November 27, 2009

Six Stages in the Threefold Way

Today for the feast of Francis Fasani, the Franciscan breviary offers a reading from Bonaventure's De Triplici Via on the stages of the spiritual life. Since everybody loves such a schema and we all like to diagnose ourselves, I thought I would reproduce it. Some of the English looks a little sketchy to me, so next time I go to the library I'll try to find the passage in the Opera omnia and see if it can't be improved.

Six stages toward perfection through love:

1. Agreeableness. Meditations on the love of God produce sweetness in the heart, and the soul first learns how good God is.

2. Avidity. The soul, having some experience of this sweetness, is overcome with a desire for complete possession of the Beloved.

3. Satiety. No satisfaction or rest is found in anything else.

4. Ebreity. The soul loves God so much that anguish and sufferings for His sake are more delightful than spiritual consolation. Indeed, consolation--because it is a delight that is not God Himself--is loathed.

5. Security. Because it does not matter to the soul whether it is consoled or suffers, all fear is expelled. Nothing can separate the soul from God.

6. Tranquillity. The soul arrives at peace, rest, and silence.

So, as usual, diagnose yourself and the holiest person you know. For me, 2 (on a good day) and 4.


Bless said...

Father C...I am #1 in so many ways, His Will shall be done.I believed that He guides me and my family. I know this sounds too positive but I am #5 too.

Qualis Rex said...

Hmmm. I think I'd be extremely blessed to have any 2 from that list. But like the previous poster, I think I can only rack up #5 from that list. However, this may be due to an ingrained fatalism in me. There's almost a subconscious "...God's will be done" said under my breath when anything (good or bad) happens. So, I guess the security comes in knowing the consequence of my soul being so "attached" to God.

A Reader said...

Father, this is a very good and demanding outline of stages. It takes a lot of prayer and patience to even reach the first level if we separate "sweetness in the heart" from ordinary human emotions and sentiments. I think learning and recognizing the goodness of God (which is in the first stage) necessarily includes some detachment from the things of the world.

As for myself, on better days, I think I am perhaps a 2, but it's hard to place myself solidly in that category because my behavior does not often live up to it. Though I do at times feel almost literally on fire with the yearning to be possessed by God, my behavior rarely reflects such a commitment to Him. Some days I feel I am hardly secure in the first level. I admit I have had a few blissful moments in which I have delighted in sufferings and humiliations more than pleasures for the sake of God, but these times have been few and far between.

It's hard to guess the levels of others (and ourselves, for that matter). I think the holiest person I know would perhaps be a 3, but I could be very wrong.

I wonder how these various schemas would compare to one another side by side. Anyway, I have written too much already. Sorry!

for narnia said...

hi Fr. C! thanks for sharing this post. i find that the more we detach ourselves, the easier it is to reach each of the stages. PEACE! ~tara t~

Hidden One said...

0 or 1, occasionally a 2, maybe.

The two holiest people I know... the married woman's a 2 or approaching a 3, and the seminarian I can't place because of his reserve.

Actually, I suppose I've met a priest - and saw him concelebrate Mass - who is probably a 3 or a 4. Two other holy priests whose Masses I have seen but who I do not know well I cannot place.

Sandra said...

Thanks for the Six Stages. Is it possible to find an English translation of De Triplici Via? I am Formation Director of St John Capistrano SFO. We have studied The Five Feasts of the Child Jesus and would like to experience more than the little excerpt from the breviary. Your comments have been most helpful. Merry Christmas and Pax et bonum.

Brother Charles said...

Dear Sandra,

Pax et bonum to you too!

Keep an eye out for a volume of St. Bonaventure called Mystical Opuscula, Franciscan Press, 1960. There are a lot of them floating around.