Murray Bodo, OFM
From Louis Bodo's senior write-up in the Brown & White...
ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI CHURCH, GALLUP, NEW MEXICO
Editor of the Brown and White, Third Order and Sodality officer, winner of Senior Elocution Contest, and Archbishop McNicholas' Award. "Luigi" claims he "starred" in a Hollywood movie as a man in a crowd and shares Hanusz's nose for news.
Later, Fr. Murray taught literature and cinematography at the farm. Fr. Murray's students realized that it was a great honor to be taught by a professional writer (somebody who actually earned money in this cut-throat business). And even though Murray was several planes above the rest of us, he always encouraged us and never made us feel inferior, no matter how awful our prose, or whether we "sure-pierce-a-toot-a-roota." Fr. Murray also guided the Brown and White staff and served as spiritual director and shrink for many kids trying to figure out themselves and their futures.
More recently, Murray's first book, "Francis, the Journey and Me" was published in Italian by Appunti di Viaggio, Rome. It has been published in five other languages. The Paris Review has accepted Fr. Murray's poem about the Assisi earthquake, entitled, "After the earthquakes." In addition to priestly activities and other interests, Fr. Murray has been a Writer in Residence at Thomas More College, near Covington, Kentucky. Do you want to see what else Fr. Murray has published lately? Check out www.amazon.com and search for "murray bodo."
This is Fr. Murray's letter from December, 1999:
Advent. A time of waiting for the Christ Child to be born in our hearts again, a time to remember those we hold dear. And so I think of you and pray for you, as I have all year. May the Prince of Peace bring you peace of heart and soul this Christmas as we enter a new century and a new millennium. In Christ there is always hope, even as we leave behind us the 20th Century with its two world wars and its atrocities. For we know that with all the violence and death that has marked our century, there has also been goodness and grace abounding for those who tapped into the infinite source of love in Christ. We believe the new century, too, will be redeemed by Love made real for us in Jesus.
My own life this coming year will be in transition as I leave teaching after thirty five years and enter into a fulltime writing and research ministry, with summers spent in Assisi as a staff member of the Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs. I believe that this new ministry is God's will for me at this time of my life, and I give thanks to God for the thirty five wonderful years I have spent in the classroom. I have enjoyed teaching and found it immensely rewarding. This Christmas I am especially aware of you and how good God is to have brought you into my life. We are making this passage into the new century together, knowing that in Christ all will be well. I am eager to hear how you are and what has been happening in your life. I pray God will bless you and all your loved ones throughout the New Year.
The voice of one crying in the wilderness.... The prophecy
makes it clear that it is to be fulfilled, not in Jerusalem, but
in the wilderness. -- Eusebius of Caesarea
John the Baptist cries aloud,
"Prepare the way of the Lord."
Jesus stands in the Jordan,
God's Holy Spirit folds him
in her dovelike wings. And so
begins wilderness as place
where Spirit dwells, where prophets,
saints and sinners flee to be
one with mercy. Wilderness
is earth and heart, desert burns
barren, water focuses.
Water is enough, invites
wings, the holy dove's descent.
He devotes his life to St. Francis
By Stephen Huba, Cincinnati Post staff reporter, published May 1999
One of the world's foremost authorities on St. Francis of Assisi, the Rev. Murray Bodo of Thomas More College, is about to reach an even wider audience. Rev. Bodo, 62, already has devoted 27 years to writing about the 13th-century saint. His 1972 book 'Francis: The Journey and the Dream' (St. Anthony Messenger Press, $5.95) is widely acknowledged as a classic. It has sold 160,000 copies and has been translated into seven languages, including, most recently, Maltese.
Now his insights are on a new audiotape series on Sounds True, a Colorado-based teaching tape company. 'The Way of Saint Francis' (Sounds True, $18.95) runs three hours on two cassettes. 'This saint, this man Francis, continues to speak to something deep inside us - people moving into the 21st century,' Rev. Bodo starts out. 'Why is that? What is it about Francis of Assisi?'
Being in the Sounds True catalogue puts Rev. Bodo in some pretty illustrious company, including Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, self-help guru Deepak Chopra, religion scholar Huston Smith and former monk Thomas Moore. In addition to offerings in contemplative Christianity, Sounds True has audio courses on Buddhist meditation, mystical Judaism, 'inner technologies,' and various New Age spiritual paths. The audio course should not be confused with Rev. Bodo's book by the same title.
Rev. Bodo hopes his course on St. Francis leads listeners, even non-believers, to explore Christianity further. 'It's hard to "do' Francis apart from Jesus Christ, who is the center of everything,' he said in a recent interview. '(Francis) was ... just totally in love with the poor, crucified savior.'
The audio course purports to make the teachings of St. Francis practical for everyday life, an endeavor which Rev. Bodo admits was not easy. 'What I did was cull out of Francis five elements that would relate to a spiritual practice for people, and I put that around a memory device,' he said. That mnemonic is the acronym SPORT:
S is for silence or solitude, the starting point for all prayer, Rev. Bodo said.
P is for purification of self.
O is for openness, being open to whatever comes in silence, he said.
R is for response.
T is for time, meaning God's time, he said.
Rev. Bodo believes people can benefit from the teachings of St. Francis because they touch upon concerns in the modern world. What's more, St. Francis' life of radical simplicity and obedience is attractive to people for the same reasons Mother Teresa's life was, he said.
'I've seen, over the years, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, in Assisi - all drawn to this person for different reasons,' he said. 'But most of them are that Francis is this truly authentic man - the person who does what they would like to do (but) feel they can't do for whatever reason.'
Rev. Bodo has spent a lifetime trying to live like St. Francis. He remembers first learning about the saint as a child growing up in Gallup, N.M. 'Our town was all Franciscan from Cincinnati - all the parishes, even the bishop was a Cincinnati Franciscan,' he said. Earlier this century, the Cincinnati-based Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist covered the entire continental United States.
The Franciscan friars were known among the Navajo people of Arizona and New Mexico as 'Endishodi,' or 'those who drag their gowns,' he said. Rev. Bodo wanted to be a Navajo missionary but that was not to be. He came to Cincinnati in 1951 to attend St. Francis High School Seminary in Mount Healthy and entered the St. Anthony Novitiate in Mount Airy in 1956.
He studied for four years at the Franciscan philosophy house in Detroit and four more years at the theology house in Centerville, Ohio. Upon ordination to the priesthood in 1964, Rev. Bodo took a job as English teacher and spiritual director at the Mount Healthy minor seminary, where he stayed until 1977.
In 1972, Rev. Bodo got an offer he couldn't refuse. Then-Provincial Jeremy Harrington asked him to go to Assisi to work on his first book, 'Francis: The Journey and the Dream.'
'That just sealed it for me. It was literally like going back to the Middle Ages,' said Rev. Bodo, who has been leading summer pilgrimages to Assisi, Italy, ever since.
Since 1979, Rev. Bodo has lived at the Friary at Pleasant Street in Over-the-Rhine, the oldest Franciscan community in the United States. After completing a doctorate at the University of Cincinnati, he accepted a position as writer-in-residence and assistant English professor at Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Ky.
Rev. Bodo recently finished a scholarly work titled 'Tales of an Endishodi: Father Berard Haile and the Navajos, 1900-1961' (University of New Mexico Press, $24.95). His poem 'After the Earthquakes' has just been accepted by the Paris Review.
Rev. Bodo has not been back to Assisi since an earthquake damaged the upper church of the Basilica of St. Francis in 1997. He plans to return this summer with another group of pilgrims.
'Franciscan spirituality never ends up in the self,' he said. 'It reaches out to others.'
Who was St. Francis of Assisi? "The guy was what he professed'
'Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words.' - St. Francis of Assisi
He was 'Donald Trump's son' - the person who had everything - but he gave it all up to live a Christian life of radical poverty, simplicity and obedience.
Today, St. Francis of Assisi is venerated the world over by Christians and non-Christians alike as one who followed most closely in the footsteps of Christ.
'The guy was what he professed,' said the Rev. Murray Bodo, a Cincinnati-based Franciscan friar and author of several popular works on St. Francis.
St. Francis was born in 1182, the son of a cloth trader, the richest man of Umbria in central Italy. He served for a time in the military and wanted to be a knight but was waylaid by a dramatic conversion to Christianity.
St. Francis renounced his family's riches and went on to found a new order of mendicant, wandering, begging friars.
'Everything he did was done with a lot of bravado and grandiosity,' Rev. Bodo said. 'Even his littleness was "big littleness.' His poverty was grand poverty.'
St. Francis is known today for his love of nature, his poem 'Canticle of the Creatures,' and his affliction with the stigmata, the wounds of Christ, later in life.
The famous 'Prayer of St. Francis,' which begins, 'Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,' is often attributed to him but was likely not written by him.