BONAVENTURE CHALLENGE

challengeThe Franciscan Archive has undertaken the apostolate of publishing in English translation the great Franciscan summa of theology, known as St. Bonaventure’s Commentaries on the Four Books of Master Peter Lombard.  Written from 1250-1252 A. D., at the University of Paris, this outstanding work of theology has been hailed by numerous Popes, Saints and theologians, for the brilliance of its insight and fidelity to the Catholic Faith.

This work, heretofore, has never been translated in its entirety in any modern language.

To publish the entire 4 volume work, which comprises nearly 3900 pages, The Franciscan Archive is being assisted by Save Old St. Mary’s Inc., a Massachusetts IRS recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, which just recently published the first volume (click here for more information), which is being distributed to raise the funds necessary to repay the debt for its publication.

The First Tome contained the Seraphic Doctor’s treatise on the Most Holy Trinity. Br. Alexis Bugnolo, editor of the Franciscan Archive, is the sole translator working on this project.

To publicize the publication of the First Tome, SOSM Inc. mailed a sample copy to 278 Faculties of Theology and Religious Studies at Catholic Universities throughout the world.

To publish the Second Volume, which will expound St. Bonaventure’s theology on Creation, Save Old St. Mary’s Inc. is issuing this challenge to the lovers of Saints Francis and Bonaventure throughout the world, to raise the estimated $40000 USD necessary.

This Second Volume will be as a brilliant light in darkness, seeing that it contains the exposition of the Catholic Faith regarding the Creation of the World in 6 days, the Creation and Fall of Angels and Men; topics which are nearly never taught in Catholic Seminaries and Universities in modern times.

For the address and Paypal Link to which to send your donation, click here.

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A Short Treatise on Order and Disorder: Introduction

If we could sum up under one heading the manifold evils of the present age, we might do it well by remarking that ours is an age in which disorder reigns and in which far too many are forgetful of the proper order which should prevail, in themselves, in their personal relationships, in the relations with state and Church, within the Church, and most importantly with God, His Holy Angels, and the Saints.

It seems that everyone, regardless of which camp they claim to belong to, is acting disorderly and is refusing implicitly or explicitly the Catholic notion of order and the corresponding moral duty to preserve order, observe order, and act according to order in all things, both in our own minds and hearts, and in our external acts.

Being the sons of Adam, if we are not baptized, or reborn as the sons of God, if baptized, though still suffering predominantly from the effects of Adam’s sonship if we have not seriously sought to sanctify ourselves, we are apt to see better the faults of others, than our own.

In recent years there has been a calamitous outcry against the disorder which is spreading in the modern world, whether in the State or in the Church.  From the imposition of marxist or socialist economics in the United States, to the advancing of the homosexual revolution by the forced imposition of their perverse creed, from the scandals in the Church regarding the abuse of children by priests and religious, and the worse dishonestly of Bishops, Cardinals, and even Popes, in not doing anything about it, or in denying the problem, or even in denying their own responsibility when documents show that they knew of the problem in time enough to have limited it more than they did:  the whole world is aghast at the perversion of order, the falling away from order, and the disorder which abounds on every side.

The advent of blogging has increased the disorder, because the mere liberty of expression and the facility of expression which reigns on blogs, seduces many a weak soul into believing that just because he can say something, he ought to; or just because an issue merits discussion, any discussion of it is meritorious.

The height of recent hypocrisy in this matter, in the Church, has been the intemperate criticism of church leaders for their own intemperate speech; as if the fact that my superior has sinned gives me the right to commit the same sin.  Such obtuseness makes many a blogger so adverse to the self-recognition of his own hypocritical behavior, that not even the most gentle of comments is permitted and any attempt at fraternal correction rebuffed.

Blathering on a blog is no more useful and no less sinful, than blathering at the local diner or pub. But alas, the facility of some towards literacy is just a strong occasion of sin for them, as the facility of some for loquacity.

For this reason, following in the footsteps of my Seraphic Father, St. Francis, who commanded all of his sons to preach in season and out, about vice and virtue, punishment and glory, I take this occasion of the Solemn Celebration of his own glorification in Heaven 787 years ago, so begin a small Series of Articles on the notion of Order and Disorder.

I do this to gently remind Catholics the world over of the importance of retaining and returning to a right notion of Order and to putting this notion into practice in everything they do.  It is my hope that by means of this series of reflection, at least you who read this blog, might benefit in your own pilgrimage to Heaven.

A Short Treatise on Order and Disorder:  An Introduction

St. Francis of Assisi is known the world over for his spirit of faithfulness to the Gospel, his humility and love and devotion to Christ, his care and concern for all God’s creatures, especially poor sinners and unbelievers, to whom he wished to recall to the Gospel or make them know the wonderful good news thereof.

St. Francis is normally presented as a model of holiness or fidelity, but if we look more deeply into his life, he is a marvelous example of order and fidelity to the order which God has established in creation and in the Church.

But to understand better why the observance of order leads to holiness of life and glorification in Heaven, it is good to begin with an introduction to the theology of Order.

1. Order is a Divine Perfection.

According to St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio (1217-1274 A. D.), who with St. Thomas is one of the two primary Doctors of the Church, there are three species of order.  You can find these listed in his Commentary on the First Book of Sentences of Master Peter Lombard, d. 20, a. 1, q. 1, p. 372, which God willing, I will be publishing next spring in book format, in the United States of America (but also distributed worldwide by mail).

St. Bonaventure, being a great Scholastic theologian, explains the essential basis of order, thus.  There are three species or kinds of order:

A.  Order according to position:  where one is the superior, another the inferior; but this is in two manners:  either according to place, or according to dignity.  This species of order does not exist in God.

 B. Order according to antecedence:  where one is the prior, another the posterior; but this is in two manners:  either because the first precedes the second according to duration or time, or because it is prior according to its ‘being understood’ or according to the understanding of its nature.  This species does not exist in God.

 C. Order according to origin, or according to an emanation, and this is of  one producing to one produced.  This species exists in God, because there is the order of a Beginning to a Begun, or of One producing to One produced (i. e. the Father to the Son).  This divine species of order is the first species of order, because it implicates in itself the other two species:  thus, in created things every producer is superior in dignity or prior in time or in being understood.

2. Order in its relations with the transcendentals of being:  the one, the true, the good and the beautiful.

The transcendentals of being are appropriatable to the Persons of the Trinity because they express full and pure perfections.  Thus, to the Father, one can appropriate “the Good”, to the Son, “the True”, to the Holy Spirit, “the Beautiful”, and to God, “the One”.

Thus, one finds, among the names for the transcendentals, an order between the Good and the True, between ‘the Good and the True’ and the Beautiful.

Perfection according to knowledge is the perfect understanding of the Good; such perfect understanding in God is the Son, Who emanates from the Father as the Eternal Word, the Perfect Likeness and, hence, Knowledge of the Father, Who is “the Good”.

Perfection according to the will is the perfect willing of the Good according to the True; such a perfection of will in God is the Holy Spirit, Who emanates from the Father and Son, from the Father through the Son, as the perfect Love or Nexus of them Both.

3.  The Eternal Word as the Exemplar of Order.

Since He is the middle Person in the Trinity, He is, hence, the exemplification of the essential relation of order in the Trinity, since all the intra-trinitarian relations refer to Him; thus, the order between the Divine Persons is completed in the Logos, the Perfect Expression or Image of the Father, and the occasional Principle of the Love Emanating as the Holy Spirit, both from the Father unto the Son, and from the Son unto the Father; because, the precondition for understanding every act of love is that there be two other Persons; and He is the Second Person.

Conclusion

The order which is found in creation, or in our own being, body and soul, or in human society, or in the Church, in Heaven, in Purgatory and on Earth, is a reflection of that Order which is found first in God, and which is exemplified in its highest manner the Eternal Word.  By observing the right order in all human affairs, we do the will of Jesus Christ for us.  Indeed, if we examine the Gospels and the words of Our Lord and Master, we find that on every page He is teaching us about how to observe the right Divine Order for all things, and how, by returning to the right order, we can be saved and have eternal life.

Order then is a perfection; coming from God, and founding creation; but also a perfection which if we embrace and observe, can transform us in holiness of life and transport us to the Kingdom of Heaven.

It is, therefore, very useful and valuable for each of us to observe order, whether in thought, will, word, or action.

May Christ Jesus, our Eternal Master, by His Omnipotent Spirit, grant us the grace to humbly confess our sins and return to the right order of life!

(In the next installment, I will discuss the perfection of order in created things and the two kinds of society, natural and moral).

Why Stability in the One True Faith is important

“The whole principle of our doctrines has taken root from the Lord of the Heavens above” (St. John Chrysostom, Homily 1, “On Isaias”).

On the occasion of receiving the Doctorate in Sacred Theology, at the University of Paris, in 1252, St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, one of the two primary Doctors of the Church, gave a historical sermon on the Magisterial Authority of Jesus Christ, which remains, to this day, one of the most eloquent and theologically complete exposition of the Catholic Faith on the topic.  In what is now commonly referred to as n. 15, of that Sermon, the Seraphic Doctor has this to say:

From the aforesaid, therefore, there appears, the order by which and the author by whom one arrives at Wisdom. — For the order is, to begin from the stability of the Faith and proceeds through the serenity of reason, to arrive at the savoriness of contemplation; which Christ hinted at, when He said: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And in this manner is fulfilled that verse of Proverbs 4:6: The path of the just as a splendid light goes forth and grows even unto the perfect day. To this order did the Saints hold, attentive as they were to that verse of Isaiah, according to the other translation: Unless you will have believed, you will not understand. This order the philosophers ignore, who neglecting the Faith and totally founding themselves on reason, could in no manner arrive at contemplation; because, as St. Augustine says in the first book On the Trinity, « the sickly keenness of the human mind is not fixed in such an excellent light, unless it be cleansed through the justice of the Faith ».

From time immemorial, it has been an intrinsic and infallible truth of the Catholic Faith, that by faith is a man-made pleasing to God,* a faith founded upon the assent of the mind to revealed truth, accompanied by an act of repentance from all wickedness.  It is St. Paul, himself, who taught us that without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6).  And in this dogmatic teaching of the Apostle of the Gentiles, one can easily discern a profound commentary on the words of Our Lord and Master:  God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)

Worshiping God in truth, requires, obviously, first of all, that man knows the truth regarding God; and this truth is the truth God has revealed about Himself, partially in the writings and teachings of the Prophets of the Old Testament, fully in the self-revelation of Himself when He became Man, known to faith and history as Christ Jesus, faithfully and clearly in the teachings of the Apostles, of whom we have the letters of St. Paul, St. Peter, St. James, St. Jude, and St. John, and the Gospels of the Evangelists, St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke and, again, St. John.

Down through the ages, in the fulfillment of the words of Christ, Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against Her. (Matthew 16:18), and, again, I have prayed for you Simon, that your faith may never fail, and so that when you are converted, you may strengthen your brethren. (Luke 22:31), the Roman Pontiffs have at times used their divinely conferred authority, to strengthen the whole Church in the Faith of Christ, that is, the faith which Christ taught.  They did this in letters, at councils, and in promulgating decrees and other documents, wherein they specified with precise terminology, what is to believed, and what is not to be believed, so that the faith of all Christians might find stability and unity in the profession of the same authentic doctrine which Christ taught and which He handed down and willed to be kept, through the Apostles, in the Catholic Church, until the tend of time.

Stability in the faith, therefore, is nothing to be ashamed about; rather it is something of which every faithful Catholic should glory, knowing as he does that this is a necessary blessing, without which a man founders in a sea of error, especially in those times of life or in those ages in which the fallen spirits wage more openly their war against the righteous.

Stability in the One True Faith, without which it is impossible to be saved, requires, consequently a loyalty to the One True Faith, which was given by Christ and passed from the Apostles in the Church, through the Magisterium, faithfully, unchanged, for tewnty centuries.  Hence, fidelity to Christ requires that every Catholic hold fast to this historic deposit, and that thus, if in any aspect of the life of the Church, there has been a falling away from this Holy Faith, that he dedicate himself to restoring what was lost in practice.

Lost in practice, because in truth, the Church has never lost Her Faith, regardless of how many clergy, religious, or even Bishops, might abandon it or its practice. Lost in pratice, not in the whole Church, but in many members of Her, because the Holy Spirit is always at work inspiring some members to keep what He Himself wishes restored in the Church, even if the vast majority have forgotten or abandoned His inspirations and handiwork.

Hence it is a good and holy thing to be a restorationist, in this sense; and those who say otherwise, have been deceived by the world, the flesh, or the Devil.

But faithfulness, does not mean legalism.  A legalist sees only laws, and not the truths upon which they are founded, or the end for which they were instituted.  A legalist, for example, who is faithful to Vatican II, might forget that it was merely a pastoral council, that it intended above all the salvation of souls and the conversion of the world to Christ.  A legalist who remains loyal to the Council but forgets these greater truths, might insist upon the Council even to the destruction of the faith, of the salvation of souls, or to driving away souls from the Church; or worse, to confirming the enemies of Christ in their hatred for the Faith.

A VICE DIRECTLY CONTRARY TO STABILITY IN THE FAITH

Directly contrary to the stability with which the Catholic believer is blessed, is the vice and curse of impulsiveness.

Impulsiveness is that vice of consenting to violent movements of passion, emotion, feeling or sentiment, which assail a man from within his own soul.  A man poorly trained in the use of his reason, easily falls to such movements, confusing the movement for a free act which comes from himself; and giving himself up to it, such that he considers it an inspiration in the general sense of a worthwhile thought; or worse, an inspiration in the specific sense, as something from God.

In truth, many such violent movements come from the effects of original sin in the soul and body; still others come from the fallen spirits which are ever afoot to harm souls. Such movements are more frequent in souls beholden to some sinful and vicious preoccupation with things, with some sort of idolatrous devotion to wordly values or goals. They are most frequent in souls which glory in their own impulsiveness, or who think that such impulsiveness comes from God, which last stage of this vice is the worst of all, since no one in good conscience can escape noticing, that the God of Truth is a God of order, not disorder, peace non violence.

Impulsiveness occurs when a man does not submit his reason and judgement to faith; fails to examine his conscience, omits humility which would cover his mind with a suspicion about such instantaneous outbursts.  Since a humble man knows that of himself he is nothing but dung and capable of evil; he knows well that instantaneous violent movements within him, DO NOT COME FROM GOD.  He eschews impulsiveness, as a vice which leads to imprudent destructive action.

If a man, however, is stable in the One True Faith, he has a stable norm for mortifying his inner self; and from this comes the strength of will and reason to recognize impulsiveness for what it is, a vice, and to combat it with humility, self-reflection, and self-criticism.

In this way, as St. Augustine says, Faith leads to the purification of the mind and heart; and in this way the light which has come to us in Baptism, the light of faith, grows from the faintest dawn to the full day of holiness (Proverbs 4:6).

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*  When we say, that a man is made pleasing to God by faith, we speak of “faith” as a theological virtue and in regard to the order of instrumental causality, since, obviously, it is God who by giving us faith as a free gift, justifies us; that is God works faith in those whom He calls to salvation, and by faith conforms the mind of the believer to His own mind.  Justification, however, is thus not by faith alone, as Luther taught, because there is necessary for justification, that (1) a man be disposed to accept God’s teaching and the movements of the Holy Spirit in his soul, (2) that hear the word of God preached to him, (3) that he believe the Gospel message contained therein and all that Christ and the Apostles and Prophets taught, (4) that He love the God who has thus revealed Himself, (5) that he hope in fulfillment of what God has promised in Christ Jesus’ Resurrection and teaching, (5) that he purposefully and firmly resolve to accept Baptism in the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, and in particular (6) do so in penance of all his sins and vices, because a man who believes without repentance, has believed in vain. After Baptism, if a man sins, he has the blessing of the help of Christ Jesus offered in the Sacrament of Confession, which Christ taught and instructed the Apostles to give to repentant sinners, when He said: Receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven them, whose sins you hold bound, are held bound! He who hears you, hears Me; and he who rejects you, rejects Me! The 12 Apostles in ordaining Bishops and priests established the Catholic Hierarchy, which extends down through time to our day, and which forms that 1 true Church which is known to men as the Catholic Church.