By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies and our Privacy Policy.

Coming Full Circle

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

Transformation: Week 2

Coming Full Circle
Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Franciscan theologian and philosopher Bonaventure (1217-1274) offers a fully symmetrical worldview, clearly drawing the parallel between Christ and Creation: “Christ has something in common with all creatures. With the stone he shares existence, with the plants he shares life, with the animals he shares sensation, and with the angels he shares intelligence. Therefore, all things are said to be transformed in Christ since—in his human nature—he embraces something of every creature in himself when he was transfigured.” [1]

Bonaventure starts very simply: “Unless we are able to view things in terms of how they originate, how they are to return to their end, and how God shines forth in them, we will not be able to understand.” [2] For Bonaventure, the perfection of God and God’s creation is quite simply a full circle, and to be perfect, the circle must and will complete itself. He knows that Alpha and Omega are finally the same, and the lynchpin holding it all in unity is the “Christ Mystery,” or the essential unity of matter and spirit, humanity and divinity. The Christ Mystery, and even more precisely the crucified Christ, is thus the template for all creation, revealing the necessary cycle of loss and renewal that keeps all things transforming and moving toward ever further life. Now we know that the death and birth of every star and every atom follows this same pattern of loss and renewal. Yet this pattern is invariably hidden or denied and therefore must be revealed by God. The pattern of loss and seeming death is the hardest for us to trust and is precisely the revelation of “the cross.”

Bonaventure’s theology is never about trying to placate a distant or angry God, earn forgiveness, or find some abstract theory of justification. He is all cosmic optimism and hope! Once we 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. As Paul’s school says, “Before the world was made, God chose us, chose us in Christ” (Ephesians 1:4). The problem is solved from the beginning! If we had listened to Bonaventure, he could have helped us move beyond the negative notion of history being a “fall from grace” and invited us into a positive notion of history as a slow but real transformation and emergence/evolution into ever-greater consciousness of who we eternally are in God. Bonaventure began with original blessing instead of original sin, and he ended where he began.

Gateway to Silence:
Death to life, sadness to joy

[1] Bonaventure, Dominica prima in quadragesima. Servo 1 (IX, 215-219), as quoted by Zachary Hayes, “Christ, Word of God and Exemplar of Humanity: The Roots of Franciscan Christo-centrism and Its Implications for Today,” The Cord 46.1 (St. Bonaventure University: 1996), 13.

[2] Bonaventure, The Works of St. Bonaventure, Hexaemeron, 3, 2 (St. Anthony Guild: 1960).

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014), 161, 163-164.

Join our email community

Sign-up to receive the Daily Meditations, featuring reflections on the wisdom and practices of the Christian contemplative tradition.

Hidden Fields

Find out about upcoming courses, registration dates, and new online courses.
Our theme this year is Nothing Stands Alone. What could happen if we embraced the idea of God as relationship—with ourselves, each other, and the world? Meditations are emailed every day of the week, including the Weekly Summary on Saturday. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time.
In a world of fault lines and fractures, how do we expand our sense of self to include love, healing, and forgiveness—not just for ourselves or those like us, but for all? This monthly email features wisdom and stories from the emerging Christian contemplative movement. Join spiritual seekers from around the world and discover your place in the Great Story Line connecting us all in the One Great Life. Conspirare. Breathe with us.