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.