January 29, 2010

Six Degrees of the Love of God

Back on the feast of St. Francis Fasani, I posted the six degrees of the love of God as it appeared in the passage from St. Bonaventure's De Triplici Via in the Office of Readings for that day. In the post I mentioned that I was a little suspicious of the translation in the Franciscan propers supplement to the breviary, and I mentioned that I would check it out on my next visit to the St. Joseph's Seminary library. (It's only three miles from where I live, and one of the real treasures of divine Providence in my current assignment.)

Today I finally made it. Having read the original, here is my new and improved version of Bonaventure's six degrees of the love of God. (de sex gradibus dilectionis Dei)

1. Sweetness. The soul has had a first taste of the sweetness of the Lord. (suavitas)

2. Eagerness. Having had this taste, the soul longs for more. (aviditas)

3. Satisfaction. The soul comes to know that only the love of God is the only thing that can fill and satisfy our longing. (saturitas)

4. Inebrietation. Now drunk with the love of God, the soul takes no pain or discouragement from trials and difficulties, but in fact seeks them for the love of God. (ebreitas)

5. Security. In this state, nothing is a threat to the soul, nothing can separate it from the love of God. (securitas)

6. Tranquility. Like those saved in Noah's Ark, the soul can rest and even sleep the sleep of contemplation, safe from everything. (tranquillitas)

Here's the text, from volume VII of Bonaventure's Opera Omnia. Friends Lewis and Short are seen above.


Mandrivnyk said...

Fascinating. Thanks for the updated translation, Father. I've loved St. Bonaventure since first encountering him in a course I took on Dante's philosophy; in some ways, I find him a little more accessible than St. John of the Cross, although that's probably a little weird of me. Regardless, I wish more Catholics were familiar than him.

That said, I admit to a little confusion regarding the list. I don't understand how #3 can be a degree of love as it is worded. Heavens, I know well that, as St. Teresa of Avila said "The one who has God lacks nothing... God alone suffices." That's not born out of love, though, so much as it's the natural result of bitter experience, and neither does it mean I'm not likely to try and find satisfaction elsewhere.

That's not anywhere near love.

Though, perhaps I'm understanding "degrees" poorly. Perhaps it's more like steps on a ladder than than a sort of NeoPlatonic degrees of perfection?



Brother Charles said...

Hanging around with Bonaventure, one realizes how in love he is with numbers, sevens and triads in particular. Sometimes these get a little strained, and I think this schema may be a good example. I wonder also if "fullness" might be a better word for saturitas.

ben in denver said...

Maybe "satiety"?

I'm still in the first degree, if that.

4narnia said...

thanks for sharing this, Fr. C! i have a question: do we go through these steps one at a time and in order? i feel that if we have a very deep faith and are truly rooted and grounded in our faith, then we can be experiencing all six degrees at the same time. can this happen? PEACE! ~tara t~

Brother Charles said...

I am sure that they compound and spiral around each other!

Ad Abolendam said...

Are you familiar with "Whitaker's Words", Father? I find it to be preferable to Lewis and Short, at least in the first go 'round. I tend to use L&W as a last resort.

Brother Charles said...

Wow! I have just downloaded it!

Ad Abolendam said...

Yeah, Whitaker changed my life.