Richard Rohr OFM – Origin and Destiny

Joy and Hope

Bonaventure’s “vision logic,” as Ken Wilber would call it, and the lovely symmetry of his theology, can be summarized in what Bonaventure named the three great truths that for him hold everything together. He summarizes all his teaching in these three movements:

Emanation: We come forth from God bearing the divine image; our very DNA is found in God.

Exemplarism: Everything in creation is an example and illustration of the one God mystery in space and time, by reason of its “origin, magnitude, multitude, beauty, fulness, activity, and order.” [1]

Consummation: We return to the Source from which we came; the Omega is the same as the Alpha and this is God’s supreme and final victory.

What a positive, coherent, and meaning-filled world this describes! Note that Bonaventure’s theology is clearly not the later reward/punishment frame that took over when people did not experience God, but merely believed propositions. Many people today are not sure where we came from, who we are, and where we are going, and many do not even seem to care about the questions. What if we could recover a view of the world and God that was infused with Bonaventure’s teaching? It would provide a foundation that we lack in our often aimless and adrift age. It could hold our lives together during times of despair and cynicism.

Bonaventure described the Great Chain of Being both in a historical and linear way—but also in terms of cosmic connectedness along the way! He was following Paul in Colossians: “In his body lives the fullness of divinity, and in him you will find your own fulfillment” (2:9–10), or “There is only Christ: He is everything and he is in everything” (3:11). We were created in unity, proceed forward insofar as we are in unity, and return to God’s full gift of final unity. It is grace before, during, and after.

For Bonaventure, creation is quite simply the mirror and image of God; he uses metaphors like footprint and fingerprint (vestigia Dei), effigy, likeness. Francis, Bonaventure, and Teilhard give me the confidence to believe and teach that “everything belongs.” They describe and defend the universal belonging of all creation and show us that such a cosmic divine victory makes the fear-based preoccupations of later exclusionary and punitive Christianity seem small and unnecessary.

There is neither denial nor resentment in Bonaventure. His heart was never stingy, but always generous and eager to love. Bonaventure’s “tree of life,” his “coincidence of opposites,” his “journey of the soul to God,” his Great Chain of Being . . . each made joyful room for everything in one divine circle of life. God for him is “the one whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” [2]
And now you know that all things, including you, live safely and happily inside of that one good circle.
References:

[1] Bonaventure, The Soul’s Journey into God, 1.14. See The Soul’s Journey into God, trans. Ewert Cousins (Paulist Press: 1978), 65.
[2] Alan of Lille, Regulae Theologicae, reg. 7, as quoted by Bonaventure in The Soul’s Journey into God, 5.8. See Cousins, 100.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014), 166-168, 173.
_____________________________________________________________________________________
Father Richard Rohr, OFM, the well-known American Franciscan Friar, theologian and teacher, exhibits here his understanding of the universality of God’s work and God’s love in all Creation – without reserve. That each and every human being is part of the ‘Imago Dei’ is, for Fr.Richard, the essence of any theological thinking and needs to be taken into account in our preoccupation with morality and ethics.

In quoting fellow Franciscan Bonaventure‘s understanding of what another theologian Ken Withers calls his ‘vision logic’,  Bonaventure brings together the ‘the three great truths that for him hold everything together’:
“Emanation: We come forth from God bearing the divine image; our very DNA is found in God
“Exemplarism: Everything in creation is an example and illustration of the one God mystery in space and time;  and: –
“Consummation: We return to the Source from which we came; the Omega is the same as the Alpha and this is God’s supreme and final victory.“

Within these three concepts (according to Bonaventure) is the story of both our origin and our ending – within which concepts we ‘live and move and have our being’. This must have a profound influence on our openness to the understanding of God in our lives – especially in our personal responsibility for our conduct as lived out in the context of our neighbour, and of our immediate environment.  

This understanding brings into a proper perspective our attitudes towards ourselves, our place in the divine order of things, and our need to trust in God as the author and sustainer of all life. Rohr quotes his fellow Franciscan teacher’s keenness to move out of the primitive  fear of God – into a simple trust in God mirrored by another distinguished mystic and teacher, Julian of Norwich, in her summary of the mystery of life in God: “All shall be well; all manner of things shall be well” :

“For Bonaventure, creation is quite simply the mirror and image of God; he uses metaphors like footprint and fingerprint (vestigia Dei), effigy, likeness. Francis, Bonaventure, and Teilhard give me the confidence to believe and teach that “everything belongs.” They describe and defend the universal belonging of all creation and show us that such a cosmic divine victory makes the fear-based preoccupations of later exclusionary and punitive Christianity seem small and unnecessary.” – Richard Rohr OFM

These words ‘ “punitive Christianity”, do they strike a bell in our present preoccupation with the topics of gender and sexuality?

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

Advertisements

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.