Seraphic Doctor

22 Sep

Had to follow up yesterday’s theology havering with this Rohr observation from Eager to Love. Had to. I’ve been sipping on this read 9781473604018-2through the summer, and this portion was timely on this perfect patio reading morning:

Bonaventure is called “the Seraphic Doctor” of the Church because his writings are so filled with the warmth and fire that was associated with the Seraphic order of angels. He is probably an exemplary Franciscan mystic because he so effectively pulls his brilliant head down into his fiery heart, and integrates contemplation with an extremely active life, as we hear in one of his more oft-quoted verses, all the more amazing because he was such an intellectual:

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 10.12.30 AM

Bonaventure’s theology is never about trying to placate a distant and angry God, earn forgiveness, or find some abstract theory of justification. He is all cosmic optimism and hope! Once it lost this kind of mysticism, Christianity became preoccupied with fear, unworthiness, and guilt much more than being included in – and delighting in – an all-pervasive plan that is already in place.

In Bonaventure’s world, the frame of reality was still big, hopeful, and positive. One reason he was able to do that, as we can see in many Catholic mystics, is that he was profoundly Trinitarian, where the love always and forever flows in one positive and forward direction. That was both his starting point and his ending point. Most of Christian history has not been Trinitarian except in name, I am sad to report; it has largely been a worship of Jesus who was extracted from the Trinity – and thus Jesus part from the eternal Christ, who then became more a harsh judge of humanity than a shining exemplar of humanity “holding all things in unity” (Colossians 1:17-20).

After reading Bonaventure, the crossed lines of the crucifix henceforth become a geometric metaphor for all the seeming contradictions in the world – which, if held with compassion, create deep wisdom in the soul.

Oh what need we have of “Seraphic Doctors” skilled in the art of pulling brilliant heads (or at least passably intelligent ones) into fiery hearts, hearts burning with optimism and hope and seeing his unity everywhere –
true Trinitarians sensing the pulsing, beating, throbbing heart of Love beating at the center of all existence, and whose every consequent word and deed are forged in such a flame emanating from a deep wisdom in the soul.


Behold the Seraphic Doctor! Complete with dancing action…



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Posted by on September 22, 2014 in Books, haverings


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