St Bonaventure’s bent was to the ascetical rather than the philosophical approach. Ten thick volumes of writings testify to his inspired zeal. He is described as a “spiritual writer of great power and authority.”
Our Franciscan doctor encouraged others in his lifetime and encourages us today to have a sincere spirit of humility, devotion and repentance. We need to practice these God-given qualities. Humility is a part of truth. Sound devotion is the earnest searching after God. Contrition, conversion and repentance means sorrow for past sins. We have committed egregious wrongs and have need of God’s mercy. We are incapable and inadequate to have friendship with God without God’s help and compassion. Our inadequacies are apparent in nearly all that we do despite our best intentions.
Read and listen to the following quote of St Bonaventure highlighting the futile effort of only human effort and not God’s graces and support. Nothing can be gained supernaturally unless humility, devotion and repentance are practiced. Pray attentively as you think about Bonaventure’s quote about our inadequacies:
“reading without repentance,
knowledge without devotion,
research without the impulse of wonder,
prudence without the ability to surrender to joy,
action divorced from religion,
learning sundered from love,
intelligence without humility,
study unsustained by divine grace,
thought without the wisdom inspired of God.”
We often do all of the above in a natural manner when we could sanctify them with God’s help and grace. We need grace! We can not follow our natural bent and inclination. That will not do it. Even if we achieved phenomenal results, is it pleasing to God? God does not measure the amount that we do but the quality of our love that we give. Bonaventure gave until it hurt and without complaining. He probably sensed that he was very ill and questioned to himself if he should have gone to the council at Rome. However, he was not thinking about himself but the church and her needs. Obedience and goodwill urged him onward.
He attempted to unite holiness and theological knowledge. And he did just that! He was a very active preacher, writer and loved by all. It has been said that to know him was to love him. To read him is still for all, especially Franciscans today, to meet a true peacemaker and a gentleman. Many tears where shed by his sudden death just as he must have caused tears of conversion when he spoke about the joy of his life: Jesus Christ, the crucified Master. He was a person of eminent learning and eloquence and of outstanding holiness known for his kindness, approachableness, gentleness, compassion and virtue. What greater tribute could one possibly say than to be described as a very warm and charming saint, doctor, teacher, reformer and founder?
From one of his discourses:
“The outcome or the fruit of reading holy scripture is by no means negligible: it is the fullness of eternal happiness. For these are the books which tell us of eternal life, which were written not only that we might believe but also that we might have everlasting life. When we do live that life we shall understand fully, we shall love completely, and our desires will be totally satisfied. Then, with all our needs fulfilled we shall truly know the love that surpasses all understanding and so be filled with the fullness of God. The purpose of scriptures, which comes to us from God, is to lead us to this fullness according to the truths contained in those sayings of the apostles to which I have referred. In order to achieve this, we must study holy scripture carefully, teach it and listen to it in the same way.”