Saturday, July 14, 2012
Sermons by St. Bonaventure

Double (1954 Calendar): July 14

Today is the Feast of St. Bonaventure, this Universal Doctor was one of the first saintly Cardinals of the Church. He was close friends with "The Angelic Doctor" and the saintly king of France. He was the architect of the Second Council of Lyons and, fittingly, was called home by God immediately following the completion of the Council. His work was done on earth but continued through his writings and example; so much so that he is known as "The Seraphic Doctor."

Traditional Matins Reading:

Bonaventure was born at Bagnorea, in Tuscany. While still a child, he was smitten by a mortal sickness, and his mother vowed that he should be consecrated to the order of blessed Francis if he recovered. He came safely through the sickness at the Saint’s prayer; and consequently, when a young man, he determined to enter the institute of the Friars Minor. He was put under the instruction of Alexander of Hales, and became so eminent for learning that at the end of seven years he obtained the Master’s degree at Paris, and lectured publicly with great applause on the books of the Sentences, which later in life he explained by lucid commentaries. He attained great eminence, not only in knowledge and learning, but also in purity of life, innocence, humility, meekness, contempt for earthly things and desire for those of heaven; and he was manifestly worthy of being held as an example of perfection. By blessed Thomas Aquinas, to whom he was bound by close friendship, he was called a saint, and when St. Thomas found him one day writing the Life of St. Francis, he said: 'Let us allow one saint to labour for another.’

He was enkindled with a great flame of divine love, and was moved with particular affection for the Passion of Christ our Lord, which was his constant matter of meditation, and for the Virgin Mother of God, to whom he wholly vowed himself. He sought, moreover, with all his power to excite a like ardour in others both by word and example, and to increase it by his books and other writings. Hence arose that sweetness of disposition, unction in speech and open-hearted charity to all men, by which he succeeded in binding the hearts of all so closely to himself. For these reasons, when scarcely thirtyfive years old, he was elected at Rome, by acclamation, Minister-General of his Order; and he held the office which he had taken up for twenty years, with remarkable prudence and praiseworthy holiness. He made a number of regulations suited to the maintenance of regular discipline and the extension of the Order: and he defended it, as well as the other mendicant orders, with great success against the charges of calumniators.

By Blessed Gregory X he was summoned to the Council of Lyons, and created Cardinal Bishop of Albano. He steered the Council successfully through the arduous tasks it had undertaken: as a result of which the disputes excited by schismatics were brought to an end, and the dogmas of the Church vindicated. In the midst of these labours, to the great sorrow of all who knew him, he died in 1274, in the fifty-third year of his age, and his funeral was adorned by the presence of the whole Council, and of the Roman Pontiff himself. He became renowned for many great miracles, and Xystus IV enrolled him among the saints. He composed a number of writings, in which he exhibited great learning and ardent piety, moving the reader’s heart by his instruction: and for this reason Xystus V deservedly bestowed on him the title of the Seraphic Doctor.

In honor of today's Feast of St. Bonaventure, let us read his sermon on a theme of importance for the Sacred Heart of our Lord:
With you is the source of life

Take thought now, redeemed man, and consider how great and worthy is he who hangs on the cross for you. His death brings the dead to life, but at his passing heaven and earth are plunged into mourning and hard rocks are split asunder.

It was a divine decree that permitted one of the soldiers to open his sacred side with a lance. This was done so that the Church might be formed from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death on the cross, and so that the Scripture might be fulfilled: They shall look on him whom they pierced. The blood and water which poured out at that moment were the price of our salvation. Flowing from the secret abyss of our Lord’s heart as from a fountain, this stream gave the sacraments of the Church the power to confer the life of grace, while for those already living in Christ it became a spring of living water welling up to life everlasting.

Arise, then, beloved of Christ! Imitate the dove that nests in a hole in the cliff, keeping watch at the entrance like the sparrow that finds a home. There like the turtledove hide your little ones, the fruit of your chaste love. Press your lips to the fountain, draw water from the wells of your Savior; for this is the spring flowing out of the middle of paradise, dividing into four rivers, inundating devout hearts, watering the whole earth and making it fertile.

Run with eager desire to this source of life and light, all you who are vowed to God’s service. Come, whoever you may be, and cry out to him with all the strength of your heart. “O indescribable beauty of the most high God and purest radiance of eternal light! Life that gives all life, light that is the source of every other light, preserving in everlasting splendor the myriad flames that have shone before the throne of your divinity from the dawn of time! Eternal and inaccessible fountain, clear and sweet stream flowing from a hidden spring, unseen by mortal eye! None can fathom your depths nor survey your boundaries, none can measure your breadth, nothing can sully your purity. From you flows the river which gladdens the city of God and makes us cry out with joy and thanksgiving in hymns of praise to you, for we know by our own experience that with you is the source of life, and in your light we see light.
In the same spirit, we can read another sermon by the Seraphic Doctor:
The Lord was pleased to endorse and to confirm the teaching and Rule of St. Francis, not only by miraculous signs, but also by the marks of his own stigmata, so that no true believer could possibly question them on external or internal evidence. And in his goodness God was pleased to affix his own seal to the Rule and teaching of St. Francis, who would never have presumed to teach or write anything other than what he received from the Lord. As he himself testifies, it was God who revealed to him the entire Rule.  See: Saint Francis of Assisi
St. Bonaventure's Sermon of October 4th, 1255

O God, may blessed Bonaventure intercede for us in heaven as he once instructed Your faithful on earth and directed them in the way of eternal salvation. Through our Lord . . .

Ss. Francis and Bonaventure, orate pro nobis!

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