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Mystical Hope

Cosmic Hope

Wednesday, December 8th, 2021

Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary

Richard’s love for the Trinity finds inspiration from the Franciscan mystical scholar St. Bonaventure (c. 1217–1274), who viewed all reality as coming from, participating with, and returning to God. Such a cosmic vision is mystical hope at its best!

Bonaventure’s vision is positive, mystic, cosmic, intimately relational, and largely concerned with cleansing the lens of our perception and our intention so we can see and enjoy fully. He shows little interest in a reward/punishment frame for history.

He starts very simply: “For [none] can have understanding unless [they] consider where things come from, how they are led back to their end, and how God shines forth in them.” [1] For Bonaventure, the perfection of God and God’s creation is quite simply a full circle, and to be whole the circle must and will complete itself. He knows that Alpha and Omega are finally the same, and the key holding it all together in unity is the “Christ Mystery,” or the essential unity of matter and spirit, humanity and divinity.

In Bonaventure’s world, the frame of reality was still big, hopeful, and positive. 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 a Jesus who was extracted from the Trinity—and thus Jesus apart from the eternal Christ, who then became more a harsh judge of humanity than a shining exemplar of humanity “holding all things in unity” (see Colossians 1:17–20).

Today the Catholic Tradition celebrates the feast of the “Immaculate Conception” of Mary, who is the feminine archetype of a human woman carrying such wholeness from the very beginning of her life. This is esoteric for many, but it is really quite profound in its declaration!

God, for Bonaventure, is not an offended monarch on a throne throwing down thunderbolts, but a “fountain fullness” that flows, overflows, and fills all things in one exclusively positive direction. Reality is thus in process, participatory; it is love itself. God as Trinitarian Flow is the blueprint and pattern for all relationships and thus all of creation, which we now know from contemporary science is exactly the case.

I regret to say that there has been a massive loss of hope in Western history, a hope still so grandly evident in Bonaventure in the 13th century. His God was so much bigger and more glorious than someone to be afraid of, or the one who punished bad guys—because his cosmos was itself huge, benevolent, and coherent. Did his big God beget an equally big and generous cosmos? Or did his big cosmos imply a very big God? You can start on either side. For many today, awe before the universe leads them to reverence whoever created this infinity of Mystery and Beauty.

References:
[1] Bonaventure, Collationes in Hexaëmeron (Lectures on the Six Days), 3.2. See The Works of Bonaventure: Cardinal, Seraphic Doctor, and Saint, vol. 5, trans. José de Vinck (St. Anthony Guild Press: 1970), 42.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2016), 163, 164–165, 168–169.

Story from Our Community:
I was introduced to Richard Rohr’s meditations by my pastor. It has been so refreshing to hear a message of goodness and hope. My eyes have been opened to a beautiful gospel that is life-breathing and life-changing. The meditations have given me new perspectives and released in me a love I’ve always wanted to feel from my heavenly father. Thank you for your courage and insight and for sharing this good news in such a beautiful way!
—Tom F.

Learn more about the Daily Meditations editorial team.

Image credit: Nicholas Kramer, Untitled (detail), 2021, photograph, Seattle. Used with permission.
Image inspiration: What if I stopped complaining about how suburban streetlights pollute the night sky and instead tried to discover what beauty their light could uncover? How could my commitment to seeing something as it is, without judgment, help me see beyond my initial impression of it?
—Nicholas Kramer, Photographer of December DM photo series
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