Saint Bonaventure

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BonaventureOne should neither read first about Saint Bonaventure , or write quickly about Saint Bonaventure.  One should simply read Saint Bonaventure

“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.”

From the Journey of the Mind to God by St. Bonaventure

San Bonaventura (1221 – 15 July 1274) born Giovanni di Fidanza. He was an Italian medieval Franciscan, scholastic theologian and philosopher. Bonaventure was the seventh Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor. The saint was also Cardinal Bishop of Albano. Saint Bonaventure was a friend of the Saint Thomas Aquinas, and received his doctorate with St. Thomas Aquinas.

Can you imagine the conversations between those two saints?

psst; you can read more about him here: http://bit.ly/2tX1rDV

Memorial of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin

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*This is a post that is from 2012 and it includes the prayer for the saints canonization:

250px-CatherinaeTekakwithaVirginis1690
Prayer for the Canonization
of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha
O God, who, among the many marvels of Your Grace in the New World, did cause to blossom on the banks of the Mohawk and of the St. Lawrence, the pure and tender Lily, Kateri Tekakwitha, grant we beseech You, the favor we beg through her intercession, that this Young Lover of Jesus and of His Cross may soon be counted among the Saints of Holy Mother Church, and that our hearts may be enkindled with a stronger desire to imitate her innocence and faith. Through the
same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.

Kateri Tekakwitha’s date of canonization is 21 October 2012
Memorial 14 July

Kateri was born in1656 of a Catholic Algonquin mother(Tagaskouita) and the Mohawk chief Kenneronkwa in the village of Ossemenon(Auriesville) along the Mohawk river in northern New York. A smallpox epidemic that swept through that region took the lives of Kateri’s(Catherine’s) parents and her  brother. This disease also left her with the diseases characteristic scars,limited vision , and also physically weak. She was adopted by her aunt and uncle(Chief of the Turtle Clan) at four years of age.Since Kateri’s mother was Christian, see encouraged that faith in Kateri. Her father however was of a Native American religion and had an opposite opinion on the subject. Her uncle too discouraged her interest in Christianity.The battle between Christianity,and her families Native American religion would be a source of friction for much of Kateri’s life.Kateri was a devout follower of Christ; she was baptized at the age of 20 by the Jesuit priest Father Jacques de Lamberville.On Christmas Day of 1677 Kateri received her first holy communion. In March of 1679 she professed her vow to perpetual virginity. She devoted her life to teaching prayers to children, helping the sick and aged. On 17 April 1680 she died at 24-years of age.The last words she uttered were “Jesus, I love you”: “lesos konoronkwa.” Shortly after her death her scars from smallpox began to disappear.

KATERI TEKAWITHA embraced Jesus Christ,even though many in her family and tribe rejected her for it. Kateri Tekawitha will be the first canonized Native American saint. She is a source of great pride among the many Native Americans who are devout Catholic’s. Her sainthood is an answer to their years of prayer in the past and she will certainly be a faithful intercessor for all Americans in the years to come. Throughout the Northeastern United States and Canada there are many Native American Tribes that enthusiastically embraced Christianity and they are active, vibrant, devout followers of Jesus and his Church today.The memorial and the canonization of Kateri Tekawitha, the “Lilly of the Mohawks” is an especially festive and joyous occasion for them as it is for all in her region.

Francis of Paola

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“At the age of fifteen, Francis (of Paola) left his  home at Paula in Calabria to live as a hermit in a cave by the sea-coast.” Here his religious order takes form. (Here is a side story: In ancient times Calabria was referred to as Italy, it is the  first locality to be called  that name. It is located at modern Italy’s southern end.) For brief background leading up to life in a cave: His parents were devout Christians with a devotion to  St. Francis of Assisi. They had prayed for that saints intercession so that the infant Francis of Paola might be cured of an eye infection. Their son, as a child, wore the Habit of the Franciscan friars ( the little-habit). With that habit his eyes were immediately cured. Jesus cured the sight of many.

Now back to the cave by the seashore. Over time some “disciples” gathered around him. In 1436, and partially because of those followers,  he founded his own Franciscan order the “Minims.” Religious orders are approved by the pope,, and they must submit a rule for the order. Popes often rewrite those rules. Their original name was Hermits of Saint Francis of Assisi, hermits not monks, priests, or friars. Francis was a contemplative that eventually was called to active ministry. The Minims observed a perpetual Lent, and never touched meat, fish, eggs, or milk. That was their fourth vow, their addition to the rule of Assisi. It gave their order character. One interesting point about Francis is that the hermit was never ordained a priest. Many legends are associated with this saint. He can be researched, must I type everything? Do your homework ! He was Prophet, miracle worker, and said to have the ability to read minds. He is the patron saint of sailors. If one word is to be associated with him it is Charitas. They wore black wool robes. They started in southern Italy, many moved north and were found in Germany. There they were called Paulaner.

Franciscan’s were big in the time of the hermit of Saint Francis, and they had become much larger than the Saint from Assisi ever intended them to be.  They were popular. Francis of Assisi wanted his order to counter corruption and false devotion, the one from Paola wanted to do the same. They were contemplative. Is there a conflict or contrast here? They were Minims in the times of Kings. They were little people in the time of some very Big People, and one has to be around “Big People” to fully understand that. They were the counter-revolution and they took the world by surprise.

Interesting is how Francis (OM) order had changed, much in the same way his northern mentors (OFM) was changed at the request of the pope. Their intent was for an order that revolved around a small group of devotees, the pope’s intent was for an order that would change Europe. In looking at these medieval saints, it is often important to look at their period in history. It’s important to remember bureaucratic Churches, corrupt clergy, and powerful Kingdom’s. It is important to look at all of the Big people these little saints did battle with. Their was reason for their retreat from Society, and for the popes putting them back in the fight. They were a contrast, and what contrasts with today? On one hand there is Francis original devotion, that of a contemplative hermit. On the other is the Popes desire to create large orders. Francis of Payola was loyal to the chair of Peter. Francis also lived a long life, I wonder if he came full circle and ended at that cave by the seashore? If my memory serves me correctly, the one from Assisi ended up at the same grotto he started from. Both orders exist today, but the Order Minim is a fragment of what it once was. Hermits I here are on the rise. The Church the friar hermit served was at its height during the saints lives, today it is on the decline. What is the message of Francis of Paola today?

The breads of lent

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Meat-fast, egg-fast, dairy-fast, oil-fast and so-on and so-forth, Lent is a season of denial. It is a season of the mortification of the flesh. It is a season of fasting and of abstinence. Pray tell, how does one survive? Granted the regulations are not strict today but think to the centuries before. Little was allowed but bread and water. How does one cope, how does one survive? There are ways and some of these traditions still exist today.

The pretzel has its origins in medieval Lent. Tradition says that a young monk in seventh century Italy first prepared this Lenten bread. It consists of only of water, flour and salt. Dairy and animal products were not used because of the Lenten restrictions. Remember? To remind his fellow monks that Lent was a time of prayer, the baker rolled the dough into strips and twisted each strip in a distinctive pretzel shape . The design was inspired by the crossing the arms upon the chest during prayer.

Beer, and especially big beer (aka strong-beer, Doppelbock) has been associated with Lent since before the seventeenth century. A particularly noteworthy beer is produced by Paulaner brewery which had its origins with the monks of the same name. Their monistary is located at Neudeck ob der Au, Germany. The Paulaner monks are members of the religious order founded by Francis of Paola. Since the Lenten fast of the day was quite rigorous, and Paulaner monks already had a perpetual fast as part of their rule, the monastery brew master thought a dense and nutritious beer would help the monks survive the 40 days of Lent. The beer caries the name Salvator and is still brewed today.

History tells us that when the brew master created that beer he and the monks found the beer to be so delicious that they feared it would no longer be suitable for a season of repentance. Salvator is a penitential beer after all. Mortification should not be taken lightly. Unsure of what to do, they packed up a cask of the nutritiously hearty beer and carted it off to Rome to gain a pontifical blessing for its Lenten suitability. In those days travel was slow, the trip was long, and summers hot; refrigeration had yet to be invented and casked beer is particularly perishable. By the time the cask had reached Rome, and the Pope poured a tankard of the liquid bread, it had spoiled. Spoiled, what we call skunked! What was once delicious became disgusting and so the Pope blessed the liquid logger, a-plus suitable for Lent. It was penitential and somber and disagreeable and thoroughly unenjoyable. Perfectly unpalatable! With that the strong-beer became a blessed Lenten tradition. Too bad the pontiff didn’t enjoy a fresh glass. So sad. It is delicious, I do proclaim.

Fast forward to today.

On the grounds of that monastery (which is no longer a monastery), a strong-beer festival takes place every year. It begins Saint Josephs Day (always in Lent) and runs for seventeen days. The festival is associated with the traditional ‘Holy Father Feast’ on April 2, commemorating Francis of Paola, founder of the Paulaner religious order. The festival highlights strong beers such as  Salvator. Beer and pretzels, a Lenten fasting tradition.

food fast_edited

Merry-Monk, happy-hermit.

Zeppole di San Giuseppe

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A couple of days ago I rambled on about an Irish Saint and an Irish-American celebration. Today is the feast of Saint Joseph, and a day that is particularly celebrated in Italy and by Italians worldwide. If I rambled about the national celebrations of Patrick in food and drink, Josephs day should be treated in the same regard. In Italy this is the Feast of San Guiseppe and the word that I think deserves some attention is FEAST. Feasts are celebrated. An interesting twist is that Josephs day always occurs in Lent but it has developed its celebration per that season. One of the highlights of this feast day is the Saint Joseph altars that are constructed, and they are filled with a combination of religious items such as statues and an abundance of food. The altars are tiered to represent the trinity with Joseph at the top. The rest of the altar consists of breads and pastries baked in shapes that highlight Christianity.

It is an altar of abundance, but it is an abundance of thanks to Saint Joseph for answering the prayers of the Sicilians during a great famine. The food gives thanks, it is also used to help feed those in need. It is a feast truly in the spirit of Christ. The altar also is a true altar, it is not simply a banquet. Tradition dictates that the altar be adorned with images of loved ones, and that it contains prayers of petition. The altar feeds both body and soul.

“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.

The Feast of Saint Joseph always occurs in Lent, and it is a food fest, but it is one that is respectful of the seasons fasts and abstinence. It also is an old celebration that dates to the middle ages, that is important because the Lenten season was considerably stricter centuries ago. While there is a copious amount of food on that altar, there is no meat. It is true to the season. Like Saint Patrick’s Day in America with its corned beef and cabbage, Saint Joseph’s feast day has a couple of food specialties of its own. The first acknowledges both the season of Lent and Josephs trade. That dish is Pasta con le Sarde, pasta with sardines. It features the fish to meet Lents requirements and is prepared with breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs represent the sawdust of the carpenter, and they are highlighted on this feast day. The second part of the meal is the dessert, and Sicily is famous for their deserts. For his feast day Saint Joseph gets a special desert made in his honor, Zeppole di San Giuseppe!

Finally, this special day has one more food item associated with it, the fava bean. That was the bean that sustained the Sicilians, through the intercession of Saint Joseph, during that drought so many years ago. The beans are often packaged in little bags with holy card or medal to be given to the hosts guests. The reminder is that a house with fava beans in their cupboard will never go hungry.

Why did I outline this food celebration of Saint Joseph without discussing that blessed Saint so much? I think it is because it highlights the honored tradition of celebrating Saints in festive ways, and festive ways that involve food and drink. Saint Joseph’s feast day goes back centuries and is steeped in tradition. Saint Joseph is the patron saint of families and that should be remembered. Saint Patrick’s feast in America, even though it is only a memorial, only goes back a hundred years or so. Granted it tradition gets a little rowdy, but it still does fit in with tradition if the SAINT is honored. Feasts like the Feast of San Guiseppe should be celebrated as a feast. That’s important, it’s a just dessert.

I included the little quote from the Angel that spoke to Joseph as he slept, telling him not to be afraid to take Mary into his home and for him to accept the Child she was carrying. It gives reason for the celebration, Joseph was obedient to that Angel. He was obedient to the LORD, and accepted what the LORD had planned for him. In embracing Gods plan Joseph accepted bot the joy’s and the sorrow’s and even things he could not yet understand. He listen to, and placed his trust in the LORD. He was grateful for all the LORD had given him as the people of Sicily are grateful for Joseph’s intercession during a time of need. He helped turn a famine into a feast. Is their any greater reason to celebrate than that?

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary

2 Sm 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16   Ps 89:2-3, 4-5, 27 and 29  Rom 4:13, 16-18, 22   Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24a  Lk 2:41-51a