00 8/16/2009 9:31 PM

Posted 8/1/09 in the BENEDICT thread:

The Pope's coming pastoral visit:
Between Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas

Translated from

The Pope's visit to Viterbo and Bagnoregio on September 6 will be a trip in the footsteps of St. Bonaventure.

According to the official program released by the Vatican this week, Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass in Viterbo's Valle Faul in the morning, after which he will make a brief stop at to the shrine of St. Rose, patron of the city.

Int eh afternoon, a private visit to the shrine of the Madonna della Quercia (Our lady of the Oak) and then go by helicopter to nearby Bagnoregio, birthplace of St. Bonaventure, whose relic he will venerate in the Cathedral of St. Nicholas. The visit ends with a meeting with the townspeople in Piazza San Agostino.

The Pope has never hidden his attraction to the thought of St. Augustine and the Augustinian school, of which the Franciscan St. Bonaventure was the most outstanding representative.

At the same time, Joseph Ratzinger has expressed great appreciation for St. Tomas Aquinas, a Dominican and the Thomist school.

Francisco Zurbaran, Bonaventure shows Thomas Aquinas the Crucifix, 1629.

Bonaventure and Thomas were contemporaries [and studied together in Paris] in the 13th century, and advocated two different but complementary versions of reality.

For Bonaventure, the way to Truth is divine enlightenment, 'a mystic fact'. It requires, he said, "grace, not science, desire, not intellect, the aspiration of prayer, not the need to read". True wisdom, he thought, could be achieved only if one loves Christ to the point of sharing the Cross with him.

Benedict XVI said about Bonaventure in the General Audience on May 14, 2008:

"Love sees more than reason ... love sees, love is an eye, and experience gives us more than reflection. And Bonaventure saw such experience in the life of St. Francis: the experience of a very humble path, very realistic, this day-to-day walking with Christ, accepting his Cross.

"In this poverty and this humility, in the humility which one can live even in ecclesiality, there is an experience of God that is higher than that which one achieves through reflection, one in which we truly touch the heart of God".

For his part, St. Thomas achieved an 'admirable synthesis' of reason and faith: "Reason, illuminated by faith, finds the power to raise itself to the knowledge of God and spiritual realities," the Pope has said, addressing today's society in which reason is increasingly weak and incapable of admitting "the existence of any truth".

He exhorts us "to rediscover human rationality in a new way", and to have great trust in reason. He calls on Christians to know "how to express the reasonableness of their faith", bearing witness to it "in a dialog inspired by love".

"If we look at the great options, the Christian option is, even today, the most rational adn the most human. Thus we can confidently elaborate a philosophy, a vision of the world which is based on this priority of reason, on this trust that creative Reason is love, and that this love is God", the Pope said in an encounter with the young people of the Diocese of Rome in April 2006.

St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas - two theologians at the head of two schools of thought which, for centuries, have contended at the philosophical and theological levels.

Two saints who, through different ways, dedicated their lives to the Gospel, to Jesus, and achieving their birth in heaven in the same year, 1274.

[The RV reporter inexplicably fails to cite the one text in which Benedict XVI has spoken of Thomas Aquinas - an Angelus homily on 1/28/07, the liturgical feast of St. Thomas. It can be found on
Fr. Schall made it the subject of one of his essays at the time.]

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/16/2009 10:53 PM]