Wednesday, May 22, 2013

On Entertaining Saints: St. Bernadino of Siena

God has sent me a friend, I think.  He showed up about a week ago, and I’m not sure how long he’s going to stay.

He’s a Franciscan, a preacher, a theologian, and a canonist.  And he lived 600 years ago.

St. Bernadino of Siena arrived on my scene last week through his bio in the Magnificat.  I’ve quickly fallen in love with the Holy Name ever since reading Fr. Paul O’Sullivan’s book The Wonders of the Holy Name some weeks ago, and it was striking to me that the saint featured in this month’s Magnficat would be someone who was so totally devoted to the Holy Name that he carried a staff with the initials IHS on top and who indeed worked many wonders in the Name of Jesus.  The timing caught my attention and my heart and I felt an instant connection with and affection for him, despite the years between us and our many differences.  I’ve felt him in our house ever since, close at hand, in my thoughts, pointing out ways that the Holy Name is glorified, bringing me to today when my husband called from work to wish me a happy Feast of St. Bernadino and my heart inexplicably leapt. 

What I’ve learned about our guest is that in 1417 he began preaching in Milan and Lombardy and later travelled to other parts of Italy, always on foot.  (He had to practice extensively to train his weak voice to become strong enough to be heard in churches and open-air pulpits.)  He preached on the person of Christ and focused on the common sins of his day: witchcraft, usury, gambling, and superstition, advocating for penance and voluntary poverty to help ward off these evils (Butlers Lives of the Saints, May, pg. 107).

St. Bernadino preached that “speech ought to be a holy activity free of salaciousness and vulgarity” and that “malicious gossip…triggered warfare”. 

Of all words he most cherished the Holy Name, saying:
The name of Jesus is the glory of preachers, because the shining splendor of that name causes his word to be proclaimed and heard.  And how do you think such an immense, sudden, and dazzling light of faith came into the world, if not because Jesus was preached?  Was it not through the brilliance and sweet savor of this name that God called us into His marvelous light? (Magnficat, Vol. 15, No.3)

And so this good mendicant friar from the middle ages is with us for the time being.  I’m not quite sure what he wants or why the Lord has sent him in particular.  With a typical house guest (okay, so really only a grandparent or brother has been willing/brave enough to stay with us overnight), I’d be concerned about what to feed him, how to entertain him, and making sure no tiny people were wandering into his room at 5:30 in the morning to see what were in his bags and to find out if maybe he’d like to play stuffed animals right now.  But how to ensure that a saintly visitor is pleased with the hospitality?  I’m not sure.  I suppose I could ask him, but I’m a little nervous about what he’ll say.  Despite his endlessly-good nature, he might prove the most difficult to please. 

Do you have any ideas?  Have you had any saintly visitors lately and how have you cared for them in your home?

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