Saturday, 1 November 2014

Latin Doctor Quote of the Day - St Bonaventure on the Beauty of Creation

Whoever wishes to ascend to God must first avoid sin, which deforms our nature, then exercise his natural powers mentioned above: by praying, to receive restoring grace; by a good life, to receive purifying grace; my meditating, to receive illuminating knowledge; and by contemplating, to receive perfecting wisdom. Just as no one comes to wisdom except through grace, justice and knowledge, so no one comes to contemplation except by penetrating meditation, a holy life and devout prayer. Since grace is the foundation of the rectitude of the will and of the penetrating light of reason, we must first pray, then live holy lives and thirdly concentrate our attention upon the reflections of truth. By concentrating there, we must ascend step by step until we reach the height of the mountain where the God of gods is seen in Sion (PS 83:8).
 Since we must ascend Jacob's ladder before we descend it, let us place our first step in the ascent at the bottom, presenting to ourselves the whole material world as a mirror through which we may pass over to God, the supreme Craftsman. Thus we shall be true Hebrews passing over from Egypt to the land promised to their fathers (Exod. 13:3ff); we shall be also be Christians passing over with Christ from this world to the Father (John 13:1); we shall be lovers of wisdom, which calls to us says: Pass over to me all who long for me and be filled with my fruits (Ecclus. 24:26). For from the greatness and beauty of created things, their Creator can be seen and known. - St Bonaventure, ''The Soul's Journey into God''


What is creation other than the external and often physical manifestation of the inherent beauty and majesty of the Godhead? Consider the divers beings of various orders that exist, move, breath, speak, sing or shine. A single creature could not adequately manifest the plenitude of perfection that God is, and even a whole universe of beings could not exhaust His greatness. Considering even natural beauty should be enough to cause us to marvel at the goodness of God expressed in created reality in even such a finite way. All are glimmers and reflections of that infinite glory that is entirely sufficient and self-subsisting. The sinner who is enthralled by pleasures proceeding from nature does not love nature enough. He does not glimpse the Author and Sustainer who is infinitely fecund in His being and goodness. All may be dust before Him but all is gold because of Him. The saint does not consider creation to be a threat to his soul if all he sees is the divine traces of love and mercy in all that is visible.

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