Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Seraphic Good Fortune

Happy Bonaventure Day!

[T]he intellect can be said truly to comprehend the meaning of propositions when it knows with certainty that they are true; and to know in this way is really to know, for it cannot be deceived in such comprehension. Since it knows that this truth cannot be otherwise, it knows also that this truth is changeless. But since our mind itself is changeable, it could not see this truth shining in so changeless a manner were it not for some other light absolutely and unchangeably resplendent; nor can this light possibly be a created light subject to change. The intellect, therefore, knows in the light that enlightens every man who comes into the world, which is the true light, and the Word in the beginning with God.

Bonaventure, Itinerarium Mentis in Deum, Franciscan Institute (Saint Bonaventure, NY: 1956) p. 67 (chapter 3, section 3).

Giovanni di Fidanza was born in 1221; he is almost universally known as Buonaventura, or Bonaventura. The legend goes that when he was young he became sick and so his parents took him to St. Francis of Assisi so that Francis could pray for him. St. Francis took the little boy in his arms and said, "O buona ventura!" And so, the story goes, the boy was known as Lucky ever after. It seems to be only a legend; but it does underline the close connection between Bonaventure and Francis; Bonaventure is sometimes called the second Founder of the Franciscan Order, due to his leadership in the crisis over the Spiritual Franciscans and to the influence of his work. Because of his charity and his meditations on Francis's visions of the Crucified Seraph, he is often known as the Seraphic Doctor.

A prayer from Bonaventure's The Tree of Life:

We pray to the most kind Father, through you His only-begotten Son, who for us became man, was crucified and was glorified, that he send us out of his treasury the Spirit of sevenfold grace that rested on lyou in all fullness: the Spirit of wisdom, that we may taste the life-giving savor of the fruit of the tree of life, which truly you are; and the gift of understanding, by which the intentions of our mind are illuminated; the gift of counsel, by which we may follow on the right paths, in your footsteps; the gift of fortitude, by which we may be able to blunt the violence of the attacks of the enemy; the gift of knowledge, by which we may be filled with the brilliant light of your sacred doctrine, so as to distinguish good and evil; the gift of piety, by which we may receive a compassionate heart; the gift of fear, by which we may withdraw from every evil and be set at peace through awed submission to your eternal majesty. For you have desired us to ask for these in that sacred prayer you have taught us; and now we ask to obtain them through your cross, for the praise of your most holy name. To you, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be honro and glory, thankgsgiving and beauty and power, forever and ever. Amen

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