Bonaventure’s entire theological project is deeply prayerful, and many of his most famous works are bookended by prayer. This is nowhere more evident than the Itinerarium, which begins by advising souls seeking peace to cry out in prayer, and ends with David’s words from Psalm 73—invoking mystical “passing over” into Christ through death. To read Bonaventure rightly is to stand in humility before God, the immeasurable Creator Whom no one can see and still live.
The Situation If there’s one thing we don’t like thinking about, it’s death. Yet there is nothing more important, nothing that more defines who we are and how we act, than our approach to death and our understanding of its significance. “Look to the end,” Thucydides and Herodotus remind us, to determine the utility and worthiness of a human life. “Persevere to end,” the martyrs and saints remind us, to gain the crown of life
Away from my family on study retreat, I went to St. Isidore’s for the Sunday English language mass. While looking up toward the dome before the service, I caught sight of the four Evangelists, in Baroque attitudes of dramatic inspiration, pages under their poised fingers, living creatures over their shoulders. I prayed something like the following: Lord, you pour forth power and wisdom and goodness without cease According to your own mode, which is limitless,
The Scriptures are somewhat ambiguous about how fully God can be known by human beings. On the one hand, the Son has revealed God to be our Father and has pioneered the path of faith—offering unprecedented access through grace. Jesus teaches that the pure in heart “will see God” (Matt 5:8). Likewise in the first Johannine epistle: “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do
April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain. T. S. Eliot “We are the hollow men / We are the stuffed men,” Eliot begins his 1925 poem, “The Hollow Men.” Not the most positive of notes on which to start. But perhaps therein is its haunting power. Reality has a way of pressing beyond our rather feeble attempts at distracting ourselves.
Theology “Then and Now” More than four years ago, I published my first essay on Conciliar Post. It laid out what I consider to be the first principles of theological reasoning, but it also noted that—like all of us—I am still “on the way.” I stand behind these principles: the centrality of Christ, the contingency of created order, the need for grace, and the soul’s ascent to God. I also stand behind the fact that
It could be said that, throughout history and even now in the “less enlightened” parts of the world, the cults of the Saints drive not only the practice of Christianity but also speculation (in the older, more revered sense of the term) about Christianity itself. That is, hagiography as such – the vitae Sanctorum – is not a strange collection of bygone myths (in the newer, less revered sense of the term), but the pulse
Considered generally, doubt is beneficial to human beings. While we all begin life in a state of ignorance—relying upon the care and concern of others to survive—too many of us eventually enter a state of arrogance. Neither position is desirable, but these are the two ends of the spectrum of knowledge spectrum toward which we gravitate. Christians who see pride as the root of all sin are inclined to value doubt when it counteracts pride.
This is the second part of a series based on notes from a lecture delivered by Rowan Williams at Saint Louis University on 7 March, 2017. Part One can be found here. Part One: Historical Perspective If we look at the way language about Jesus Christ develops from the earliest days onwards, what we see is a gradual clarification—not just of what is said about Christ, but of what is said about God. In the early
The Word and the Text: Allegorical Exegesis and the Christological Ontology of Scripture in the Middle Ages Factum audivimus; mysterium requiramus. “We have heard the deed; let us seek the mystery.” So says Augustine in his tractates on the Gospel of John. Sentiments such as this were the bedrock of Medieval hermeneutics regarding Scripture. The mystical interpretation of Scripture, particularly allegory, had been bequeathed to the theologians and scholars of the middle ages by giants
Is Genesis 1 a Literal Account of Creation? Before we answer the question, it’s helpful to recall that there are two ways of understanding creation (or two “levels” of creation). Level 1) God Simultaneously Creates All Things (All that Exists) All matter is drawn forth from nothing.1 There is no part of creation that somehow comes into existence “later” or “after” the initial creative act.2 This simultaneous creation of all things is a reality expressed by
Christianity makes some bold claims: God created the universe. Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Human existence does not end at physical death. These statements all point to an important component of the Christian worldview: that which we can see, touch, and measure—the physical world—is not all that is. Reality is composed of something beyond the natural, physical material that we see all around us. Once one accepts the reality of the non-natural, an important question
This is a response piece to Christian McGuire’s article entitled: “On the Misuse of Sacred Scripture.” Dear Christian, As we discussed privately when I first read your piece, I agree with your basic premise that Scripture cannot stand alone as an authority without the vehicles of the Church (her liturgy, her teaching authority) and Tradition (the Fathers, the Doctors). Together, these three prongs of authority (Scripture, Tradition, and Church Magisterium) balance to form and inform a community
Souls, Death, and Things In-Between Another Halloween has come and gone. If you are like me, then you probably see All Hallows’ Eve as a time to ponder humanity’s cross-cultural fascination with morbidity. Why do so many adorn their homes with images of the ghoulish and ghastly, from crisscrossing cobwebs to uncanny cauldrons filled with potent potions? Why do we watch scary movies, perk up our ears at stories of the paranormal, and attend (or
From time immemorial, humans have been fascinated by the stars. With the advent of a “blue moon” in July, my Facebook news feed was inundated with astrological speculation. Also popular were stories on the topography of Pluto, given the success of the New Horizons mission. And of course, the world is still reeling from the fact that scientists were able to land a probe on a speeding comet. The study of phenomena in this wide
When I was eighteen years old I purchased the film Waking Life, by director Richard Linklater. Its premise, plot, and production epitomize our postmodern moment. Linklater develops a story about dreams within dreams, in which a character travels seamlessly through surreal worlds while witnessing a plethora of philosophical conversations about life and death. The tagline reads, “Are we sleepwalking through our waking state, or wake-walking through our dreams?” Utilizing stunning visual effects,1 a haunting score,
A common criticism of medieval Christianity theology centers on the practice of speculative theology, often defined as the asking of seemingly obscure questions which have little bearing (or none at all) upon the vicissitudes of human life or Christian faith. This article considers the value of speculative theology by reflecting on the question of whether or not Christ would have become incarnate if humanity had not fallen into sin.
“In principio, Primum principium invoco…” (In the beginning, I call upon the First beginning…) These words are taken from the opening statement of St. Bonaventure’s Journey of the Soul Into God.1 The Seraphic Doctor, like all articulate and responsible philosophers and theologians, lays out his first principles before engaging readers in a formative intellectual project. Likewise, my aim in this essay is to elaborate some of the theological assumptions that guide my thoughts, submitting them