Today we honour the memory of St. Bonaventure, who joined the Franciscans and studied in Paris where he became the friend of St. Thomas Aquinas. He was nominated Archbishop of York by Pope Clement IV, but he refused the appointment believing he wasn’t worthy to be a bishop. Later Pope Gregory X persuaded him to become a Cardinal and Bishop of Albano. He died on 15th July 1274. St. Bonaventure was one of the leading philosophers and theologians of his time and the Church honours him as a Doctor of the Church.
I’m reading a biography of Alan Turing, the pioneering computer scientist whose work helped crack German communications during the Second World War. It’s easy to marvel at human ingenuity when you consider all the incredible advancements in technology that have come about in the past century. Computers that once filled entire rooms now fit in your pocket. People once doomed to die from horrible diseases now go on to live for many years. Airplanes and high-speed trains have made the globe much smaller. And yet the same problems that have dogged us for millennia—poverty, slavery, war, crime, abuse—are still around. Why can’t all this incredible knowledge help us tackle these fundamental human issues?
Well, the problem is that technology can’t reveal the most important truth of all: that we are children of God. Those whom Jesus calls “the wise and the learned”—the ones who rely only on brainpower—can’t quite understand this. They can surmise that there is a God, but only God can reveal himself to us. We just have to be “childlike” and ask him to show us.
But what does it mean to be childlike? Well, it means acknowledging that we were created to have an ongoing relationship with God—a relationship of love, trust, and dependence. It means believing that God is committed to us as a father is to his children. It means keeping ourselves open to the promptings that God sends to us.
Even as religious, it’s easy to fill our days with appointments and activities, chores, and obligations which mean we can run the danger of missing out on our relationship with God. This is why it’s important to slow down, to set aside quiet or ‘desert’ days and to have a solid retreat, so that we don’t get consumed by all the activity.