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Love Responds to Love

We have been graced for a truly sweet surrender, if we can radically accept being radically accepted—for nothing! “Or grace would not be grace at all”! (Romans 11:6). As my father, St. Francis, put it, when the heart is pure, “Love responds to Love alone” and has little to do with duty, obligation, requirement, or heroic anything. It is easy to surrender when you know that nothing but Love and Mercy is on the other side.

—from the book Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps by Richard Rohr, OFM

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The World Is Pregnant with God

Reading the Book of Life gave Francis new meaning to the world around him. He began to read the Book of Life in the book of the world because the Book of Life gave him “insight”—new vision. He read the Book of Life in lepers and poor people because he saw in them the goodness of God.... He read the Book of Life in birds, flowers and all other living creatures. He realized that he was related to each of them as “brother” because each had their source in the goodness of God and reflected that goodness in their own particular and unique way. In the Book of Life Francis also realized his own limitations, his fragility and sinfulness, and it was in knowing how fragile he really was that he became a great lover of God. The Book of Life gave Francis a new self-knowledge and this knowledge liberated him from a false self. Reading the Book of Life gave Francis great insight to the poverty of being human, that is, being radically dependent on God. “What a person is before God,” he said, “that he is and no more.” When we read the Book of Life we recognize our human poverty, which makes us free to be with God and for God. The Book of Life liberated Francis to throw himself into the infinite embrace of God’s love. When we live in God and God lives in us then we see the world for what it truly is—pregnant with God.

—from the book The Humility of God: A Franciscan Perspective  by Ilia Delio, OSF

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Christ Is the Book of Life

Christ is the Book of Life. Somehow we still do not read this book properly. We buy lots of books hoping to find the answers to our many questions of life; yet, we do not know how to read this “Book of Life,” the “Book of Christ.” What does it require to read a book? It requires time, quiet, patience, attentiveness to the written words, imagination and emotions. Reading a book, if it is a good book, should move us from one level of life to another because once the mind is moved to insight and the heart is changed, life is never the same. Reading a good book is experiential. It is living in the drama of someone else’s life or it may be allowing the drama of the story to touch one’s own life. The two stories—the story of the book and the history of the reader—merge. The horizon of the book and the horizon of the reader become one and a new horizon emerges, the horizon of insight or a new understanding of life. This is how we should read the Book of Life, in a way that we come to a new horizon of life, new insight.


—from the book The Humility of God: A Franciscan Perspective  by Ilia Delio, OSF

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The Crib and the Cross

One cold January night when the world seemed to lie in darkness, I sat down from a long day and turned to C-Span2, BookTV. One of the books that piqued my interest was James H. Cone’s, The Cross and the Lynching Tree. I’d not heard of it before, and as the book was being discussed, something awakened in me, and I saw how vacuous was the Christmas I had participated in a few weeks before. Even though I was centered on the Christ Child and the Franciscan emphasis on the Incarnation, it was a sentimental Baby Jesus who filled my prayer and my imagination—not the baby who grew and matured and gave us the Sermon on the Mount which he then lived out and because of which he was put to death on the hanging tree of the cross. I was looking at the Baby Jesus of countless crèches and not at the babies who were slain by King Herod because of the Baby Jesus. The implications of the connections between Jesus in the crib and Jesus on the cross like someone hanged from a tree, are overshadowed and seem, at times, almost eradicated by the world that our greed, self-interest, and neglect of the poor and the disenfranchised has created. St. Francis saw the connection between the crib and the cross.

—from the book Surrounded by Love: Seven Teachings from Saint Francis by Murray Bodo, OFM

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The Greatness of God's Love

God bends low so that God can meet us exactly where we, finite, fragile, created human beings, creatures and all living things, are. God bends low because we are small, limited, frail, confused, bewildered, chaotic and sometimes just plain infantile. God bends low because God’s arms are much longer than ours, and God reaches out for our tiny human hands. Imagine a God who is humbly bent low to embrace us in love compared to a God who sits high above on a throne and keeps score of human sins. Imagine a God who is so great in love that God desires to share love with fragile and incomplete human beings compared to a God who loves only himself and wants to glorify himself by creating finite creatures to glorify him even though they have a hard time because they are full of defects due to sin. What Bonaventure (like Francis) realized in the mystery of the Incarnation is that God bends over in love to meet us where we are. God is Most High and most intimately related to us.

—from the book The Humility of God: A Franciscan Perspective  by Ilia Delio, OSF

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Look to the Stars

I love going out in the yard in the winter to look at the stars. The clear, cold air makes them seem brighter. Different stars are visible in the winter than at other times of the year. As the constellations wheel overhead, there’s a sense of vast possibility in the universe, but also a sense of permanence. The sun, the moon, the stars, and our own earth travel through time and space but there’s nothing random about those movements. Each has an orbit, an appointed path to travel. Our lives, too, have an appointed path. We move through the seasons of the year, and the seasons of a lifetime. Sometimes it seems as though the only constant is constant change. But the eternal feasts of the Christmas season remind us that the eternal keeps our feet grounded on the earth and our eyes fixed on God’s star, the plan God has for each of our lives.


—from the book The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections with Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek

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At Home or on the Road, God Is with Us

No matter how much we try to extend the holiday with traveling and vacation time and a last party or two, there comes a time when we need to return to our daily activities and responsibilities. School starts up again, work beckons, and we have to bid farewell to Christmas once again. It can be refreshing to reclaim the space that was filled with the Christmas tree and other decorations. We forsake the Christmas cookies and boxes of candy for healthier food choices in the new year. If we’ve traveled to visit family, we return home, put away the suitcases, finish vacation laundry, and settle into our lives. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus traveled a great deal during the first years after the birth—back and forth to Jerusalem, a sojourn in Egypt, a return to their home in Nazareth. In later years, Luke’s Gospel tells us, they traveled on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where Jesus was separated from his parents and found conversing with holy teachers in the temple. Whether we’re traveling or at home, the one thing we know is that God is with us.

—from the book The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections with Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek

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Human and Divine

Knowing that God not only knows but experienced what it was to be a human being, composed of blood and flesh and bone, limited by all the things that limit us, should give us patience with our weakness and joy in our strength. In our prayers for help, we can say, “You know what it’s like,” and be confident that he does. But we can also look to the end of the story and know that by being one of us, he was able to raise us up to overcome those limits—and the final limit of death itself. As St. Irenaeus put it so well, “He became human so that we might become divine.”

—from the book The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections with Pope Francis

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Mary, Mother of God

Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart!” (Luke 2:19). In these words, Luke describes the attitude with which Mary took in all that they had experienced in those days. Far from trying to understand or master the situation, Mary is the woman who can treasure, that is to say, protect and guard in her heart, the passage of God in the life of his people. Deep within, she had learned to listen to the heartbeat of her Son, and that in turn taught her, throughout her life, to discover God’s heartbeat in history. She learned how to be a mother, and in that learning process she gave Jesus the beautiful experience of knowing what it is to be a Son. In Mary, the eternal Word not only became flesh, but also learned to recognize the maternal tenderness of God. With Mary, the God-Child learned to listen to the yearnings, the troubles, the joys and the hopes of the people of the promise. With Mary, he discovered himself a Son of God’s faithful people.

—from the book The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections with Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek

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