The Call to Holiness
The Call to Holiness
Today is the Feast Day of St. Bonaventure

Today is the Feast Day of St. Bonaventure

Bishop and Doctor

Today is the Feast Day of St. Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure, born in 1221 in Bagnoregio, Italy, was an influential medieval Franciscan theologian and philosopher. His love for academia led him to the University of Paris, where he would later become a professor. He eventually rose to the position of Minister General of the Franciscan Order and later was made Cardinal by Pope Gregory X.

One of the most striking aspects of Bonaventure's theology is his conception of God and creation. For Bonaventure, God is not simply a distant, impersonal entity but is intimately involved in the world. Every creature, every object, every event reflects, in some way, the goodness and beauty of God. This vision of a universe teeming with the presence of the divine encourages us to see the world with fresh eyes and to treat all of creation with reverence and respect.

Bonaventure's notion of the journey of the soul towards God also deserves attention. According to him, the journey to God involves a threefold path: purgation (cleansing of the soul), illumination (attaining divine knowledge), and union (the ultimate unification with the divine). This framework guides the believer through a transformative spiritual journey from a state of spiritual unawareness to a state of complete divine union.

Drawing from St. Bonaventure's teachings, we are reminded that God's presence permeates our everyday lives. The world around us is not simply a stage for our actions but a living testament to the divine. And our lives are not aimless wanderings but purposeful journeys towards divine union. In these uncertain times, St. Bonaventure's insights continue to provide comfort and guidance.

As we reflect on the life and work of St. Bonaventure, let us not forget that his deep insight into God and the universe was born out of a life lived in dedication to God and service to others. We too can strive to embody these virtues in our own lives, turning every moment into an opportunity for spiritual growth and divine encounter.

From Today’s Office of Readings by St Bonaventure

In this wonderful piece, St. Bonaventure explains the role of Christ as our guide and pathway to divine union. His teaching speaks to the transformative journey of the soul, leading us from the material world into a spiritual realm where we encounter God intimately. St. Bonaventure emphasizes that this transformative journey requires the suspension of the mind's operations and a shift in our deepest affections toward God alone. It is a sacred, mystical experience that can only be fully understood by those who surrender to it, longing for it, and allowing the Holy Spirit to kindle the flame of divine love within their souls. The reflection serves as a vivid call to spiritual transformation and divine encounter, urging us to leave behind worldly preoccupations, to surrender our hearts to God, and to seek Him in the depths of our souls, where true union and communion with the divine take place.

From the Journey of the Mind to God by St Bonaventure

Mystical wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit

Christ is both the way and the door. Christ is the staircase and the vehicle, like the throne of mercy over the Ark of the Covenant, and the mystery hidden from the ages. A man should turn his full attention to this throne of mercy, and should gaze at him hanging on the cross, full of faith, hope and charity, devoted, full of wonder and joy, marked by gratitude, and open to praise and jubilation. Then such a man will make with Christ a pasch, that is, a passing-over. Through the branches of the cross he will pass over the Red Sea, leaving Egypt and entering the desert. There he will taste the hidden manna, and rest with Christ in the sepulchre, as if he were dead to things outside. He will experience, as much as is possible for one who is still living, what was promised to the thief who hung beside Christ: Today you will be with me in paradise. 

For this passover to be perfect, we must suspend all the operations of the mind and we must transform the peak of our affections, directing them to God alone. This is a sacred mystical experience. It cannot be comprehended by anyone unless he surrenders himself to it; nor can he surrender himself to it unless he longs for it; nor can he long for it unless the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent into the world, should come and inflame his innermost soul. Hence the Apostle says that this mystical wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit.

If you ask how such things can occur, seek the answer in God’s grace, not in doctrine; in the longing of the will, not in the understanding; in the sighs of prayer, not in research; seek the bridegroom not the teacher; God and not man; darkness not daylight; and look not to the light but rather to the raging fire that carries the soul to God with intense fervor and glowing love. The fire is God, and the furnace is in Jerusalem, fired by Christ in the ardor of his loving passion. Only he understood this who said: My soul chose hanging and my bones death. Anyone who cherishes this kind of death can see God, for it is certainly true that: No man can look upon me and live. 

Let us die, then, and enter into the darkness, silencing our anxieties, our passions and all the fantasies of our imagination. Let us pass over with the crucified Christ from this world to the Father, so that, when the Father has shown himself to us, we can say with Philip: It is enough. We may hear with Paul: My grace is sufficient for you; and we can rejoice with David, saying: My flesh and my heart fail me, but God is the strength of my heart and my heritage forever. 

Blessed be the Lord for ever, and let all the people say: Amen. Amen!

Let Us Pray - Today’s Mass Collect

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that, just as we celebrate the heavenly birthday of the Bishop Saint Bonaventure, we may benefit from his great learning and constantly imitate the ardor of his charity.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.

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