Saint Bonaventure’s Good Venture to Know God

God works in mysterious ways. I truly believe he puts you in specific situations at precise times to allow you to grow in trust and faith in Him. As members of the Church Militant, we are called to be in communion with the saints in Heaven—the Church triumphant. Over the course of the past several months, I believe God called me to learn more about Saint Bonaventure. Having a background in theology, my inclination towards the Seraphic Doctor of the Church makes sense.

Saint Bonaventure

Rarely, does God act in such a plain or shallow sense. Along with being elevated to the status of Doctor of the Catholic Church, St. Bonaventure is also the patron saint of something quite ordinary, yet awkward at the same time—bowel movements. As a young child Bonaventure had a life-threatening sickness affecting his bowels. This sickness almost took his life. The intercession of St. Francis of Assisi cured him. Because of this, the Catholic Church recognized Bonaventure as the patron saint of individuals suffering similar illnesses.

My youngest son struggles with digestive and bowel issues. During a particularly rough evening, my wife and I prayed to St. Bonaventure, as we tried everything else medically to help our son. Our pleas for help to the 13th century saint forged the beginning of what I hope to be a lifelong friendship.

While St Bonaventure wrote on various subjects this article will solely focus on arguably his greatest work—The Journey of the Mind into God. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in St. Bonaventure: Literary Work and Doctrine calls this work, “a manual for mystical contemplation.” Providentially, Bonaventure pondered this work at the same place whereby St. Francis of Assisi received the stigmata—Mount La Verna in Italy!

Stepping up the Ladder of Learning

Ladder to Heaven

As a teacher of theology, St. Bonaventure provides a gradually and steady path, specifically six steps, to grow in awareness and knowledge of God. Bonaventure puts it this way,

For through those six wings there can be rightly understood six suspensions of illumination, by which the soul as if to certain steps or journeys is disposed, to pass over to peace through ecstatic excesses of Christian wisdom.

no 3. The Journey of the Mind Into God

A prerequisite for beginning this journey is praying through Christ crucified. Jesus acts as a bridge; or, to use the imagery of Bonaventure, a ladder connecting us to the Holy Trinity.

Creation as Reflection of God

God and Creation

In Chapter 1 of The Journey of the Mind Into God, the Seraphic Doctor tells us that the first rung of the ladder to God is the created world. When we don the glasses of faith, we see nature pointing to the glory of God. Bonaventure refers to the created world as “the university of things” as a kind of stairway to climb toward God (Chapter 1 no. 2). Later in the chapter he describes the world as “a mirror through which we pass over to God. Plants, animals, mountains, oceans, the moon and stars above point to a Creator—because of the beauty and order within nature.

Bonaventure draws us up the holy ladder in his next chapter.

It must be noted that this world (the universe), which is called the macrocosm, enters our soul, which is called the microcosm, through the gates of the five senses…Man, who is called the microcosm, has five senses like five gates, through which acquaintance with all things, which are in the sensible world, enters into his soul.

(Chapter 2, no. 2)

Catholicism values the created order as not something to be jettisoned. The sacramentals utilize various forms of matter (things) because they hold intrinsic value and point had a higher order of being.

Human Mind—Mirror of the Trinity

Bonaventure brings the reader up another rung on the ladder of mystical contemplation by focusing on the natural powers of the human soul. According to the 13th century saint, the three highest faculties of humanity are memory, intellect, and will. He saws these three powers as a natural reflection of the Holy Trinity.

Holy Trinity Icon

The Seraphic Doctor plainly declares, “According to the order and origin and characteristic of these powers (the soul) leads into the Most Blessed Trinity itself!” (Chapter 3 no. 5). As a perfect spirit, Bonaventure argues, God has memory, intelligence, and will. In the remaining chapters of The Journey of the Mind Into God, Bonaventure details how grace guides the soul in knowing and growing in knowledge of God, seeing God’s unity through His being, and finally viewing God as a communion of Persons in the Holy Trinity.

I had to read this work at least three times before I could write this reflection on St. Bonaventure’s gem of a work. This is not an indictment on his ability to write clearly or my ability to discern (at least I hope not!) Instead, any and all writings on the subject of God, in particularly a Trinitarian understanding of God has to be mysterious. “When you contemplate these, see, that you do not consider yourself able to comprehend the incomprehensible (The Holy Trinity). For in these six conditions (steps) you still have to consider what leads the eye of our mind vehemently into the stupor of admiration (Chapter 6 no. 3).

Journey with Bonaventure Today

Journeying into God is not an easy task, but it will certainly end with both wonder and awe. St. Bonaventure’s closeness to the God is quite evident in this spiritual treatise. If you are a parent of young children, such as myself, perhaps you may not have time now to read this holy book. Bonaventure can still help you on your spiritual and parental journey, because at some point your kid will get severely constipated. Ask the Seraphic Doctor for help. Believe me, it arrives.

If you have more time available for spiritual reading, I strongly recommend you add The Journey of the Mind Into God to your top ten list!

Thank you for sharing!

Catholic Meme Monday— Issue 67

Hope you had a blessed weekend!

Time for another Catholic Meme Monday.

😆🤦
Be the salt of the earth but not too salty. 🧂🙂🙏
A sign from above. 🍽️🧼
A belated Blaise meme. 🙂😆
Too funny! 😆😆😆
Yep! 🙂🤦
That’s quite the fish tale!
Lol
🙏🙏🙏
For the Catholic Seinfeld fans. 🙂

That’s all I have this week. Stay tuned for next week’s Catholic Meme Monday. Receive updates straight to your email inbox by subscribing to The Simple Catholic blog.

P.S. If you prefer receiving quality Catholic humor in daily doses follow me on Instagram @thesimplecatholic.

Thank you for sharing!

5 Actionable and Simple Tips to Help Parents Write (Right) Now

“But I don’t have anything interesting to say.” “I am tired exhausted from work and household duties.” “I just cannot take time away from my family.” “This is going to add an additional burden on my spouse.” “Honey, there is literally no time. We both have full time and three kids to take of when we get home.”

These were some of the excuses I used in the past whenever I pondered a pursuit in a career in freelance writing. We have a finite amount of time each day. 24 hours. Doctors tell us at least a 1/3 of that should be used for sleeping. That leaves only16 hours a day at our disposal. Add in a full-time job, children and all the various school activities they are in, and meal time. Our time starts disappearing faster than a dozen eggs on sale at the store.

How to write and raise a family?

This article is specifically geared toward parents who want to develop a career in writing. As a father to four children ages 11,9,6, and 4, I completely understand the scheduling struggle. It might be more accurate to call it appointment acrobatics! I am also the husband of an elementary school teacher. Anyone who is married to or has a family member or friend who is an educator knows that profession involves A LOT of time—investing in lesson planning, parent meetings, professional development sessions, and staying up to do on current curriculum. Additionally, two of children have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Autism is a social communication disorder. We have weekly adaptive aquatics lessons for our six year old. We have also had to invest an incalculable amount of hours into research, therapy, and home reinforcement over the past several years.

Bottom line is I understand that life presents you many challenges that take up the vast majority of the day. It is not impossible, nor even merely improbable to start writing and creating content.

Martin Luther King Jr. once declared, “If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t walk run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then , but by all means keep moving.” While you may not be able to soar now you can take action. Move towards your goal of being a writer! The tips in this article come from my experience and have proven to have worked for my impossibly busy schedule. Let’s now jump into these five actionable and simple strategies to help you write now!

Be prepared to sacrifice

“Wait! I thought you said these were actionable and simple steps. Right away you are asking me to give up something,” you might be thinking now. As much as this fact hurts to hear, it is necessary to learn. To love something [and someone] it involves a sacrifice. Foregoing the latest Netflix original series, shopping spree, or having to say “no” to one of your kids activities will be painful. I struggled mightily with watching just one episode of the latest series so I could have time to write daily.

Since my decision to leave my full-time job to pursue writing as a career, I have made several sacrifices: our family gave up eating fast food, limited television time, and I will be working a night job to help the bills until I can write full-time from home. This decision was not made lightly. Writing proved to be healing and therapeutic as reached a low point in my life in 2015. If after some deliberation you realize your gift to the world is to write, realize this tremendous joy does come with a price—sacrifice. But it is well worth it.

Narrow and Nest into a Niche

A second tactic to help you write now is to find a niche topic to write about. Ask yourself the following questions: What topic can I talk about for 30 minutes without needing any preparation? What subjects am I already an expert on? Select your writing niche based on either or both of the answers to those questions. My expertise is Catholic theology. I have also developed an interest in writing about anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. Finding a niche does not always happen overnight. Yet, you can still start the process of discovering your writing niche now!

Find Five Minutes

Finding time in the day to write can be challenging. I get it! Parenting is incredibly tough. Kids require physical, emotional, intellectual supports to grow and thrive. We all want our kids to grow up into mature and productive citizens. Some days all hell breaks loose. The children turn into frenzied creatures—especially during a full moon! Other times, the children coordinate an executed staggered schedule attack to ensure that you and your spouse never get more than 2 hours consecutive that night.

Don’t let that deter you from your dream to write. Find just 5 minutes per day to write. Schedule it at the exact same time and place in your house to journal or type out your thoughts. If your life is a bit more hectic, allow for flexibility of that 5 minutes to occur at various times. Always make sure you write for an absolute minimum of 5 minutes. When your routine is set, up your time to 10, 15, 30 minutes, or to 1 hour. Consistency is absolutely necessary for traction towards your goal. Move towards your goal of writing a bit each every.

Consume Content Daily

Another simple strategy to develop your writing skills is to consume content from your writing niche daily. Doctors prescribe patients to eat a and balanced nutrition. That same is true for content creators. Creativity does not occur in isolation. Read books, listen to podcasts, watch videos, connect with experts in your desired field of study on LinkedIn.

Use those short drives dropping the kids off at school, running errands, or returning home to listen to podcast episodes or an audio book about your niche subject. During those rare occasions when the kids actually nap or go to bed on time read a book for a few minutes. I have been starting to take a book to the park—even reading just a page or two daily will help build your knowledge in the long run!

Repeat—Key is Consistency

If you made it to this point of the article without interruption I want to congratulate you! Thank you for taking take out of your busy schedule to further your desire to write. My final strategy to help you write right now is simple—repeat strategies 1-4 daily! If you are running low on energy or motivation please message me on LinkedIn or email me at chicoine.matt@live.com. I would love to help you through any scheduling obstacles and mental roadblocks.

Related Links

The Origin Story of The Simple Catholic

3 Ways to Stay Relevant as a Catholic Blogger

Thank you for sharing!

Catholic Meme Monday— Issue 66

Hope you had a blessed weekend!

Time for another Catholic Meme Monday.

The sacrament of Confession brings so much peace into your life. 🙏
Old and New Testament God-bearers. 🙂🙏
Another example: Wanted to wear pants but told not to. Argued with old men for a long time. Barbecued as a result. Who am I? Comment below with your answer.
I’m true neutral. 🙂
😆😆😆
God is Love! ♥️
Saving souls: one meme at a time. 😆
A great guide to save for stressful situations. 🙏
Saul
Paul
A belated de Sales meme. 🙂😆

That’s all I have this week. Stay tuned for next week’s Catholic Meme Monday. Receive updates straight to your email inbox by subscribing to The Simple Catholic blog.

P.S. If you prefer receiving quality Catholic humor in daily doses follow me on Instagram @thesimplecatholic.

Thank you for sharing!

Rosary from Rings of the Lord: Product Review

About a month ago I received a beautiful blue rosary from Rings of Our Lord. This small Catholic business was started by Will Henry, a 15 year old Catholic. His mission is to lead others to Christ through the Blessed Virgin Mary.

High Quality Rosary

This rosary is an excellent addition to my home altar. The beads and crucifix are made of high quality metal and it is durable. I have four children (including one toddler) so whenever I receive new sacramentals I have to be careful with how I present them as my kids get a bit rambunctious. But with the rosary from Rings of Our Lord I didn’t have to worry about the sacramental breaking because it was made to last. A bonus: Rings of Our Lord offers rosary repair (in the rare event it breaks) at zero cost.

Consider purchasing your latest rosary from Rings of Our Lord today!

Related Link

A 546 Word Interview with Will Henry from Rings of the Lord

Thank you for sharing!

3 Reasons Philip Neri Should Be Your Patron Saint

Saint Philip Neri

According to the great Italian Saint Philip Neri, “There is no surer or clearer proof of the love of God than adversity.”

His message certainly stands in stark opposition with what the modern world tells us will bring love. Creating viral videos on YouTube, increasing our followers on social media platforms, and possessing the latest Apple technology appear to be channels by which 21st century humanity may achieve happiness. Suffering is so medieval or ancient times!

Why does man need to suffer when technological advancements will eliminate disease and human ailments in the future?

The Christian approach to redemptive suffering stands counter-cultural. What is not necessarily controversial is surprise and intrigue. Less than a year ago, I discovered the unconventional St. Philip Neri. In fact, I learned that the Italian priest is actually the patron saint of joy and humor!

Mark Twain once wrote, “Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.” As a Catholic, I contend with his claim that humor is the greatest blessing, as that belongs to the gift of the sacraments (especially Eucharist and Confession), the American author was correct that good-natured wit and jocosity help humanity. At the end of a stressful day at work, what normally infuses life into my wife and I’s day, and sometimes week, is comedy.

Levity, lightness, and wit dominate Philip’s letters and maxims. He loved to banter with his friends and later in life even with notable Church leaders like St. Charles Borromeo and his friend CesareCardinal Baronius. Along with being the patron saint of joy and humor, I will briefly detail three reasons why Philip Neri could be your patron saint as well!

Humility Makes Us Human

humility quotes

A manager of mine once gave me interesting advice whenever he came across negative experiences from customers. “Remember the Q-TIP method—Quit taking it personal!” Perhaps it is because of the interesting mental imagery that came to mind or maybe my ears were clogged with earwax that I needed to keep using the “Q-TIP” method before I started to take that advice. A more likely answer is that setting my pride aside and listening to others is easier when reading the wisdom of holy individuals such as St. Philip Neri. Neri states,

“When a man is reproved for anything, he ought not to take it too much to heart, for we commit a greater fault by our sadness than by the sin for which we are reproved.”

The Italian saint writes frequently about the importance of humility and the joy that comes as a result of asking for that virtue from the Holy Spirit. Pride is considered to be the vice opposed to the virtue of humility. St. Philip Neri spoke about hubris in this way, “Excessive sadness seldom springs from any other source than pride.” God did not intend for humanity to be sad, but we were made to experience joy and communion. Excessive joy, the opposite of sadness, would spring from the reverse of pride—humility. 

Simple Life

Along with the importance St. Philip Neri attaches to the humility, a virtue necessary for growing in the spiritual life, his writings demonstrate an attractive simplicity to living life.  Living in today’s world we all could certainly learn to live with less. I particularly struggle with excess—binge watching Netflix, eating fast food, or struggles with too much negativity. According to him, “Avarice is the pest of the soul!” Learning about this joyful saint through his writings help limit these unhealthy desires in my life.

Saint Philip Neri

Wading through the mires of trials, self-doubts, and obstacles certainly seems confusing. I came across a gem of spiritual advice from St. Neri. In regards to tackling on the pressures and temptations of the world he wrote, “Persons who live in the world should persevere in coming to church to hear sermons, and remember to read spiritual books, especially the Lives of the Saints.” Weekly attendance of Mass helps sustain us through tough times. While at Sunday Liturgy, Neri provides a simple, but profound insight to combat the devil. He urges us, “at communion we ought to ask for the remedy of the vice to which we feel ourselves most inclined.” His pithy and modest maxims show that living in holiness need not be complicated. 

Delight in Difficulties

Another hallmark of the writings of St. Philip Neri is his focus on satisfaction gained through encountering suffering with grace. He realizes that truth of redemptive suffering contains the path to authentic joy. The Italian priest penned, “Nothing more glorious can happen to a Christian, than to suffer for Christ.”

joy in suffering

Our joy gained via difficulties does not originate from man. Neri reminds us that the Holy Spirit is the cause for our continual peace and joy in trials. The Enemy’s primary weapon is suffering in hopes we fall into despair. The opposite of despair or sadness is humility. According to Neri, “One of the very best means of obtaining humility, is sincere and frequent confession.” Whenever I receive those sacramental graces poured forth in the medicine box any suffering I encounter turns sweet instead of sour.

Over a year ago,  I accidentally stumbled across the unconventional, yet witty life and works of St. Philip Neri. Humility pervades his writings. While you may not acknowledge it now, we all truly need to learn more about being humble in the age of “selfies”. The wit and cheerful tone of Neri’s letters will prompt the natural urge to pursue truth in the Cross of Jesus Christ. Joy and humor enliven the spirit. St. Philip Neri proclaims, “The cheerful are much easier to guide in the spiritual life than the melancholy.”  If you prefer an easier, but still true, path to living Gospel maybe you should take up the Italian priest as your patron saint!

Related Links

St. Philip Romolo Neri- New Advent

The Humble Wit & Humor of St. Philip Neri

Thank you for sharing!

Catholic Meme Monday— Issue 65

Hope you had a blessed weekend!

Time for another Catholic Meme Monday.

So many questions. 😆😆😆🍉🍉🍉
😆😆😆
It’s less brimstone nowadays. Lol
Guilty. 😆🙂🙏
😆😆😆
Scripture AND Tradition. 👍
Darth Church. 😆🙂
👁️👁️👁️👁️👁️
New bar: name 23 popes. 😁
I can’t unsee this. 😆😆😆

That’s all I have this week. Stay tuned for next week’s Catholic Meme Monday. Receive updates straight to your email inbox by subscribing to The Simple Catholic blog.

P.S. If you prefer receiving quality Catholic humor in daily doses follow me on Instagram @thesimplecatholic.

Thank you for sharing!