The Works of Bonaventure is a collection of writings by the Middle Ages Cardinal and Saint Bonaventure. This particular compilation, the Mystical Opuscula, is a collection of five of Bonaventure's most respected works dealing with topics of theology like the individual's journey toward God, prayer, meditation, the life and Passion of Christ, and the life of piety and faith.
Not much is known about "the Prince of Mystics'" early life. He was born Giovanni di Fidanza in 1221 near Vitero, Italy, and first entered the Franciscan Order in 1243. Bonaventure undertook his education at the University of Paris and stayed to teach theology for the next 12 years. At the age of 36, Bonaventure was elected the Minister General of the Friars Minor, an office he held for many years. In 1271, he was instrumental in securing the election of Pope Gregory X. The new pope then appointed Bonaventure as Cardinal-Bishop of Albano.
He wrote extensively, drafting over 20 works of philosophy and theology. His interpretation of scripture is often heavily symbolic, but he never shied away from the pain and cruelty inflicted upon Christ. The Passion was one of the most visited topics in Bonaventure's writing. He found the suffering of Christ to be the most important event in history, the greatest proof of God's love for humanity.
Among his many writings include the five works published here in the Mystical Opuscula
● The Journey of the Mind to God
● The Triple Way, or Love Enkindled
● The Tree of Life
● The Mystical Vine
● On the Perfection of Life, Addressed to Sisters
The Journey of the Mind to God, often considered one of his masterpieces, describes the six steps man should take to contemplate God, beginning with acknowledging God through his creation and finishing with considering the Holy Trinity. After dedicating oneself to the six ways of thought, the result will be peace and repose - a quiet mind and a soul risen toward God.
The Triple Way, or Love Enkindled explains how meditation, prayer, and contemplation can lead to purification, illumination, and unity with God.
The Tree of Life is a meditation on the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. It takes the form of 12 "fruits" born on the Tree of Life in the paradisiacal Garden of Eden. The fruits on the bottom four branches concern the origins and life of the man, Jesus. The next four branches describe the Passion, and the top four describe the glories of His resurrection and ascension.
The Mystical Vine: Treatise on the Passion of the Lord explores the symbol of the vine as Christ himself. The pruning, tying, and flowering of the vine are all used as metaphors for the events of the life and Passion of Christ, and the leaves of the vine are symbols for His words upon the cross.
On the Perfection of Life, Addressed to Sisters was written at the request of St. Isabelle of France, the sister of King Louis IX. The work is subtitled "An outline of spiritual progress," and describes the life of humility, poverty, silence, prayer, and perfect love for God that the brides of Christ should live to be close to Him.
Over 200 years after his death, Bonaventure was canonized Saint Bonaventure by Pope Sixtus IV. He is still considered one of the greatest thinkers and writers of the Middle Ages, and his work remains essential reading for any student of theology or philosophy.