Monday, July 15, 2002

St. Bonaventure - July 15

Today is the feast of St. Bonaventure
Some glimpses into his life from For All the Saints
Born Giovanni (John) di Fidanza, an untrustworthy legend says that his name was changed to Bonaventure ("good fortune") by Saint Francis of Assisi, who miraculously cured him of a dangerous illness during his childhood and exclaimed: O buona ventura!....At the general chapter of Narbonne in 1260, Bonaventure designed a set of constitutions as a rule, which had a lasting effect on the order, and for which he is called the second founder of the Franciscans. It has, however, been claimed that he also weakened the spirit of Saint Francis; the Life that he wrote of him, in order to promote unity among the brothers, was accurate but incomplete, and he modified the rule that forbade the brothers to accept money or own property.

The severe-interpretation Spirituals valued poverty above all else, including learning. Bonaventure strongly supported the importance of study to the order and the need for the order to provide books and buildings. He confirmed the practice of monks teaching and studying at universities, believing that the Franciscans could better fulfill the need for preaching and spiritual guidance to compensate for other poorly educated clergy......Though Bonaventure and Aquinas were friends in their lifetime, the two men had strongly opposed each other on the question of the neo- Aristotelianism that was being introduced into theology, for Saint Bonaventure feared that as a result philosophy would be elevated above theology and that reason would be made more important than revelation. Saint Bonaventure was a man of the highest intellectual attainments, but he would emphasize that a fool's love and knowledge of God may be greater than that of a humanly wise man. To reach God, he said, "little attention must be given to reason and great attention to grace, little to books and everything to the gift of God, which is the Holy Spirit." Above all he emphasized charity: "For in truth, a poor and unlearned old woman can love God better than a Doctor of Theology."...




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