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St. Bonaventure, a Teacher of the Faith

by Russell Fleur Gallego

Born as Giovanni Di Fidanza in 1221, he is believed to have had a near-death experience as a child and was saved from an untimely death by the prayers of St. Francis of Assisi. He entered the Franciscan Order in 1243. He is considered as one of the greatest Doctors of the Church alongside St. Thomas Aquinas. He was canonized by Pope Sixtus IV on April 14, 1482.

Here are some of the famous teachings of St. Bonaventure:

  • “As “pride is the beginning of all sin,” (Eccl. x, 15) so humility is the foundation of all virtue. Learn to be really humble and not, as the hypocrite, humble merely in appearance.” ― Saint Bonaventure, Holiness of Life

  • “Since happiness is nothing else than the enjoyment of the Supreme Good, and the Supreme Good is above us, no one can enjoy happiness unless he rises above himself.” ― Saint Bonaventure, The Journey of the Mind into God

  • “Have mercy on me, O Lady: for thou art called the Mother of Mercy. And according to thy mercy: cleanse me from all my iniquities. Pour forth thy grace upon me: and withdraw not from me thine accustomed clemency. For I will confess my sins to thee: and I will accuse myself of all my crimes before thee. Reconcile me to the Fruit of thy womb: and make peace for me with Him who has created me.” ― St Bonaventure, The Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary by St Bonaventure

  • “We, therefore, pray to the most kind Father through you, his only begotten Son, who for us became man, was crucified and glorified, that he send us out of his treasures the Spirit of sevenfold grace who rested upon you in all fullness: the Spirit, I say, of WISDOM, that we may taste the life-giving flavors of the fruit of the tree of life, which you truly are; the gift also of UNDERSTANDING, by which the intentions of our mind are illumined; the gift of COUNSEL, by which we may follow in your footsteps on the right paths; the gift of FORTITUDE, by which we may be able to weaken the violence of our enemies’ attacks; the gift of KNOWLEDGE, by which we may be filled with the brilliant light of your sacred teaching to distinguish good and evil; the gift of PIETY, by which we may acquire a merciful heart; the gift of FEAR, by which we may draw away from all evil and be set at peace by submitting in awe to your eternal majesty. For you have wished that we ask for these things in that sacred prayer which 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 honor and glory, thanksgiving, beauty and power, forever and ever. Amen. ― From Prayer “To Obtain the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit” included at the closing The Tree of Life

  • “All ye nations, clap your hands: sing in jubilee to the glorious Virgin. For she is the gate of life, the door of salvation, and the way of our reconciliation. The hope of the penitent: the comfort of those that weep: the blessed peace of hearts, and their salvation. Have mercy on me, O Lady, have mercy on me: for thou art the light and the hope of all who trust in thee. By thy salutary fecundity let it please thee: that pardon of my sins may be granted unto me.” ― St Bonaventure, The Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary by St Bonaventure

  • “We must beg the Holy Spirit, with ardent longing, to give us these fruits. The Holy Ghost alone knows how to bring to light the sweetness hidden away under the rugged exterior of the words of the Law. We must go to the Holy Ghost for interior guidance.” ― Saint Bonaventure, Holiness of Life

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