THE FLESH FLOWERS AGAIN: ST BONAVENTURE AND THE AESTHETICS OF THE
God is beauty, says Bonaventure, and with his beauty every creature is charged.  Many rivers of the tradition flow into this 'theological aesthetic'. Augustine, Denys, Anselm, Bernard, all merge in the flood, but one current is strongest, and that is the influence of the Poor Man of Assisi, who 'in beautiful things saw Beauty Himself and followed his Beloved everywhere'.  Like his master, Bonaventure does not want to miss a single gleam of the Bridegroom's glory. Whichever facet of revelation he contemplates, he finds loveliness. Every page of his writings is dense with aesthetic vocabulary — pulchritudo, species, speciositas, forma, formositas. Bonaventure is a man who has been overwhelmed by the shining richness of God's Word, uncreated and incarnate. In this Franciscan theology, investigation is inseparable from wonder, speculation from devotion, understanding from humility. 
It is no surprise that scholars should have recourse to comparisons with art when they try to describe the works of Bonaventure. They have a geometrical, almost architectural structure reminiscent of some glorious Gothic church. If, as Émile Mâle once said,  the cathedral is a hook, doctrine in stone, a hook by Bonaventure is a cathedral, an edifice of interconnected truth, with Christ on the altar as its living centre. Like the men who built Amiens, Chartres and Notre Dame, Bonaventure is not interested in decoration for its own sake. Every pattern in the building has dogmatic meaning. For example, when he arranges entities in threes, it is not because of some fad, but because of the fact that all things hear the trace, image or likeness of their Creator, the Blessed Trinity.  Beauty in this theology is not the delightfulness of the dream, but the splendour of the true, the glory of the real. It is the truth's power of attraction, calling forth wonder, gratitude, self-abandonment The marvellous connections which Bonaventure finds within and between the cosmos and salvation history, in the two 'books' of creation and Scripture, are not the work of his own fancy, hut reflect the brilliance of divine Wisdom, which orders all things well, does everything quite beautifully.
This essay is a study of what St Bonaventure has to say about the central ray in revelation's glory: the beauty of the risen body of Jesus, the glory to which he will configure our lowly bodies at the end of time (cf Phil. 3.21). This 'aesthetic of the Resurrection' has, I believe, three benefits. First, it sheds light on that without which there is no Christian faith: 'If there he no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen again. And if Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain' (1 Cor. IS. 13-14). By displaying the beautiful coherence of the Resurrection with the doctrines of Creation, Incarnation and the Church, Bonaventure confirms our faith, strengthens our assent to revealed truth. Secondly, Bonaventure's theology has the power not only to enlighten the intellect, but also to enkindle the affections. It arouses in us both gratitude and wonder, heartfelt gratitude to the incarnate Son of God, who loved us to the end (cf John 13. I), even into the ugliness of death, joyful wonder at his rising refulgent in the flesh . Bonaventure's Easter preaching fills the listener with the longing to see Christ in all his risen beauty, stirring us out of ourselves into joyful surrender to the Bridegroom-Lamb. Thirdly, Bonaventure offers the late twentieth-century theologian new possibilities tbr the defence and exposition of orthodox faith in the Easter mystery. He helps us see that the spiritualized interpretations of the Resurrection favoured in our own time by Liberal Protestants are not only fallacious, but brutal and ugly, for they consign the material order to the unending foulness of corruption, empty the sacraments of their meaning, and in every way deform the harmony of God's wise and loving plan for his creatures.
1. The Beauty of the Trinity
Bonaventure follows Augustine in finding beauty wherever there is diversity in unity, different things in order and equality. In the creative arts, the 'numerical equality' of musical harmony is perhaps the noblest and clearest example.  And so it is precisely as the Trinity of coequal and consubstantial Persons that God is beauty.  In the Trinity there is no before or after, no greater or less, no jarring inconsistency, no disproportion, no repulsive domination or slavery. But Trinitarian equality is not a lifeless mathematical equation. It is a vital drama of self-giving love, for each coequal Divine Person is who he is in relation to the others. The Three Selves are selfless. The beauty of God's being is communion. 
Among the three Divine Persons, it is God the Son to whom the essential attribute of divine beauty is appropriated in a special way, for he is the consubstantial Image, the perfect Expression, of the Father, and the model for creation's finite reflecting of the divine perfections.  Taking up a text from St Hilary, which Augustine commented on in his De Trinitate and Peter Lombard incorporated into the Sentences, Bonaventure discusses what it means to describe the Son as species, a word which, in classical Latin, can mean the act of looking, the thing looked at, and so, by extension, what the looked-at thing looks like, its loveliness. Now it is precisely as coequal Image of the Father that the Son is species or beauty. As Augustine says, beauty arises from 'this perfect harmony, this primal equality, this primal similarity, where there exists no difference, no disproportion, no dissimilarity, but which corresponds in everything to that of which it is the image'. Bonaventure develops the argument by saying that, in relation to the Father, whom he expresses as his image, the Son has the beauty of equality, whereas in relation to the world, he is the model for its created beauty, because, as the Father's true Word, he possesses the ideas (rationes) of all creatures. In Augustine's excellent words, which Bonaventure quotes with delight, he is the 'Art of the Almighty', the pattern of all possible beauty. 
The Son can also he called beauty because he is divine Wisdom, and, as Bonaventure knows from a tradition running from Augustine and Denys to Bernard and the Victorines, indeed from the sapiential literature of the Old Testament, Wisdom is a wonderful splendour: 'the form of wisdom is marvellous, and not without admiration and ecstasy'.  Wisdom is brilliance, 'the beauty of the heavens and the glory of the stars' (cf Ecclus. 43. 10), a light so clear and gay that it evokes delight. Where there is highest wisdom, there is highest beauty.  The divine pulchritudo and formositas are, so to speak, concentrated in the personal Wisdom of the Father. If the world is lovely, it is because it was made by the Father-Artist through his Art-Wisdom. The consubstantial Son is the wonderful idea that the Father has in making the world, and so he is in truth the beauty that beautifies the universe (pulchritudo pulchrificativa universorum). 
Man was made in the image of the God who is Trinitarian beauty, and so his soul, in the oneness of its essence and the threeness of its cowers, shows forth that beauty in the most wonderful way.  The divine image in man cannot he obliterated, but it can he obscured. Through the sin of Adam, the image, though not lost, has been tarnished. Inspired by Augustine, Bonaventure sees sin as deforming the soul, depriving it of rectitude and beauty.  Now the ugliness of sin was introduced into the world through the jealousy of the Devil, to whose temptation our first parents succumbed. Instead of being grateful for the beauty of his own created angelic nature, Satan envied the infinitely higher uncreated beauty of the Word,  and in so doing, he made himself unendingly grotesque, 'gross and swollen' in pride. 
'Sin came into the world through one man, and through sin death' (Rom. 5. 12). Bodily death in all its hideousness is not only the punishment for sin, it is also, in a certain sense, the terrible symbol of the deformity that is sin. Death is the final ugliness. The body's beauty is destroyed. It decomposes, rots, falls apart. In fact, when no longer informed by the spiritual soul, it is not really a body at all, but only a loose amalgam of dissipating elements. Here is the tragedy, the tearfulness of things, lamented by all the world's great art: the lovely beloved in the grip of the worms. The first great work of western literature, the Iliad, ends with Hector of the shining helmet reduced to ashes and whitened bones.  The Hebrew prophet, too, knows that the beauty of the flesh fades and is burnt up like the flowers of the field (Is. 40.61). But it is not only the repulsiveness of decomposing flesh that makes death ugly. The separation of immortal soul from mortal body is a marring of the beauty of the whole human nature, which God made to be a unity of matter and spirit.  It is a cruel and crude severance. 
Like St Thomas, Bonaventure held that the soul separated from the body is not a complete human being.  It is clear, therefore, that death, man's last enemy, since it lacerates his natural excellence, could not he the work of the Creator. With the whole tradition, Bonaventure is adamant that God did not make death (cf Wisd. I. 13). Its cause is the human will falling away from rectitude and justice. God endowed the first human beings with the gratuitous gift of bodily immortality, which by their sins they lost for themselves and for us, their children. Every man is a debitor mortis because of Original Sin.  And bodily death is not the only death. There is a death far more terrible, infinitely uglier: eternal death, the punishment for persisting irrevocably in the grossness of sin. 
God, infinite beauty, did not create the foulness of death, nor did he abandon man to its power. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, who is the beauty that beautifies the creation, is also the world's re-beautifier. Our Former is our Re-Former. In the womb of the Virgin Mary, God the Word assumes human nature in order to return it to loveliness, to reform it after its deforming through sin. 'As Christ the uncreated Word had formed all things in perfection, so Christ the incarnate Word must have reformed all things in the same perfection' .  He is beautiful as God, hut he is also beautiful as man, fairer than all the sons of men (cf Ps. 44. 3), for he comes to give every son of man new hirth, the loveliness of a new youth, the glory of a new and unfading Spring.
For Bonaventure, Christ's beautifying of fallen humankind is a nuptial mystery. The incarnate Word is the Bridegroom of human nature, of the Church, and of every individual soul.  He is all fair and without spot, and so must his Bride he. That beautifying, however, can only come about through the supreme act of his spousal love — his sacrificial death on Calvary. With the Fathers, Bonaventure teaches that the immaculate Church-Bride is formed, like Eve from Adam, from the side of Christ sleeping on the Cross.  And here we face a paradox. Divine beauty reveals itself in the Suffering Servant in whom there is no comeliness (Is.53.2). In order to refashion us, the Father's beautiful beloved Son assumes a passible and mortal human nature, goes deep, deeper than any mere man has gone or could go, into the disfigurement of suffering and death. In his love for us 'to the end' (cf John 13. 1), the spotless Lamb, the sinless Son, takes onto his shoulders the monstrous burden of our sins. The perfect Art of the Father becomes unsightly so that the deformed sons at Adam may he reformed. Following a whole procession of the Fathers, with Augustine at the head, Bonaventure invites the contemplator of the Passion to feel 'wonder at immense Power annihilated, Beauty disfigured, Happiness tormented'.  However, though, the scourge and thorns and nails rob the Lord's body of all comeliness, he never loses his inward spiritual beauty. This does not mean that he is spared spiritual suffering. On the contrary, the sin-hearing Lamb's mental anguish is such that nothing greater can he conceived. No, the indestructible spiritual beauty of Jesus is the undying charity in his Sacred Heart, the uprightness of his obedience to the Father, the excellence of his love for sinful mankind.
This idea of the voluntary deformity of God in the Incarnation, is, as Balthasar says, the decisively Franciscan element in Bonaventure's theological aesthetic. 'The act of descending into what is nothing in order to express himself is God's humility, his condescension ... his going outside his own riches to become poor.' God-made-man's amazing descent for us into the unlovely pit ot pain and death seizes the whole being ot Bonaventure, as it did St Francis before him. Their friarly mission in the Church is to return, and to help others to return, Christ's wonderful crucified love, to receive, and then to channel, the beautifying streams of the Spirit that flow from the wounded heart.
Who could not love the heart that hears such a wound? Who could fail to return the love of such a lover? Who would not embrace one so chaste? The Bride, wounded with this mutual love, assuredly loves the wounded heart when she cries out, "I am wounded with love" (Cant. 2. 5). She returns the love of the Bridegroom when she says: "Tell my Beloved that I am faint with love" (ibid. 5. 8). As for us who abide still in the flesh, let us return, as far as we call, the love ot our Lover. Let us embrace our wounded Lord, whose hands and feet and side and heart were pierced by the wicked vine-tenders; let us pray that he may deign to tie our hearts, so hard and impenitent, with love's bond, and wound them with love's lance. 
3. The Beauty of the Risen Body
The lower the black depths to which, in the body, he went down, the higher the bright peaks to which, in the body, he rises.  Bonaventure never forgets that the Risen One is the Crucified. The body in which the Son of God rises from the dead is identical, in nature and number, with the body fashioned by the Holy Spirit from the Virgin's flesh and blood, the body crucified and placed in the tomb. In the flesh he was born; in the flesh he suffered; in the flesh he lay in the tomb; and in the flesh, the very same flesh, he rose again in glory.  He preserves the marks of his wounds as trophy but also as proof that the resurrected body is the very body that was nailed and lanced. Everything pertaining to the integrity of the body — flesh, blood, hones, nerves, hair — are to he found in the risen body of Jesus. And yet it is a changed body, wonderfully transfigured, endowed with new properties, which onaventure, with the other Scholastics, lists as clarity, subtlety, agility and impassibility.  Now the chief of these is clarity, the risen body's brightness, radiance, splendour, its matchless beauty. This lustre, this loveliness, was first indicated by the Lord, before the Passion, in his Transfiguration:
The beauty of the resurrected body is a new luminosity, a light shining in and through the flesh.  Bonaventure sees that, though light belongs to the material order, it is matter at its most interiorized, its most spiritual; it is, in tact, a substantial form, the noblest of all. Degrees of being are degrees of participation in light, front the dazzling empyrean to the dull earth. Light is a form. Every form is a kind of light. Therefore, beauty, formositas, and light can be identified. 'As the rose in its beauty is among flowers, so the splendour of light is among colours.'
Thus the risen body shines so brightly because it is entirely subject to, perfectly expresses, the glorified soul which informs it. The happiness and glory of the soul overflow into every pore and fibre of the flesh. 
But if the risen body of Jesus is so glorious, how is it that on certain occasions during the great forty days he is not at first recognized when he appears? Mary Magdalene thinks he is the gardener (cf Jn 20. 15). The disciples on the way to Emmaus take him to he a fellow-traveller (cf Lk 24. 150. As Peter and his companions fish on the lake, they do not know that it is he who stands on the beach (cf Jn 21. 4). Bonaventure says that these mysterious encounters imply neither change in the glorious body nor deception on the part of the Lord. Instead, they reveal an immense courtesy in the risen Jesus. The light with which his body shines is of an unsurpassable beauty, and yet it does not force itself upon the eye. The disciples, on the Emmaus road, were not yet ready for Christ's open presence. They had to be led gently, step by step, to a recognition of him in the breaking of bread. And so Our Lord, as a wise and generous concession (dispensative), at first veiled their eyes. 
In an Easter Monday sermon Bonaventure compares the risen body of Jesus to a flower. Refloruit Caro mea (Ps. 27. 7), the risen Lord can say, 'my flesh has flowered again.' A flower is an appropriate image because its beauty indicates the property of brightness (claritas) in the flesh of Christ; the flower's purity symbolizes the subtlety of resurrected flesh; its lightness, the quality of agility; its sweetness, the gift of impassibility. Not content with generalized similes, Bonaventure goes on to specify four flowers to which the properties of Christ's reflowering flesh can he compared: the rose in brightness, the lily in subtlety, the almond in agility, and the palm in impassibility.  His words about the brightness or beauty of the reblooming rose are particularly alluring.
'Now Christ is risen from the dead, the first fruits of then, that sleep' (1 Cor 15. 20). He is both efficient and exemplary cause of our resurrection. In his divinity, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, he is its principal efficient cause, for God alone, of himself, has the power to raise Up the dead to everlasting life. In his humanity, he is instrumental efficient cause, for it will be through his human voice that the dead will rise. Similarly, in his divinity, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, he is exemplary cause in the sense of mental plan, and in his humanity, he is exemplary cause in the sense of the beginning and example of the resurrection of the dead. What the head is, the members are destined to be. When he comes again at the end of time, he will shape our lowly bodies into the likeness of his lovely hody. He is our crown of beauty.
The resurrection of the dead will bring about the indestructihle beautification of the human body, its reforming from all deformity, the scattering of its darkness, the removal of its every weakness and pain. The scars of the martyrs will be preserved, but as an adornment and badge of honour. 
The glorified flesh enjoys the beauty of a renewed and everlasting youth. The resurrection knows no old age.  Jesus rose from the dead at the age of thirty-three (or thirty, as Augustine says), at that age when a man normally enjoys the peak of fitness and vigour. Now in the general resurrection Christ will make the blessed share in his youthfulness, which is defined not by duration but by a certain disposition of the body.  Everyone — the baby robbed even of birth by abortion, the child who dies in his cradle, the man who dies in the decrepitude of old age — will be raised up with a body eternally and indestructibly conformed to the physical perfection enjoyed by Christ at the age in which he rose from the tomb.
The sculpture and painting of Bonaventure's age loved to bring this out. Émile Mâle gives an example: 'In one of the most beautiful thirteenth century carvings of the Last Judgement, at Bourges, the dead are naked, no drapery conceals the sex of the figures, and insofar as the artist was capable, he gave them the perfection of youth and beauty.' 
The divine Bridegroom's aim in assuming human nature, and in dying and rising again in it, is to draw the Church, his Bride, into his own beauty, first in soul by grace, then in body in glory. At the end, 'when the whole face of the earth has been renewed', the holy city, Jerusalem, will descend from heaven, adorned for her Husband, clad with the 'double stole' of glory in soul and body.  The Christian's joy on Easter Sunday has, therefore, a spousal quality, because the liturgy that day invites him 'to the nuptials of the risen Lamb and his Bride, Mother Church'. 
Bonaventure's theological aesthetic is also an ethic. If we want to shine like sun in the resurrection, the garments of our life must here on earth be bright with the virtues.  If our bodies are to flower again in incorruption, we must blossom into wholesome good works. We must be like the children of the Hebrews who greeted Christ with palms when he entered Jerusalem (cf Matt. 21.8).
These flowers are not, of course, the fruit of unaided human striving. It is God's grace, the grace that flows in the Church's sacraments from the pierced side of Christ,  which is the beginning, middle, and end of every good work.  Without grace, we have no hope of fruit or flower.
The Resurrection of Christ is beautiful not only in itself, because of the claritas of his risen body, but also because of its beautiful harmony with the other works of God. Bonaventure, like St Thomas, uses a number of synonyms to describe the interconnectedness of the truths of revelation: convenientia, consonantia, congruentia, proportio. These are terms with a strongly aesthetic meaning. The first two are synonyms of harmonia. The last two mean 'symmetry', 'good proportion'. When the two great Scholastics say that a certain truth is 'fitting' or 'becoming', they are not indulging in wishful thinking, but simply pointing to the splendid proportions of the house of divine Wisdom, the marvellous harmonies in the music of creation and recreation. Thus Bonaventure applies an aesthetic argument to confirm the connection between Christ's resurrection and that of all mankind at the end of the world. 'It would be monstrous if the head rose again without the members'. 
The concord to which he gives a great detail of attention is between the Resurrection of the Son of God and his Incarnation. The flesh that flowered again in the Easter garden is the very same that first flowered, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, in the womb of the Virgin Mary.
The resurrection of the dead is the perfection of human nature, the final fulfilment of creation. As Father Schönborn has recently said so well, 'beginning and end touch each other. Belief in God the Creator is the basis for faith in the resurrection.'  For this redemption, says St Paul, the whole material order is longing (Rom. 8.22f. It will he nature's completion, its final flourishing, not its discarding or replacement. The glorious body is impassibly beautiful, but the body by nature, simply as created by God, as bearing his trace, has an intrinsic beauty. According to Bonaventure, matter has an 'appetite' or inclination towards form, and so it is not a 'pure privation', but, by its very nature, has light and loveliness within it.  The bodies of men are ordered towards the noblest form, the spiritual soul, and so to the soul all the inclinations of sensual and bodily nature are directed, and there they come to rest.  The body, created by God for conjunction with the soul in the unity of nature, is exquisitely 'proportioned' to the soul.
We can now see why the resurrection is in a sense demanded by the very nature of man. '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 (salva tota veritate naturae).' And so St Bonaventure, like St Thomas, believes that there is an incompleteness about the happiness of the saints in heaven before the resurrection of the body.
In the Paradiso Dante gives unforgettable expression to this longing of the souls of the blessed for their bodies:
And I heard in the divinest light
Perhaps like that of the angel who spoke to Mary.
When our flesh, then glorified and holy,
Because there will he an accession of that light
In this way the vision mast grow clearer,
But, like charcoal which gives out a flame
So the radiance which surrounds us now
Nor will so much light weary us at all;
One and another chorus seemed to me
The final and complete redemption of man, the last and total beautification of the universe, is the resurrection of the dead, the adornment of 'the flesh which now lies buried in the earth' with the glory of Christ. The 'immortal diamond' will not only he beautiful in itself, it will also have an enhanced awareness of beauty. In the resurrection every one of man's five senses will be fulfilled, the joy in his soul overflowing into his body.
Since the resurrection is the fulfilment of human nature, and since by nature the human being is either male or female, sexual differentiation will not be abolished on the last day. No one will marry or be given in marriage (cf Mk 12. 25), for the procreative mission of 'filling the earth' (cf Gen. 1. 28) is at an end. Nonetheless, according to Bonaventure, men will be resurrected with male bodies, women with female bodies. St Augustine taught this, as did St Thomas, as does Pope John Paul II.  Human sexuality thus receives its final flowering in the resurrection.
This extraordinary affirmation of the human body and sexuality has important ethical implications. Gnostic contempt for the flesh, in the early centuries of the Church, invariably led to sexual permissiveness. If the body is loathsome and without lasting value, how it is treated is a matter of indifference. This mentality has re-emerged in our own times. Sex has become a mere function to be used at will, without respect for biology, in blatant disregard of nature and nature's Author. Sexual differentiation (or 'gender' in modern parlance) is seen as secondary, accidental, to humanness. Similarly, the fashionable theory that revelation does not teach specific moral norms concerning sexuality (or indeed anything else) implies that sexuality has no place in God's plan for human fulfilment. On this view, the teaching of the Word incarnate has no hearing on the flesh-and-blood particularities of human conduct. The Christian tradition's belief in the resurrection of the flesh, so clearly taught by St Augustine, St Thomas and St Bonaventure, gives the lie to this Neo-Gnosticism. The resurrection is the perfection of nature, the bestowing of eternal worth on matter, the body, the biological, and thus on human sexuality. It, at the general resurrection, our bodies in their masculinity and femininity are to redound to God's glory, then here and now we must present our bodies to him in spiritual worship (cf Rom. 12. 1) by the virtue of chastity, whether in marriage, widowhood or virginity.  Ot these three states of life, the last is the most perfect and beautiful, conforming the human person in a special way to Christ the Bridegroom, 'the source and origin of all beauty', and anticipating in a certain way mankind's eschatological beauty. 
7. Glorious Son, Glorious Mother
The risen Christ in his beauty is unique but not alone, incomparable but not unrelated. It was for us, his brethren and members, that he rose from the tomb. his glory is for sharing. Now no human person is closer to Jesus than Mary. There is no one more like the Son, in that beauty of soul which is holiness, than the Virgin Mother. She is lovelier than any creature because more than any other creature she is like the Sun of Eternal Light, 'the fount and origin of all beauty' .  By a plenitude of grace unique to her as Mother of God, Mary is 'all fair'. When she said Yes, through the angel, to God, 'by the operation of the Holy Spirit, she became the lovely tabernacle of the Word incarnate'.  And so it is right and fitting, it is beautifully appropriate, that, at the end of her earthly course, she should be taken up by her Son to share, in body and soul, in his risen beauty.
In the beauty of her soul on earth, and in the glory of both soul and body in heaven, Our Lady
is the model, the image and beginning, of the Church. What she is now, the Church, Christ's Bride and Body, is
meant to be and one day will he. 'The Church imitates the Blessed Virgin
Mary by generating spiritual offspring for God'  In fact, the Church takes her origin from the Virgin through faith: she who was the first to believe
is the first to be Church.  The absolutely
innocent Lamb of God must have a Bride who resembles him in fairness and purity, who is in all things lamb-like
(agninam) and innocent. The one who personifies the Church
as innocent and immaculate Bride of the Lamb is Mary, his Virgin Mother. 
Like St Bernard, whom he freely quotes on the subject, Bonaventure sees that the secret of Mary's beauty is her humility, which has a childlike quality.
For the Christian, there is no other way to the beauty of the resurrection than the little Marian way of humility.
Bonaventure's theological aesthetic of the Resurrection has much to teach the late twentieth-century Catholic. First, it gives the lie to the text-book generalization that the medieval West, at least after Anselm, had a stunted theology of redemption which stressed the satisfaction effected by Christ on the Cross to the neglect of his Resurrection, Ascension, and sending of the Holy Spirit. While this fault may be fairly attributed to certain lesser lights, it is most certainly not true of the two great thirteenth-century Scholastics, St Bonaventure and St Thomas. Man's redemption is only complete with his resurrection, and since Christ's Resurrection is the efficient cause of ours, it follows that it is the efficient cause of our redemption. In a magnificent passage in the Breviloquium, Bonaventure presents the whole Paschal Mystery from the Triduum to Pentecost as causing our redemption.
The great theologians of the Middle Ages, both monastic and Scholastic, had an overwhelming sense of the cost of our redemption, of that immensity of suffering endured in his human nature by the Son of God which is greater than any mere man has ever suffered, or could ever suffer.  But the more they marvelled at the uncomeliness of the Crucified, the more they celebrated the beauty of the Risen. The fifty days of Eastertide are not relegated to an appendix in their soteriology. On the contrary, Bonaventure and Thomas preserved something which later theology in the West has so often forgotten, namely, the Patristic sense of participating, through the liturgy, in all the mysteries of Christ's life, from his Virginal Conception to the Ascension.  Through the Eucharistic anamnesis these mysteries are made really and truly present, and into them the Christian is drawn, not as spectator, hut actor and co-operator. The art of Fra Angelico gives painted expression to this insight later in the fifteenth century. Whichever scene in the drama of salvation he is depicting, he places Dominicans in the wings, sometimes close to centre-stage. They are contemplating, in some sense living through, the mysteries of the Lord's life. 
Bonaventure's second great insight is that the resurrection is the beautification, not obliteration, of human nature, the perfection, not destruction, of creation. Glory, like grace, fulfils nature. Were there no bodily resurrection of Christ and his members, God would not be an artist, but a vandal, a wrecker of his own works. A God the Father who abandoned the body of his beloved Son to corruption (cf Acts 2. 27) would he a Moloch, a Nobodaddy, neither just nor loving. A God who did not raise the dead in the flesh would not be 'beauty ever ancient, ever new', but a monster ready to consign the material part of his creation to the loathsomeness of eternal decay. Man would have no hope for immortality, because a separated soul, though it truly subsists with consciousness and will, is not a man, but only an incomplete part of man. Without the resurrection, the corporeal cosmos would he a dust-bin, a graveyard, without hope of tranfiguration. The repulsiveness of corruption, not the loveliness of glory, would he the fate of the flesh. The worm would have the last word, death the last laugh, and we would still be in our sins.
But God has created nothing in vain. The resurrection of his Son's human body is in principle the glorification of the entire visible universe, the regeneration of the cosmos. The sacramental economy of the Church depends on this truth. Matter can be sanctified and sanctifying not only because, through creation, it is good and beautiful and integral to man's nature, but also because, through the Word's Incarnation and bodily Resurrection, it has been raised to an incomparable grandeur and promised an indestructiblc glory.
Christ rose up lovely out of the hideousness of death, in his body from the cold of the grave, in his soul from the darkness of Sheol. He proves to our fearful hearts that there is no ugliness beyond refashioning. Monstrous sin and death and Satan did their worst, but with 'immense nobility',  in the very flesh and blood in which Adam once was vanquished, Divine Beauty has conquered. The flesh, having flowered again, will never lose its bloom.
Not long after Bonaventure's death, his theology flowed into song, in one of the laude of Iacopone da Todi, Franciscan jongleur of God. With a childlike joy, he rehearses the whole Christological aesthetic. These are fine words for a conclusion.
Balthasar Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord. A Theological Aesthetics, Volume II Studies In Theological Style: Clerical Styles, (ET Edinburgh, 1984)
The works of St Bonaventure are cited, according to volume and column numbers, from the critical edition of the Franciscan Fathers of Quaracchi.
1. Balthasar, p. 260) Sec also K Peter, Die Lehre von der Schönheit nach Bonaventura (Werl, 1964), passim.
2. Deus est ipsa bonitas et pulchritude (I Sent d. 1. a 3, q. 2, concl.; 1, 41A) Qui fecit pulchra et pulchriora est ipsa pulchritude (I Sent. D. 3, dub. 1, I, 77B). Inspired, like Bonaventure, by Denys, St. Thomas asserts the same doctrine: Deus est pulcher in seipso (In Librum Beati Dionysii de Divinis Nominibus Commentaria 4, 5). And again: Pulchritudo enim creaturae nihil aliud quam similitude pulchritudinis in rebus participate (ibid.).
3. Legenda Maior 9; Sancti Bonaventurae Opera, Vol 7 (Rome, 1596), 310C
4. Itin., prol 4; V, 296A.
5. Émile Mâlee, Religion, Religious Art in France: The Thirteenth Century. A Study of Medieval Iconography and Its Sources, (ET Princeton. 1984). p. 395. According to Hanspeter Heinz, 'the image that suggests itself for the theology of the High Middle Ages, especially Bonaventure's, is architectural' (Hanspeter Heinz), Trinitarische Begegnungen bei Bonaventura. Fruchtbarkeit einer appropriativen Trinitâtstheologie (Münster, 1985), p. 59. The idea of Christ as 'centre' (medium) is one of the great themes of Bonaventure'S theology (see, for example, Hex. 1, 10; V, 330f).
6. Omnis creatura repraesentat Deum qui est Trinitas (Hex 13, 11; V, 389B). 'In hardly one of his works does Bonaventure fail to mention the Trinity shining forth in creatures. The really distinctive thing about the Seraphic Doctor is his exploration and description of creation in relation to the creative Trinity' (T. Szabó O. F.M., De SS Triniate in creaturis refulgente doctrina S Bonaventurae (Rome, 1955). p. 9 See Heinz (n. 5), p 91
7. Pulchritudo enim consistit in pluralitate et aequalitate, sicut dicit Augustinus ... (11 Sent. d. 9 praenot. ; 11, 238A).
8. I Sent. d 31, p 2, a 1, q 3, concl 5, 1, 544B. of St Augustine, De musica 6, 13, 38; PL 32. 1184.
9. II Sent. d 9, a. q. 8, concl.; II, 255B.
10. In God, as Bonaventure says so succinctly, persona est ad alium (I Sent d. 9, a. 1, q. 2, concl. 3; I, 183A)
II. Pater Verbo suo quad ab ipso procedit, dicit se et omnia, quia Pater Verbo suo, quod ab ipso procedit, se ipsum declarat ( I Sent d. 32, a. 1. q. 1, f. 5, I, 557A) 'The Word constitutes, as it were, both the copy of the Father and the model of the creature' (A. Stohr, Die Trinitätslehre des heiligen Bonaventura (Münster, 1923). P 141) According to Balthasar, the concept of expression is the key to Bonaventure's theological aesthetic (Balthasar, p. 335f.). See also A. Gerken, Theologie des Wortes. Das Verhältnis von Schöpfung und Inkarnation bei Banaventura (Düsseldorf, 1963), part 1.
12. St Augustine, De Trinitate 6. 10, 11; GCSL 50 241. Cf St Hilary, De Trinitate 2, 1; PI. 10 50 St Thomas follows this Patristic line by appropriating beauty to the Son (Summa Theologiae la 39, 8)
13. I Sent. d. 31, p. 2, a 1, q. 3; I, 544B.
11. The whole tradition from Augustine, Denys. Bernard and the Victorines understands the divine glory as the beauty of his Wisdom: forma sapientiae est mirabilis, est nullus eam aspicit sine admiratione et ecstasi (Hex. 2, 7; V, 337B) See Balthasar, p. 270
15. Ubicumque est summa sapientia, ibi est summa pulchritudo (II Sent. d. 30, a. 1 q. 1, f3; II, 714Af
16. De nat. BVM, S. 2, IX, 709A.
18. The soul, says Augustine, becomes deformis et decolor through sin (De Trinitate 14, 16, 22; CCSL 50A. 452).
19. Dom. 3 Adv. , S 2; IX, 60B.
20. Dom. 3 in Quad.. S 1, IX, 223A
21. The Iliad, Book 24
22. In man there is a concursus spiritualium et corporalium (In asc. Dom., S 1; IX, 316A). Man recapitulates the whole creation; he is a 'little world' (II Sent d. 29, a. 2, q. 2, concl.; II, 703B).
23. Dom 15 post Pentec. , S I, IX, 41IB
24. See Heinz (n 5); p. 186f.
25. III Sent. d. 18, dub. 5; III, 396
26. Christ sets us free from the horribilitas of eternal death (Dom 4 Adv, S., 9, IX, 83B).
27. Brev 4, 10; V, 251A One of the finest celebrations of the beauty of Christ can be found in St Augustine's commentary on Ps. 44. 3:
St Jerome, too, says.
28. In nat Dom , S. 26; IX, 125B.
29. Feria 5 in coena Dom. , 1. IX, 247B
30. Tripl via 3, 3, VIII, 13A For Some early interpretations of the uncomeliness of Christ in his Passion (cf Is 53. 2), see Clement of Alexandria, Ped 3, 1, 3 (PG 8 557f), and Tertullian, De carne Christi 9 (ed. E Evans (London, 1956), pp. 36ff. The classical exponent of the theme is St Augustine, who sees the Passion as a 'wonderful exchange' between our ugliness and Christ's beauty' 'Hanging on the Cross, he was disfigured, hut his disfigurement was our beauty' (S 28, 6, PL. 38. 181).
31. Vit. myst. 5, 7, VIII, 168-171.
32. Balthasar, p. 352f.
33. Vit. myst. 3, 6; VIII, 164-165
34. Feria 2 post Pascha, S.; IX, 281B Cf Dom. infra oct. Epiph., S. 1; IX, 172A, Lig vit. 9, 35; VIII, 8IB.
35... quanto caro eius fuit vilius in terram proiecta maiori gloria et honore est circumamicta (Dom. in Pabn., S. 1, IX, 244B).
36. Feria 2 post Pascha, S., IX, 282A Cf Dom. in Alb, S 1, 2; IX, 290B Father Cornelio Moya O.F.M. summarizes Bonaventure's Paschal realism as follows.
We should also note the teaching contained in the Profession of Faith of Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus, which was read out at the fourth session of the Second General Council of Lyons (6th July 1274) Bonaventure played a prominent, if not presidential role at this council. He died, to the great sorrow of all, only two days before it closed (see H. Wolter SJ & H. Holstein SJ, Lyon I et Lyon II (Paris, 1966), p 185f.). The relevant section of the Profession of Faith runs as follows:
37. IV Sent, d. 49, p 2, sect. 1, a 2, q. 1, concl; IV, 1015B.
38. In Lc, 9, 29, 51, VII, 233.
39. IV Sent, d. 49, p 2, sect. 2. a. q. 1, concl; IV, 1025B
40. Balthasar, p 312f The quotation is from Feria 2 post Pascha, S.; IX, 283A
41. Bonaventure says that beatitude is in the soul as in a first subject by inherence, but in the body by overflow because of the conjunction [of body and soul] (IV Sent d. 49, p. 1, a. 1, q. 3, concl; I, IV, 1005A)
42. In Lc, 24, 16, 21. VII, 592A
43. Feria 2 post Pascha, S.; IX, 283A.
45. IV Sent. d. 43, a. 1, q. 6, concl, IV, 894A.
46. Dom 2 Adv., S. 1; IX, 48A.
47. Brev. 7, 5, V, 287A.
48. Feria 2 post Pascha, S.; IX, 284A.
49. IV Sent d. 44, p. 1, dub. I, IV, 916Af.
50. Brev. 7, 5, V, 287A
51. See Mâle (n. 6), p 375 That great popularizer of Catholic doctrine, Honorius of Auton, in the early twelfth century, sums up the doctrine of the whole Middle Ages when he says: 'All the dead will rise with the same age and size as Christ when he rose, namely, thirty years old, the infant of one year no less than the man of ninety' (Spec. Eccl.; PL 172 1186).
52. Lig. vit. 3, 44; V, 289A.
53. In res. Dom., S. 1; IX, 272A.
54. Dom 2 in Quad. S. 3; IX, 220Af.
55. Feria 2 post Pascha, S.; IX, 284B
56. ... sacramentalis gratia precedit a Deo tanquam ab auctore et efficiente, sed a Christo tanquam a mediatore et promerente; propter quad dicuntur omnia sacramenta habere efficaciam a passione Christi. Unde secundum Augustinum, "de latere Christi dormientis in cruce fluxerunt sacramenta" , dum inde fluxit sanguis et acqua in medio plateaae eius, id estin medio Ecclesiae, quae est corpus mysticum, ut per eum vivificetur (Dom. 3 Adv., S 2; IX, 58A) The sacraments are for teaching. healing. and beautifying (IV Sent., d. 2. a 1, q. 2, concl.; IV, 5IA)
57. Dom. 9 post Pentec., 2. IX, 391B.
58. Dom. 24 post Pentec., S. 6, IX, 458B,
59. See Balthasar's section on St Thomas in The Glory of We Lord. A Theological Aesthetics, Volume IV: The Realm of Metaphysics in Antiquity (Edinburgh, 1989), especially pp. 407ff.
60. In res. Dom., S 1, IX. 274A
61. Dom de Pass., S. 1, IX, 239B.
62. Feria 2 post Pascha, S.; IX, 281B.
63. Christus natus de agro uteri virginalis, ut esset flos hominum et lilium angelorum, in sua nativate et per totam vitam apparuit in mundo et fuit sicut flos candidissimus puritate munditiae (In nat. Dom., S. 8; IX, 116A). This imagery is taken up by Iacopone in his poem on the Incarnation (see p. 27).
64. IV Sent. d. 12, p 1, dub. 2, IV, 287A The separated soul is not a man (III Sent. d. 5, a 2, q. 3, concl., III, 136f).
65. The Resurrection of the Lord was vera, non phantastica per duplicitatem (In res. Dom., S. 2; IX, 275B).
66. In Jo. 21, 19, 72; 622. Cf. In res. Dom., S. 2; IX, 276A.
67. C. Schönborn O.P., "Resurrection of the flesh" in the faith of the Church, Communio: International Catholic Review (1990), p.25.
68. Cf Hex 2, 2, V, 336axc , Balthasar,
70. Brev. 2, 10; V, 228A.
71. Brev. 7, 5; V 287A
72. Brev. 7, 7; V 289B 'Full peace is found only in the reuniting of body and soul — this is certain. For if the soul has an essential inclination towards the body, then she can never come fully to peace unless the body is restored to her' (Hex. 7, 5; V, 366A).
73. Canto XIV, 43 ... 63, Dante, The Divine Comedy A New Verse Translation by C. H. Sisson (Manchester, 1980) p 366f. Printed by kind permission of the Carcaret Press, Manchester
74. Solil. 4, 20, VIII, 63A.
75. St Augustine, De Civitate Dei 22 , 17; CCSL 48 835; St Thomas, Summa Theologiae, Suppl. 81, 3; Pope John Paul II, The Theology of Marriage and Celibacy. Catechesis on Marriage and Celibacy in the Light of the Resurrection of the Body (Boston, 1986) See also Giovanni Cavalcoli O.P.., ''La resurrezione della sessualità secondo S. Tommaso', Studi Tomistici 16 (Vatican, 1982), pp 207-219 The teaching of Augustine, Thomas and Bonavniture is in marked contrast to that of Origen.
Origen was prepared to look at sexuality in the human person as if it were a mere passing phase. It was a dispensable adjunct of the personality that played no role in defining the essence of the human spirit. Men and women could do without it even in this present existence. Human life, lived in a body endowed with sexual characteristics, was but the last dark hour of a long night that would vanish with the down (Peter Brown, The Body and Society. Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (London & Boston, 1988), p 168).
76. IV Sent d. 44, p. 1, dub 2. IV, 9I8A. In the human body God does not resurrect simply what is necessary, but also what contributes to integrity, decency, and beauty. Bonaventure applies this to the intestines, quoting Augustine (IV Sent. d 44, p 1, a 1, q. 2, concl.; IV, 909B).
77. On chastity in the three states, see Perf. ev. 3; V, 166-179. On the general question of the relevance of the resurrection to Christian morality, see Paul O'Callaghan, 'La formula "resurrección de la carne" y su significado para la moral cristiana', Scripta Theologica 21 (1989), 777-803.
78. Perf ev. q. 3, a. 3, concl.; V, 177a.
80. De ass. BVM, S 2, IX, 691B.
81. In sanctifying her in the womb of St Anne, the holy Spirit made Our Lady 'lovelier than the light of the material sun' (In nat Dom., S 26, IX. 125B) However, that sanctification, according to St Bonaventure, took the form of a 'cleansing from all sin', that is, from Original Sin already contracted, rather than, as later Franciscan theologians came to see, and as Pope Pius IX defined as a dogma of the faith in 1854, a preservation from ever contracting Original Sin.
82. In nat. Dom., S26. IX, 1158.
83. De ass. BVM, S. 1. IX, 688A
84. De ass. BVM, S I, IX, 688B.
85. De ass. BVM, S 5. IX, 699Af.
86. De ass. BVM, S. 2, IX, 690A.
87. De ass. BVM, S. 4; IX, 696B
88. Brev. 4, 10; V, 251.
89. Cf St Thomas, Summa Theologiae 3a, 46, 6.
90. On the need for modern Christology to recover a concern for the 'mysteries of the life of Jesus', see Leo Scheffczyk (ed.), Die Mysterien des Lebens Jesu und die christliche Existenz (Aschaffenburg, 1984).
91. See Anselm Hertz, Fra Angelico (Freiburg, Basle, Vienna, 1981).
92. In res. Dom., S. 1; 1X, 272A.
93. The Penguin Book of Italian Verse (Harmondsworth, 1958), p. 13f Translation by JS.
This version: 13th June 2008