St. Bonaventura – The Seraphic Doctor

In the second circle of the Sun in Dante’s Paradiso, the main voice is the Light of St. Bonaventure (c.1217-1274) – a professor at the University of Paris, and a leader of the Franciscan Order.

In Bonaventure’s main work “The Soul’s Journey into God” we can see several aspects which Dante is using in the Paradiso, f.ex. a description of the final moments of the ascent:

“For no one is in any way disposed for divine contemplation that leads to mystical ecstasy, [..] such desires are enkindled in us in two ways: by an outcry of prayer [..] and by the flash of insight by which the mind turns most directly and intently towards the rays of Light.”
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The Good that Multiplies, like Mirrors

The Source of Envy, and Nature of the Good.

At the end of the second Terrace the Pilgrim has one of his biggest new understandings of the nature and roots of Envy, which leads to an even bigger and more joyful discovery; that Love and the Good only multiplies like mirrors, the more people that participate in it.

The argument is that the material goods will create a kind of possessiveness and fear of loss, whilst a greater understanding of the Heavenly Good, and spending your time and actions towards the spiritually good things – will only increase the motivation for sharing this Good with others, and having more people finding the same joyful source of Good Life. In some ways Envy could be seen a direct result of aiming at the wrong things as the higher value in life.

As the Pilgrim absorbs this deeper new insight, Virgil points out that they should move on to erase the five wounds left on Dante’s forehead. Symbolically meaning that through understanding this nature of Envy, and the mutually amplifying nature of the Good, the “scar” of Envy has already healed completely from the Pilgrim’s soul. A change of mind has occurred. And this, according to Dante’s writings, is a part of the path to happiness and ascent towards the Good in the widest sense possible. We are learning both substance and process at the same time. And like the Pilgrim, it’s very easy to yearn for more learning, and more understanding!