Archive for May, 2016

As a Franciscan, I marvel at the depth of the intellectual tradition that is as much a part of Franciscan history as is the way of the heart.

Much springs to mind when we think of Francis that revolves around his way of doing: hospitality, living and caring for those cast aside by society, simplicity and love.

All of these acts of compassionate living are certainly central. Yet, there is also a way of Being that emerged in the thinking of influential Franciscan Friars in the high Middle Ages who worked at the intersection of reason and faith. Notable for the impact he had that continues in our theological reflections to this day is the Blessed John Duns Scotus.

Reacting to Aquinas’ and Abelard’s dedicated use of logical and dialectical reasoning, Scotus sought to find the sweet spot between a reliance on rational thought and blind faith ( or faith without understanding).

His work was focused on avoiding the trap of making our reason greater than God’s. He argued that, far from being trapped inside His own creation, forced by having breathed the universe into being, to being bound by it, that Divine Will was without such boundary. Said differently, Scotus argued that God was not an artist whose freedom was constrained by all he created.

This is, like so much of Scotus, a subtle threading; hence, the Church confered on him the designation “Subtle Doctor” of the Church. How does this inform our living as Franciscans?

We catch a glimpse of God in all the wonders of creation yet we remain vigilant for the eternal now and the fresh ongoing creation that is happening in and around us. God’s presence is not an historical one though we spend a great deal of time looking back.

He is arising just now. Right there in the moment of fresh rain, in the sudden breeze, in the warm embrace, in the next breath, in the fires of new worlds being formed around distant stars and in the moment of awe when we recover our sense of creatureliness.

We feel the tension between a God of the Book and of the moment. Life is at its richest, most illuminating and truly grand, when history and the moment collide. This is a beautiful and creative tension that leaves us ever watchful for the Presence and the Revelation.

© The Harried Mystic, Br. Anton, TSSF. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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