Cum Grande Humilitate: A Retreat Experience with Fr. Murray Bodo, written by OSF Associate Chris Dickson

Fr. Murray Bodo

Fr. Murray Bodo at Oldenburg Franciscan Center

Cum grande humilitate!  This last verse of St. Francis’ “Canticle of the Creatures” clearly expresses our weekend retreat at Oldenburg with Fr. Murray Bodo, OFM. Cum grande humilitate, translated from the original Umbrian dialect, means “humbly but grandly!”

My first encounter with Fr. Bodo began in 1987 with a copy of  his book, “Through the Year With Francis of Assisi: Daily Meditations from His Words and Life.” I had no idea then who Fr. Murray Bodo was or of the importance his writings would one day play in my life. That book has now become a “loose-leaf” edition due to so many years of  daily abuse I have inflicted upon it.  (I still had no problems with having Father sign that torn, raggedy old book during the retreat.)

Knowing the special place I hold in my heart for Father’s gift of words, every birthday, anniversary and Christmas my wife Karen always surprises me with Fr. Bodo’s latest publication. Needless to say,  when we heard Fr. Murray was coming to Oldenburg to give a weekend retreat, we immediately decided it was a perfect gift to give to one another for Christmas. And what a Christmas present it was!

As I sat there at the Oldenburg Franciscan Center, I was mesmerized by the man – the priest – the monk, who, through his writings for the past twenty-four years, had shared with me his most intimate thoughts and visions of Saints Francis and Clare through his magnificent gift of prose. That weekend in Oldenburg, right before my eyes,  Father Bodo transformed from being a humble Franciscan Friar to becoming Francesco Bernardoni, the son of Pietro Bernardoni, a cloth merchant from Assisi. By the end of the weekend, I  could see in Father Murray Bodo the man Francesco might have become had he lived another thirty or forty years; kind, considerate, articulate, unassuming, and still burning brightly with that insatiable desire to share a life of intimacy with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Deep in the footsteps of Francis and Clare,  Father Murray transhumanced our group from high atop the mountains all the way down to our brother lepers deep in the valley.  I found his words of  encouragement to be warm, gregarious, comforting, and full of charm and wit.

Please have him return to us soon. In the meantime, may we all follow Fr. Bodo’s example and go together as brothers and sisters of Francis and Clare cum grande humilitate, “humbly but grandly” to rebuild His Church.

Pace e Bene my brothers and sisters!

Chris Dickson


Blog Editor’s Note:  Fr. Murray Bodo facilitated the referenced retreat at our Oldenburg Franciscan Center in November 2011.  Through his poetry, stories, and scholarly sharing, he guided us into deeper appreciation for St. Francis’ Canticle of Creatures, helping us to really feel the beauty of St. Francis’ lessons on gratitude and holy living.  Fr. Bodo is a renowned Franciscan poet, author, and scholar.  Read more about his life and inspiring works at!

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