Friday, June 28, 2019

Love beyond measure - the Sacred Heart

S. Bonaventure (Giovanni di Fidanza) was born in Tuscany, Italy, around 1217-1221.  He became known as "Bonaventure" when he was little and S. Francis of Assisi prayed for him to be healed of a grave illness. While he was praying, Francis received a divine revelation of the boy's future ministry and cried out "O buna ventura" ('O good fortune).

At 22 years of age (about 20 years after the death of Saint Francis), Giovanni joined the Franciscan order and was sent to Paris to continue his studies. This is where he became a close friend of St. Thomas Aquinas.

At 35 S. Bonaventure became Minister General of the Franciscans. He wrote a biography of S. Francis as well as many devotional and theological works, becoming known as the "Seraphic Doctor." He refused a good many honours but eventually became a Cardinal and Bishop of Albano.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his Holy Men and Women from the Middle Ages and Beyond(2012) (page 53) writes: "... for Saint Bonaventure the ultimate destiny of man is to love God, to encounter him, and to be united in his and our love. For him, this is the most satisfactory definition of our happiness."

I share this wonderful passage from S. Bonaventure with you on this Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Largely a reflection on John 19 and Psalm 36, it is set for today's Office of Readings:

Take thought now, redeemed man, and consider how great and worthy is he who hangs on the cross for you. His death brings the dead to life, but at his passing heaven and earth are plunged into mourning and hard rocks are split asunder.

It was a divine decree that permitted one of the soldiers to open his sacred side with a lance. This was done so that the Church might be formed from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death on the cross, and so that the Scripture might be fulfilled:  They shall look on him whom they pierced.

The blood and water which poured out at that moment were the price of our salvation. Flowing from the secret abyss of our Lord’s heart as from a fountain, this stream gave the sacraments of the Church the power to confer the life of grace, while for those already living in Christ it became a spring of living water welling up to life everlasting.

Arise, then, beloved of Christ! Imitate the dove that nests in a hole in the cliff, keeping watch at the entrance like the sparrow that finds a home.  There like the turtledove hide your little ones, the fruit of your chaste love. Press your lips to the fountain, draw water from the wells of your Savior; for this is the spring flowing out of the middle of paradise, dividing into four rivers, inundating devout hearts, watering the whole earth and making it fertile.

Run with eager desire to this source of life and light, all you who are vowed to God’s service. Come, whoever you may be, and cry out to him with all the strength of your heart.  O indescribable beauty of the most high God and purest radiance of eternal light! Life that gives all life, light that is the source of every other light, preserving in everlasting splendor the myriad flames that have shone before the throne of your divinity from the dawn of time!

Eternal and inaccessible fountain, clear and sweet stream flowing from a hidden spring, unseen by mortal eye! None can fathom your depths nor survey your boundaries, none can measure your breadth, nothing can sully your purity. From you flows the river which gladdens the city of God and makes us cry out with joy and thanksgiving in hymns of praise to you, for we know by our own experience that with you is the source of life, and in your light we see light.


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