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Different Paths to God Found in Bonaventure's The Soul's (or Mind's) Journey to God - Term Paper Example

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Different Paths to God Found in Bonaventure's The Soul's (or Mind's) Journey to God

The path detailed in The Soul’s Journey to God is a path to ecstasy, to truly knowing the Creator. Bonaventure describes this path as, “the road by which this rapture is reached” (54). This is a path that no believer can pass through alone. It is only through Christ that we can attain ecstasy. “There is no other path but through the burning love of the Crucified” (54). So one must both desire to be close to God, have faith and love, and also realize that you cannot do it yourself. You must have the help of Christ to attain your goal. We attain the first degree through “an outcry of prayer” and “the flash of insight” (55). Both of these must come through Christ. Bonaventure issues an invitation: “I invite the reader to the groans of prayer through Christ crucified.” But the first step is purification of the spirit. Bonaventure admonishes that you must first exercise your conscience and experience remorse. But again, one must begin with Christ. “We cannot rise above ourselves unless a Higher Power lifts us up” (59). This process involves a three-prong process, which according to Bonaventure, mirrors the three days in the wilderness described in Exodus. He also compares it to the three periods of light in a day: evening, morning, and noon. He also relates it to the threefold essence of Christ. This three-prong process begins with the material. The second prong is about the spirit. And the third prong is the mind. These are much like the three essences of God, which are material, temporal, and exterior. In order to know God, you must pass through his essences. Since God had a literal Hand in creating all things in the physical world, you can find Him in all physical things. Therefore, all physical things on the Earth can point you toward God. Thus, the three-prongs of understanding and readying yourself for an encounter with God begin with the material, move toward the spirit, and then lastly through the mind. Bonaventure explains that any of these prongs can be doubled, which is why he has broken the process into six steps. Bonaventure explains the correlation to the creation of the universe. God took six days to create the world and then took the seventh day to rest. Our world is a minute version. As Bonaventure explains, “so the smaller world of man is led in a most orderly fashion by six successive stages of illumination to the quiet of contemplation” (61). This also corresponds to the six stages of the powers of the soul. Bonaventure explains that we ascend through these stages: “sense, imagination, reason, understanding, intelligence, and the summit of the mind…we have these implanted in us by nature, deformed by sin, and reformed by grace. They must be cleansed by justice” (62). Returning to this quiet of contemplation is akin to returning to our original state of being. We were created as perfect for the quiet of contemplation. However, when Adam and Eve turned away from their original intention, mankind was also turned from our perfect state of being, designed for the quiet of contemplation. Our next phase after examining the material is to look into our spirit and see where we can find God. God’s image is not only spiritual, but everlasting. We must see how our interior reflects God, who created us all. Bonaventure uses the metaphor of a mirror. You are both looking for God in a mirror and through a mirror. Bonaventure explains that ascendancy to God requires the avoidance of sin, “ ...Show more


Bonaventure’s The Soul’s Journey to God is a detailed account of how we travel toward our union with God. Bonaventure describes six different degrees, referred to by Bonaventure as the “six steps of illumination” that make up the path toward union with God…
Author : cathrine17
Different Paths to God Found in Bonaventures The Souls (or Minds) Journey to God essay example
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