St. Bonaventure was a great poet, theologian, and really a second founder of the Franciscan Order. He was the theologian who gave institutional staying power to the charismtic revolution begun by St. Francis himself. So it’s appropriate that we should look to him for very practical concrete advice about daily faith. I found such yesterday in The Office of Readings:
We must come with pure faith to the Father of light and acknowledge him in our hearts. We must ask him to give us through his Son, in the Holy Spirit a true knowledge of Jesus Christ, and along with that knowledge a love of him. Knowing and loving him in this way, confirmed in our faith and grounded in our love, we can know the length and breadth and depth and height of sacred Scripture.
Lots of people tell me they want to learn more about the Bible. It’s a beautiful thirst on their part. But Before one can dive into Scripture study or any growth in the life of faith, really, we have to pray simply -as St. Bonaventure suggests- putting the whole enterprise in the hands of the Lord who is himself the origin of all faith.
It’s like a child learning to play the piano: he won’t be Beethoven overnight. Even before the chords and arpeggios, there’s that most basic step of entrusting oneself to the guidance of the teacher… and isn’t that where, so often, we miss a step? I know it is for me.
Just in the last month, living in a new parish with new challenges and very little staff support, I’ve had to carefully discipline myself to learn new processes, skills etc… The first step is always asking for help from a neighboring pastor, from the central office, from friends and professionals who’ve gone through it all before. The hardest part is picking up the phone to make that call, but let me tell you it’s worth it.
Aquinas reminds us that virtue is not in the dreaming, in the intention “I want to be a Scripture scholar… I want to be Beethoven… I want to be a good parish priest…” but in the doing. So I suppose my witness this morning would be this: all of Catholicism begins by getting on our knees and asking for help… “Just do it!” You’ll be grateful you did.