Tag Archives: Franciscan saints and blesseds

Saint Bonaventure on mystical prayer

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One of the famous works of Saint Bonaventure’s is his Journey of the Mind to God. You see it in many places for those wanting a glimpse into this significant medieval thinker. It was in the Roman Divine Office of Readings. We always need an insight or two into contemplation, what it means, how it exists, and so forth. There is no exhausting one’s search into understanding mystical prayer.

I want you to listen to Veronica Scarisbrick’s interview with Franciscan Father Rick S. Martignetti who works in Rome and has authored of Saint Bonaventure’s Tree of Life: Theology of the Mystical Journey (Grottaferrata, 2004). It is a study of Bonaventure’s understanding on prayer and life in the paschal mystery. I found Scarisbrick’s interview both delightful and helpful.

Christ is both the way and the door. Christ is the staircase and the vehicle, like the throne of mercy over the Ark of the Covenant, and the mystery hidden from the ages. A man should turn his full attention to this throne of mercy, and should gaze at him hanging on the cross, full of faith, hope and charity, devoted, full of wonder and joy, marked by gratitude, and open to praise and jubilation. Then such a man will make with Christ a pasch, that is, a passing-over. Through the branches of the cross he will pass over the Red Sea, leaving Egypt and entering the desert. There he will taste the hidden manna, and rest with Christ in the sepulchre, as if he were dead to things outside. He will experience, as much as is possible for one who is still living, what was promised to the thief who hung beside Christ: Today you will be with me in paradise.

For this passover to be perfect, we must suspend all the operations of the mind and we must transform the peak of our affections, directing them to God alone. This is a sacred mystical experience. It cannot be comprehended by anyone unless he surrenders himself to it; nor can he surrender himself to it unless he longs for it; nor can he long for it unless the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent into the world, should come and inflame his innermost soul. Hence the Apostle says that this mystical wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit.

If you ask how such things can occur, seek the answer in God’s grace, not in doctrine; in the longing of the will, not in the understanding; in the sighs of prayer, not in research; seek the bridegroom not the teacher; God and not man; darkness not daylight; and look not to the light but rather to the raging fire that carries the soul to God with intense fervour and glowing love. The fir is God, and the furnace is in Jerusalem, fired by Christ in the ardour of his loving passion. Only he understood this who said: My soul chose hanging and my bones death. Anyone who cherishes this kind of death can see God, for it is certainly true that: No man can look upon me and live.

Let us die, then, and enter into the darkness, silencing our anxieties, our passions and all the fantasies of our imagination. Let us pass over with the crucified Christ from this world to the Father, so that, when the Father has shown himself to us, we can say with Philip: It is enough. We may hear with Paul: My grace is sufficient for you; and we can rejoice with David, saying: My flesh and my heart fail me, but God is the strength of my heart and my heritage for ever. Blessed be the Lord for ever, and let all the people say: Amen. Amen!

(Cap. 7,1 2.4.6: Opera Omnia, 5, 312-313)

Blessed Junípero Serra

JSerra.jpgOne the outstanding missionaries in the USA, is Blessed Junipero Serra. A Franciscan, who was born in 1713 and ordained priest in 1737 taught theology and philosophy at the University of Padua, followed the direction of his superiors to me a missionary in the new world; his first stop was Mexico City before going up the west coast of the USA founding 21 of the missions, the first of which was 1769 when he was 56. The foundations were not merely places of prayer, but a true Christian society. 

November marks the 300th anniversary of Serra’s birth.
As Archbishop Chaput said last week when he was reflecting on Blessed Junipero, “Christian faith is not a habit. It’s not a useful moral code. It’s not an exercise in nostalgia. It’s a restlessness, a consuming fire in the heart to experience the love of Jesus Christ and then share it with others –or it’s nothing…”

This, I believe, is what set Serra’s heart on fire; this is what sets my heart on fire for Christ and His Church today.
Blessed Junipero Serra, pray for us.

Saint Anthony of Padua

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May Thy Church, O God, be gladdened by the solemnity of blessed Anthony Thy Confessor and Doctor: that she may be evermore defended by Thy spiritual assistance and merit to possess everlasting joy. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saint Anthony, pray for us.

Saint Anthony, inspire a new springtime in the Franciscan family.

Saint Bernardine of Siena

English: Saint Bernardino of Siena

The liturgical feast of Saint Bernardine of Siena (+1444), a Franciscan preacher known to be a well-received preacher. He’s also known to have been devoted to the Holy Name of Jesus and was the promoter of the Name in every place he went. You may notice the symbol “IHS” in architecture, vestments, hosts, artwork: this is due to work of Bernardine of Siena. Othes like the Jesuits also popularized the use of IHS. Today’s saint was a moral reformer which got him noticed by many.

As Bernardine lay dying, so the story goes, the friars were singing the Divine Office, and the line that his soul left his body was, “Father, I have shown forth your Name to men, and I am coming to you.”

At the Office of Readings today for Saint Bernardine we hear him preach holy name of Jesus, “the glory of preachers.”
Bernardine’s mission was to proclaim the name of Jesus so that it may be heard and followed. Adherence to the Name shed light in a darkened world. Scripture reveals that it is God who calls us into his marvelous light, a people who once lived in darkness, but now live in light of the Lord; hence by baptism we walk in the Lord.
The name of Jesus, we are exhorted, must be preached by a worthy instrument so that it may be heard. The worthiness of the preacher is critical, otherwise an unworthy preacher is a detraction from the holiness of God. It is a sin against the virtue against religion, that is, God’s honor. As the Lord once said: he is to carry my name because “truth was a like a great candle shining out the name of Jesus”
Our Christian life is meant to bless His holy name and to proclaim salvation who is Jesus, our Savior. Recall, salvation is not a state of mind, or a thing, but a person. Hence, we believe that Jesus is nothing less than our personal salvation: at the name of Jesus every knee, including in heaven, will bend.
The great saints and religious orders have all had a profound respect and devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. It is time to recover a deep respect for that which is held holy. It is hoped that as we prepare for death we, too, might have on our lips the Holy Name of Jesus.

Saint Francis of Assisi

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What gift could you possibly offer the Trinity, O holy Father,
when you possessed but a tunic, breeches, and cord?
What else could you offer the Lord but the triune gift of yourself:
The gold of evangelical poverty,
the incense of perfect obedience,
and the sweet-smelling myrrh of chastity.
In return, out of love for all mankind,
the Lord Christ granted you the grace
to know His saving Passion in your own flesh.
Beg Him to save our souls.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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