Aquinas’ deep and exhaustive synthesis of Catholic doctrine and philosophic thought which continues to exert a dominant influence over Roman Catholic theology. Officially recognized as a Doctor of the Church, Aquinas labored on the Summa Theologica from 1265 to 1274, dying before its completion. Image links to Aquinas Institute translation. ISBN recommendation: 0870610635
Bonaventure’s stairway of contemplation from the exterior world, to the interior, to the Eternal. Conceived by the “Seraphic Doctor” in 1259 while contemplating, at Mt. Alverna, the stigmata of St. Francis; Journey of the Mind to God (Itinerarium mentis in Deum) is perhaps his defining work. Image links to translation derived from Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Hardcopy recommendation: The Works of Bonaventure, Mystical Opuscula, translated by Jose de Vinck, St. Anthony Guild Press.
In 1257 Bonaventure was elected General Minister of the Franciscan Order, effectively ending his teaching career at the University of Paris. That same year he completed the Breviloquium, a brief synthesis of theology and a concise summary of his mature teaching: “The first Principle created this perceptible world as a means of self-revelation so that, like a mirror of God or a divine footprint, it might lead man to love and praise his
Creator… the universe is like a book reflecting, representing, and describing its Maker,
the Trinity.” Bonaventure stands out as a teacher of seeing God by means of creation/nature. Image links to an online library copy of de Vinck translation. Hardcopy recommendation: The Works of Bonaventure, The Breviloquium, translated by Jose de Vinck, St. Anthony Guild Press.
As summarized by Bonaventure himself: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights, says James in the first chapter of his epistle. These words of Sacred Scripture not only indicate the source of all illumination but they likewise point out the generous flow of the manifold rays which issue from that Fount of light. Notwithstanding the fact that every illumination of knowledge is within, still we can with reason distinguish what we may call the external light, or the light of mechanical art; the lower light, or the light of sense perception; the inner light, or the light of philosophical knowledge; and the higher light, or the light of grace and of Sacred Scripture. The first light illumines in regard to structure of artifacts; the second, in regard to natural forms; the third, in regard to intellectual truth; the fourth and last, in regard to saving truth.” Image links to translation of unknown origin. Hardcopy recommendation: The Works of Bonaventure, Opuscula, Second Series, translated by Jose de Vinck, St. Anthony Guild Press.
Recognized as a Doctor of the Church and celebrated by many as the progenitor of Scholasticism, Anselm is a preeminent representative of philosophical theology. In the Proslogion (originally titled: Fides Quaerens Intellectum [Faith Seeking Understanding]), Anselm “aims at proving in a single argument the existence of God”. Written during 1077-78, it remains his most renowned work. Image links to Hopkins and Richardson translation. ISBN recommendation: 0889460000
Anselm’s An Example of Meditation on the Grounds of Faith (Monologion) is a philosophic soliloquy upon the highest of all existing things (God) and prepares the foundation for the Proslogion. It was written during 1075-76 and relies heavily upon writings of St. Augustine and Boethius. Image links to Hopkins and Richardson translation. ISBN recommendation: 0889460000
Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People (Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum) is a true classic of both early English history and ecclesiastical history. It provides a chronicle of the English people beginning with the invasion by Gaius Julius Caesar (c. 55 B.C.) and continuing through to A.D. 731. Image links to Medieval Sourcebook translation. ISBN recommendation: 0-14-044565-X
Near contemporary account of the life and miracles of Saint Benedict of Nursia (A.D. 480-547) by Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church. Image above links to the P. W., Gardner, & Saint Pachomius Orthodox Library translation. ISBN recommendation: 978-0-8132-1322-4
Athanasius of Alexandria (born c. 296, died 373) upheld the orthodox teaching regarding the Incarnation against Arius and the world. He steadfastly defended the Faith despite many persecutions, exiles, and sufferings. He is now honored as a Doctor of the Church. Image above links to Robertson translation. ISBN recommendation: 978-0-88141-427-1