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Pope's Weekly General Audience: St. Bonaventure and the theology of history

2010-03-10

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis on the Christian culture of the Middle Ages, we return to the teaching of Saint Bonaventure, the great Franciscan theologian of the thirteenth century. Bonaventure refuted the idea, based on the doctrine of Joachim of Fiore and associated with the "spiritual" Franciscans, that Saint Francis had inaugurated a new and final age of the Holy Spirit, to replace the age of Christ and the Church. In his defence of the newness of the Franciscan charism, he developed a remarkable theology of history and progress, based on the definitiveness of the Christ event and its enduring fruitfulness in the history of the Church.

He insisted that Christian revelation will not be surpassed in history, and that the future fulfilment of God’s plan remains the object of our Christian hope. Bonaventure was influenced by the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius, which present God as the origin and goal of a goodness which pervades the cosmos. In his work, The Journey of the Mind to God, he guides the soul from created realities to the mystic contemplation of the Triune God. Bonaventure made Christ the centre of his theology; his writings invite us to welcome Christ’s word into our hearts and thus to experience the joy of God’s eternal love.

I offer a warm welcome to the many school groups present, including the Bruderhof group from England and the students of Saint Michael’s Holy Cross Secondary School in Dublin, Ireland. The developments taking place in Northern Ireland in these days are a promising sign of hope, and I pray that they will help to consolidate the future of peace desired by all. Upon the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors I invoke God’s abundant blessings."