Sunday, September 1, 2013

Book Review: Bonaventure: Mystical Writings

I just finished this book and wanted to recommend it to anyone interested in St. Bonaventure and in mystical writings. It is not a very hard read, but some terms may throw you. You should read it in a quiet thoughtful setting. Please see the short review below. Some of us have been to Mount Verna where St. Francis received the stigmata. In St. Bonaventure’s love for Francis he explored St. Francis’ rapture in contemplation. I believe St. Bonaventure also experienced that rapture which is a gift from God. He must have experienced it in order to write about it.

Bonaventure: Mystical Writings.  By Fr. Zachary Hayes, O.F.M. Crossroad. 152 pages.  (Available from Kindle edition.)

In this short and readable book, Fr. Zachary Hayes attempts to make accessible the profound trinitarian and christological theology of the Seraphic Doctor, St. Bonaventure. For centuries the great St. Bonaventure has been overshadowed by his contemporary and friend St. Thomas Aquinas. Fr. Hayes’s work helps bring St. Bonaventure out of the shadows. To do so Fr. Hayes utilizes the general structure of one of St. Bonaventure’s best known works, The Journey of the Soul into God. Fr. Hayes incorporates into his book many illuminating texts which give us a sense of the profundity of Bonaventurian thought.
(New Oxford Review)

Excerpt from the book, page 140:

At the end of the Soliloquy, Bonaventure brings his reflections together in the form of prayer.

I pray, my God, that I may know you; that I may love you; and that I may rejoice in you forever. And if I am not able to experience this to the fullest in this life, may at least my knowledge and love of you increase in this life that my joy may be full in the next life; that the joy which I here hold in hope may there be brought to fulfillment. O Lord, our Father, you counseled, or rather through your Son you commanded that we ask for this fullness of joy; and you promised to hear our prayer. I ask of you, O Lord, for that which, through your Wonder-Counselor, you encouraged us to ask for and promised to grant: that our joy may be full. Meanwhile, let my mind meditate on this joy; let my tongue speak of it; let my heart desire it; let my words extol it; let my soul hunger for it; let my flesh thirst for it; and let my whole substance yearn for it, until I enter into the joy of my God who is Three and One, blessed forever. Amen. (Soliloquy 4.27)

Happy reading.

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