Bonaventure: The Soul's Journey into God ; The Tree of Life ; The Life of St. Francis

Bonaventure: The Soul's Journey into God ; The Tree of Life ; The Life of St. Francis

Bonaventure: The Soul's Journey into God ; The Tree of Life ; The Life of St. Francis

Bonaventure: The Soul's Journey into God ; The Tree of Life ; The Life of St. Francis

Synopsis

'But if you wish to know how these things come about ask grace not instruction, desire not understanding, the groaning of prayer not diligent reading, the Spouse not the teacher, God not man, darkness not clarity, not light but the fire that totally enflames and carries us into God by ecstatic unctions and burning affections. This fire is God and his furnace is in Jerusalem...' --Bonaventure, 1217-1274

Excerpt

This volume contains translations from Latin of three works of St. Bonaventure (1217-1274), theologian and minister general of the Franciscan Order. The first, The Soul's Journey into God (Itinerarium mentis in Deum), is a speculative mystical treatise whose central theme came to Bonaventure in 1259 while he was meditating at Mount La Verna in Tuscany on the vision of the six-winged Seraph in the form of the Crucified, which St. Francis of Assisi had at that very spot in 1224. The six wings symbolized for Bonaventure the six stages of contemplation by which the soul ascends into God: through a twofold consideration of nature, of the soul and of God himself. Considered Bonaventure's masterpiece, this work contains a technical statement of his theological vision, in which God is seen reflected, in characteristic Franciscan fashion, throughout the created universe.

The second work, The Tree of Life (Lignum vitae), is a meditation on the life of Christ, based on the Gospel accounts of his birth, public ministry, passion, death, resurrection and glorification. Christ is seen as the Tree of Life on whose branches blossom such virtues as humility, piety, patience, constancy, and justice. Christ's virtues are models for the Christian to meditate upon and imitate. Written after The Soul's Journey, The Tree of Life presupposes the theological vision of the former treatise, but evokes a more simple and direct devotional response to the humanity of Christ that became characteristic of Franciscan religious sensibility as it developed in the later Middle Ages.

The third work, The Life of St. Francis (Legenda maior), was commissioned by the General Chapter of the Friars Minor held at Narbonne in 1260. After doing research among Francis' early companions, Bonaventure completed his biography by 1263. It was adopted as the official biography of the Franciscan Order, thus assuring its widespread dissemination and influence in subsequent centuries. The work is chiefly a compilation from . . .

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