Thought for the Day – 15 July – Fifteenth Sunday of the Year – the Memorial of St Bonaventure (1221-1274) – Seraphic Doctor
Perhaps not a household name for most people, Saint Bonaventure, nevertheless, played an important role in both the medieval Church and the history of the Franciscan Order. A senior faculty member at the University of Paris, Saint Bonaventure certainly captured the hearts of his students through his academic skills and insights. But more importantly, he captured their hearts through his Franciscan love for Jesus and the Church. Like his model, Saint Francis, Jesus was the centre of everything—his teaching, his administration, his writing, and his life . So much so, that he was given the title “Seraphic Doctor.”
Bonaventure so united holiness and theological knowledge that he rose to the heights of mysticism while remaining a very active preacher and teacher, one beloved by all who met him. To know him was to love him; to read him is still for us today to meet a true Franciscan and a gentleman.
In his bull of Canonisation, Pope Sixtus IV wrote:
Bonaventure was great in learning but no less great in humility and holiness. His innocence and dove-like simplicity were such that Alexander of Hales, the renowned doctor whose disciple Saint Bonaventure became, used to say of him that it seemed as though Adam had never sinned in him.
A man of eminent learning and eloquence and of outstanding holiness, he was known for his kindness, approachableness, gentleness and compassion. – Pope Gregory X on hearing of the death of Bonaventure.
Let us learn from the great Saint himself, to grow in the fruits he possessed in such abundance – humility, kindness, gentleness, charity, chastity, generosity, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, modesty and self-control. (Matthew 7: 15-20)
“We must beg the Holy Spirit,
with ardent longing, to give us these fruits.
The Holy Spirit alone,
knows how to bring to light,
the sweetness hidden away
under the rugged exterior of the words of the Law.
We must go to the Holy Spirit for interior guidance.”
St Bonaventure from Holiness of Life
St Bonaventure, Pray for us!
Prayer To Obtain the
Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
By St Bonaventure (1221-1274) – Seraphic Doctor
We, therefore, pray
to the most kind Father
through You, His only-begotten Son,
who for us became man,
was crucified and glorified,
that He send us
out of His treasures
the Spirit of sevenfold grace
who rested upon You in all fullness:
the Spirit, I say, of WISDOM,
that we may taste the life-giving flavours
of the fruit of the tree of life,
which You truly are;
the gift also of UNDERSTANDING,
by which the intentions
of our mind are illumined;
the gift of COUNSEL,
by which we may follow in Your footsteps
on the right paths;
the gift of FORTITUDE,
by which we may be able to
weaken the violence
of our enemies’ attacks;
the gift of KNOWLEDGE,
by which we may be filled
with the brilliant light
of Your sacred teaching
to distinguish good and evil;
the gift of PIETY,
by which we may acquire
a merciful heart;
the gift of FEAR,
by which we may draw away
from all evil
and be set at peace
by submitting in awe to
Your eternal majesty.
for You have wished
that we ask for these things
in that sacred prayer which
You have taught us;
and now we ask to obtain them,
through Your cross,
for the praise of Your most Holy Name.
with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
be honour and glory,
thanksgiving, beauty and power,
forever and ever.
-From Prayer “To Obtain the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit” included at the closing The Tree of Life”
― Bonaventure, Bonaventure: The Soul’s Journey into God, the Tree of Life, the Life of St. Francis