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The Franciscan Heritage
Andrew Conradi ofs
St. Francis of Assisi Fraternity Bulletin


The Franciscan Intellectual Tradition (FIT) is part of the Roman Catholic Tradition together with the Augustinian and Dominican Traditions. Earlier the FIT was on equal terms with the others but from the 1870’s the Dominican Tradition of St Thomas Aquinas was promoted and then imposed by Popes and was taught to all seminarians after 1917.

Vatican II (1962-1965) opened up the possibility of a retrieval, rediscovery and rebirth of the FIT. The OFM English Speaking Conference conducted research, held conferences and published academic documents starting in 2001. It wanted to promote FIT to the laity in non-academic language and the Franciscan Institute of St Bonaventure University has published The Franciscan Heritage Series of eight booklets since 2003. Our fraternity has accepted the challenge of bringing the FIT to the fraternity as continuing formation based on the series.

This article will attempt to very briefly outline some of the main points in Volume One of the series: The Franciscan Intellectual Tradition: Tracing Its Origins and Identifying Its Central Components by Kenan Osborne, OFM (2003). It will be the topic for the October meeting and if anyone wishes to have the full PowerPoint presentation I can email it to them on request to andrewconradi@telus.net

Osborne’s volume includes: a Historical Review – 30 C.E. to 1300 C.E; The Philosophical World of Aristotle; The Gradual Development of the FIT; and Distinctive Features of the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition.

One thing that distinguishes FIT is its close link between theology and spirituality. “Spirituality is the way a person is attracted to the Lord and how he or she develops this attraction into a discipline of life.” (Campion Murray, OFM)  My definition of spirituality: The practice of living the faith, both internally and externally in church, family, society and the world. Thus Franciscan spirituality is living our faith in a Franciscan way.

There is not one theology, there are many and they have been developed over a long period of time. Whatever their differences they are all based on the three same holy sources: scripture, tradition and doctrine. “The three major intellectual traditions are philosophical and theological interpretations of the Western Catholic faith.” (Osborne,  4).

There were many Franciscan scholars who contributed to FIT. Osborne mentions 19 but the three pre-eminent ones are Alexander of Hales, St Bonaventure and Bl John Duns Scotus.

Key characteristics were: the Dialectical method (sic et non or pro & con); integration of Aristotle’s thought replacing Plato’s; and their work was based on Peter Lombard’s Book of Sentences (the basic theology text at the time).

In their work they integrated and adapted Aristotle’s thought to: Relationship of God to creation; Relationship of creation to incarnation; Relationship of creation, incarnation and final risen life in God; Relationship of God’s freedom to creation, incarnation and risen life (continuing creation); and Relationship of God and creation to reality of sin. The FIT emphasizes in a special way Aristotle’s category of relation (especially in the Trinity and Creation). A relational Triune God is consistently seen as the basis for God’s own nature, which is love and goodness.

One of the most important core elements of the spiritual vision of St. Francis was his astounding insight into the incarnation. An understanding of these two themes: the humility of the Incarnation and the Passion - helps us to grasp the deepest dimensions of Francis’ spiritual vision.

The love of the passion extends not only to the crucifixion of Jesus but also to the suffering of the crucified people at the margins of society. In theology, the terms “incarnation and redemption” are the usual centering points for all christologies. This relates to our focus on JPIC.

 “The Franciscan vision of “creation-incarnation-redemption-glory” as intrinsically inter-united is a vision that comes from the gospels themselves, from the early Church Fathers and from medieval theologians. It initially received a systematic in-depth treatment in the thirteenth century through the writings of the first Franciscan masters, Alexander of Hales, Bonaventure and John Duns Scotus.” (Osborne, 40)

The four ideas below, stemming from the spiritual vision of Francis of Assisi became part of a distinctive theological tradition, particularly under the influence of Bonaventure and Scotus:

  1. Love grounds the theology of Trinity, creation, incarnation and risen life.
  2. The humility of the incarnation and love of the passion begin to shape the Franciscan theology of Jesus.
  3. Creation contains the Word of God and Holy Scripture contain the Word of God, but they are not two Words of God. It is same Triune God who speaks in both.
  4. Spirituality and theology are put together, for theology without spirituality is empty, and spirituality without theology is a sham.

Some differences between the Dominican and Franciscan IT are found in Trinitarian theology, Christology and theologies of: Redemption; Sacraments; Creation; and Sin.

“Even more striking is the different way these traditions relate theology to spirituality.” (Osborne, 14) Scotus’ idea of individuation (haecceitas) which invests the human person “with a unique value as one singularly wanted and loved by God … haecceity is our personal gift from God.” [and to each other!] This aids in understanding Franciscan universal kinship with all creation.

If you want to order some of the books and learn more please let Ed the Treasurer know because we are
going to place a bulk order.

For titles, price and availability see http://www.franciscanpublications.com/?page_id=554  They are $12.00 plus shipping.

 

Franciscan Intellectual Tradition
Andrew Conradi O.F.S
PowerPoint Presentation

To download a PowerPoint copy of "Franciscan Heritage: The Intellectual Tradition, CLICK HERE.

Slides 1 to 24

Slides 25 to 48

Slides 49 to 62

Following is a review in note form Andrew Conradi's presentations related to the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition

 

Review of FIT presentation Session 1 (Oct 2012)

  1. Three main Catholic Traditions are Augustinian (St Augustine, 400 AD), Franciscan (St Francis of Assisi, St Bonaventure and Bl Duns Scotus, 1200’s AD) and Dominican (St Thomas Aquinas, 1200’s AD)
  2. All based on a. God: the One and Triune God (the Trinity) b. Jesus, The Word made flesh, the Incarnation (Christology)
  3. All based on Scripture, Tradition & the Magisterium (Gospel to life, non sola scriptura)
  4. Theology is a. Academic & b. Vernacular (Vernacular is relevant to us today. Why?)
  5. Spirituality: The practice of living the faith, both internally and externally in church, family, society and the world - Franciscan spirituality is living our faith in a Franciscan way
  6. No one single theology - all developed during a lengthy and continuing process
  7. The three major intellectual traditions are philosophical and theological interpretations of the Western Catholic faith.
  8. The Dominican Tradition was imposed for seminarians in 1907
  9. Vatican II lead to a re-opening of minds and retrieval, rediscovery and renaissance of FIT
  10. English Speaking Conference-OFM started the Commission for the Retrieval of the FIT in 2001
  11. Franciscan Heritage Series 2003-2012 has published eight titles
  12. As Secular Franciscans we should be interested and knowledgeable in our Franciscan Tradition

 

Session 2’s main points (Nov 2012)

The Franciscan Intellectual Tradition: Tracing its Origins and Identifying Its Central Components by Kenan Osborne, OFM, 2003

Questions

For small group discussion (or individual reflection at home):

  • What does spirituality mean to you and how does it relate to theology or doctrine?
  • What is Franciscan spirituality? What is vernacular theology?
  • What are the sources of Franciscan spirituality and what does our rule say about them?
  • Why is knowledge of FIT important? What is its relevance to us?

(When we have finished Session 2 we could ask these questions again and see if our views have changed)

  1. Periods in development of theology
    1. First: 30-70 C.E.  (Jewish)
    2. Second: 70-100 C.E. (Christian – New Testament written)
    3. Third: 100-325 C.E. (Council of Nicaea) Dual nature of Jesus
    4. Fourth: 325-681 C.E. Councils of the Early Church (Christology – after which no further solemn christological declarations)
    5. Fifth: 1000 - 1300 C.E.  Development of Scholastic Theology (Augustinian renewal & development of Franciscan and Dominican ITs)

Key components:

Dialectical method (sic et non or pro & con)

Based on Peter Lombard’s Book of Sentences (basic theology text at the time)

Aristotle replaced Plato

What is the relevance of this info so far? Interesting maybe, but not critical?

  1. Each IT, in very distinct ways, connected Aristotlelian thought to five theological issues:
    1. Relationship of God to creation
    2. Relationship of creation to incarnation
    3. Relationship of creation, incarnation and final risen life in God
    4. Relationship of God’s freedom to creation, incarnation and risen life (continuing creation)
    5. Relationship of God and creation to reality of sin

What is the relevance of 2 a-e above? Basic info? The foundation? Now we are coming to what is clearly relevant!

3. Francis’ key themes: humility of the incarnation and love of the passion

4. The incarnation is related to creation, to ongoing creation and to the future, which we call risen life. The love of the passion extends not only to the crucifixion of Jesus but also to the suffering of the crucified people at the margins of society. [Relevance? JPIC?] In theology, the terms “incarnation and redemption” are the usual centreing points for all christologies.

5. Franciscan vision of “creation-incarnation-redemption-glory” comes from the gospel, early Church Fathers and medieval theologians

6. Key aspects of a distinctive Franciscan spiritual vision under Bonaventure and Scotus:

a. Love grounds the theology of Trinity, creation, incarnation and risen life

b. The humility of the incarnation and love of the passion begin to shape the Franciscan theology of Jesus

c. Creation contains the Word of God and Holy Scripture contains the Word of God, but they are not two Words of God. It is same Triune God who speaks in both

d. Spirituality and theology are put together, for theology without spirituality is empty, and spirituality without theology is a sham. Relevance? Contuition? (look deep & see everything in relation to God)

7. Some differences between the Dominican and Franciscan IT are found in:

  • Trinitarian theology (Relevance? Very relevant see below 8)   
    • Christology
    • Theologies of: a. Redemption b. Sacraments c. Creation & d. Sin

8. “Even more striking is the different way these traditions relate theology to spirituality.” (Osborne)

All theologians used Aristotle’s four categories (substance, quantity, quality, relation) to explain various Catholic doctrines. The relevance to Franciscans is quite obvious!

  • It is in the interpretation of these Aristotelian categories that the FIT differs significantly from the Dominican
  • The FIT emphasizes in a special way the category of relation
  • God is understood as essentially a relationship
  • Bonaventure explains all of God’s attributes – omnipotence, omniscience, freedom, etc. – within a Trinitarian relational context
  • In Aquinas, God is understood in the context of the oneness or unity of God.”

9. “Creation can be called the beginning of the incarnation, since the two are inseparable. The incarnation is not theologically an afterthought of God, occasioned by human sin.” Relevance? …. Hope & live penance i.e. practice charity & work for JPIC?

10. Franciscan metaphysics: emanation, exemplarity, & consummation

a. Emanation: a. Intellect – Beloved Son b. Will – Spirit = freedom’s choice to Love. Relevance?..

b. Exemplarity: makes visible the ideas, thoughts, actions  [mind] of the Father

“if you see me, you see the Father” (Jn 14:9) “And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?   And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”  (Mt 25:39-40) Relevance? …. Obvious?

c. Consummation: A return to God. Relevance? …. Does what you believe affect how you act?

11. Scotus : Contingency: “All of creation is a gift. Nothing in creation is necessary. Everything, in this sense, is grace, an unmerited gift of God.”  Relevance? > Osborne: “It is precisely in this vision of creation as gift that we see the validity and need for an ecological theology.”

12. Scotus: haecceitas (thisness)

There is, however, a still deeper dimension of creation in the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition. In this also, Scotus is a leader. … It is individuation (haecceitas) which invests the human person “with a unique value as one singularly wanted and loved by God … haecceity is our personal gift from God.” [and to each other?] Relevance? > individuals > image of God > Body of Christ > communion > common good > solidarity > charity & justice > cry of the earth and cry of the poor are one?

 

Questions for Final discussion or individual reflection at home:

  • The link between Relationship in FIT: the Holy Trinity and how we live a Franciscan life
  • The Incarnation: why did Jesus become human? Would He have come if there had been no original sin?
  • What does Bonaventure mean about the Book of Nature?
    • How does “Thisness” relate to JPIC?
    • How does Scotus’ ideas about the Trinity and haecceitas (thisness) relate to community and individuality?