Friday, January 12, 2007

The Clay God Uses: St. Bernard of Corleone


Many people have heard of Corleone, Sicily, though mostly through the Godfather movies. “Hey, that’s the town Don Vito is from; that’s where he got his name!” It was an appropriate choice, actually, as the town has had a reputation for violence. Its seal (which I put here) is a lion eating a human heart.
Philip Latino soaked in a culture of violence, and adapted to it, becoming an excellent swordsman with a fierce reputation. But from his parents he had also absorbed the Christian faith, and an example of another way. So when he severely wounded someone in a sword fight and felt regret in his heart, he knew there was another way he could live. He turned to Christ and ended up joining the Capuchins, living a holy life in the midst of a violent society. He is St. Bernard of Corleone, whose feast is today.

Our world is a violent one, and violence seems the only effective response. But St. Bernard shows that there can be an alternative, even for those who have given in to the lure of violence.
St. Francis lived in violent times, and he too was lured by violence, even to fighting in Assisi’s war against Perugia. But defeat, imprisonment and illness made him disillusioned with violence. By God’s grace, he, too, saw another way was possible, and walked in it.
God’s power to transform is not limited. I think we should keep that in mind when we consider our own lives and our faults and sins, as well as those of others. We should pray for those who use terror as a weapon. Pray not for their death but their conversion. Imagine if all that energy were used to build up the world! Hard to imagine, yes. But it is just as hard to imagine that slaying the Messiah would, in fact, be a work of redemption.
God’s mercy and love are not limited. May God help us believe that, and live the consequences.
Peace and Good!

1 comment:

Charles of New Haven said...

Thanks for the post...after we had morning prayer on St. Bernard's day I was thinking that Corleone must mean something like Lion Heart, and you've confirmed it for me.

The violence thing is well taken. I've often thought that its something we underemphasize in the life of Francis himself...so into the lepers and stigmata and such...but to think of how violent his world must have been... and to see all of knight of Christ and Lady poverty stuff through that lens rather than just a chivalric one--well that would be something. Sorry for the ridiculously long sentence!