Lagura: Pray, study and preach

Feats, Foibles of the Famous and Wise

ST. FRANCIS of Assisi attracted followers including Giovanni di Fidanza, born in Bagnoregio, Italy in 1221. Giovanni could have joined the Benedictines, but these monks had become famous, numerous and prosperous. So Giovanni joined instead St. Francis’ mendicant (begging) order with their simple lifestyle stressing Christ-like poverty and humility literally begging for sustenance.

At his profession, Giovanni took the name “Bonaventure.” Once his religious superiors became aware of his intellectual talent, they sent him to the University of Paris, then the center of the academic world.

In that university Bonaventure, with his Augustinian-Platonic intellectual background clashed with great minds, like Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas: Dominicans who favored Aristotelian philosophy.

Moreover, he figured prominently in the “academic intramurals” when he, together with Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas, clashed with diocesan priests who wanted to expel the religious priests from the university.

Thirdly, Bonaventure argued against his fellow Franciscans who believed St. Francis frowned on studies, since these would lead to pride. Friars should continue begging and praying. If ordained, they should be like many priests at that time who are assigned as many as 50 to a church; all they had to do was memorize Latin prayers for mass. No homily was necessary.

Bonaventure countered saying that serious study leads to humility; to preach well and effectively, the friars and all other priests for that matter, must study and pray.

Lively, even heated arguments went back and forth, until Bonaventure, as Minister (Servant) General of the Franciscans, wisely quoted the Lord who said, “Go to the whole world, make disciples of all nations, and TEACH...”

From St. Bonaventure, Doctor Seraphicus, Franciscans humbly learned by studying in order to know Christ and preach Him to others well.


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