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St. Bonaventure’s secret to mystical union with God

SAINT BONAVENTURE

Public Domain

Philip Kosloski - published on 07/15/22

If you want to achieve mystical union with God, follow St. Bonaventure's advice.

We may wonder how it is possible to achieve a mystical union with God, or if it is possible at all.

Our doubt might lead us to poring over books and instruction manuals to find the secret to this mystical union.

However, St. Bonaventure believed that mystical union was not something attained through research, but only through surrendering ourselves to the Holy Spirit.

He explained his thoughts in a book titled From the Journey of the Mind to God.

For this passover to be perfect, we must suspend all the operations of the mind and we must transform the peak of our affections, directing them to God alone. This is a sacred mystical experience. It cannot be comprehended by anyone unless he surrenders himself to it; nor can he surrender himself to it unless he longs for it; nor can he long for it unless the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent into the world, should come and inflame his innermost soul. Hence the Apostle says that this mystical wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit.

It’s tempting in the modern world to think that there is a particular formula that will help us achieve a mystical union with God, but St. Bonaventure did not think that was possible.

He reiterated his point that this experience can not be found in research or in burying ourselves in intellectual exercises.

If you ask how such things can occur, seek the answer in God’s grace, not in doctrine; in the longing of the will, not in the understanding; in the sighs of prayer, not in research; seek the bridegroom not the teacher; God and not man; darkness not daylight; and look not to the light but rather to the raging fire that carries the soul to God with intense fervor and glowing love. The fire is God, and the furnace is in Jerusalem, fired by Christ in the ardor of his loving passion. 

Mystical union with God should be viewed as more of a gift, than something to be grasped at or achieved on our own merits.

Through God’s grace, and the fire of our own love, we can draw closer to God and be united to him in this life as well as the next.

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