Thursday, July 15, 2010

Memorial of St Bonaventure

"Bonaventure was born at Bagnorea in Tuscany.  In his infancy he was dangerously ill, and his mother made a vow that, if he recovered, she would dedicate him to the Order of Blessed Francis.  While he was still a young man he entered the Order by his own wish.  Under the teaching of Alexander of Hales he advanced so quickly in learning, that in seven years he lectured publicly at Paris on the Books of the Sentences, with great applause.  He afterwards explained the same Books by a brilliant Commentary.  He was distinguished, not only for the profundity of his learning, but for the integrity of his morals, the innocency of his life, his humility, meekness, contempt of earthly things, and desire of heavenly treasures; and was fully worthy to be regarded as a model of perfection, and to be called a saint by blessed Thomas Aquinas, to whom he was united by ties of the closest friendship.  For Thomas, finding Bonaventure engaged in writing the life of St. Francis, said: Let us permit a Saint to labour for a Saint.

He was consumed with the flame of divine love, and had a special feeling of devotion to the Passion of Christ the Lord, which was the subject of constant meditation to him; and to the Virgin Mother of God, to whose service he vowed himself; and this devotion he strove also to arouse in others both by word and example, and he laboured to spread it by his writings and treatises.  And so came that sweetness of manner, grace of speech, and the charity which he extended to all, by which he completely and utterly conquered every soul.  Wherefore, when only thirty-five years of age he was elected, at Rome, by unanimous consent, Minister General of the Order; and having accepted the office, he fulfilled it for eighteen years with admirable prudence and the recognition of his sanctity.  He made many rules, useful for regular discipline and the increase of the order; which, together with the other mendicant orders, he defended successfully against the calumnies of their enemies.

He was summoned to the Council of Lyons by blessed Gregory X, and having been created Cardinal Bishop of Albano, he diligently performed a noted work for the council in very difficult circumstances; in which the dissensions of the schism were composed, and the dogmas of the Church vindicated.  In the midst of these labours he died, to the great grief of all, in the fifty-third year of his age, and in the year of salvation 1274, and his funeral was honoured by the whole council and by the presence of the Roman Pontiff himself.  Sixtus IV, after Bonaventure had become illustrious for many and great miracles, placed him in the list of the Saints.  He wrote many books, in which the highest erudition and the fire of piety are so united as both to touch and instruct the reader.  Sixtus V on this account worthily distinguished him by the name of the Seraphic Doctor."

-- From the 1911 Breviary of St Pius X


" If you wish then to contemplate the invisible traits of God in so far as they belong to the unity of His essence, fix your gaze upon Being itself, and see that Being is most certain in itself; for it cannot be thought not to be, since the purest Being occurs only in full flight from Non-Being, just as nothingness is in full flight from Being. Therefore, just as the utterly nothing contains nought of Being nor of its conditions, so contrariwise Being itself contains no Non-Being, neither in actuality nor in potency, neither in matters of fact nor in our thinking. Since, however, Non-Being is the privation of Being, it cannot enter the intellect except through Being; Being, however, cannot enter through anything other than itself. For everything which is thought of is either thought of as Non-Being or as Being-in-potency or as Being-in-actuality. If, therefore, Non-Being is intelligible only through Being, and if Being-in-potency can be understood only through Being-in-actuality, and if Being is the name of that pure actuality of Being, Being then is what first enters the intellect, and that Being is pure actuality. But this is not particular Being, which is restricted Being, since that is mixed with potentiality. Nor is this analogous Being, for such has a minimum of actuality since it has only a minimum of being. It remains, therefore, that that Being is divine Being."

-- From the writings of St Bonaventure

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