It is both a great joy and a tremendous honor to return to my undergrad alma mater, St. Bonaventure University in Western New York, to deliver the 2013 Ignatius Charles Brady Endowed Lecture this afternoon. The lecture was established more than a decade ago by the Franciscan friars of St. John the Baptist Province with a gift of a million dollars in the early 200os to honor their late brother, Ignatius Brady OFM, who was one of the most significant scholars of medieval and Franciscan studies in the Twentieth Century. Brady not only broke ground on several Franciscan editorial and historical projects, but he is perhaps best known the world over as the editor of the critical edition of Peter Lombard’s Sentences (yeah, that Ignatius Brady!).
The first lecturer was the Jacques Dalarun, the renowned French medievalist who spoke about gender in the writings of Francis and Clare. Last year’s lecturer was Kenan Osborne OFM, the systematic theologian and from the West Coast and former CTSA president and John Courtney Murray award recipient. I share this little snapshot of past lecturers to illustrate how I do not, in any way, belong in the same list as these fine scholars. With that in mind, I will return to that great institution of higher education today to offer some modest insight from my research and work, something of a glimpse into part of my forthcoming book, The Franciscan Heart of Thomas Merton: A New Look at the Spiritual Influence of His Life, Thought, and Writing (Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 2014).
My lecture is on the theme of the Franciscan tradition in the life and thought of Thomas Merton, who taught at St. Bonaventure from 1940-1941 immediately before entering the Abbey of Gethsemani to become a Trappist Monk. The title of my lecture is: “A Franciscan in Blue Jeans: How Merton Became and Remained a True Franciscan.” St. Bonaventure University is preparing to launch a yearlong series of events in anticipation of Merton’s 100th Birthday in January 2015, so this year’s lecture was planned with that in mind.
For those in the WNY area who might have an interest in this subject, the public lecture begins at 4:30pm and is being held in the University Chapel.