St. Bonaventure

Friends in Christ, today is the Feast of St. Bonaventure. St. Bonaventure was born in 1221 in Bagnorea, Italy. When he was young he became very sick, and it is said that St. Francis cured him and gave him the name ‘Bonaventure.
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At about 20 years old he became a Franciscan, and with his brilliant mind, he went on to teach theology at the University of Paris. Bonaventure worked tirelessly to reform and improve the Franciscan Order, in fact he is called the Second Founder of the Franciscans because of all he did. He also wrote the official biography of St. Francis.
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At the University of Paris, the greatest center of learning of the time, two different and complimentary schools of theology were at work in those years. Thomas Aquinas was there, teaching a new approach to theology based on Aristotle.    At the same time, at the same University, Bonaventure led another approach, a system which leaned heavily on St. Augustine. St. Bonaventure wrote a famous treatise called ‘The Journey of the Mind to God’ There, he calls us to find God in prayer.  
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‘To find God, he says, we must surrender ourselves to him. We must seek the Lord by grace, not by doctrine. By the longing of the heart, not in the mind; in the sighs of prayer, not in research. Seek the Bridegroom, not the teacher. Look for the raging fire that carries the soul to God, he says. The fire is God, and the furnace is Christ’s Passion.  
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St. Bonaventure was a mystic, and his approach to theology emphasized the heart more than the mind.  
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Historians sometimes try to pit Thomas Aquinas against Bonaventure as rivals, but in reality they were great friends who merely taught different ways of knowing God. They both received their doctorate in theology on the same day, and they both would die the same year, 1274. Thomas Aquinas is called the ‘Angelic Doctor,’ Bonaventure is called the Seraphic Doctor.’
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St. Bonaventure was an intellectual giant, but he is a saint because of his holiness. When Pope Gregory decided to make him a Cardinal, he sent his ambassador to present Bonaventure with a red miter. When they arrived with the red hat of honor from the Pope, they found this simple Franciscan washing the dishes outside. He said to them, ‘My hands are wet just now, if you would kindly hang that hat on the tree over there.’
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The symbol for St. Bonaventure is the Red Cardinal’s Hat.

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