“As Jesus was the true worshiper of the Father, so let prayer and contemplation be the soul of all they are and do.” ( Art. 8, Secular Franciscan Rule)
On July 15th, we celebrated the feast of Saint Bonaventure. Born during the time of Saint Francis, he attended the University of Paris, became both a Franciscan friar and professor while at that university. He would become the 7th Minister General of the Order, and because of the work he did bringing the Order together, he has been called the second founder of the First Order. He would end his life as a bishop, working for the reunion of the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity.
Above all, though, Bonaventure is known as a mystic, who wrote, besides treatises on philosophy and theology, works on the mystical life of the Christians, which still inspire many people to this day. Despite the demands of the many offices he held, Bonaventure still found time for prayer, time to be still in God’s presence and experience, as Francis did, the power and joy of the Father’s love. He was able to share these experiences with us, especially in his treatise, “The Soul’s Journey into God.”
We are all called to a life of prayer, it is to provide a foundation for our lives, and the “soul” of the work we do in the world. It is through prayer, Scripture and the Eucharist that we can have that encounter with our loving God, that we too can have that mystical experience; that Francis called the first step for a life of conversion. That experience may be like hearing a soft breeze, as the prophet Elijah did; or it may like an angel hitting us in the back of heads with a baseball bat, as Fr. Andrew Greeley related in one of his novels. The important thing is that we keep ourselves open for that experience, through prayer, through being still and resting in the Lord.