Bonaventure: The Archangel Raphael – God’s Healing Thursday, Oct 25 2012 

Raphael means God’s healing….

Raphael the Healer leads us forth from weakness of soul and brings us into the bitterness of contrition.

Thus in the book of Tobit Raphael says: When thou enterest into thy house, anoint his eyes with gall. He did so, and he saw.

Why could not Raphael do this himself? Because an Angel does not bestow compunction, but he shows the way to it.

By gall, the bitterness of contrition is to be understood, for it heals the inner eyes of the mind.

[…] Secondly, Raphael brings us forth from our slavery to the devil, by recalling Christ’s Passion to our mind.

There is a figure of the Passion in the sixth chapter of Tobit, where it is said that if a piece of the heart [of a fish] is put on the embers, its smoke will drive out all kinds of devils.

It is said in the eighth chapter of Tobit that Tobias put a piece of the heart on the embers, and Raphael bound the devil in the utmost parts of Egypt.

What does this mean?… We are to understand that nothing so frees us from the devil’s slavery as the Passion of Christ, which issued from the root of his heart, or of his love.

For the heart is the fountain, or hot centre, of all life.

Therefore if you put the heart of Christ, that is the Passion, that he underwent, issuing from the root of charity and the fountain of heat, on the embers, that is, on the flame of memory, then immediately the devil will be bound, and he will be unable to hurt you.

Thirdly Raphael delivers us from God’s displeasure, which we incur by transgressing against God; he does this by leading us to instant prayer, and this is what Raphael said to Tobit in the twelfth chapter: When thou didst pray with tears, I did bring your prayers before the Lord.

For the Angels reconcile us to God, as far as they are able. The devils are accusers before God, but the angels excuse us, when they offer our prayers, and when they urge us to pray devoutly.

[…] They offer your prayer, so that they may reconcile you to God.

It is said in the Gospel of S. Luke, that Christ being in an agony, prayed more earnestly, and there appeared an Angel of the Lord strengthening him.

And all of this was done for our sake: for he had no need of strengthening, but it was to show that the Angels willingly assist those who pray devoutly, and help and strengthen them, and bring their prayers before God.

Bonaventure of Bagnorea (1221-1274): De Sanctis Angelis Sermo 5, from Mattins of the feast of S Raphael in the Old Breviary @ http://lzkiss.net/cgi-bin/horas/brevi.pl.

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Bonaventure: The Lord’s Prayer and the Gifts of the Spirit Tuesday, Jul 19 2011 

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are touched upon in the Lord’s Prayer.

Those gifts are not had except from the Father of lights. For that reason Christ, wanting to teach us in what manner we can obtain them, teaches us to ask for them in the Lord’s Prayer.

In the first part the gift of fear is asked for, when He says: Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.

Secondly piety is asked for, when He says: May Thy Kingdom come.

Third the gift of knowledge is asked for, when He says: Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Fourth the gift of fortitude is asked for, when He says: Give us this day our daily bread. Bread strengthens the heart of a man.

Fifth the gift of counsel is asked for, when He says: And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.

Sixth the gift of understanding is asked for, when He says: And put us not to the test.

Seventh the gift of wisdom is asked for, when He says: But free us from evil. Amen.

In the first our sanctification is asked for, and this through the gift of fear, when He says, Our Father, who art in Heaven; hallowed be Thy Name.

Isaiah says: Hallow the Lord of Hosts, He is both thy trembling and they fear.

In the second the consummation of human salvation is asked for, which is not had except through the gift of piety; let there be judgment without mercy for him who has not worked mercy.

That gift is touched upon, when He says: Thy Kingdom come.

In the third part the fulfillment of the divine law is asked for through the gift of knowledge, because it teaches how to ask well and avoid evils.

This gift is touched upon, when He says: Thy will be done etc..

In the fourth part the reheating of eternal virtue is asked for, and through this the gift of virtue or of fortitude, when He says: Give us this day our daily bread. For Bread strengthens the heart of a man.

In the fifth the remission of sins is asked for through the gift of counsel, when He says: And forgive us our debts, as etc..

In the sixth petition the warding off of hostile deceit is asked for through the gift of understanding, when He says: And put us not to the test.

In the seventh petition the subjugation of carnal concupiscence is asked for through the gift of wisdom, when He says: But free us from evil. Amen.

It is impossible, that the soul tame its flesh, unless it be filled full with the gift of wisdom.

Bonaventure of Bagnorea (1221-1274): Conferences on the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, Cap. 2,3-4.

Bonaventure: The Grace of God, Healing for the Human Race, Descends to Us Through Mary Wednesday, Jun 1 2011 

The Blessed Virgin Mary is the Mother of the great King by reason of a noble kind of conception, according to the message given her by the Angel.

[…] Because she conceived him on whose thigh was written, King of kings and Lord of lords, was Queen not only of earth but also of heaven as soon as she conceived the Son of God.

This is indicated in the Apocalypse where it says: A great sign appeared in haven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon was under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.

Mary the Queen outshines all others in glory, as the Prophet clearly shows in the Psalm which particularly concerns Christ and the Virgin Mary.

It first says of Christ: Thy throne, O God, stands forever and ever, and shortly thereafter of the Virgin: The Queen takes her place at thy right hand, that is, in the position of highest blessedness, for it refers to glory of soul.

It continues: In garments of gold, by which is meant the clothing of glorious immortality which was proper to the Virgin in her Assumption.

For it could not be that the garment which clothed Christ, the garment completely sanctified on earth by the incarnate Word, should be the food of worms.

As it was fitting for Christ to grant the fullness of grace to his Mother at her Conception, so was it fitting that he grant her the fullness of glory at her Assumption.

And so we are to hold that the Virgin, glorious in soul and body, is enthroned next to her Son.

Mary the Queen is also the distributrix of grace. This is indicated in the book of Esther, where it is said: The little spring which grew into a river and was turned into a light and into the sun.

The Virgin Mary, under the type of Esther, is compared to the outpouring of a spring and of light, because of the diffusion of grace for two uses, that is, for action and for contemplation.

For the grace of God, which is a healing for the human race, descends to us through her as if through an aqueduct, since the dispensing of grace is attributed to the Virgin not as to its beginning, but because of her position through merit.

By position the Virgin Mary is a most excellent Queen towards her people: she obtains forgiveness, overcomes strife, distributes grace, and thereby she leads them to glory.

Bonaventure of Bagnorea (1221-1274): Homily, from Mattins of the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen, in the Old Breviary @ http://lzkiss.net/cgi-bin/horas/brevi.pl.

Bonaventure: Grace is Flowed into Us Thursday, Jul 15 2010 

Grace descends over rational minds through the Incarnate Word, through the Crucified Word, and through the Inspired Word. Thus it is said in the Epistle of James that He has voluntarily begotten us in the Word of truth, so that we be a certain beginning of His creation….

After man fell through sin, the Divine Wisdom provided a manner of condescension through the Incarnate Word, through which man was to be adapted to grace.

And because that was done in the womb of the glorious Virgin, for that reason it was said to Her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee…. Thus is clear the first origination of grace in us, which happens through the Incarnate Word….

Second, grace descends into us through the Crucified Word. We were not only incapable of taking up grace on account both of our ignorance of the divine precepts and of our infirmity and impotence and concupiscence for earthly things.

To heal our languors, God descended into us through the Crucified Word. St Paul says to the Ephesians: God, who is rich in mercy, on account of His exceeding charity, with which He has loved us; when we had died with sins, vivified us together with Christ, by whose grace we have been saved.

We have been vivified by Christ through Christ, because Christ has triumphed from death; whence death could not absorb Him, rather the Fount of life absorbed death, according to that which is written: I will be thy death, O Death! Otherwise we could not be healed and saved….

Christ has died, to resuscitate the dead for the taking up of life and grace; therefore grace is flowed into us through the Incarnate Word and through the Crucified Word.

And the Blessed Virgin took up that Word (that is) full of grace; and the stream of graces has come forth from the side of Him, who has the efficacy to heal us.

Third, grace rises in us through the Inspired Word. However much God has sent His Son into flesh, unless you believe that He was crucified, you will not have grace.

St Paul says to Titus: Not out of the works of justice, which we have done, but according to His mercy has He saved us through the laver of regeneration and the renovation of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured forth abundantly into us through Jesus Christ, Our Savior….

It is the Holy Spirit, who is the giver of graces and the Love proceeding from the Father and the Son.

Whatever therefore the Father does and the Son suffers, it is nothing without the Holy Spirit. For He joins us to the Father and the Son.

Bonaventure of Bagnorea (1221-1274): Conferences on the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, Cap. 1,5-7.

Benedict XVI: Love Goes Beyond Reason Monday, Mar 22 2010 

Whereas for St. Augustine the intellectus, the seeing with reason and with the heart, is the ultimate category of knowledge, Pseudo-Dionysius takes still another step: in the ascent to God one can come to a point when reason no longer sees.

But in the night of the intellect, love still sees – it sees what remains inaccessible to reason. Love goes beyond reason, sees more, enters more profoundly into the mystery of God.

St. Bonaventure was fascinated by this vision, which met with his Franciscan spirituality. Precisely in the dark night of the cross appears all the grandeur of divine love; where reason no longer sees, love sees.

The conclusive words of his Journey of the Mind to God in a superficial reading, might seem an exaggerated expression of a devotion devoid of content; read, instead, in the light of the theology of the cross of St. Bonaventure, they are a clear and realistic expression of Franciscan spirituality:

“If now you yearn to know how that happens (that is, the ascent to God), ask grace, not doctrine; desire, not the intellect; the groan of prayer, not the study of the letter; … not light, but the fire that inflames everything and transports to God” (VII, 6).

All this is not anti-intellectual and anti-rational: it implies the way of reason but transcends it in the love of the crucified Christ.

With this transformation of the mysticism of Pseudo-Dionysius, St. Bonaventure is placed at the beginning of a great mystical current, which greatly raised and purified the human mind: it is a summit in the history of the human spirit.

Hence, for St. Bonaventure, all our life is a “journey”, a pilgrimage – an ascent to God.

But with our own strength we cannot ascend to the loftiness of God. God himself must help us, must “pull” us on high.

That is why prayer is necessary. Prayer – so says the saint – is the mother and origin of the ascent – sursum actio, action that takes us on high, Bonaventure says.

Because of this, I conclude with the prayer, with which he begins his Journey: “Let us pray, therefore and say to our Lord God: ‘Lead me, Lord, on your way and I will walk in your truth. My heart rejoices in fearing your name’” (I,1).

Benedict XVI (b. 1927): On Theology According To Thomas And Bonaventure (translation by Zenit).

Bonaventure: Let Us Pass Over With The Crucified Christ Monday, Mar 8 2010 

Christ is both the way and the door. Christ is the staircase and the vehicle, like the throne of mercy over the Ark of the Covenant, and the mystery hidden from the ages.

A man should turn his full attention to this throne of mercy, and should gaze at him hanging on the cross, full of faith, hope and charity, devoted, full of wonder and joy, marked by gratitude, and open to praise and jubilation.

Then such a man will make with Christ a pasch, that is, a passing-over. Through the branches of the cross he will pass over the Red Sea, leaving Egypt and entering the desert.

There he will taste the hidden manna, and rest with Christ in the sepulchre, as if he were dead to things outside.

He will experience, as much as is possible for one who is still living, what was promised to the thief who hung beside Christ: Today you will be with me in paradise.

For this passover to be perfect, we must suspend all the operations of the mind and we must transform the peak of our affections, directing them to God alone.

This is a sacred mystical experience. It cannot be comprehended by anyone unless he surrenders himself to it; nor can he surrender himself to it unless he longs for it; nor can he long for it unless the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent into the world, should come and inflame his innermost soul.

Hence the Apostle says that this mystical wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit.

If you ask how such things can occur, seek the answer in God’s grace, not in doctrine; in the longing of the will, not in the understanding; in the sighs of prayer, not in research.

Seek the bridegroom not the teacher; God and not man; darkness not daylight; and look not to the light but rather to the raging fire that carries the soul to God with intense fervour and glowing love.

The fire is God, and the furnace is in Jerusalem, fired by Christ in the ardour of his loving passion. Only he understood this who said: My soul chose hanging and my bones death.

Anyone who cherishes this kind of death can see God, for it is certainly true that: No man can look upon me and live.

Let us die, then, and enter into the darkness, silencing our anxieties, our passions and all the fantasies of our imagination.

Let us pass over with the crucified Christ from this world to the Father, so that, when the Father has shown himself to us, we can say with Philip: It is enough.

Bonaventure of Bagnorea (1221-1274): Journey of the Mind Into God, Cap. 7,1 2.4.6, taken from the Office of Readings for the Feast of St. Bonaventure on July 15, at Crossroads Initiative.

Bonaventure: Scripture, Eternal Life and the Trinity Monday, Feb 8 2010 

The stream of holy Scripture flows not from human research but from revelation by God. It springs from “the Father of lights, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth takes its name”.

From him, through his Son Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit flows into us; and through the Holy Spirit, giving, at will, different gifts to different people, comes the gift of faith, and through faith Jesus Christ has his dwelling in our hearts.

This is the knowledge of Jesus Christ which is the ultimate basis of the solidity and wisdom of the whole of holy Scripture.

From all this it follows that it is impossible for anyone to start to recognise Scripture for what it is if he does not already have faith in Christ infused into him. Christ is the lamp that illuminates the whole of Scripture: he is its gateway and its foundation.

For this faith is behind all the supernatural enlightenments that we receive while we are still separated from the Lord and on our pilgrimage. It makes our foundation firm, it directs the light of the lamp, it leads us in through the gateway.

[…] The substance and fruit of holy Scripture is very specific: the fullness of eternal happiness.

For this is what Scripture is – its words are words of eternal life, and it is written not just so that we should believe, but specially so that we should possess eternal life in which we may see, and love, and have all our desires fulfilled.

When they are fulfilled, then we shall know the superabundant love that comes from knowledge, and so we shall be filled with all the fullness of God.

[…] If we are to follow the direct path of Scripture and come straight to the final destination, then right from the beginning – when simple faith starts to draw us towards the light of the Father – our hearts should kneel down and ask the Father to give us, through his Son and the Holy Spirit, true knowledge of Jesus and of his love.

Once we know him and love him like this, we shall be made firm in faith and deeply rooted in love, and we can know the breadth, length, depth and height of holy Scripture.

That news can then lead us to the full knowledge and overwhelming love of the most holy Trinity.

The desires of the saints draw them towards the Trinity, in which all that is good and true is and finds its completion.

Bonaventure of Bagnorea (1221-1274): Breviloquium, Prologue, taken from Office of Readings for Monday of Week 5 of Ordinary Time, at Universalis.


Bonaventure: Coming to Contemplation Saturday, Oct 17 2009 

Now at the Creation, man was made fit for the repose of contemplation, and therefore God placed him in a paradise of delight. But turning himself away from the true light to mutable goods, he was bent over by his own sin, and the whole human race by original sin, which doubly infected human nature, ignorance infecting man’s mind and concupiscence his flesh.

Hence man, blinded and bent, sits in the shadows and does not see the light of heaven unless grace with justice succor him from concupiscence, and knowledge with wisdom against ignorance. All of which is done through Jesus Christ, Who of God is made unto us wisdom and justice and sanctification and redemption.

He is the virtue and wisdom of God, the Word incarnate, the author of grace and truth–that is, He has infused the grace of charity, which, since it is from a pure heart and good conscience and unfeigned faith, rectifies the whole soul in the threefold way mentioned above.

He has taught the knowledge of the truth according to the triple mode of theology – that is, the symbolic, the literal, and the mystical – so that by the symbolic we may make proper use of sensible things, by the literal we may properly use the intelligible, and by the mystical we may be carried aloft to supermental levels.

Therefore he who wishes to ascend to God must, avoiding sin, which deforms nature, exercise the above-mentioned natural powers for regenerating grace, and do this through prayer.

He must strive toward purifying justice, and this in intercourse; toward the illumination of knowledge, and this in meditation; toward the perfection of wisdom, and this in contemplation.

Now just as no one comes to wisdom save through grace, justice, and knowledge, so none comes to contemplation save through penetrating meditation, holy conversation, and devout prayer.

Just as grace is the foundation of the will’s rectitude and of the enlightenment of clear and penetrating reason, so, first, we must pray. Secondly, we must live holily. Thirdly, we must strive toward the reflection of truth and, by our striving, mount step by step until we come to the high mountain where we shall see the God of gods in Sion [Ps., 83, 8]

Bonaventure of Bagnorea (1221-1274): Journey of the Mind Into God 1,7-8


it is from a pure heart and good conscience and unfeigned faith, rectifies the whole soul in the threefold way mentioned above.
He has taught the knowledge of the truth according to the triple mode of theology – that is, the symbolic, the literal, and the mystical – so that by the symbolic we may make proper use of sensible things, by the literal we may properly use the intelligible, and by the mystical we may be carried aloft to supermental levels.
Therefore he who wishes to ascend to God must, avoiding sin, which deforms nature, exercise the above-mentioned natural powers for regenerating grace, and do this through prayer.
He must strive toward purifying justice, and this in intercourse; toward the illumination of knowledge, and this in meditation; toward the perfection of wisdom, and this in contemplation.
Now just as no one comes to wisdom save through grace, justice, and knowledge, so none comes to contemplation save through penetrating meditation, holy conversation, and devout prayer.
Just as grace is the foundation of the will’s rectitude and of the enlightenment of clear and penetrating reason, so, first, we must pray. Secondly, we must live holily. Thirdly, we must strive toward the reflection of truth and, by our striving, mount step by step until we come to the high mountain where we shall see the God of gods in Sion [Ps., 83, 8]
Bonaventure of Bagnorea (1221-1274): Journey of the Mind Into God 1,7-since it is from a pure heart and good conscience and unfeigned faith, rectifies the whole soul in the threefold way mentioned above.
He has taught the knowledge of the truth according to the triple mode of theology – that is, the symbolic, the literal, and the mystical – so that by the symbolic we may make proper use of sensible things, by the literal we may properly use the intelligible, and by the mystical we may be carried aloft to supermental levels.
Therefore he who wishes to ascend to God must, avoiding sin, which deforms nature, exercise the above-mentioned natural powers for regenerating grace, and do this through prayer.
He must strive toward purifying justice, and this in intercourse; toward the illumination of knowledge, and this in meditation; toward the perfection of wisdom, and this in contemplation.
Now just as no one comes to wisdom save through grace, justice, and knowledge, so none comes to contemplation save through penetrating meditation, holy conversation, and devout prayer.
Just as grace is the foundation of the will’s rectitude and of the enlightenment of clear and penetrating reason, so, first, we must pray. Secondly, we must live holily. Thirdly, we must strive toward the reflection of truth and, by our striving, mount step by step until we come to the high mountain where we shall see the God of gods in Sion [Ps., 83, 8]
Bonaventure of Bagnorea (1221-1274): Journey of the Mind Into God 1,7-8