox of Evangelical Poverty
The Third Teaching: Live the Gospel
The Fourth Teaching: Go and Repair God's House
The Fifth Teaching: Making Peace
The Sixth Teaching: All Creatures Are Our Brothers and Sisters
The Seventh Teaching: The Joy of Humble Praise and Service of God
The Teaching of Teachings: Love
This simple map for living is why St. Francis is still admired today in our fractious and divided world. What he teaches, if lived, brings joy, which is the result of union with God, who lives with us and within all of creation.
Meditating on these teachings from St. Francis will give you hope; for hope is the grace to imagine a future more positive, more loving, and more joyful than the world we now find ourselves in. As St. Francis used to say to his brothers, "Let us begin to do good, for up to now we have done nothing."
"In A Far Country Near, Father Murray Bodo reminds us that the poet's true vocation is one of poring over the abundant phenomena before him--the landscape, its fauna, the lives of those who have walked this way before, the very textures of text--and pressing those images for revelation. Bringing together both new work and poems published since 1980, Father Murray makes manifest the profound nearness of all that reaches endlessly far, every discrete occasion partaking of "the beauty of life and death-and life."—Scott Cairns, author of Slow Pilgrim: The Collected Poems
"A Far Country Near is a rich poetry harvest prepared and worked at over many years. The poems have absorbed work of poets like George Herbert, Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Denise Levertov, and have their own voice, their own immediacy, their own impetus. That impetus is a dedication to faith and its corollaries, to figures like Saint Francis and Saint Clare, to places like Assisi and the American cities where he has served. The immediacy touches on a complex simplicity of love, for the things of God and the things of creation, from the bud of an orchid to the warm heart of love and friendship. The language is resonant, of a constancy to the rich barns of memory, of a clear-sighted view of what the poet has registered in a long and fruitful honouring of his vocation, both as priest and poet. And lines like these, covering such space and emotion, are so primarily telling: (part of a memory of Denise Levertov):
...the people-empty beach
when my cell phone rang and your
death dazzled away the gulls
nestled in the shifting sand where
wind began erasure and
you followed gulls to sea, your
words singing in my pocket
The "far country" is the Kingdom of a loving God, and it is, in the poetry, proven beautifully to be near. This is a treasury of poetry that must be valued in our vacillating and darkening century."—John F. Deane, author of Give Dust a Tongue: A Faith and Poetry Memoir
"After pondering the poems of A Far County Near, I'll never again hear silence as totally soundless."—Peggy Rosenthal in Image Journal. Read the article: "Singing Silence in A Far Country Near."
In Gathering Shards Murray Bodo celebrates 60 years as a Franciscan friar by telling the story of how God found him and called him to the Franciscan life when he was a young boy in Gallup, New Mexico, a life which has taken him far from his New Mexico roots, only to bring him home again to savor the desert and mountains that formed his early life.
The shards he gathers into this memoir are not the pottery shards he gathered as a boy, but the diverse shards that make up his life and that cohere because of the presence of God in all of them. The book celebrates his being a teacher and writer, a pilgrim and a pilgrim guide, a spiritual friend and companion, a poet and priest, and how all of these roles reveal the contours of his life, their unique shape and color adding to the forming bowl which defines his Franciscan life.
"The narrative is wonderful in itself...the artful inclusion of poems...are tools for discerning the inner and outer landscapes that are constantly invoked as formative elements that shape consciousness, fill memory, and invite increasingly profound introspection."—Sr. Margaret Carney, from the Foreword. Read the Foreword.
"...the book reveals a life that has contained much joy and satisfaction and whose difficult parts have been approached with a patience and confidence that never spills over into self-satisfaction or arrogance."—London GripRead the London Grip review.
To read the poems in Murray Bodo's Autumn Train is to take an incredible journey in which one can easily imagine being with him on a metaphorical train, looking out the window and becoming fully engaged in what he sees. In fact, the art of seeing seems to be a major theme. Of course, this seeing is more about understanding than simply observing birch trees or clouds or the people he loves.
Read a full review of the book by Michael Bartholomew-Biggs from the London Grip Poetry Review.
Enter Assisi takes the reader on a journey through the gates of Assisi, where you will discover in your own life the way to follow Jesus as St. Francis did. The walls of the medieval town surround a place where your imagination can explore holy ground.
"This is a memoir only a poet could write, full of journeys, caves, and longings from the life of St. Francis. I hope everyone who loves Francis will read this love story." —Jon M. Sweeney, author of When Saint Francis Saved the Church
"This book is one of Murray Bodo's best. It is an amalgam of experience, reflection, prayer, information and love for Assisi. Buy the book, read it, and keep reading it!"—Sr. Frances Teresa Downing, O.S.C.
"Richly textured with personal narrative, this spirigual-guidebook-meets-memoir is a work of art painted with the words of a gifted poet." —Daniel P. Horan, O.F.M., author of The Franciscan Heart of Thomas Merton
""You are about to be led on a wonderful journey with both Jesus and Francis, by Fr. Murray Bodo, who has earned the right to speak about both of them."—From the foreword by Richard Rohr
In this dramatic telling of the story of Francis's close connection and relationship with Jesus, we see a multi-dimensional Francis, the ultimate disciple of Jesus. Bodo traces Francis's life as the saint worked to more perfectly reflect Jesus every day. You'll learn about Francis the sufferer, the itinerant, the misunderstood while also following his development as a prayer, teacher, and lover and protector of the poor. Francis shows us how to imitate Christ in every age, in every walk of life.
Of Francis and Clare brings together in one volume all of the poems relating to St. Francis and St. Clare that I've written from 1980 to 2013. Cumulatively, they provide a sort of landscape of the world of Francis and Clare that writing the poems revealed to me. Each of these poems is a small journey of discovery, and all of them together are, I hope, the landscape of a larger journey into the heart of the Franciscan vision and charism.
"One of the most moving and thought provoking collections of poetry that I have read for a long time. Murray Bodo has that rare gift of understanding, only too well, the joys and sorrows of our everyday lives. As I read, I began to live with the poet as he himself lives his poetry."—Anne Beresford, poet and author of Collected Poems (1967-2006).
"Murray Bodo's sinewy and original poems in Something Like Jasmine are sharply focused, truthful and - most strikingly - brave. They are not ashamed to speak in the voice of the child who shot songbirds by mistake or the adult who now delights in animals as companions. And they do not shy away from speaking frankly of death and loss. Throughout this fine and varied collection, Bodo's Christian faith is evident - sometimes shining as brightly and unexpectedly as a high-flying jet in the sun that suggests the arms outstretched that mark Good Friday; but elsewhere as gently persistent as the scent of jasmine."—Michael Bartholomew-Biggs, poet and poetry editor of the online cultural magazine, London Poetry Grip.
"The clear, luminous, consoling poems of Father Murray Bodo's Something Like Jasmine "brave a soothing hand/like this on your troubled shoulder." Buoyed by kindest saints and the natural world of gulls and sycamores, by encounters with a sparrow and a street singer, he does not remain cloistered but sets his poetry en plein air, like an Impressionist painter, and empathizes with the struggles of real people. After the moving, richly evocative "Suite in Memory of Herbert Lomas," the collection culminates in the poet's awareness that "Those who've died clng to him like/Fragrant night-blooming jasmine." What's divine comes through in the vivid earthiness of Murray Bodo's generous imagination."—John Drury, poet and teacher, author of The Refugee Camp and The Poetry Dictionary
The Way of St. Francis challenges the reader with a renewed understanding of the saint: a Francis who shows us a way of life both stimulating and troubling, who asks us to look again at the possibilities within us and around us, and to whom we turn repeatedly in interpreting our own human experience of God. The Franciscan way helps, transforms and renews us. The book is composed of chapters on ways of letting go, of achieving poverty, simplicity and nonviolence.
A revised reprint of The Place We Call Home. Join Fr. Murray on this incredible journey from his home in New Mexico to Mount Subasio, the place that St. Francis and his early followers retreated to above the city of Assisi.
This is my first book, written in 1972. It has sold over 200,000 copies and to date has been translated into ten languages. The book is now available from St. Anthony Messenger Press in a handsome hardback 40th Anniversary Edition which includes a new Preface, a Foreword by John Michael Talbot, new material in the text, a bibliography, an author's interview, and a reader's guide.
Click here to read an interview in the Franciscan Newsletter about the 40th Anniversary of the book.
Your directors for this retreat are Francis and Clare of Assisi, contemporaries who were determined to follow the Christ who spoke to them from the cross of San Damiano and to rebuild the Church by living the gospel of Jesus. You will walk in the footsteps of Francis and Clare through Assisi and the Umbrian countryside, focusing on pilgrimage and retreat, the going forth and the going within of the soul's journey.
Clare's life with God lies deep within, and no one knows that story but God. But I do know that someone with Clare's capacity for human love and fidelity must surely penetrate the heavens when that love is directed to the All-Good God. I believe our love for one another is the only reliable measure of our love fro God. Clare's pure love for Francis and his Dream is for me the perfect analogue of her love for God -- from the Foreword
The story of Brother Juniper, an early companion of St. Francis. Based upon a 14th century story, Fr. Murray's tale is told by Brother Juniper as he reminisces and mourns the death of his friend and soul-mate, Brother Tendalbene.
Taking his title from T.S. Eliot's "Prufrock," Murray Bodo constructs his "RSVP" to the invitation all Franciscans share this year to celebrate the eighth centenary of the Order's origins. This poetic response begins in Part 1 with wonderful word-frescoes depicting scenes from the lives of Francis and Clare and evoking something of the mystical aura enshrined in legends and works of art. The following three sections of this work move us from medieval memorials to modern incarnations of this Franciscan life which is never removed from primordial human reality. At times poignant, at others probing, Bodo allows us an intimate glimpse into the world of a twenty-first century experience of the ways of Francis and Clare. Language that is stripped and utterly focused, like the lives of its subjects, dominates this work. We cannot forget, caught in his web of words, that the modifier "Franciscan" is best paired with the subject man/woman - at once at home in the world and on pilgrimage to its uttermost horizons.
-- Margaret Carney, OSF, President, St. Bonaventure University
Wounded Angels (Poems) Blissfool Press (UK), 978-0956237200, 2009 Paperback, Eighth Day Books (USA)
These poems are aware of how, simply by living, we hurt our fellow creatures...how, by living in the collaterally murderous mammon-driven consumerism we've inherited and continue to create, we're complicit in it. This is the hurt centre of the book, but it makes possible the strength. The book opens with dreams -- the happy dreams of boys, and the backward dreams of old men, remembering. There are adventures with Navajo Indians, memories of father fly fishing, literally and imaginatively. There's a whole lifetime in this book -- really several lifetimes; and Beauty, one of the three great Platonic attributes of God, along with goodness and truth.-- Herbert Lomas, English poet, translator, and critic
Murray Bodo?s latest collection takes its title from the Hugo Simberg painting "The Wounded Angel". This picture (reproduced on the book's cover) shows two boys carrying a stretcher on which sits an angel with bandaged head and damaged wings. Bodo calls his book Wounded Angels, using the plural probably because he wants to explore the everyday hurts all his readers have experienced--and probably inflicted. It is also fitting that children appear in the picture, because Bodo uses part of the book to reflect on his own childhood.
Murray Bodo is a Franciscan priest and also a professor of English in Cincinnati. His poetry may not have been very well known in the UK before Blissfool Books launched Wounded Angels but in fact he has many publications in the USA including a best-selling book on St Francis. His Christian faith clearly informs his poetry; but it is important to say that the poems do not insist on the reader sharing his faith. He writes with compassion, humour and humanity about everyday life and experience.-- Michael Bartholomew-Biggs, London Grip Read the rest of the review.
From St. Anthony Messenger Press: Francis, the Journey and the Dream Song of the Sparrow: New Meditations and Poems to Pray by The Way of St. Francis Landscape of Prayer The Earth Moves at Midnight (Poems) Mystics: Ten Who Show Us the Ways of God The Simple Way: Meditations on the Words of St. Francis