The Serra Option

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1293866Friar Junípero Serra Ferrer, O. Min. (November 24, 1713 – August 28, 1784)

The Benedict Option

Recently there has been talk in conservative political circles that Christians need to make a radical response to the de-Christianization of western civilization.  This response, in the words of some, is called the “Benedict Option”.  You can read more about it here.

The Benedict option consists in a withdrawal from secular society and the founding of Catholic enclaves in the countryside to preserve Christian civilization.

Proposed in such terms, the example of the great Saint Benedict of Nursia, who abandoned the city of Rome to found a monastery (eventually at Monte Cassino) serves as a template of sorts.

But preservation — of itself a good a noble cause — can ever only be 1 aspect of Christian society.  This is because the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, and as such, it is a living organism, which not only preserves Itself true to its Founder, but grows and thrives.

Thus, for Catholics merely to withdraw from society, and take flight in the countryside, would not be faithful to their mission as adopted sons of God, since in doing such, they would only be faithful in part, and not in whole.

Friar Junípero Serra Ferrer

imagesBl. Junipero Serra was a Franciscan priest of the Alcantarine Observance.  On account of the work he did in founding 21 mission-stations in California, he is universally consider the founder of the cities of that land, which is now a state of the United States of America.

Here is a brief synopsis of his life, from the official site for his cause for canonization:

At his beatification on September 25, 1988, Fray Junipero Serra, O.F.M., S.T.D. (1713-1784), was declared by His Holiness Pope John Paul II to be a “shining example of Christian Virtue and the Missionary Spirit.” The new Blessed is truly an international luminary.

He distinguished himself as an exemplary Franciscan priest, respected in academic circles, and acclaimed in the pulpit by the age of thirty-five. During the next two decades, he labored as an apostolic missionary throughout central Mexico, notably in the Sierra Gorda among the Pame Indians. During the final fifteen years of his life, he emerged as a pioneer and the Apostle of California. Dramatically he demonstrated the natural and supernatural branch of his missionary motto: “Always go forward – never turn back!”

On his deathbed at Mission Carmel, Blessed Junipero Serra promised that if God granted him “eternal happiness” he would pray for “all dwellers in the missions, and for the conversion of so many whom I leave unconverted.” Armed with the knowledge that he promised to continue his apostolate from Heaven, and knowing that he is indeed there as affirmed by his beatification, we are guaranteed that Blessed Junipero is truly a heroic friend and ally, able to intercede for us before God himself. As such, he is a channel of divine grace and a source of inspiration and solace.

Due to the fact that this Saint who worked miracles in life and after death made a specific promise to work for the conversion of souls after death, he is a fitting patron for Catholics of today, who are facing a complete collapse of western civilization’s Christian and Christ-centered culture.

The Serra Option

junc3adperoWalking in the footsteps of St Francis as Bl. Junipero did, who kept the ancient observance of the Rule of St. Francis, I consider it necessary to state that there is a better way and solution, than the Benedict option, to the current crises in the West.  And this solution I take from the example of his holy life.

In part, I agree that it can be good and very useful for Catholics to separate from the godless world in which they find themselves.  While spiritually this can be done anywhere, but it is much more facile to do this in an enclave dedicated to the Catholic faith and Christian culture.  Such an enclave would be intrinsically fertile for all aspects of Catholic society, for Catholic Families, the Church, for vocations and their culture expression.

But it is necessary to add the living aspect, that is one which is aimed at restoring the Social Reign of Jesus Christ, not only through families and the Church, or cultural endeavors, which would regard education and public profession of the Catholic Faith, or only in regard to political undertakings, but through that which is the life-blood of societies: economic activity.

As Bl. Serra gathered the natives of California together and taught them the faith and instructed them in professions by which they could support themselves and their families, so if Catholics are to restore the Social Reign of Jesus Christ, they would be better off establishing Catholic enclaves where they could do all these things in conjunction with an effort to promote their own economic activities, necessary to sustain all these good works.

Baptizing the Italian Republic

What Bl. Serra did was to baptize the Italian City-State and direct it towards the establishment of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ on earth.  There was in his missions the intention of establishing in general terms the norms of public and societal life according to the teachings of the Gospel and the Catholic religion, with the ancient Roman Rite at the center of the Mission’s worship of the Triune God.

Similarly, in the Serra Option, Catholics would gather together in a religious institution, which would establish minimums to be observed as a requirement of membership, but leave enough freedom for Catholics of all states of life to join, clergy, religious, laity (married or not), so long as they keep the requirements.  They would band together and found new villages and towns, where they lived in close proximity —after the example of their forebears in Europe — in a urban plan which promoted the public expression of the Catholic Faith, an education system which raised all the Children and formed all the youth in the example of the Catholic Saints, and which prepared and enabled the adults to fully engage in free economic activity in a manner which was mutually beneficial, free-market based, and aimed at the mutual self-protection and promotion of the city-state.

This is what I call the Serra Option.  And I believe with the vivacity and power of grace and economics, such an option will be more successful in the long run.

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Letter to a prospective vocation of the Ancient Observance

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St Francis in the ancient habit of the Order, with the tonsure of a friar Deacon.

St Francis in the ancient habit of the Order, with the tonsure of a friar Deacon.

First, there is not much advice that can be given by email for a vocation, so rely on what your spiritual director tells you, after reading and praying over what I am about to say.

As for the form of life which I live, it is the ancient observance of the Rule of St. Francis as the Popes through history have said it was his intention to be observed. This observance existed from the beginning of the order, was temporarily suppressed by Pope John XXI in the 13th century, but revived by some brothers a few decades later, was promoted by the Saints of the Reform, such as St. Bernardine of Sienna, St. John of the March, St. John Capistrano, etc., and existed in the OFMs until 1953 when they altered their constitutions and abandoned it as a formal requirement of their community.

Presently there are no other friars of this observance in the world, and though I have searched for 18 years have not found any, mostly because other friars are either unaware of the ancient Papal documents or are disposed to think that one must conform to the world more than observe the Rule, for the sake of the apostolate they say.

So every couple of years I put a call out for vocations, and that is how I came to write this present letter.

The Ancient Observance requires that a man put unlimited trust in the truth of Scripture and especially in all the words and teachings and counsels of Our Most High Lord Jesus Christ. This requires that a vocation intend to love God not only above all things, but before and more than all things; and that he abandon entirely his own prudence and do what the Apostles did after Cana, “Do whatever He tells you”, abandoning everything and living in obedience, chastity and without property and money either personally or in community.

Such a life is for souls who understand that simplicity in matters of faith and hope and charity is superior to the calculating prudence of men. And being simple souls trusting in the words of God the Truth, they find the sacrifices of this life a joy, since they know that in it they spiritually walk with Christ just as the Apostles did with Him on earth, and that He walks with them by providence and grace.

We live in a very dark, pragmatic, materialistic world shaped by the ideologies of modernism and sentimentalism. This life is therefore not for all vocations and most cannot understand it. And of those who can, unless they pray and desire it greatly, indeed more greatly than any thing, they cannot grasp it or embrace it.

So, that is what it takes to discern such a vocation. And with such a vocation discerned, nothing else matters at all. So if there is such a vocation, I say, let him contact me, and I will found a community and teach him this ancient observance.

And the best way he can be prepared is simply to consider this, that since Our Lord even in His human mind knew the actual future of the world until the end of time, for whomsoever intends to put into practice whatever He counseled, such as, “Take with you neither gold nor silver, nor two cloaks etc.” He is obliged by grace to provide for until the end of time, just as He said, “There is NO ONE who has forsaken father, mother, brother, sister, home or property, who WILL NOT receive a 100 times as many in this world, and in the world to come, life ever lasting”.

Según San Leonardo de Porto Maurizio, no se salvan todos, todos, todos

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Leonardo-da-Porto-Maurizio2-624x330AdelanteLa FeSan Leonardo de Porto Maurizio fue un fraile franciscano muy santo que vivió en el monasterio de San Buenaventura en Roma. Él fue uno de los más grandes misioneros en la historia de la Iglesia. Solía predicar a miles de personas en las plazas de cada ciudad y pueblo donde las iglesias no podían albergar a sus oyentes. Tan brillante y santa era su elocuencia que una vez cuando realizó una misión de dos semanas en Roma, el Papa y el Colegio de Cardenales fueron a oírle. La Inmaculada Concepción de la Santísima Virgen, la adoración del Santísimo Sacramento y la veneración del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús fueron sus cruzadas. No fue en pequeña medida responsable de la definición de la Inmaculada Concepción hecha poco más de cien años después de su muerte. También nos dio las Alabanzas Divinas, que se dicen al final de la Bendición. Pero el trabajo más famoso de San Leonardo fue su devoción a las Estaciones de la Cruz. Tuvo una muerte santa a sus setenta y cinco años, después de veinticuatro años de predicación sin interrupciones. Uno de los sermones más famosos de San Leonardo de Porto Maurizio fue “El Pequeño Número de los Que Se Salvan.” Fue en el que se basó para la conversión de grandes pecadores. Este sermón, así como sus otros escritos, fue sometido a examen canónico durante el proceso de canonización. En él se examinan los diferentes estados de vida de los cristianos, y concluye con el pequeño número de los que se salvan, en relación a la totalidad de los hombres. El lector que medite sobre éste notable texto aprovechará la solidez de su argumentación, la cual le ha valido la aprobación de la Iglesia. Aquí está el vibrante y conmovedor sermón de éste gran misionero.

Segue > http://www.adelantelafe.com/segun-san-leonardo-de-porto-maurizio-no-se-salvan-todos-todos-todos/

5 Demons which oppose the Foundations of Monasteries

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Rocaforte_Oratorio_2April 27, 2015:  Often you hear religious and laity lament the dearth of monasteries since Vatican II. Indeed, the falling numbers of vocations and the greatly diminished quality of vocations have led to a great reduction in the numbers of many ancient orders.

At the same time, one often hears of the lack of new foundations, and questions why this is.

As a Franciscan brother who has tried for 18 years to make a foundation, I have some experience with all the devils which work to oppose such a holy endeavor.  Since I have “inside” knowledge from practical experience, I will share what I know, for the benefit of others.

Since evil is dispelled when at once it is named and exorcised, I will first name the 5 evil errors or spirits which oppose monastic foundations and then give my thoughts on the remedy to each one.

1) The Goddess of Liberty has replaced Christ the King

ChristusRexOne of the errors of the Enlightement was to exalt reason above faith, that is, the faculty of reasoning without faith above the faculty of reasoning with faith.  As a consequent of this error, the age which saw the French Revolution slaughter thousands of souls and bodies, was one in which liberty was exalted as THE means to man’s ultimate happiness, on earth.

So violent and vicious is the Demon of our age against religion, that He uses every device and error to keep men from concluding that unless they return to the teaching of Christ in all things they shall be lost.  Instead, he attempts to preoccupy men with the consideration that all they have to do is forge peace with their neighbor and mind their own business, allowing everyone their own liberty.

Thus in politics all is aimed at and excused at the altar of Liberty.  And all is done to silence, hide, obscure and overturn the Altar of Jesus Christ.

For this reason, Monasteries are seen as centers of obscurantism which must be stamped out, if not by destruction of the physical structure, by suppression of them in law or subversion of them in the end for which they exist and operate.

Bishops or religious superiors who worship at the altar of the Goddess of Liberty, might at first seem very open to a new foundation, especially if it exalts a liberty which departs from tradition; but if a community veers towards a concept that true liberty consists in submission to Christ and the Holy Spirit, then it is immediately calumniated, opposed and stamped out.  We see this in the recent scandalous actions against the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.

Solution: When you see a religious order or monastery persecuted or defamed or denounced because they are doing something which Christ commanded or the Saints praticed, or which comes from before the Council, stand up and defend them with voice, help them with your hands, and support them with even more generous donations. If necessary, lobby the authorities in the Church or State on their behalf.

2) The Denial of Original Sin and its effects on man

This denial has become so complete that in many of the institutions of Catholic learning it is considered antiquarian to even discuss the notion of original sin.  This is partly because, if one admits the existence of original sin and its effects, then the false modern religion of Liberty falls to pieces.  Because, if there was a sin which damned all mankind from the start, then man must seek salvation, not liberty; and a salvation in which his own personal liberty is consecrated and devoted to Christ the King, His only Lord and Savior.

But the denial of original sin is something which is propagated in all human endeavors.  First in the error of liberty of speech and information, in devotion to which Catholic parents give their children cell phones, guaranteeing them a life time of distraction and pornography, trusting that with time they will learn not to be hooked on impurity.

They dress their children in immodest clothes, such that even girls of 4 are dressed like whores used to dress some decades ago.  They give their sons gyms and dolls with exaggerated body parts, so that they end up conceiving male perfection with something which is physical, and then wonder why they have grandchildren out of wedlock or abortions in the family.

They never give their children books about the saints, which might lead them to think that one has to do something decisive to save one’s soul! Like joining a monastery — God forbid! they say.

Solution: Stop living for the sake of your own pleasure or that of those around you: instead, seek first the Kingdom of God over you and your family, by going to confession regularly, asking pardon for your offenses, forgiving those who ask for your forgiveness, and expelling from the home everything which is an occasion to sin for those in it (pornography or impure images for all, liquor for alcoholics, immodest clothing etc.), and by imposing upon yourself a good set of mores, not going out late and being faithful to the duties of your state, keeping your speech dignified, not swearing; and, without a doubt, ignoring and avoiding all mass media or forms of communication which bombard you with examples of bad behavior, e.g. sitcoms, crude-talking radio hosts, pornographic tv series (e.g. on HBO or Game of Thrones, etc.).

Praise the saints and impart to your children that the only thing important in this world is saving your own soul and that of your neighbor.

3) The work of Aggiornamento has replaced the work of Conversion

The third demon is one which possesses the hearts and minds of very many clergy and religious today.  It teaches them to have every anxiety and take every action, even when exaggerated, to keep up with the times.

Consequently, if they detect any movement towards or affirmation of the truths of the Faith or the truths of spirituality which existed before Vatican II, then they pounce upon the “infected” individuals and by every art and stratagem, open and secrete, attempt to dissuade them or coerce them away from such a mindset.

They will therefore insist more and more that the religious of a monastery engage in things ruinous to authentic faith, authentic hope and authentic charity.  Against the first, they will propose ecumenical activities with heretics and unbelievers. Against the second, the will propose presumption of salvation for all. Against the third, they will propose tolerance and consent to the sins of others, especially the impure.

So obsessive are such followers of the Aggiornamento, that to merely cite a document or writing of a Pope or Saint from before the Council, is suspect; to omit a citation to Vatican II, a heresy. To forbid anything for the sake of discipline or virtue is to be puritantical, extreme, rigoristic and old-fashioned.

Solution: Rebuke anyone, even if he is a Bishop or priest or religious, who says or implicates that what was before the Council was not Catholic, or is dangerous to children, adults or vocations. Remind everyone that it is the four last things which alone count: Death, Judgement, Heaven or Hell, and that all who neglect their own souls, will lose them.

4) The replacement of the Social Reign of Christ with Social Justice.

While the work of conversion requires that we consider the 4 last things, which regard the end of every individual and the Last Day of Judgement, it nevertheless remains necessary for Catholics to put their Faith in practice in public life, in family life and in social life.

For that reason Catholics must support and work for those changes which order family and state and every institution, especially in the Church, towards doing Christ’s will for men, for promoting the salvation and sanctification of men, now, and in the future.

Catholics of today fail their duty towards Catholics of tomorrow when they fail to support and found institutions which will contribute to the spread of the faith, the care of souls, and the sanctification of society IN THE FUTURE.

Instead, the error has arisen that Catholics are somehow not faithful Christians if they are not concerned only about the corporal works of mercy for those who have present needs.  Social justice work has been promoted by socialists and communists and the avaricious who use these works for their own gains or social transformation.  So strong is the propaganda in favor of social justice that it is usually the first basis of a criticism against monastic foundations, which seek to care for all souls and their salvation in the future, not just the material needs of some in the present time.

Solution: Since the present age over emphasizes the corporal works of mercy, devote yourself and your efforts to the spiritual works of mercy and in their promotion.

5) The refusal to see the Will of the Holy Spirit manifest in the Saints and their works

Saint Francis receives the Stigmata of Christ, on the morning of September 14, 1224 A. D., while praying on Mt Alvernia, Tuscany, Italy.

Saint Francis receives the Stigmata of Christ, on the morning of September 14, 1224 A. D., while praying on Mt Alvernia, Tuscany, Italy.

Modern Christians seem to love to talk about the Holy Spirit, almost as much as they are zealous to ignore him.  They speak about doing the will of God the Vivifier, but they work every day to destroy His works and uproot His inspirations in souls.

As devotees of the Goddess of Liberty, they worship the God of surprises and fear most of all the God of continuity or of TraditionThus, they deny in practice if not in word, that the Holy Spirit wrote every word of Sacred Scripture and guided the Church along the paths of Divine, Apostolic and Ecclesiastical Tradition in the Church.

Hence, they deny and denigrate the example, teaching and works, if not even the miracles, of the Saints, during their own lives and after their passing to glory.  Thus, they say we should be inspired by these things, but we should not strive to imitate them; and thus that we are not obliged to follow their teaching, but can merely take it as an inspiring piece of advice, not a moral obligation or exhortation to do what they actually advocate.

Solution:  Respect and honor the pre-Vatican II Saints as monuments of the will of the Holy Spirit for all ages, and support those religious who do the same.

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These are just 5 of the chief Demons and errors which plague the world today, and make it quite incomprehensible to superiors and to the general body of the faithful, that anyone should want to found a monastery, let alone one which restored the ancient observances of an order founded by a Saint who lived and died and was glorified by God, before Vatican II.

Bonaventure’s Opera Omnia I: An interview with the Translator

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Q. How did you ever come to undertake such a large translation project?

Br. Bugnolo working at his desk.

Br. Bugnolo working at his desk.

Br. Bugnolo: On the occasion of my solemn vows, as a Franciscan Friar of the Immaculate, having come to a certain knowledge that the Pontifical Decrees on the Rule of St. Francis pointed to a more supernatural observance of St. Francis’s Rule than that which we lived in my former institute, and that in the sight of God, He was calling me to that, I asked and petitioned my major superior for permission to live that vocation within a vocation after my solemn vows, professing that I recognized this as my vocation.  In response, I was summarily dismissed from my institute without even a “thank you” and with the implication that I had something wrong with my vocation.

This was a momentous shock to me. I never expected men, who publicly profess themselves to be so loyal to the Magisterium of the Church, to have such a profound disregard for the teaching of the Magisterium regarding the Rule of St. Francis which they have solemnly vowed to observe.

Alas, hatred for goodness and truth is something very prevalent today, not only in monasteries. This we all know. But for simple believers, like myself, it is the revelation of its existence in the hearts of men of God which is the most scandalous tragedy of our age.

However, trusting in the teaching of the Popes, I recognized that the vocation to follow St. Francis according to its authentic spirit, does not come from men, but from God, I decided immediately to take private vows to persevere in my vocation, without the help of men. And so God blessed me, in His mercy, by no other merit of my own.

Not having anyone to give me counsel, but the Saints, and being surrounded on every side by those who urged me to give up my vocation as a Franciscan brother, or to give up even the Catholic Faith, on account of the many scandals in the Church, I found among the writings of the glorious Saint Bonaventure a testimony to an age of faith and sanity in matters religious, which gave me great consolation and showed me by example just how to deal with the madness and devilry of our own times.

Q. What is the importance of having St. Bonaveture’s great Treatise on the Most Holy Trinity, in English, in our own days?

Scandals abound, this we all know.  But holding fast to faith and virtue, not just any faith, but to the One & Only True Faith without which it is morally and metaphysically impossible to be saved and arrive at the wonderful Beatific Vision of God; holding fast to this Faith and the virtue which God can alone give, against all the falsehoods and deceit of our age and of the men and women who rule this age: this is the great challenge and duty of all of us Catholics.

It is my firm belief that there has never been a time in the Church when knowledge of and familiarity with what the Saints of old taught is so beneficial and necessary to keep this Faith and all virtue.

Layout 1We who have the Faith, know that the Saints are such primarily because God loved them before the foundation of the world in a manner in which He did not love ordinary men or ordinary Catholics, and that they, responding faithfully throughout their lives or at the end of their life, in a heroic manner, merited that crown of glory to which we all aspire.  For this reason, to manifest His extraordinary favor for them and to show by public proof that they have been taken up into His Eternal Friendship and Glory, and are now actually present before His Face, in soul, and some in body and soul, He has worked and He does work a multitude of miracles.

Such Saints were not canonized to push an agenda of worldly men; they were canonized by the Popes before the Council to rebuke the world, to refute the errors of men, and to chasten the wanton desires of the flesh, of heretics, and of wicked men.

Among the choirs of Saints there are all manner of gifts and special graces to be found; and among the Saints who wrote with unction, there shines forth before all others, the Doctors of the Church, wisely named and numbered and honored by the Church for the efficaciousness and clarity of their writings in matters of faith and morals, and the utility of these in the promotion and defense of the Faith throughout the ages.

Now, among all the Doctors of the Church, two shine out before all others, for the excellence of all 3 qualities:  clarity, utility and efficaciousness to inspire, enlighten, teach, and instruct.  Pope Sixtus V named these two as the Principal Doctors of the Church.  These are, Sts. Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure of Bagnoregio.

Now, while for nearly a century, we have had the grace in the English speaking world to have good translations of many of the writings of one of these Doctors, St. Thomas Aquinas (e. g. the Summa theologica); and in the last 50 years there have had available popular but poor translations of some of the minor works of St. Bonaventure, there was still lacking a complete English translation of the Seraphic Doctors works.  Having much time on my hands, because for loyalty to the Papal Magisterium and the form of religious life St. Francis actually handed down, I found myself excluded from recognition or acceptance by all other Franciscan institutes and all the Diocese which I contacted, I decided simply to translate whatever I could each day.

With the passing of months and years, I finished the first, then the second and then the third volume of Bonaventure’s Opera Omnia: now I am working on the 4th.

Q. What is the historical value of having St. Bonaventure’s work, now, in English?

With the publication of the present work, Catholics in the English speaking world will have available for the very first time a complete and systematic translation, in traditional Catholic English, of the first volume of St. Bonaventure’s own summa of theology, his Commentaries on the Four Books of  Master Peter Lombard.

St. Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure

Written from 1250 to 1254 A. D., at the University of Paris, in France, to demonstrate his own acumen in theology, for the purpose of obtaining the degree of Magister sacrae doctrinae, St. Bonaventure was the first Scholastic to write a complete Scholastic treatise on theology.  St. Thomas, himself, would not write his own Commentary (yet to be published by anyone in English) for another 2-4 years, and the Summa would not be completed for another 12-15 years.

St. Bonaventure’s work therefore can rightly be said to represent the most significant and important work on Catholic Theology before and after St. Thomas; while he agrees with the Angelic doctor on nearly every question, yet there are some differences which help to preserve the Faith against the rationalism of Aristotle, to which the Catholic world has been subjected for nearly 800 years.  While St. Thomas in the Summa sought to convince the admirers of Aristotle, that the Catholic faith was in no way contrary to right reason; St. Bonaventure aimed, instead, to show that all the wisdom of philosophers could not carry a man through the threshold of faith, and that the teachings of the Fathers of the Church were a more certain guide in matters of faith, that the reasonings drawn from Aristotelian thought.

For this reason, while many have read St. Thomas because they wished to limit the expression of faith within Aristotelian categories, St. Bonaventure was forgotten and misunderstood by many for long centuries, because he openly obviated the weaknesses of Aristotle’s thought, in which there is no place for a God-creator, a God-redeemer, or a God-sanctifier.

Many problems in theology have arisen in the last 800 years, because theologians attempted to understand the great Scholastics by reading modern philosophers. Yet, they erred in this, because many words and terms have changed their meaning throughout these 800 years, and much of what even St. Thomas said, was taken in a sense he never intended by those who were not so adequately prepared.  Even such great theologians such as Cajetan, fell into very subtle but grievous errors in philosophy, since they presumed that certain turns of phrase in St. Thomas meant what they did not mean.

For all these reasons, the theological summa of St. Bonaventure is a most useful corrective to many the modern errors in theology and philosophy. And it is for this reason that I undertook the English translation, to benefit the clergy, religious and laity of the Catholic church for the next century or more.

Q. What is the unique genius of St. Bonaventure’s approach to Theology?

St. Bonaventure’s approach to theology represents that form of theology which prevailed at the University of Paris before St. Thomas attempted an Aristotelian synthesis.  In St. Bonaventure, it is always the Fathers who prevail, and it is the theological tradition which descends from them, and not from Aristotle, which he upholds.  You can see this in the way in which St. Bonaventure uses Aristotelian categories:  for example, he never quotes Aristotle but about 4 times in 4000 pages, since in theology he holds that the Philosopher ought never be granted authority.  Yet he quotes St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, St. Athanasius, St. Gregory the Great, and many other Catholic authors, Saints and sinners, on nearly every page.

He also strives to explain for the student how the different terminology or use of terms by the Fathers and Saints respected, defended and exposed the wonderful and whole truth of the Faith, and in this way showed how wrong it is to abandon the manner of speaking of the Fathers and Saints for the incomplete and inaccurate categories which were often imposed by those too zealous to take Aristotle or some other pagan philosopher as their master in theology.

Q. What is the advantage of having today, in 2014, a new English translation of a book originally printed in 1252 A. D. and reprinted in critical edition in 1882 A. D.?

The Quaracchi edition of 1882 A. D., from which I have done my translation, is a most erudite and sound work of itself.  To read the explanations given in the editor’s Scholia or Prefaces, is to return to a world of Catholic thought which has been nearly destroyed since the time of Vatican II:  one in which a Catholic scholar was not ashamed to speak of the whole Faith, to rebuke every error, to condemn heretics, and to find fault with erring Catholics, and to say so in a book destined for the libraries of the world.

Thus, the publication of Bonaventure’s summa, is, as I believe, a most useful and effective weapon in the arsenal of all who would seek the restoration of the One and True Faith in the Church, in souls, and in the hearts and minds of clergy and religious, who ought to present true doctrine honestly to save our souls.  While there are many who would like to do this, most are intellectually unprepared to do this.  If we but give them a copy of Bonaventure, I believe that under his guide and scholarship, many will be prepared, converted, and saved from the errors of our age.

For all these reasons, I have worked upon this English translation for 12 years, and will continue for another 4 to see the complete publication of the 4 volumes.

Q. Should a layman consider this book suitable for only priests or theologians?

The Faith is attacked on every side today; having such a book as Bonaventure’s treatise on the Most Holy Trinity is a most prudent and wise strategy for preserving the Faith in your family, in your parish, in your diocese.  By donating copies of this book you can strengthen the weak and fortify those who want to defend the Faith, but who lack the formation in theology necessary to have the right words and reasons to do so.

Click the Banner Below, to learn more about St. Bonaveture’s Treatise on the Trinity

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Lent is a Time for Repentance

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BUT WHAT DOES THAT MEAN IN PRACTICE?

Ash Wednesday is Feb. 18th.

The season of lent is something so regular in its advent that it is easy to lose the proper sense of what we should be doing differently, and why this season is so important for our lives as Catholics.

Indeed, so scheduled and habitual are the events of modern life, that it is easy to let the season of Lent go by without ever making those changes necessary in our daily schedule, without which it is impossible to gather and taste the spiritual fruits of the season.

Lent is a Season for Good Works

lent_christ_mocked2First, let’s enumerates many good works that can be done during Lent, which though salutary each in a different manner, do not comprise the essential act that we should be engaged in, frequently, during this season.

Thus, first, there is the lenten resolution, which, even when I was a child, was still quite commonly practiced among Catholics — a sort of Catholic version of the New Years resolution, but us much more Christian.

While, yes, it is a good thing to resolve at the start of lent, to undertake some work of charity or devotion, to sanctify this holy season.  That is not the essence of Lent.

Thus, it is a good and holy thing to resolve to go to Daily Mass, receive the Sacraments more frequently, give alms to the poor in the third world, purchase a book about spiritual things, and read some of it, or attend devotional exercises such as the Stations of the Cross, while not neglecting to keep Friday’s meatless, these things while they should never be omitted, are not precisely what Lent is about.

Preparation for Holy Week and Easter is only the Secondary purpose of Lent

Now frequently we hear that the purpose of Lent is to prepare us to celebrate worthily the Sacred Feasts of Holy Week and Easter.  This too, while true, is only a secondary purpose behind Lent.

True, Lent is a liturgical season, which originated to prepare converts to the Faith, for Baptism on Easter, in the early centuries of the Church.

But Lent, as a liturgical season, is not directed principally to preparing the individual or the local Catholic Community to celebrate liturgical ceremonies worthily.  Rather, it has a higher purpose, just as the ceremonies do not exists for themselves, but for a higher purpose.

There is a certain sort of error, which has quietly creeped into the Catholic world in the last century, which conceives Catholic life to consist essentially in liturgical celebrations.  So widespread is this error, that you find Catholic laity reading out loud the entire rite of the Mass in Latin or in the vernacular, when the priest is absent, going so far as to say the priest’s parts; while thinking that on Sundays when there is no Mass in their area, that it would be a sin or fault or imperfection to omit the similitude of the liturgical celebration, so essential they believe that is to Catholic life.

Without a doubt the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is essential to the life of every Catholic and to the entire church.  But the liturgical ritual’s enactment is not the center of life.  Its what that ceremony represents, which is the center of our life:  the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ, through which, and without which, we cannot be saved and receive grace.

And hence the scope or role of the liturgical functions is not to be an end in themselves, but to be instruments and occasions for us to do those acts which are essential to Christian life:  the practice of the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity; the contemplation of God and of Heavenly things, and the consideration of the present state of our souls in the light of God.

The Primary Purpose of Lent

Lent, essentially, is for this:  to be an occasion in which we consider profoundly and anew, the state of our souls in the light of God, and in considering this, weighing the immense travesty of our sins against the dire and extreme eternal punishment, which we most certainly merited for them.

This most sober of considerations is what Lent is about.  Without that consideration and that done frequently in this holy Season, we miss the whole importance of Lent.

Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell:  these are the 4 Last Things, and these should be the objects of our frequent consideration, in Church, and out of Church.

The Saints made the consideration of the state of their soul in the light of God their habitual, daily reflection and habit of mind.  It was for this reason that the Saints did so many things which startle the mind and stir the soul of whomsoever hears or reads of them.

Essential Practices for Lent

We will soon enter into the season of Lent.  It will therefore, be very useful for us, now to consider its essential practice, ordering all the other customary practices of Lent towards this one essential thing:  our own repentance.

The mere consideration that we have sinned, is necessary, but this is not the only step we need to take.

We need to examine the causes of our sinfulness:  in which things or places are have we most sinned:  with whom, about what things, during which activities.

A wise Catholic who actually wants to save his soul, does not take likely the consideration of such things.  This is so, because he is a prudent Christian who realizes that unless he corrects a minor spiritual problem, it can easily grow into a greater one.

A humble Catholic too, realizes that, in the reconsideration of ones past sins, one can often find that one’s past confessions were much too superficial, and that in failing to remove one’s self from the occasions of those sins, that the vice which bore their deadly fruit has grown deeper still in one’s soul.

Let’s consider, therefore, the motives we should have in examining our conscience during Lent.  I do not mean “examining one’s conscience” in the perfunctory and quick manner in which we are accustomed, rightly, to do prior to receiving the Sacrament of Penance.

I mean this in the sense of the habit of meditation we should have to do this, whenever we do this, but especially throughout every day of the season of Lent.

Just as one’s house will soon be filthy as a pig sty, if one does not regularly clean every corner of it; so the soul gathers moral filth through very tiny and unnoticed daily sins.

These grow the vices in our soul; and when these vices are strong enough they give birth to the evil fruit of mortal sin.  And since one mortal sin, unrepented of, is sufficient to lose eternal life, and merit the everlasting and unimaginably excruciating fires of Hell, the prudent Catholic will not take lightly the importance of cleaning the house of his soul.

The first difficulty in this work that we find is that venial sins, each of them, reduce quite unnoticeably the ability of our souls to recognize sin and its effects.

Thus, unless we have a strong habit of examining our soul, when it comes time to think of our sinfulness, we cannot find anything to convict ourselves of!

If this is the case, with yourself; then you have found the first thing to confess and the first thing you must investigate with prayer and meditation:  the fact that you do not recognize yourself to have sinned.

As the Psalms say, even the holiest of men sins seven times a day.  If you are not a Saint, you surely sin more than 7 times a day; if you are a Saint you will already be convinced that you sin much more than this.

However, to counter super-scrupulosity, which is the spiritual disease of those who are convinced that certain things are sins, and that they have committed these quite frequently, even though their real sins are much greater, and by this too anxious of self-accusations they omit the consideration of their vices of pride or despair in the power of God’s grace to forgive them in the Sacrament of Penance; nevertheless for the majority of us, we have not this fault, we just don’t see our sins; we do not suffer from a preoccupation of believing we have sinned when we have not; we suffer from the opposite spiritual fault, of considering we have not sinned, when we have!

One rule of thumb is, that if you do not consider you have committed any sins in the last year, you probably have the habit of committing many mortal sins:  its just that since the effect of sin is the darkening of the mind, you have been so blinded by your sins that you can’t see it.

Lent is a prosperous spiritual time to seek the cure of such a blindness.  And one must seek it, to escape from the dire punishment of Hell which would surely engulf such a blinded soul!

Practical Remedies to Cure one’s own Impenitence

There are some practical remedies to obtain this cure, which need to be mentioned, because they are never preached.

The first is that for most of us, a direct attack upon this blindness does not convince of anything.  Even a very moving sermon, has little or no effect beyond recognizing that it was such.

The actual change of heart, which is the goal of repentance evades the sinner.

A direct attack upon this spiritual insensitivity to sin does not work, because one can only recognize sin, inasmuch as one opens one’s mind to the ability to see it and fear it.

Spiritual blindness is accompanied by a lack of fear of sin; a certain habit of easily excusing major sins, as if they were light faults; and venial sins and imperfections.  There is a certain distortion of judgment in the soul, which has resulted by ignoring the immortality of sin for so long.  And it is, admittedly, a very evil consequence of sin, to free one’s self from.

And to be absolutely frank, its is very rare that a single confession will be sufficient.  Just as those with cancer are not cured by taking just one pill, but often have to endure very painful procedures and months and years of treatment; so this kind of insensitivity to sin requires a long and protracted treatment.

The key to progressing against this awful spiritual disability, is to take tiny steps towards weakening and conquering this disability.

Regaining one’s ability to see one’s own sins, is not some mysterious spiritual practice.  It begins with the recognition of one sin which our conscience still can see is a sin.  Perhaps, however, we only think it is an imperfection or venial sin; but if we consider its causes or nature or occasion, it certain, in a soul which does not consider itself to be a great sinner, that he has overlooked something which conceals the fact that he is in reality a great sinner.

I won’t speak about the fact that it is already a mortal sin of pride to consider that you are not a sinner: because such a declaration for such a soul is usually too much to understand.  Pride is a very spiritual sin, and one who has lost the sense of morality, has lost the sense of what is spiritual.

However, at the start it is always useful to consider and recognize intellectually that this is true; even if affectively and effectively we do not understand how this can be the case, because of our blindness.

How to dispose one’s self to the great Grace of Repentance

So, uprooting spiritual blindness begins with considering the one thing we can still see as a sin or imperfection.  This is the first step, because the very nature of spiritual progress is an re-capacitation of the power of the mind to consider spiritual things.  And like dominoes which when aligned properly, cause the next one to fall, when they themselves are toppled, so sins, when recognized and repented of, are the occasion to open our minds to the recognition of other sins.

In each step of the process, the recognition of one sin is the work of the conscience in its present state.  But this recognition cannot enable us to make the second step, which is repenting of the sin, because this second step is the work of prayer, devout and persistent to obtain the grace to repent of it.  And this can only be obtained by humble supplication.

All kinds of fasts, prayers, liturgies, meditations, pilgrimages, spiritual readings, alms, etc., are not going to assist your soul, if you do not use them as accompaniments to the work of earnestly begging for the grace of repentance, and disposing yourself to it by acts of self humiliation before God, in private, in the recesses of your heart and mind, wherein you declare, decide and resolve, that God is God, and that you are just a poor sinner, who in no manner deserves anything but judgment and damnation!

Humility is the key here:  how often a sinner might struggle to overcome one vice all his life, but fail to do so, simply because he never got down on his knees in private, and admitted to God and to himself that he was incapable of virtue by himself, and that he could only be virtuous and good, by the gift of God, earnestly begging Him for it on such an occasion!

This humble prayer and devout, secret supplication for grace, is the key step and the essential prerequisite for repentance, though, it can in fact be done in the secret of one’s heart, even in public places, while driving, or traveling, or even during other occupations, when the soul is properly disposed and God in His Mercy bestows the actual grace for it to occur.

During this essential step of humble recognition, a sorrow is engendered in the soul, along with a fear and realization of the danger of damnation, that the heart and mind turns vivaciously towards God and stirs it to ardently appeal for grace.

During such times it sometimes happens that this movement is responsive to grace sufficiently to receive the gift of tears, and during such a gracious movement, the dispositions of the soul can be cleansed and purged from years and years of distorted affections; leaving the heart with a new and healthy sense of sin and its gravity, and a new and healthy vivacity for things spiritual and heavenly.

The Proper Place and Role of Self-mortification

Essential to preparing the soul for such a humble recognition is the practice of mortification.

Mortification consists corporally with fasting from beverages and food, abstaining from meat and rich foods; use of cold showers, and the endurance of sensations which are painful or sacrificial.

Mortification of the body does not work, when such activities are undertaken by a spirit of self-sufficiency, a kind of presumption that without God one can work his own repentance, or that in doing such things, one proves that he is not a sinner or is some sort of spiritual giant or athlete.

Such a spirit makes such corporal mortifications, more sinful!

Rather such practices should be undertaken only with the motivation to humble oneself, detach oneself from such a spirit of self sufficiency, and open the door of the spiritual world to the virtue of humility.

This desire to seek spiritual enlightenment, to leave aside one’s pride, to change one’s life at its root, to gain a sense of spiritual things and to loose one’s carnal view of things, should be the motivation of spiritual mortifications, which are very helpful to dispose our souls to the grace of repentance:  such as all those customary acts of Lent, which were mentioned at the beginning of this essay, asnot being the principal purpose of Lent.

Repentance is the principal purpose of Lent, and all other things must be ordered to that.  But repentance has as its goal the reuniting of the soul with God and the resumption of the path toward perfection in the pursuit of eternal salvation. Lent thus finds it glory, not in preparing us for liturgical celebrations in time, but in being an occasion to return to the quest for eternal salvation in eternity.

 

St. Francis of Assisi’s Self-Consciousness of Mission

Vocation and Prophecy

“St. Francis…was called providentially to a work of reform for the salvation of his contemporaries and to assist in the work of the Church Universal.”[1]

test2paxIn his Encyclical Letter of April 13, 1926 A. D., Rite Expiatis, Pope Pius XI, by situating the spiritual efficacy of St. Francis of Assisi in the grace of his vocation, recalled the close connection between mission and vocation, which has its roots in the Old Testament, particularly in reference to the prophets.

“Prophet” is the English cognate of the Latin, propheta and the Greek προφετε.[2] In the Septuagint of the Old Testament, the Greek term is the translation of several Hebrew terms. The most significant one of these, for comparison here, is the Hebrew word nābî’, which means “called”, “convoked”.[3] In the Pentateuch, so significant is this term, that only three persons are identified with it: Abraham, Aaron and Miriam, the sister of Moses..[4]

The prophet, in the Old Testament sense of the term, is one who is sent, par excellence. There is no prophet apart from a prophetic mission. Indeed, the essence of the prophetic vocation is the call to mission.[5]

Applying this vision to the life and person of St. Francis of Assisi (Giovanni di Bernadone, A. D. 1182 —1226), to consider his self-consciousness of mission, will obviously require that one prescind from a more detailed historical or critical examination of texts, the space required for which would exceed that of a short essay. I will therefore presume that the writings of the Saint, as contained in the critical edition[6] represent his own personal views, rather than that of any supposed secretary or ghost-writer, and that the historical record, based on the sources, faithfully records what the Saint did and said.[7]

Hence, it situating the significance of St. Francis’s mission in his vocation, Pope Pius XI is thereby indicating at once, both the prophetic nature of St. Francis’s vocation and mission, and the importance we must attach to the narrative of his vocation as an expression of the Saint’s own self-consciousness of mission.[8]

3 Fundamentals Steps in St. Franci’s Conversion reflect his Grasp of Mission

In the Autumn of 1205 A. D., Giovanni di Bernadone found himself one day drawn to pray in a decrepit little church on the outskirts of Assisi. The church is named San Damiano,[9] and it was dedicated to the two Arab saint doctors, Cosmas and Damian. There, the Byzantine icon Crucifix, came alive and spoke the momentous words, which lie at the heart of all that is Franciscan: “Francis, go, repair My house, which as you can see is falling completely to ruin”.[10]

That we know of this event, and its circumstances in such detail, is solely explicable on the basis of the fact that the Poverello, for all his humility, did not hesitate to recount it to his first disciples. In this, he imitated the prophets of the Old Testament, who when asked the reason for their peculiar behavior, gave the narrative of their own call as prophets, as the justification (cf. Amos 7:14-15). This means that for St. Francis, there is a strictly theological, charismatic identity of vocation and mission with a historical theophanic event.

One can speculate that given the cultural context of the Middle Ages, in which lords dominated the land and serfs were bound to service, that the context of St. Francis visiting the dwelling of His Lord (a church) and receiving an order to undertake a work on the domain the lord (the Church), would lead us to expect that he would have understood this charge as feudal duty of a mere servant. But all the sources tell of quite a contrary self-consciousness.

The second principal moment in Saint Francis’ vocation shows this clearly, when out of his zeal to repair churches, having ended up in a dispute with his father, he had recourse to the Bishop of Assisi, before whom he formally renounced his legal duty to his earthly father, saying: “From now on I will say ‘Our Father who art in Heaven,’ and not father Peter Bernardone”.[11] Here, St. Francis manifests that he understood his vocation, and hence his mission, as one squarely contextualized in his adopted sonship in Christ Jesus: a purely New Testament concept, not at all medieval. St. Francis’s self-consciousness, thus, prescinded from his own personal historical context, and rose to the level of the eternal Gospel itself.

The third moment in St. Francis’ vocation also manifests clearly this. After his renunciation of his father, one winter day he went forth in the countryside, singing out loud. When accosted by brigands along the roadside, who asked him, in his disheveled state, who he was, he responded, “I am the herald of the Great King!”.[12] In this self-confession, St. Francis emphasis’ his own realization that he was on a mission from the King of Heaven, which essentially required him to announce the Advent and decrees of the Lord Jesus — which are the two essential aspects of the vocation of an Apostle, according to the doctrine of St. Paul (cf. Romans 1:1,15; 1 Corinthians 1:1,10,17; Galatians 1:1,8-24).[13]

St. Francis’ self-consciousness of Mission as reflected in his writing

St. Franci’s Writings also reflect this self-consciousness of mission as depending personally on the initiative of Christ, as Lord, and sharing in the Gospel orientated apostolate. He confesses that divine revelation was the basis of his way of life (Test 14):

And after the Lord gave me some friars, no one showed me, what I ought to do, but the Most High Himself revealed to me, that I ought to live according to the form of the Holy Gospel.[14]

This self-consciousness of the divine initiative in his vocation, the Poverello expressed even in regard to the vocation of his disciples, inasmuch as he ascribed the inspiration to write the Regula Bullata to the Lord’s intervention (Test 39):

But as the Lord granted me simply and purely to dictate and write the Rule and these words, so you should understand them simply and without gloss and observe them with holy work until the end.[15]

St. Francis’ expresses his self-consciousness of the universality of his mission, in his numerous travels to the diverse provinces of Italy, to France, to Spain, and the Levant (Egypt and the Holy Land). He does this also by his address made in his Letter to the Rulers of the nations (EpRect): To all the magistrates and consuls, judges and rules of lands everywhere and to all others, to whom these letters will have come ….[16]

Like the Apostle St. Paul, he opens his salutation to the Friars of the whole order, with a remembrance of “Him who redeemed and washed us in His own Most Precious Blood” (EpOrd 3; cf. Apoc. 1:5),[17] thus situating the motivation for his writing within the context of his self-consciousness of a duty to proclaim the Gospel of universal redemption wrought in the Paschal Mystery of Christ. And therein he manifests to his friars that his is a vocation they themselves share which is essentially a mission, divinely given (EpOrd 8-10) to announced the Gospel to all nations:

Confess Him since (He is) good (Ps. 135:1), and exalt Him in your works (Tobias 13:6), since for this reason He sent you (cf. Tobias 13:4) into the whole world, to give testimony to His voice by words and work and make all know, that there is no Omnipotent One besides Him (cf. Tobias 13:4).[18]

St. Francis’ Conception of Mission as incorporated into the Rules of 1223 and 1221

Finally, no treatment, even a brief one, of the Saint’s writings, regarding his self-consciousness of mission, would be complete without a reference to the Regula Bullata and to the Rule of 1221.

In the Regula Bullata, which was written in 1223 A. D., St. Francis shows that he conceives the ministry of preaching as one which is essentially a proclamation of the Kingdom and the urgent necessity of a personal response, a vision of homiletics which is essentially missionary in the full sense of the New Testament doctrine. Writing in Chapter IX of the Regula Bullata, the Saint says:

I also warn and exhort these same friars, that in the preaching, that they do, their expressions be considered and chaste (cf. Ps. 11:7; 17:31), for the utility and edification of the people, by announcing to them vices and virtues, punishment and glory… .[19]

However, the core of the particularly missionary character of the Order of the Minors, is expounded by the Saint in chapter XII, On those going among the Saracens and other infidels: Let whoever of the friars who, by divine inspiration, wants to go among the Saracens and other infidels, seek permission for that reason from their Ministers provincial.[20] Here, the Saint significantly expresses the essential concept of mission which he hands down to his sons within the boundaries of a personally received divine inspiration and a personally received canonical permission, that is between a Divine Initiative and a Ecclesiological Initiative, essential confines for every missionary endeavor which can be fruitful.

Frank M. Rega, SFO, in his book, St. Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of the Muslims, brings to the fore the importance, too, of the Rule of 1221, in understanding the praxis advocated by St. Francis in missionary activity. Rega writes:

“The importance of chapter XVI of the Regula non Bullata, regarding relations with Islam, should not be underestimated. It is the first documented instance of a Catholic religious order specifically calling for a missionary outlook to unbelievers. …

“The chapter then proposes two possible ways that Franciscans may conduct themselves in Muslim lands in order to fulfill their mission. The first manner of conduct in regard to the Muslims in simply to lead a life of Christian witness, without openly preaching Christ, . . . The second manner of conducting themselves is a decidedly more positive and active proclamation of the Gospel.”[21]

Even though the Rule of 1221 was composed with the assistance of Friar Caesar of Speyer, the same fundamental characteristics of St. Francis’ self-consciousness of mission shine through: (1) Mission begins with the divine initiative (The Lord says, “Behold I send you as sheep . . .” [RegNB 16:1]), (2) an ecclesiological initiative (Whence let whatever friar . . . go in accord with the permission of his minister [RegNB 16:2]), (3) is characterized by a witness of Christian Life [RegNB 16:6] and (4) proclamation of the Gospel as an eschatologically and universally significant announcement (when it pleases God, let them announce the word of God, so that they may believe in God the Omnipotent, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, the Creator of all things, (and) in the Redeemer and Savior, the Son, and that they may be baptized and become Christians, because he who has not been reborn of water and the Holy Spirit, cannot enter the Kingdom of God [RegNB 16:7]).[22]

St. Francis’ Mission to the Sultan Al-Malik al-Kamil, as the pre-eminent manifestation of his sense of Mission.

Having very briefly considered the textual evidence for the thought of the Saint regarding his self-conscious awareness of mission, let us take a look at one event in his life, which exemplifies this self-consciousness in an extraordinary and heroic manner: his missionary appeal to the Egyptian Sultan Al-Malik al-Kamil,[23] during the Fifth Crusade, which mission according to Rega took place sometime after the declaration of truce in September of 1219, following the defeat of the Crusaders at Damietta by the army of the same Sultan.

St. Francis, according to the sources, having understood the defeat by the Crusaders to be a work divinely revealed, took the opportunity to seek permission of the Church to undertake the mission of converting the Sultan. He did this by approaching the Papal Legate Cardinal Pelagius of Albano, who after a first refusal, saw in St. Francis’ zealous insistence, a sign from God that it was a mission with a divinely inspired initiative. According to St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, the Saint took Friar Illuminato as his companion.[24] Jacques de Vitry, the Bishop of Acre, was personally present at Damietta, and witnessed St. Francis’ departure: thus giving a solid testimony to the veracity of the incident and the extraordinary courage of the Saint, seeing that the Sultan was rumored to have ordered the death of all Christians who crossed the lines:

We saw Brother Francis, the founder of the Order of the Friars Minor, as simple and unlearned man, though very admirable and beloved by God and man, who was respected universally. He came to the Christian army, which was lying before Damietta, and an excess of fervor had such an effect upon him, that, protected solely by the shied of faith, he had the daring to go to the Sultan’s camp to preach to him and to his subjects the faith of Jesus Christ.[25]

While this is not the place to recount all the details of this missionary journey which would make St. Francis’s name resound throughout all of Christendom and the Islamic world of that day, certain brief comments can be made regarding its fundamental aspects, each of which reflect the Poverello’s personal consciousness of mission.

First, Saint Francis sees the providence of encountering sheep in the no-man’s land which separated the two armies, as a divine reminder of Matthew 10:16: Behold, I send you as sheep amidst wolves.[26] Second, Saint Francis patiently endures suffering in conformity to Christ, even to showing himself fearless of dying for the Name. Third, he openly proclaimed Christ as the necessary means of personal salvation of the Sultan. Fourth, having begun by divine inspiration, he succeeded with divine grace of moving the heart of the Sultan, showing him the true zeal of a Catholic missionary, since they told him that they had come to save his soul. This intention so moved the Sultan, that he refused the request by his imams to have the two friars put to death, in accordance with Islamic law.[27]

These and the remaining details of his stay among the Sultan’s court show that the Poverello was utterly convinced of his divine mission, of the protection of Divine Providence which would see him through it; showed himself imbued with the highest ideals of the Gospel, of the imitation of Christ, of love of God and neighbor, and so unlike the icon of irenicism and religious indifference which is so often promoted as the true St. Francis.

Conclusion

Having very briefly surveyed the steps of St. Francis’ conversion, his writings and Rules, and the circumstances of his mission to the Sultan of Egypt, we can characterize and understand that St. Francis’ personal self-consciousness of mission was authentically evangelical in every aspect, a product of his deep faith and abundant spirit of evangelical grace, not of the worldly values and goals of a medieval man.

His sense of mission contained 5 major aspects: (1) he understood that his way of life and unique apostolate was entrusted to him by Divine intervention as a mission, from Christ Crucified Himself; (2) presupposed the necessity of the Church’s affirmation or convalidation; that (3) it required conformity of Christ by means of living the evangelical values as a daily way of life; that (4) it urged and required him and his friars to go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel of salvation to everyone; announcing (5) the Gospel not as a salvation from socio-economic problems, but as a personal call to conversion and redemption; situating the message of salvation in squarely eschatological terms, even at the risk of self and life.

A mission which began in prayer and aimed for martyrdom, which knew all forms of charity for God and neighbor, which was as much patient in suffering as bold in initiative: a timeless example for all his sons, and the entire Church universal.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

José Maria Abrego de Lacy, I Libri Prophetici, from the series, “Introduzione allo studio della Bibblia”, Paidei Editrice, Brescia 1996, pp. 254.

St. Francis of Assisi: A Testament to Peace: the Writings of St. Francis of Assisi, trans. by Br. Alexis Bugnolo, The Franciscan Archive, Mansfield, MA, USA, 2008, pp. 182.

Grande Enciclopedia Illustrata della Bibbia, Gian Luigi Prato, editor. Piemme, Casale Monferrato (AL), 1997.

Pope Pius XI, Rite Expiatis, April 13, 1926, n. 30; Official English Translation by Libreria Editrice Vaticana, as published at the Vatican Website.

Frank M. Rega, SFO, St. Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of the Muslims, Tan Books, Rockford, Illinois, USA, 2007, pp. 150.

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FOOTNOTES

[1] Pope Pius XI, Rite Expiatis, April 13, 1926, n. 30; Official English Translation by Libreria Editrice Vaticana, as published at the Vatican Website.

[2] José Maria Abrego de Lacy, I Libri Prophetici, from the series, “Introduzione allo studio della Bibblia”, Paidei Editrice, Brescia 1996, p. 25.

[3] Abrego de Lacy, ibid., p. 25.

[4] Ibid., p. 26.

[5] Ibid., p. 36, where de Abrego de Lacy writes of the importance of the Prophet’s retelling of his moment of vocation: « I raconti di vocazione vengono solitamente datati in un preciso momento della vita del profeta, prima dell’inizio della sua missione, appunto perché ne sono la giustificazione ».

[6] Opuscula Sancti Patris Francisci Assisiensis, Caietanus Esser, OFM, as part of the Biblioteca Francescana Ascentica Medii Aevi, tom. XII, Editiones Collegii S. Bonaventurae Ad Claras Aquas, Grottaferrata (Roma), 1978. All citations, however, will be from my own English translation of the Saints Writings from Cajetan Esser’s Latin, as the former appear in A Testament to Peace: The Writings of St. Francis of Assisi, The Franciscan Archive, 2008.

[7] For brevity sake, I will cite the historical record from Franck M. Rega SFO, St. Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of the Muslims, Tan Books and Publishers, Rockford, Illinois, USA, 2007.

[8] For brevity sake, I will take up a consideration of only the most central points of the narrative.

[9] Rega, ibid., p. 10.

[10] Ibid..

[11] Ibid., p. 13.

[12] Rega, loc. cit, p. 15.

[13] Cf. “Apostolo”, Grande Enciclopedia Illustrata della Bibbia, Pieme, 1997, p. 105.

[14] English translation, cited from A Testament to Peace, (see footnote 6 above), p. 158-9.

[15] Ibid., p. 162.

[16] Ibid. p. 64.

[17] Ibid., p. 54.

[18] Ibid., p. 55, with Esser’s scriptural references.

[19] RegB 9:3-4; English translation, loc. cit., p. 112.

[20] RegB 12:1; English translation, ibid., p. 115.

[21] Rega, op. cit, pp. 80-81, and 82.

[22] English translations from A Testament to Peace, p. 135.

[23] Here I follow the exposition of Rega, who has given the most recent synthetic reconstruction of the event, loc. cit., pp. 56-78.

[24] Rega, ibid, p. 56-57.

[25] Rega, ibid., p. 58, citing Vitry’s, History of the Orient, ch. 32, quoted in Fr. Candidde Chalippe OFM, The Life and Legends of Saint Francis of Assisi, P. J. Kenedy & Sons, 1918.

[26] Rega., ibid., p. 58-59, for this and what follows.

[27] Rega., ibid, p. 61.

The Franciscan Archive publishes, in English, St. Bonaventure’s Opera Omnia, tome 1

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Layout 1ISBN: 0-9915269-0-2 or 978-0-9915269-0-1

Nov. 1, 2014 (Mansfield, MA, USA) — The Franciscan Archive announces today the publication of its English translation of St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio’s (1217-1274) Opera Omnia, tome I:  Commentaries on the First Book of Sentences of Master Peter Lombard.

The text features a  A Replica Translation, in English, of the Critical Latin Edition by the Quaracchi Fathers, of 1882 A. D., with All accompanying Original Prolegomena, Tabulae, Scholia and Footnotes, furnished with translations of All the Variant Readings cited in the Original & Enriched with frequent citation of Scholastic terms in the Latin tongue;  Includes Introduction & Preface to English Translation, 2 Color Illustrations & table of Scholastic Terms.

The publication, thus, also contains the complete Text of Master Peter Lombard’s, First Book of Sentences, in English translation.

Dimensions of the publication: 996 pages: size 9.25” by 13.56”, by 2.625″; green cloth hardcover, Laminated full color jacket (as seen above), printed on acid-free 50lb-paper, sewn library binding, green ribbon, shrink wrapped, with barcoding, approx weight: 9.1 lbs (4.14 kg).

Distribution has been consigned to SOSM Inc. of Mansfield, MA, USA, a non-profit corporation, which is offering copies to raise the funds necessary to print the second volume, God willing in the fall of 2015 or spring of 2016. For a suggested donation of $80 USD per single copy (shipping not included), or $300 USD for a box of 5 copies. Ordering information is available here:

https://franciscan-archive.org/bonaventure.html

Images of the publication are available at

https://franciscanum.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/bonaventure-tome-i-photos/

The Table of Questions from the actual First Tome, is viewable in PDF format from this link:

https://franciscan-archive.org/bonaventura/bonav-I-TOQ.pdf

This is a limited publication of 3,000 copies. Distribution is world-wide.

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AS OF Friday, November 7, 2014, All our pre-orders for this book have been mailed. Depending on how far you are from our HQ in Mansfield, MA, USA, it should take between 3-5 days in USA, or 5-10 business days overseas for you to receive your copy or copies.  Many thanks to all those who pre-ordered this publication for your foresight, your trust and confidence in The Franciscan Archive Publications, and your charity and collaboration in assisting us raise the funds to publish the next tome of Bonaventure!