Last week was the Feast of St. Bonaventure. He lived between 1218-1274. He was a Franciscan. He was both an intellectual, a famous teacher and philosopher, and a humble prayerful man. He was a friend and contemporary of St. Thomas Aquinas.
The Franciscan friars of his time were a new revolutionary force in the Church, with their radical embracing of poverty.
They challenged many institutional structures. He became the general of the Order, and afterwards a Bishop.
He always insisted that the simple and uneducated could have a clearer knowledge of God than the wise.
He said this even though he had a great respect for the human mind, and was a great teacher.
He said, “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 they surrender themselves to it; nor can they surrender themselves unless they long for it; nor can they long for it unless the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent into the world, should come and inflame their innermost soul. Hence the Apostle says that this mystical wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit.”
“The answer to this is in God’s grace, not doctrine; in the longing of the will, not in understanding; in the sighs of prayer, not research; seek the bridegroom, not the teacher; God, not man; darkness, not daylight; and look not to the light but rather the raging fire that carries the soul to God with intense fervour and glowing love”. The fire is God, the furnace is fired by Christ in the ardour of His loving passion and death. He continues, “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 St. Paul, my grace is sufficient for you”.
Challenging, yet beautiful words. Yes, it is important to learn about our faith. We never stop learning.
However, if our faith is to be real it is about union with God.
We need to quieten our spirit, we need humility.
We need to be able to name our desire for God, source of life and goodness, to open our hearts to receive His grace.
It is all about love. The greatest gift is love.
God lifts us up into His love. Our hearts yearn for His love and anything less leaves us restless. God’s rest is dynamic rest.