|Always the Same.
The Memorial of Saint Bonaventure, Bishop & Doctor of the Church.
Lessons from the primary feria, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Exodus 3: 1-6, 9-12.
• Psalm 103: 1-4, 6-7.
• Matthew 11: 25-27.
The Third Class Feast of Saint Henry, Emperor & Confessor.
Lessons from the common, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Ecclesiasticus 31: 8-11.
• Psalm 91: 13-14, 3.
• Luke 12: 35-40.
The Seventh Wednesday after Pentecost; the Feast of the Holy Martyrs Cyricus & Julitta; and, the Feast of the Holy Great Prince Vladimir, Equal to the Apostles.
First & third lessons from the pentecostarion, second & fourth lessons from the menaion, according to the Ruthenian recension of the Byzantine Rite:
• Galatians 1: 11-19.
• I Corinthians 10: 12-22.
• John 10: 1-9.
• Matthew 16: 20-24.
9:25 AM 7/15/2015 — Our Blessed Lord's prayer of thanksgiving to His Father for having revealed to children what was hidden to the learned might seem out of place on the Memorial of Saint Bonaventure, being that he was probably the most brilliant man of the Middle Ages next to Saint Thomas Aquinas, of whom he was a contemporary. They taught together at the University of Paris in spite of the fact that they were both Italians.
He was born in Tuscany, entered the Franciscans at an early age, was known for not only his learning but also for his profound devotion to the Passion of Our Lord. At the age of thirty-five he was elected Minister General of the Franciscan Order, and became known for his diplomacy and prudence. Pope Gregory X pulled him out of his order and made him a Cardinal, sending him to the town of Albano as its bishop, and it was in that capacity that he went to Lyons to participate in the Council there, but died while there at the age of forty-three.
It all sounds very boilerplate;—just another life of another medieval saint—but, there are aspects of his life that are not generally known, and which caused some consternation when Pope Sixtus IV canonized him. He was elected Minister General of the Franciscans in 1257, at a time when the Franciscans were just beginning to become fragmented. Now days, we're familiar with all the various branches of the Franciscan Order: the Friars Minor, the Capuchins, the Conventuals, not to mention the plethora of more modern groups that have sprouted off from the Franciscan family or have simply adopted their own version of the Rule of St. Francis and attached his name to themselves; in the thirteenth century, the Franciscans were still one group, but were just beginning to have all these internal dissensions within themselves. Bonaventure dealt with all this in a very authoritarian way. The chief disagreement within the Order was between one group who wanted to embrace a very strict and severe interpretation of Franciscan poverty, and those who thought that the Order needed to change with the times in order to survive, and both groups claimed support for their respective positions by citing their own versions of the life of St. Francis, the actual facts of which are sketchy at best.
In 1260, Bonaventure composed his own version of the life of St. Francis, and commanded that all other biographies of Francis of Assisi be destroyed, and its from that work that most of what we believe about St. Francis is known. Where he got most of his information about the life of St. Francis no one knows, but those who felt he was not on their side accused him of simply making most of it up to support his own idea of what he wanted the Franciscan Order to become. In any case, he convened a General Chapter of the Order in 1263, and imposed a rather ridged uniformity upon the Franciscans; and, while Bonaventure's reforms held the Order together for a while, ultimately it did disintegrate, which is why we have so many communities in the Church today which call themselves the Franciscans of this or the Franciscans of that.
When you set yourself to study the lives of the saints—not the homogenized, pious versions of their lives, but the real lives of the saints with all the nastiness included—you realize what a tremendous capacity these people had for maintaining their spiritual equilibrium amidst all kinds of chaos and unpleasantness. It harkens back to what we were considering—those of you who were here—a few weeks ago when we celebrated the Solemnity of Ss. Peter & Paul. The Church is of Divine origin, but Christ entrusted her to men, and those men are beset by a fallen nature, which means that the Church is not always going to be governed the way it should be, a truth that hits home for us in a very prescient way. What distinguishes the saints from the rest of us is their ability to—simply put—not allow themselves to be bothered by it. It doesn't mean that a saint is complacent; quite the contrary, as evidenced by St. Bonaventure's work to reform the Franciscans the best way he knew how. But at no time during all the controversies that he was forced to endure as Minister General of the Order did Bonaventure ever loose his holiness; and, we have to presume that his profound devotion to the Passion of Our Lord allowed him to see, in all he had to put up with, a participation in the Cross of Christ.
When Bonaventure looked at what was happening to his order as it drifted farther and farther away from the simple vision of its founder, he had to have the same feelings Our Blessed Lord had when he prayed in what was almost a sarcastic way about truth being hidden from the learned and revealed to children. I don't have to tell you that all of us, in whatever is our state in life, have to put up with all kinds of nonsense every day. But, if we would be saints, which all of us are called to be, we should know instinctively how to put it all in perspective. And when we kneel here before the Altar, and cast our eyes upon the Body of Christ, we know that, no matter what may be going on in our lives, Christ is always there, and he is always the same.