Her Doctrine and Morals

Saint Bonaventure, Bishop, Confessor, Doctor

14 July 2024


The Sunday


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Dear Friends,

Today, we celebrate a great saint in the Church and especially in the Franciscan Order. Saint Bonaventure is considered the second founder of the Order after Saint Francis. Saint Bonaventure related to his friend, the illustrious Angelic Doctor Saint Thomas Aquinas, that Christ Crucified was the book from which he learned all his wisdom. He remained insensible to public praise. When he was made Bishop and Cardinal, the two Nuncios who were to invest him with the insignia of his office found him busy washing dishes. He ruled the Order for seventeen years and worked with great success to revive the Holy Patriarch's spirit, so he is justly considered its second founder. He died on July 14, 1274, during the Council of Lyons. Pope Sixtus IV canonized him in 1482, and Pope Sixtus V gave him the title of Doctor of the Church.

While honoring and singing the praises of the Saints is inspiring, it only benefits us if we draw closer to God. In the Gospel reading for today (Saint Matthew 5: 13-19), Jesus tells His disciples that they are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? We look for this spiritual salt in the doctrines of the Church. Saint Bonaventure and the other Doctors of the Church have given us this spiritual salt that cures, seasons, and makes everything in this life healthy. We eagerly want this salt, but few can provide it to us. Most of the "religious" leaders and teachers in this world today have lost the true faith — have lost their savor and are fit for nothing but to be cast out and trodden on by men.

It is disappointing and sad that we must turn back the pages of history to find the true salt of the earth. The expanse and riches of the Church that once salted the earth, seeking to bring all men to Jesus Christ, have lost their savor — only surviving in a remnant of the hierarchy.

While it is easy to highlight our would-be spiritual leaders' failings, we must remember that we are all called to be Jesus' disciples. We are all to be the salt of the earth. As disciples of Jesus, we have the true teachings of Jesus and the Church that are more easily accessible to us now than ever. We must all strive to cling to the Church's unchanging doctrines, morals, and practices so that this world does not change us, lose our savor, and be eternally cast out.

With this gift of access to the Truth must come humility. Any wisdom or understanding we find is a gift from God, not our own. We have nothing to be proud of. We can always do better. Yet, we must complement this humility with light and love in sharing what we have been given with the rest of the world. It is a delicate balance to be true spiritual salt and light for the world yet remain meek and humble of heart like Jesus.

While the Bible, Catechisms, Theological works, Encyclicals, Decrees, Lives of the Saints, etc., are easily accessible to us (if we are seeking them), we must remember, as Saint Bonaventure shows us, that true wisdom and understanding come from Christ Crucified. Our prayers and meditations before Jesus on the Cross will aid us tremendously in balancing enthusiasm and love with genuine humility and piety. If we have access to the true Mass and Sacraments, we will find it even more beneficial to seek Him, Jesus Crucified, in the Holy Eucharist.

The Mass is the renewal of the Sacrifice of Calvary, and Jesus is made present in the Holy Eucharist as a living, sacrificial offering to the Father in Heaven. The Mass and the Sacrifice of Calvary are one and the same. In the Holy Eucharist, we find, with Saint Bonaventure, the actual book of Christ Crucified — Jesus Christ Himself.

If we cannot physically come to pray and be with Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, we should strive to make Spiritual Communions. Our hearts, minds, and souls need not be restrained by time and space. We can spiritually approach Jesus in His loving Sacrificing Agony on the Cross and Hidden in the Holy Eucharist at any moment and as often or as long as we wish. Our material obligations do not impede our spiritual movements. Our spiritual movements do not hinder our physical obligations but should instead aid in more faithfully fulfilling them. We can do everything we do for the love of God.

While we can combine work and prayer, we must remember to set aside the labors of the body from time to time and give our souls completely to God.

May the Immaculate Heart of Mary inspire, guide, and protect us!

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