Bonaventure’s Triple Way – Pt.4 – Chapter 1.2

Bonaventure’s Conception of the Human Soul

States of being:
Purgative
Illuminative
Unitive
 
 
 
Modes of action:
Memory
Intellect
Free will
 
 
 
Powers:
Remembrance
Understanding
Love / Charity
 
 
 
Spiritual exercises:
Meditation
Prayer
Contemplation
States of being:
Purgative
Illuminative
Unitive
 
 
 
Modes of action:
Memory
Intellect
Free will
 
 
 
Powers:
Remembrance
Understanding
Love / Charity
 
 
 
Spiritual exercises:
Meditation
Prayer
Contemplation

Review

The human soul undergoes three hierarchical actions:

  • Purgation: cleansing, which leads to peace
  • Illumination: enlightenment, which leads to truth
  • Union: perfection, which leads to charity

The soul attains bliss when it has mastered these three hierarchical (ordered) actions. Therefore, a true understanding of Scripture and the merit of eternal life depend on our mastering of these actions. Thus, the triple way (purgative, illuminative, unitive) extends to the following:

  • Reading/meditation
  • Prayer/contemplation

The success of your mediation is dependent upon the fruitful use of three powers:

  • The sting of conscience, which corresponds with purgation
    This is what we studied in chapter 1.1. Our life of meditation must be cleansed as follows: we must recall our sins, then we must assess our present state, and then (finally) we must redirect our meditation to focus on goodness rather than evil.
  • The light of reason, which corresponds with enlightenment
  • The spark of wisdom, which corresponds with perfection

Chapter 1 – 1.2
The illuminative way of meditation

Meditation under the light of reason accomplishes the following:

  • Focus - on the sins you have been forgiven
  • Amplification - so as to appreciate the gifts entrusted to you
  • Refraction - so as to illumine the rewards promised you

(These three are expounded below)

Focus on the sins you have been forgiven:

  • “Carefully ponder the sins which the Lord has pardoned: what they are, how many you have committed, and how great, what great punishments you should have undergone and what goods deprived of. The content of this meditation is sufficiently clear from the foregoing (chapter 1.1).”
  • “But not only should all this be pondered, but also how many evils would have befallen you, had the Lord permitted it. And when all this has been carefully considered, the darkness of your mind will be illumined by the light of understanding” (Chapter 1.2.10)
  • “Such enlightenment should be accompanied by grateful affection; otherwise it is not heavenly enlightenment, in the wake of whose brilliance you perceive the warmth to follow. Hence, thanks are to be offered for the forgiveness of sins committed or for the preservation from the possibility of committing sin out of need, out of weakness or out of perversity of one’s will.” (Chapter 1.2.10)

Consider how this light is amplified by pondering the blessings entrusted to you:

  • Blessings which complement your nature:
    • The gifts which God bestowed on your body:
      • The integrity of its members
      • Health
      • The nobility of its sex
    • The gifts which God bestowed upon your senses:
      • Keen vision
      • Acute hearing
      • Discreet speech
    • The gifts which God bestowed upon your soul:
      • Clear insight
      • Right judgment
      • A kindly heart
  • Blessings given in aid of grace:
    • Baptismal grace, whereby God accomplishes the following:
      • Eradication of original sin
      • Restoration of innocence
      • Justification
    • The grace of doing penance commensurate with:
      • Opportunities of the moment
      • Willingness of one’s soul
      • Sublimity of one’s religious order
    • The grace of priesthood whereby God has made you who are priest:
      • Dispenser of doctrine
      • Dispenser of pardon
      • Dispenser of the Eucharist
  • Blessings given in supererogation (blessings above and beyond what is necessary):
    • The universe
      • Beneath – plants and animals that honor you
      • On par – other humans to interact with
      • Above – angels to protect you
    • The only begotten Son
      • Incarnate so he may be our brother
      • As sacrifice so we may be redeemed
      • As Eucharist so he may be our food
    • The Holy Spirit
      • The pledge of our acceptance
      • The privilege of our adoption
      • The ring of our espousal

Consider how, through meditation, the light of reason is refracted upon the font of all good when you remember the rewards promised:

  • Deliverance from all evil
  • The company of all the saints
  • “The fulfillment of every desire in himself who is both the source and goal of all goods and is so good that he surpasses every petition, every desire, every evaluation, and who considers you worthy of so great a good, if you love and desire him above all else and for his own sake. And so you must strive to reach him with your every desire, affection, and good disposition.”
Posted in Catechesis, Franciscan Literature.

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