VII. “The Mystical Transport of the Mind in Which Rest Is Given to Our Understanding and Our Affection Passes over Entirely to God” by Bonaventure
Background: In this reading Bonaventure describes the “goal” of the journey, the direct experience of what is being sought, here an overwhelming awareness of the presence of God. In terms of our course this would describe the kind of cumulative “insight” that permits us to “see” directly for ourselves facets of that Wisdom for which we are seeking on our “intellectual journey.” In our pursuit of Wisdom, we reach vistas that allow us to survey where we have been in an entirely new way. But the lure of Wisdom does not allow us to rest content with what we have accomplished; rather the discovery of this new vista or horizon provides us with the strength and desire to continue the journey of discovery. This mindset was captured by Francis when, toward the end of his life after he had become universally recognized as a holy man who was close to God, he urged his brothers to “begin again” (Celano, Vita I II,6,103) with new zeal their quest for God just as they were when they were starting out, for in comparison to the goal they had indeed only begun.
Bonaventure compares the “goal” of the spiritual quest to “peace” (as a throne of the true Solomon at an inner Jerusalem), to an ability to “soar on high” (by analogy with the wings [or steps] of the Seraphim), and the “rest” of the Sabbath (that follows upon the six days of creation (§1). He clearly intends to show the importance of this stage of the spiritual journey through these images. What do they mean in terms of a “spiritual” quest? How could they be interpreted in terms of our understanding of an “intellectual” journey?
Bonaventure summarizes the journey up to the sixth step, and then he asserts, somewhat surprisingly, that the mind has to “transcend and pass over . . . even itself” (§1). What does he mean by this? How might this apply to our understanding of an “intellectual journey”?
What does Bonaventure mean when he claims that if we but contemplate fully the “Mercy-Seat” or “Christ hanging on the cross,” we may celebrate the Passover with him and taste hidden manna or experience what was promised to the good thief, namely being with Christ in Paradise? (§2) Again, what does anything like this have to do with an intellectual (as opposed to a) spiritual journey?
Finally, what is the significance of Bonaventure’s appeal to the example of Francis (§3) on this topic? Again, explain how it has anything to do with an intellectual journey, such as we are attempting in this course?