MEDIEVAL MYSTICISM

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St. Bonaventure: Raising the Mind to God

July’s Medieval Mysticism

Fr. Frederick Edlefsen

Long before Christ, kings were reckoned mediators between the gods and the realm.  In medieval Europe, emperors and kings were “priestly” mediators of a Corpus Mysticum Christi (a Mystical Body of Christ), a baptized body politic. Promising young men fled to hermitages and monasteries.   Meet the 13th century Franciscan mystic, theologian, and bishop:  St Bonaventure.   His feast day is July 15.  

 

From “The Journey of the Mind to God”

by St. Bonaventure 

Christ is both the way and the door…the staircase and the vehicle…"the mystery hidden from the ages."  A man should turn his full attention to this throne of mercy and should gaze at him hanging on the cross… [through which] he will pass over the Red Sea, leaving Egypt, and entering the desert.  There he will taste the hidden manna, and rest with Christ in the sepulcher, as if he were dead to things outside…  We must transform the peak of our affections, directing them to God alone. This is a sacred mystical experience.

If you ask how such things occur, seek the answer in God’s grace, not in doctrine; in the longing of the will, not in the understanding; in the sighs of prayer, not in research; seek the bridegroom not the teacher; God and not man; darkness not daylight; and look not to the light but rather to the raging fire that carries the soul to God with intense fervor and glowing love. The fire is God, and the furnace is in Jerusalem, fired by Christ in the ardor of his loving passion… Anyone who cherishes this kind of death can see God, for it is certainly true that, "No man can look upon me and live."  Let us die, then, and enter into the darkness, silencing our anxieties, our passions and all the fantasies of our imagination. Let us pass over with the crucified Christ "from this world to the Father," so that, when the Father has shown himself to us, we can say with Philip, "It is enough." We may hear with Paul: "My grace is sufficient for you;" and we can rejoice with David, saying, "My flesh and my heart fail me, but God is the strength of my heart and my heritage forever. Blessed be the Lord forever and let all the people say: Amen. Amen!" 

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