Thought for the Day – 15 July – Monday of the Fifteenth week in Ordinary Time, Year C, Gospel: Matthew 10:34-11,1 and The Memorial of St Bonaventure OFM (1221-1274) Seraphic Doctor of the Church
Saint Bonaventure saw the spires of the great cathedrals reaching up to heaven as a reflection of the human soul’s reaching up to God in his The Soul’s Journey into God. Likewise, the streams of light coming into the church through the stained-glass windows, reflect God expressing Himself, in the wide variety of creatures upon whom He showers His gifts of grace.
And the images go on and on as the saint reaches into human experience of creation and cultural artifacts and finds vestigium (the footprints) of God since everything in creation, reflects in some way, the grandeur of God. Human beings, of course, are the actual image of God.
It was this ability to take the spirituality of Saint Francis—as reflected in Saint Francis’ Canticle of the Sun, for instance—and place it at the heart of his writings, keeping the simplicity of the Franciscan insights and creating a sublime theology, that truly deserves the name “Seraphic.”
When Bonaventure was declared a Doctor of the Universal Church in 1588 by Pope Sixtus V, he was given the title “Seraphic Doctor.” Merriam-Webster defines a seraph as one of the highest-ranking angels as well as “one of the six-winged angels standing in the presence of God.” It was as a seraph that Christ appeared to Saint Francis when he received the stigmata on Mount La Verna. Therefore, it is fitting to use the term to describe the soaring mysticism of Saint Bonaventure.
In his General Audience on 3 March 2010, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the life of St Bonaventure. He called to mind the great works of literature, art, philosophy and theology that were inspired by the Christian faith during the time period in which the saint lived.
“Among the great Christian figures who contributed to the composition of this harmony between faith and culture, Bonaventure stands out, a man of action and contemplation, of profound piety and prudent government,” Pope Benedict said.
The Pope called on the faithful to take note of “the central role that Christ always played in Bonaventure’s life and teaching,” and to imitate the way in which “the whole of his thinking was profoundly Christocentric.”
“Meditation on Christ in His humanity is corporeal in deed, in fact but spiritual in mind. . . . By adopting this habit, you will steady your mind, be trained to virtues and receive strength of soul….Let meditation of Christ’s life be your one and only aim, your rest, your food, your desire, your study.” – St Bonaventure