St. Bonaventure –The Soul's Journey into God, The Tree of Life, The Life of St. Francis
Translation and introduction by Ewert Cousins, preface by Ignatius Brady, O.F.M.
"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. Long before Bonaventure was called "The Prince of Mystics" by Leo XIII or "The Seraphic Doctor" by John Gerson, he was known throughout the Christian world as "The Devout Teacher."Professor Ewert Cousins says in his introduction, "In the history of Western Spirituality, Bonaventure holds a central and pivotal position. The 13th century friar, professor at the University of Paris, minister general of the Franciscan Order, cardinal and advisor to popes, played a major role in the spiritual ferment of the high Middle Ages…when Islamic, Jewish and Christian spirituality were flourishing-he produced one of the richest syntheses of Christian spirituality. Although cosmic in its scope, it was distinctively Christian in its content, grounded in the doctrine of the Trinity and devotion to the humanity of Christ. Within Christianity he achieved a striking integration of Eastern and Western elements." The three works contained in this volume offer the core of his vision.
In The Soul's Journey into God, considered Bonaventure's masterpiece, he takes the six-winged Seraph as the symbol for the six stages of contemplation in which the created world is seen as a reflection of God.
The Tree of Life is a simple meditation on the life of Jesus, "based on the Gospel accounts" in which "Christ is seen as the Tree of Life on whose branches blossom such virtues as humility, piety, patience, constancy and justice."
The Life of St. Francis was the official biography commissioned by the Franciscan Order in 1260.
The editor of this volume, Dr. Ewert Cousins, is Professor of Theology, Fordham University and Visiting Professor, Columbia University. He is Director of the Spirituality Graduate Program at Fordham. Ignatius Brady, O.F.M., who wrote the preface to this volume, is one of the world's leading authorities on Bonaventure and early Franciscan spirituality. He is Prefect of the Theology Section of the Franciscan research center, Collegio S. Bonaventura at Grottaferrata near Rome.
"The Paulist Press' recent 60-volume series on the Western mystics is to my mind the most hopeful sign in American publishing." Kenneth L. Woodward Religion Editor of Newsweek Magazinein Publishers Weekly