Saint Bonaventure: Bishop, Doctor, Apostle of Truth
All the evils which poison men and nations and trouble so many hearts have a single cause and a single source: ignorance of the truth -- Pope John XXIII
Certainly a soul can be very close to our Lord Jesus Christ without constantly directing its attention toward understanding dogma or doctrine or even common Church teaching. But is it to a soul's advantage to ignore these things? Put another way, can we say we love God to the fullest extent possible if we are largely heedless of the sublime spiritual and moral truths he so lovingly revealed and deposited in his Church?
Saint Bonaventure at prayer.
There are many lessons we can learn from this saint who is one of the thirty-three doctors of the Catholic Church. An important aspect of St. Bonaventure's life was the pious emphasis he placed on learning and understanding to the greatest degree possible the sublime truths of God's revelation which is contained in the Sacred Tradition of the Church. Simply, Bonaventure loved God's truth, and he loved reason, for both originate in the Author of Life. St. Bonaventure believed the primary purpose of man's intellect is to strive after the truth about God, and, as a result of the fruits of such holy labor, love God all the more.
However, it is not uncommon in our contemporary society to find a widespread lack of concern for the study of God's revelation. Some display various levels of indifference toward such study, which range from careless disregard to calloused refusal. Others insist they are too busy with the everyday demands of life. Still others posit that anything above a bare minimum of knowledge concerning the beautiful and supreme truths found in Tradition and guarded by the Magisterium is unnecessary.
Certainly a soul can be very close to our Lord Jesus Christ without constantly directing its attention toward understanding dogma or doctrine or even common Church teaching. But is it to a soul's advantage to ignore these things? Put another way, can we say we love God to the fullest extent possible if we are largely heedless of the sublime truths he so lovingly revealed and deposited in his Church? To do so is really the same as saying, "I love you Lord, but I'm unconcerned with who you say you are, with what you say you are, as well as with what you have revealed about me and how I ought to live."
On June 29, 1959, Pope John XXIII issued his encyclical Ad Petri Cathedram (On Truth, Unity, and Peace), in which he observed the destruction caused by ignorance of the truth. "All the evils which poison men and nations and trouble so many hearts have a single cause and a single source: ignorance of the truth -- and at times even more than ignorance, a contempt for truth and a reckless rejection of it. Thus arise all manner of errors, which enter the recesses of men's hearts and the bloodstream of human society as would a plague. These errors turn everything upside down: they menace individuals and society itself" (APC 6).
Heedless disregard of Sacred Tradition and magisterial teaching is disrespectful of our Savior and all that he has done for us. For it was our Redeemer who founded his Catholic Church in the midst of the world as a beacon of light and truth. Christ is our Master, Teacher, and Savior. All of what our Lord has done is important and demands our respect, loving attention, and religious submission. Pope John XXIII also noted that man's intentional neglect to understand the purpose of the human intellect has led to religious indifferentism. "Some men, indeed do not attack the truth willfully, but work in heedless disregard of it. They act as though God had given us intellects for some purpose other than the pursuit and attainment of truth. This mistaken sort of action leads directly to that absurd proposition: one religion is just as good as another, for there is no distinction here between truth and falsehood" (APC 17).
A Love For Truth Leads Us To The Ultimate And Supreme Truth: God
A lover is concerned to know the smallest details about his Beloved, watching every movement, listening to every word. The lover strives, thirsts, to intimately know and understand. He yearns for that cool and refreshing water which sustains and enlivens the intellect and the soul, for that treasure of wisdom more precious than life itself, for sublime and unheard-of things beyond the world which are found only in the depths of God. The lover therefore desires to immerse himself or herself in God. Yet this desire is not one directed merely toward acquiring knowledge, which can, as a result of dry and disordered motives, become infected with arrogant, intellectual pride. Rather this desire is ...
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