St. Francis Novena – Day 8

St. Francis Novena | Day Eight: Joy


If you Google the words “saint,” “Francis,” and “joy,” you’ll get 52,100,000 hits! It’s hard to think about the life of Francis without smiling.

When I do so, I picture him playing the fiddlesticks, preaching to the birds, writing poetry, singing and dancing God’s praises, and smacking his lips every time he mentioned Jesus’ name. He was so in love with the Lord that it even affected his tone of voice. St. Bonaventure tells us that whenever Francis told the Christmas story and he came to the word Bethlehem, his voice sounded more like the bleating of a sheep.

But, as tempting as it may be to stop at the humorous legends and tender tales of Francis, we have every reason to believe that he would ask us to go much deeper than that. You see, beyond the mere image of him as God’s court jester is someone whose true source of joy was inextricably bound to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His understanding of God as Love, who was willing to empty himself to become one of us, brought Francis an incomparable joy that not even human suffering could take away. He tells us why in the story about true and perfect joy. In that tale, Francis instructs Brother Leo “to write down and note carefully” that no number of miracles performed by any friar could ever result in perfect joy. Rather, it’s the ability to accept willingly, out of love for Christ, “all suffering, injury, discomfort and contempt.” Being able to do so, as counterintuitive as it may sound, is where true and perfect joy can be found.

These were no empty words to Francis. Once again, the example of his life bears them out. While in the throes of tremendous pain and suffering, and not too long before his death, he managed to create one of the most beautiful and joyful poems ever written. In his “Canticle of the Creatures,” Francis spells out for us why he managed to remain truly joyful, despite the miseries of the world that surrounded him, the conflict within the order he founded, or even his own bodily sufferings and death. He would let nothing get in the way of his proclaiming the truth that had set him free. And it’s nothing less than that kind of joy that God would have us all come to know; that fruit of the Holy Spirit that nothing and no one can ever take away. Not even death!

Now, some of the same challenges that Francis knew in his lifetime are facing all of us today: division, disease, and war. And maybe one of the remedies to all of this can be found in the sharing of Franciscan joy. Granted, it’s not for the faint of heart, but if embraced and shared with others, as Francis did, it could just be the wake-up call the world so desperately needs.

We know because one of the reasons our current pope chose the name Francis was because of the way his namesake was able to maintain a sense of joy even as he grappled with some of the hardest challenges in life. We may not be able to be as single-minded in our efforts as St. Francis or Pope Francis, but just imagine if each one of us were able to bear just a little more insult, just a little more personal criticism or offense without immediately responding in kind. What kind of impact would that have on our fellow human beings and on the world?

Let Us Pray

Loving and sustaining God: There isn’t any one of us that you do not call into being with every breath. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Help us to remember and share with one another the perfect joy that comes from knowing the extent of your love.

(Br. Al Mascia, OFM, hosts The Friar Place on his website

Pray the Novena to St. Francis of Assisi

Read by Fr. Murray Bodo, OFM

When Francis was in the process of conversion, he entered the small church of San Damiano and from the cross heard the words of Christ, “Francis, go and repair My House, which, as you can see, is falling into ruin.” And St. Francis took that as his mission. Post your prayer intentions to him on our Prayer page.

The Novena to St. Francis of Assisi

Day 8

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Poor and humble Saint Francis, through your kind intercession we seek to love God above all things. We seek the faith, hope and love that moved you to joyfully renounce honors and riches and to radically follow our Lord Jesus Christ.

Pray for us that we come to see the privilege of suffering with and for the poor after the example of Jesus. Help us to be always grateful for all the blessings we have received and give us the strength to overcome our most pressing concerns.

(Include your personal intentions now.)

Holy St. Francis, you spent your life preaching and living the Gospel and won over many people to God. We beseech you to have pity on us poor sinners, that through your intercession, God may grant that our doubts be replaced with the certainty that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide us through life’s many trials towards God’s eternal kingdom.

St. Francis, help us to continue praying for the grace to truly repent and change our hearts by actively seeking reconciliation with God and all those we have offended or hurt in any way. May the blessings we receive through your intercession deepen our faith, and inspire us to store up treasures in Heaven, where we hope to spend eternity with our loving God.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen

St. Francis of Assisi, Pray for us!

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,


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Fr. Murray Bodo, OFM, is a writer and poet. Song of the Sparrow, is a book of poems and meditations available at Franciscan Media.

Videos and articles on St. Francis at Franciscan Media.

We follow Jesus in the footsteps of St. Francis, learn more at

St. Francis