Saint of the Day

Bishop and Doctor of the Church St. Bonaventure

Read about him here.

Excerpt:

“St. Bonaventure’s theology is always written with holy passion, in the tradition of St. Augustine, and always directed towards increasing the depth and intensity of the spiritual life.  Because of his burning zeal, Bonaventure became known as the “Seraphic Doctor.” St. Bonaventure was elected minister general of the Franciscan order in 1257 and played a prominent role in settling the dissension that had plagued the order since the death of its founder, St. Francis.  In fact Bonaventure’s Life of St. Francis was approved by the Friars Minor as the official biography of their founder.  Having been created Cardinal Archbishop of Albano in 1273, St. Bonaventure attended the Ecumenical Council of Lyon where he died in the same year that St. Thomas Aquinas died, in 1274.

As a theologian, Saint Bonaventure upheld the duty and value of using the human intellect to reflect on the mysteries of faith.  But for him all human wisdom was folly when compared to the mystical illumination given to the faithful Christian by God himself.”

This excerpt from today’s office of readings, by St. Bonaventure, is about contemplative prayer:

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 fervour and glowing love. The fir is God, and the furnace is in Jerusalem, fired by Christ in the ardour 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 for ever. Blessed be the Lord for ever, and let all the people say: Amen. Amen!

About Susan Kehoe

I am the wife of a Catholic deacon living in Des Moines Iowa. My husband Larry was ordained in 2006. We have two children and five grandchildren.. Our daughter and her family live in Ireland, and our son and his family live in Franklin Massachusetts.
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