St. Bonaventure and Franciscan Spirituality at The Casa

St. Bonaventure and Franciscan Spirituality at The Casa

Every summer with the arrival of the Feast of St. Bonaventure, I am reminded again of how fortunate we are in the Franciscan family to have such a teacher in our company.  I find that this saint is not well known in the Church or among many Franciscans and that he deserves a much wider appreciation than he receives among us.  Let me offer you a few thoughts concerning the theology of this remarkable friar.

The nature of God is that of the highest good, and to be the highest good requires a quality of self-giving that enriches the giver and the receiver.  We have an idea of what this is like when we give a gift to someone we truly love, because we get as much joy out of giving the gift as the person who gets the gift receives.  We feel enriched, and so does the receiver.  This is something like the self-giving act which goes on all the time with the Holy Trinity.  God doesn’t get tired of acting this way and wants more things to share in the wonderful experience of giving, so God creates (and continues to create) the world. Goodness giving itself away is the foundation of all creation, and St. Bonaventure invites all creatures to see this and rejoice in it together.

It’s also important to note that all creation should act together, this is, act in relationship, in this act of thanksgiving because creation images a God who lives in relationship – Trinity – and not as a lonely type of being.  It’s only reasonable to realize that you can’t give yourself to another if there’s no one there to give yourself to.  So, God gives of God’s own self to others in an uncreated way (to each person of the Trinity), and in a created way through the Divine Word which takes on human flesh in the form of Jesus of Nazareth.  What is most amazing about this giving-that-enriches is that God wants us and all of creation to take part in it.  Why?  Because it’s the greatest good, and the greatest good fits the nature of God perfectly.

If we believe this, then we can come to realize in our limited way just how good God is.  He wants us to respond as well as we can, even though because we’re part of creation we’re quite limited in our capacity when compared to God.  Think of it like this: Parents love it when their little ones make something for them to express the affection they feel for their parents.  Maybe it’s a picture made with crayons or a little flower they picked.  The picture might be atrocious in terms of art of the flower a bit mashed and wilted, but the parents are delighted with the expression of affection that the child brings to the relationship.

God is no less in love with creatures than the best parent.  God constantly gives of Himself so that creation flourishes.  Do we love it or do we just use it?  All of us know how ugly it is when we use people and nature.  We also know how beautiful it is when we love instead.  In St. Bonaventure, we Franciscans have a theologian who wants us to fall in love with God again and again so that we might live within the Holy Trinity.  Bonaventure offers the Church the theology of love.  Let us proclaim it as our heritage and act like we believe it!FacebooktwitterlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterlinkedinmail

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