The Divine as Being, and Union


Gustave Doré, "Paradiso Canto 31" 
 

In chapter 5 of St. Bonaventura’s “The Soul’s Journey into God”, the author presents the idea of Pure Being as the Absolute First, and as a necessity from the following reasoning:

“5. Behold, then, if you can, purest being itself and you will realize that it cannot be thought of as received from another. From this, it must necessarily be thought of as absolutely first since it cannot come from nothing or from something.”

This also makes the Divine as Pure Being into “the First and the Last”, the Alpha & Omega, and the Eternal, which is the nature of Dante’s Empyrean in the Highest Sphere of Paradiso. It also connects to Exodus and the story of Moses receiving the Tetragrammaton as the Name of the Divine in 3:14, in one aspect meaning Existence or Being in the fullest sense.

In Chapter 6, which is the 6th of 6 steps of Contemplation – Bonaventura describes how the next step is that:

the eye of our intelligence
should be raised to look upon
the most blessed Trinity

which is exactly what the Pilgrim in Paradiso is doing in Canto 33, as St. Bernard of Clairvaux gives the final prayer to Virgin Mary.

The idea from Bonaventure that

“the diffusion in time in creation
is no more than a center
or point”

Also reminds of Dante’s description of the source of the Divine Light as so small that

“That star which seems the smallest seen from here
if set beside that point, like star by star
appearing in the heavens, would seem a moon.”

And finally – in Chapter 7 we are presented with the final mystical union which Bonaventura describes:

“all intellectual activities must be left behind
and the height of our affection
must be totally transferred and transformed
into God.
This, however, is mystical and most secret,
which no one knows
except him who receives it.”

Dante expresses something similar on last page in the Paradiso:

“but my own wings could not take me so high­
then a great flash of understanding struck
my mind, and suddenly its wish was granted.

At this point power failed high fantasy
but, like a wheel in perfect balance turning,
I felt my will and my desire impelled

by the Love that moves the sun and the other stars.”

Which is the final union with the Divine, for the Pilgrim.

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