Thursday, July 14, 2011
July 14: The Feast of St. Bonaventure, Doctor of the Church
May my soul ever thirst for Thee, Who art the source of life, the fount of wisdom and knowledge, the brightness of everlasting light, the flood of all true happiness, the riches of the house of God. - St. Bonaventure
The Doctors of the Church were renowned for their orthodoxy and their theological learning.
St. Bonaventure was born in Italy in 1221. Unfortunately, very little is known about St. Bonaventure's youth except for a single story. When he was a small child, St. Bonaventure became very ill, near death. His pious parents sought the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi. With St. Francis's help, St. Bonaventure recovered. In an act of gratitude and love for St. Francis, St. Bonaventure entered into the Franciscan Order of the Friars when he was about 18.
The Seraphic Doctor, as he was called, had a quest for learning and the Truth. Although he was steadfast and sure of Christian doctrine, he was warm and charitable towards his fellow priests. He was a Defender of the Faith like no other. He grew to be an exemplary priest and teacher. He studied at the University of Paris along with St. Thomas Aquinas, where he earned his title of Doctor of Theology. He later went on to teacher at this same University and is regarded as one of the greatest theologians and thinkers in Christianity.
The Doctor's philosophy was simple--he believed that the primary person of man's intellectual being was to seek God. He loved God and he loved the Truth. He had a great respect for tradition and he held new ideas and philosophy with suspicion. He wrote extensively on dogma, doctrine, and prayer. His writings held great influence at many of the early Church Counsels and some of his ideas, especially regarding papal infallibility, laid the foundation for Church doctrine.
He dedicated his life to searching for the knowledge of God. While at University, he taught his pupils that the pursuit of Truth must be governed by authority or it is worthless. He warned that those who sought their own subjective truth would find a path filled with "dangerous pitfalls and treachery." His example clarified that education must never be separated from Christ. Today many institutions for education carry his name.
St. Bonaventure died under suspicious circumstances in 1274.
St. Bonaventure, pray for us that all our educational pursuits remain grounded in and guided by the Truth of Our Lord.
St. Bonaventure, pray for Our Bishops and priests that they may teach the True faith without comprising Tradition for novelty.