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Center for Action and Contemplation

Honoring the Divine Essence of All of Creation

Reflecting on the Life and Wisdom of St. Bonaventure in May’s We Conspire series
May 24th, 2024
Honoring the Divine Essence of All of Creation

How do we remind ourselves that we are interconnected to everyone and everything? This month, we reflect on the wisdom of Saint Bonaventure, a Franciscan statesman and mystic who dedicated his life to strengthening our human role in God’s Great Story.   

Around 1220 in Bagnoregio, Italy, a small boy lay suffering from a crippling illness. According to legend, St. Francis of Assisi cured the small boy—earning his lifelong loyalty and fascination. The boy grew into Bonaventure—mystic, philosopher, strategist, and cardinal—sometimes called the Prince of the Mystics. 

Bonaventure grew into a beloved leader, developing St. Francis’s simplistic lifestyle into a theological and philosophical basis for the Franciscan Order. Rooted in the profound understanding of Trinitarianism and contemplative practice, Bonaventure’s teachings illuminate the interconnectedness of all creation and the journey toward divine union. 

Illustration of a blue arch

“Bonaventure’s teachings illuminate the interconnectedness of all creation and the journey towards divine union.” 

Richard Rohr writes, “Bonaventure’s strong foundation in the Trinity gave him a non-dual mind to deal with the ineffable mystery of God and creation… God, for him, 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.” 

For Bonaventure, God was not an abstract entity but a dynamic communion of love within the Trinity. This vision of God as a “fountain fullness” overflowing with love and grace invites individuals into a deeper relationship characterized by love, unity, and mutual indwelling. By recognizing the divine presence within ourselves and others, we can cultivate a sense of interconnectedness and solidarity, transcending divisions and fostering a community grounded in love and compassion. 

Bonaventure’s writing mirrored his leadership style. His masterpiece, The Soul’s Journey into God, captures the Franciscan view that all creation is filled with the presence of God. He also authored the Franciscan Order’s official biography of their founder, The Life of St. Francis. 

“The entire universe is about connection and relationship—from the smallest atom to the galaxies and everything in between. Sin and evil emerge when we try to stand outside of that circle of connection.” — Richard Rohr 

Illustration of a blue flame

Bonaventure believed that all creation was imbued with divine presence and purpose. Sin and evil arise when we disrupt this cosmic harmony and attempt to stand outside the circle of connection. By embracing our interconnectedness with all of creation, we can cultivate a sense of reverence, stewardship, and responsibility towards the world and each other, fostering a more just, equitable, and sustainable society. Richard Rohr writes, “The entire universe is about connection and relationship—from the smallest atom to the galaxies and everything in between. Sin and evil emerge when we try to stand outside of that circle of connection.” 

In essence, Saint Bonaventure’s work in the world offered a transformative vision of our relationship with God and each other, rooted in love, interconnectedness, and contemplative awareness. By embracing these teachings, we can all cultivate a deeper sense of communion with God and each other, fostering a more compassionate, just, and harmonious world. 

Illustration of a blue plant

“Because of his moderation, quiet joy, and ability to lead through reconciliation, many call him the second founder of the Franciscan Order.” 

For many of us who appreciate and benefit from Franciscan Wisdom and those who are learning more about it, we appreciate the deep invitation to interconnectedness with all things—especially the natural world.  

Discover what Bonaventure meant when he called God a “fountain fullness” of love.


Reflect with Us 

When are you reminded of your connection to all things? Share your reflection with us. 

Special gratitude for CAC Librarians Lee Staman and Seth Wilmor for their detailed and thorough research on Saint Bonaventure. 

We Conspire is a series from the Center for Action and Contemplation featuring wisdom and stories from the growing Christian contemplative movement. Sign up for the monthly email series and receive a free invitation to practice each month. 

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