Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Saint Bonaventure, born John of Fidanza Bonaventure

Italian Scholastic Theologian, Philosopher, known as “Seraphic Doctor,” Medieval Writer, Contemplative, Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor

"If there be any man who is not enlightened by this sublime magnificence of created things, he is blind. If there be any man who is not aroused by the clamor of nature, he is deaf. If there be any one who, seeing all these works of God, does not praise him, he is dumb; if there be any one who, from so many signs, cannot perceive the First Principle, that man is foolish."

"God is a sphere whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere."

"That we may arrive at an understanding of the First Principle, which is most spiritual and eternal and above us, we ought to proceed through the traces which are corporeal and outside us; and this it to be led into the way of God. We ought next to enter into our minds, which are the eternal image of God, spiritual and internal; and this is to walk in the truth of God. We ought finally to pass over into that which is eternal, most spiritual, and above us, looking to the First Principle; and this is to rejoice in the knowledge of God and in the reverence of His majesty."

"This universe of things is a ladder whereby we may ascend to God, since among these things are God’s footprints, some God’s image, some corporeal, some spiritual, some temporal, some eternal."

"In the way of virtue, there is no standing still; anyone who does not daily advance, loses ground. To remain at a standstill is impossible; he that gains not, loses; he that ascends not, descends. If one does not ascend the ladder, one must descend; if one does not conquer, one will be conquered."

"When we pray, the voice of the heart must be heard more than that proceeding from the mouth."

"The image of our soul, therefore, must be clothed with the three theological virtues, by which the soul is purified, enlightened, and perfected."

"Since happiness is nothing else than the enjoyment of the Supreme Good, and the Supreme Good is above us, no one can enjoy happiness unless he rise above himself, not, indeed, by a bodily ascent, but by an ascent of the heart. But we cannot rise above ourselves unless a superior power raise us."

"Reading without repentance, knowledge without devotion, research without the impulse of wonder, prudence without the ability to surrender to joy, action divorced from religion, learning sundered from love, intelligence without humility, study unsustained by divine grace, thought without the wisdom inspired of God."

"Prayer...is the mother and origin of every upward striving of the soul."

" Pierce, my inmost soul with the most joyous and healthful wound of Thy love, and with true, calm and most holy apostolic charity, that my soul may ever languish and melt with entire love and longing for Thee, may yearn for Thee and for thy courts, may long to be dissolved and to be with Thee. Grant that my soul may hunger after Thee, the Bread of Angels, the refreshment of holy souls, our daily and supersubstantial bread, having all sweetness and savor and every delightful taste. May my heart ever hunger after and feed upon Thee, Whom the angels desire to look upon, and may my inmost soul be filled with the sweetness of Thy savor; may it ever thirst for Thee, the fountain of life, the fountain of widsom and knowledge, the fountain of eternal light, the torrent of pleasure, the fulness of the house of God; may it ever compass Thee, seek Thee, find Thee, run to Thee, come up to Thee, meditate on Thee, speak of Thee, and do all for the praise and glory of Thy name, with humility and discretion, with love and delight, with ease and affection, with perseverence to the end; and be Thou alone ever my hope, my entire confidence, my riches, my delight, my pleasure, my joy, my rest and tranquility, my peace, my sweetness, my food, my refreshment, my refuge, my help, my wisdom, my portion, my possession, my treasure; in Whom may my mind and my heart be ever fixed and firm and rooted immovably. Amen."

"He, therefore, who wishes to ascend to God must first avoid sin, which deforms nature. He must bring the natural powers of the soul under the influence of grace, which reforms them, and this he does through prayer; he must submit them to the purifying influence of justice, and this, in daily acts; he must subject them to the influence of enlightening knowledge, and this in meditation; and finally, he must hand them over to the influence of the perfecting power of wisdom, and this in contemplation."

"He who contemplates considers the actual existence of things; he who believes, the habitual course of things; he who investigates with his reason, the mighty excellence of things."

"Any old woman can love God better than a doctor of theology can."

"He withstood all these sufferings in order to set you aflame with love for Him; in order to move you, in return, to love Him with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind."

"He enlightened our faith with proofs, lifted our hope with promises, so as finally to inflame our love with gifts from heaven."

"I became human and visible so that you might see Me and so love Me, since, unseen and invisible in My divinity, I had not been properly loved. As a price for my incarnation and passion, give me yourself for whom I became flesh and for whom I suffered. I gave myself to you, now give yourself to me."

"In forming you, I conformed you to the likeness of My divinity; to re-form you, conformed Myself to the likeness of your humanity."

"In beautiful things St. Francis saw Beauty itself, and through His vestiges imprinted on creation he followed his Beloved everywhere, making from all things a ladder by which he could climb up and embrace Him who is utterly desirable. If you desire to know … ask grace, not instruction; desire, not understanding; the groaning of prayer, not diligent reading; the Spouse, not the teacher; God, not man; darkness not clarity; not light, but fire that totally inflames and carries us into God by ecstatic unctions and burning affections."

"He shall sit solitary by avoiding the company of men, he shall hold his peace by meditating upon the joys of heaven, and he has risen above his state by tasting celestial delights."

"In God alone is there primordial and true delight, and in all our delights it is this delight that we are seeking."

"Since happiness is nothing other than the enjoyment of the highest good and since the highest good is above, no one can be happy unless he rises above himself, not by an ascent of the body, but of the heart."

"The best perfection of a religious man is to do common things in a perfect manner. A constant fidelity in small things is a great and heroic virtue."

"The life of God – precisely because God is triune – does not belong to God alone. God who dwells in inaccessible light and eternal glory comes to us in the face of Christ and the activity of the Holy Spirit. Because of God’s outreach to the creature, God is said to be essentially relational, ecstatic, fecund, alive as passionate love. Divine life is therefore also our life. The heart of the Christian life is to be united with the God of Jesus Christ by means of communion with one another. The doctrine of the Trinity is, ultimately, therefore a teaching not about the abstract nature of God, nor about God in isolation from everything other than God, but a teaching about God’s life with us and our life with each other."

"The One so good and so great desires you to embrace him and is waiting to embrace you."

"Three things are necessary to everyone regardless of status, sex, or age, i.e., truth of faith which brings understanding; love of Christ which brings compassion; endurance of hope which brings perseverance. No adult is in state of salvation unless he has faithful understanding in his mind, loving compassion in his heart, and enduring perseverance in his actions."

"There are different types of stealing, since stealing is the taking of things belonging to another aginst the owner’s will. This is done either by pure deceit, by violence, or by fraud. If it is done by pure deceit and in secret, then it is called stealing. If it is done by violence, either the violence is done in the open and is called plundering, or it is hidden and it is called a robbery. If the taking of things belonging to another is done by fraud, this can involve an agreement in one of three ways. It can be done with an agreement that is either fraudulent, sinful, or sacrilegious. The first way happens in business and can be done in one of three ways: in weight, or in number, or in measure. Merchants rarely escape committing this sin. If it is done by a sinful agreement, it is called usury, in which that which is sold is public, namely time. If it is done by a sacrilegious agreement, in which things belonging to God are sold, it is called simony. Some people believe that usury is evil because it is prohibited, but clearly it is prohibited because it is evil. In a monetary loan, that which is mine becomes yours. But if you acquire something from that loan by your industry, and I claim anything of that, then I sell time, which is public and cannot be sold lawfully."

"To know much and taste nothing-of what use is that?"

"God is beauty, and with his beauty every creature is charged."

"God is the One who is closer to you than you are to yourself."

"Imitate the dove that nests in a hole in the cliff, keeping watch at the entrance like the sparrow that finds a home. There like the turtledove hide your little ones, the fruit of your chaste love. Press your lips to the fountain, draw water from the wells of your Savior; for this is the spring flowing out of the middle of paradise, dividing into four rivers, inundating devout hearts, watering the whole earth and making it fertile."

"In all your deeds and words you should look upon this Jesus as your model. Do so whether you are walking or keeping silence, or speaking, whether you are alone or with others. He is perfect, and thus you will be not only irreprehensible, but praiseworthy."

"In beautiful things St. Francis saw Beauty itself, and through His vestiges imprinted on creation he followed his Beloved everywhere, making from all things a ladder by which he could climb up and embrace Him who is utterly desirable. If you desire to know ? ask grace, not instruction; desire, not understanding; the groaning of prayer, not diligent reading; the Spouse, not the teacher; God, not man; darkness not clarity; not light, but fire that totally inflames and carries us into God by ecstatic unctions and burning affections."

"In everything, whether it is a thing sensed or a thing known, God Himself is hidden within."

"In things of beauty, he contemplated the One who is supremely beautiful, and, led by the footprints he found in creatures, he followed the Beloved everywhere."

"Love is sometimes formed by sight, sometimes by hearing, sometimes by touch, sometimes by fellowship. We love the person in whom we see the good, or from whom we hear the good, or in whom we have experienced the good, or with whom we have had good fellowship."

"Since the divine providence can create nothing in vain, it is indispensable that, through the power of that same providence, the same individual body be remade ? immortal, complete in all its parts, fully true to nature."

"Some people believe that usury is evil because it is prohibited, but clearly it is prohibited because it is evil. In a monetary loan, that which is mine becomes yours. But if you acquire something from that loan by your industry, and I claim anything of that, then I sell time, which is public and cannot be sold lawfully."

"The absolute is a sphere whose center is nowhere and whose circumference is everywhere."

"The Bridegroom gladly enters the chamber of our heart, it he sees it decked with flowers, in other words, the exercise of good works ... Let us obtain the beauty of clarity by flowering in wisdom, the purity of subtlety by flowering in temperance, the lightness of agility by flowering in justice, the soundness and sweetness of impassibility by flowering in patience."

"The soul cannot be fully blessed without the body, because she has a naturally implanted inclination to be reunited with the body."

"There all the faculties of sense will be exercised: the eye will see the most marvelous beauty, the sense of taste will savor the sweetest taste, the sense of smell will smell the most lovely fragrance, the sense of touch will lay hold of the most precious object, the hearing will be refreshed by the most joyful sounds."

"Your heart is to be an altar of God. It is here that the fire of intense love must burn always."