Our guest blogger is Franciscan Father Murray Bodo, O.F.M., author of many books and poems. His classic and bestselling Francis: The Journey and the Dream, first released in 1971, has just been released in a hardcover, fortieth anniversary edition. The anniversary edition contains a foreword by John Michael Talbot who wrote that reading the original book changed his life forever. The beautiful new edition also contains a new preface by Fr. Murray, an interview with the author, and a reading guide for small groups, bookclubs and Franciscans in formation.
It is surprising and gratifying to still hear from readers of Francis: The Journey and the Dream about how this book has changed their lives or has helped them through their own journeys. Just recently, while I was teaching a course on St. Francis at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, a young man came up to me and said that this book was like a miracle because it spoke to what he was going through right then in his life. He saw his own thoughts and feelings in Francis who was like a light on his own path.
And also, quite recently, one of my former high school seminary students came to me and told me how much it meant to him and his classmates 40 years ago when I would read to them passages from Francis: The Journey and the Dream that I was then writing and I would ask them what they thought and whether or not it spoke to them.
“Francis: The Journey and the Dream will always hold that special place in my heart as my first book about Francis of Assisi. It will ever be my ‘first love.’”—John Michael Talbot
Both of these incidents reminded me again that my first audience for this book was my high school seminary students, and from there the audience expanded to include all ages, all people interested in St. Francis and his journey and dream. And the responses I’ve received over the years have shown me that this larger audience, too, finds here something that speaks to them. For this I’m deeply grateful to Jesus and to St. Francis who were and are my muses, my inspiration.
“It was with Francis: The Journey and the Dream that I began to learn the craft of writing long, sustained prose which I came to see was simply writing a number of words a day. No one can write a book at one clip. It’s too daunting. But one can write two or three pages a day. Eventually, if what one is writing is actually working on the page, it becomes a book. I also learned that the process is more satisfying than the product itself is; I delighted in getting up in the morning, and after Mass and breakfast, reading what I had written the day before, then waiting to see what words would flow from the pen (I have always written the first draft of a book with a pen, usually a fountain pen). And I came to love Assisi, a love that has endured for forty years now, as has the love of writing.”—Murray Bodo, from the Preface to the Fortieth Anniversary Edition
Murray Bodo, O.F.M., is a Franciscan priest and a member of the Franciscan Academy. Born in Gallup, New Mexico, he moved east when he was 14 years old to begin his studies for the Franciscan Order at St. Francis Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has spent his Franciscan priestly life teaching writing and English and American Literature, writing prose and poetry, offering spiritual direction, leading Franciscan pilgrimages, and preaching retreats. An award-winning author of numerous books, including Landscape of Prayer and The Simple Way: Meditations on the Words of Saint Francis, he continues to write and lecture on Franciscan spirituality. As an internationally known poet, Father Murray has participated in poetry readings in England, Europe, and the United States. His latest books of poetry are Wounded Angels and Visions and Revisions: Celebrating 800 Years of the Franciscan Way of Life. He resides in Cincinnati and travels yearly to Rome and Assisi, Italy, where he leads Franciscan pilgrimages.