Saint Bonaventure: Bishop, Doctor, Apostle of Truth
nourished by a loving and sincere gift of oneself to the Beloved; it is a humble, submissive and tender desire borne in the depths of the human heart which strives for intimacy with Christ.
The holy labor of striving after knowledge of God became St. Bonaventure's way of life. He understood that when the pursuit of truth is combined with love, Christ opens a hidden doorway within the heart, where he himself whispers unforgettable things, drawing us ever more deeply toward our ultimate end, which is God. Thus we find St. Bonaventure frequently writing of the necessity of turning our complete attention on our Savior.
"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 sepulcher, 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'" (Journey of the Mind to God).
The Pursuit Of Truth Must Be Governed By Authority
In our present age there are a number of ill-conceived notions of truth. Pope Benedict has frequently spoken of the "dictatorship of relativism" which has infected contemporary society. Falsehood is today dressed in such appealing garb that, reaching out its poisoned hand, it has infected many of the unsuspecting. In light of this, we can learn from St. Bonaventure of the importance of adherence with religious submission to the Magisterium (teaching office) of the Catholic Church. It is vital to our understanding of God's revelation contained in the original deposit of faith that we assent to the teaching of the Church Christ founded.
Further, for those who desire to advance in prayer, St. Bonaventure warns that "the creature is deceived and errs when he accepts an effigy and an appearance for the truth" (Itinerarium). Thus we find the saint inviting readers of his Journey of the Soul to God to read further only if they are properly disposed.
"To these, therefore, who are disposed by divine grace, the pious and humble, the contrite and devout, to those who are anointed with the oil of divine gladness, to the lovers of divine Wisdom and to those inflamed with the desire thereof, and who wish to go apart in order to taste and magnify and appreciate God, I offer the following speculations . . ."
It is "the pious and the humble, the contrite and the devout" who embrace the words of Christ's Bride, the Holy Catholic Church. They seek not their own subjective path laden with dangerous pitfalls and treachery, but rather the securely lighted path of truth found in the oneness of Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the Magisterium of the Church.
As a last note of great importance, in St. Bonaventure's Fourth Sermon on Annunciation he provides a sure road of advice for all Christians who seek the path of truth. They are to fly to the Virgin Mother of God, seek her intercession, and ask her help in attaining to the fullness of life in Christ. It is especially fitting to ask this of our Blessed Mother, for she is not only the first Christian, but indeed the supreme model of what it means to give oneself over in a complete and selfless act of obedience and love for Truth Itself.
"Let us go to the virgin with great confidence, and we will tranquilly find her in our necessities. Therefore this tabernacle is rightly to be honored, and to this tabernacle flight should be made, in which the Lord rested so familiarly, so that the Blessed Virgin herself could say truly and literally, 'Who made me rested in my tabernacle.'"
F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever have. He is managing editor of catholicpathways.com, and a contributing writer for Catholic Online.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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