This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

September 27 -- Feast of Saint Bonfilius

Saint Goodson
The life of today's saint seems like a tale of such unhindered holiness and success that I must stretch to find something remarkable about it.  It may not be fair, but I see in his life a glimmer of the lesson that a leader must remain in touch with those he leads in order to continue his effectiveness.

Bonfilius got his call early, so his parents oblated him to a monastery.  He thrived.  He knew scripture better than the older brothers, and yet remained humble and sincere.  He was assigned a small mountain parish after ordination and quickly earned a reputation as a powerful preacher.  The bishop and other area clergy sought him out for consultation.  He became Somebody to Know.  When the office of abbot of the monastery at Storaco opened up, he was tapped.  Eventually, he became the bishop of Fogliano, a job at which he excelled.  Thus far, unbridled success in an ecclesiastical sense.

Coach Urban II inspires the team -- locker room in Clermont
In 1095, Alexios I Komnenos, the Roman Emperor in Constantinople, asked for help in expelling Muslim invaders from the Levant.   In particular, he was concerned that Jerusalem be returned to his control since so many holy sites are within its boundaries.   Pope Urban II put out the call for a Crusade and 35,000 troops were mustered.  Among those who volunteered for the mission was Bishop Bonfilius, who opted to leave his see in the hands of another.

He remained in the Holy Land as a hermit for ten years.  Ten years of hermitage is a long time.  Eventually, he went back to Fogliano, where he found his replacement had things well in hand.  He returned to the monastery at Storaco, where he once again took the office of abbot.

Here's where the trouble hit.  Having spent ten years in the solitude of the Israeli desert (or the Palestinian desert, if you prefer) left him ill-equipped to administer a thriving fraternity of religious men who varied in ages and levels of spiritual development.  Probably his years as a prodigy did not serve him well either, as he had few (if any) faltering steps to recall when he noted the shortcomings of others.  He was strict, perhaps even short-tempered.

Hal Holbrook, you are one awesome villain. 
He left the job, probably to his relief as much as to the relief of his fellow monks, and returned to the hermit's life.  In Magnum Force (1973),Harry Callahan was told, and then said somewhat ironically, "A man's gotta know his limitations."  Even an ecclesiastical career as successful as Saint Bonfilius' has limitations, and it was good for all that they were recognized and addressed.  His is a lesson for those with secular and as well as holy vocations. 

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