Mysticism of the historical event: An approach through Bonaventure's Christ mysticism

Ilia Delio, Fordham University

Abstract

Mysticism of the historical event is defined as a participative-type of mysticism whereby imitation of and conformity to Christ in his humanity draw one into union with God. The originality of mysticism of the historical event is examined with respect to contemplation in monasticism and in light of Bonaventure's Christ mysticism. Monastic contemplation is identified as eastern in nature characterized by a Neoplatonic ascent in which, at the height of contemplation, the humanity of Christ is transcended. Conversely, the mysticism of the historical event, examined in the writings of Francis of Assisi, is identified as conformity to Christ in his humanity and mystical union with the Crucified. The model of union held up by Bonaventure is the stigmatized Francis. The Stigmata play a central role in the thought of the Seraphic Doctor who develops the mysticism of the historical event into a Christocentric, Christiformic ascent to God. The basis of mysticism of the historical event is the Word and he describes the person of Jesus Christ as the mystery of the Word, uncreated and incarnate. His devotional writings are designed to draw readers into the mystery of the Word and thus into union with God by drawing them into the historical life of Christ. For Bonaventure, the contemplation of God involves both body and soul, the harmony of which leads to mystical peace which is the goal of union. The highest level of mysticism of the historical event is ecstasy which is union with the Crucified. Rather than drawing one out of the world, ecstatic union leads one into the heart of the world whereby cruciform love, made possible by the power of the Spirit, is visibly expressed as the desire for martyrdom. The eschatological age of peace and the consummation of creation are contingent on union with the Crucified. The mysticism of the historical event, illumined through Bonaventure's theology, is described as a new type of mysticism that both characterizes his doctrine of contemplation and underscores a paradigm shift from contemplation as a Neoplatonic world view to contemplation as a Christocentric world view. ^

Subject Area

Theology

Recommended Citation

Ilia Delio, "Mysticism of the historical event: An approach through Bonaventure's Christ mysticism" (January 1, 1996). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI9613851.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9613851

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