Franciscan spiritual writer; b. Ghent, East Flanders, 1627; d. there, October 3, 1706. Maes entered the Recollect province of St. Joseph in 1647. From 1653 to 1665 he was lector of philosophy and theology; he then became guardian at Iperen (c. 1665–77); provincial of the Flemish province (1677–90), commissary general of the provinces of Belgium, Germany, France, and Ireland (1690–96), and then definitor general.
His writings include eight works on the spiritual life (1668–80), two on the practice of Franciscan poverty (1675), and a Vocabularium psalterii (1705). One of his principal ascetical treatises is Mystieke Theologie ofte verborghen Godtsgheleertheyt (Ghent 1668), which had at least 20 editions—nine in Flemish (the last ed. H. Mahieu, 1921); six in Latin (1st ed. Ghent 1669); three in French (Cologne 1677; Ghent 1687; Paris 1927); one in German (Innsbruck 1704); and one in English [Mystical Theology or Spiritual Life, tr. B. Whelan (New York 1928)]. This work excels in succinctness of style as well as in simplicity and clarity of thought. It does not treat of mystical theology in the strict sense, but contains maxims and practical rules to bring Christians by ordinary ways to contemplation and moral perfection. Its three parts consider the notion of mystical theology, the active life with its three exercises, and the contemplative life with its preparation, its three exercises, and its five effects. It treats also of the trials, austerities, and perils of contemplatives. In conformity with Franciscan spirituality, the humanity of Christ and especially the Passion occupy a central place, with emphasis on the affective element. Its principal sources are the Franciscans henry of herp and Alfonso of Madrid.
Another of his ascetical treatises is Consolatorium piorum (Ghent 1672), which asserts that every Christian, and especially every religious, is obliged under mortal sin to be perfect. However, Maes distinguished two degrees of perfection: the observance of the Commandments, and a perfection that consists in the continual progress in moral perfection. He taught that every Christian is obliged only to the first degree.
The importance of Maes does not lie in the originality or depth of his thought, but rather in the didactic qualities of his writings and in their charitable and even cheerful spirit.
Bibliography: s. dirks, Histoire littéraire et bibliographique des Fréres Mineurs (Antwerp 1885) 337–344. p. naessen, Fran-ciscaansch Vlaanderen (Mechelen 1895) 275–278. j. b. poukens, "De Mystieke Theologie van P. Bon. Maes," Ons geestelijk erf 2 (1928) 413–419. h. brink, Theologisch Woordenboek, v.2 (Roermond 1957) 3053.