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Presentation on theme: "RESPONDING FROM THE TRADITION : FRANCISCAN UNIVERSITIES IN THE THIRD MILLENNIUM Neumann College August 2007."— Presentation transcript:


2 AT THE DAWN OF THE THIRD MILLENIUM... What resources do we have in our spiritual traditions? How can we be prophetic? How can we help change the structural base of injustice? What is the vocation of a Franciscan university today?

3 THE CENTRALITY OF BEAUTY -- Prof. Elaine Scarry – A transformative experience - Inspiring creativity and generativity - Lateral distribution: extending the experience - Concrete acts of justice

4 John Duns Scotus Franciscan Friar Duns, Scotland 1265-1308 Metaphysician The Subtle Doctor

5 ELEMENTS OF THE FRANCISCAN INTELLECTUAL TRADITION 1. Inclusive – all cultures, all peoples 2. Critical – of injustices 3. Prophetic – moving beyond 4. Practical – an everyday approach

6 THE FRANCISCAN PREOCCUPATION WITH BEAUTY St. Francis: Canticle of the Sun St. Clare: Letters to Agnes of Prague St. Bonaventure: The Minds Road to God

7 I. SACRAMENTAL VIEW OF MEANING A sacramental vision: reality as SIGN – An aesthetic model: the divine Artist – Value and dignity of what exists: a work of art – Rational, creative love – The moral agent is an artist – Optimistic, positive vision of the human person

8 AFFIRMATION OF HUMAN DIGNITY The reason for the Incarnation – Divine desire from all eternity – No happy fault argument – Not a response to human sinfulness, but affirmation of human dignity and value

9 IMPLICATIONS IMPLICATIONS The Centrality of Beauty – Love, rationality and freedom – The rationality of Beauty – The need for multiple perspectives and modes of understanding – Human desire and rational choice

10 QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION 1. How is education at Neumann aesthetic and sacramental? 2. How central is the daily experience of beauty and creativity for everyone, not just students? 3. What models for innovative coursework exist? 4. How do you reward educational risks, especially creative risks in pedagogy? 5. How do all these spiritual insights influence the everyday decisions made everywhere on this campus?

11 II. BEAUTY AND CREATIVITY Thisness (haecceity) – What is sacred and unrepeatable in each person – The mystery of each being – A personal gift

12 What I do is me, for this I came. G. M. Hopkins, As Kingfishers Catch Fire

13 Haecceity: OUR PERSONAL GIFT FROM GOD It would seem to invest each [human person] with a unique value as one singularly wanted and loved by God, quite apart from any trait that person shares with others or any contribution he or she might make to society. One can even say, haecceity is our personal gift from God. A.B. Wolter, Duns Scotus Early Oxford Lecture on Individuation, Introduction, xxii

14 The pearl of great price The pearl of great price Haecceitas (Thisness): The hidden treasure I have the immense joy of being a human being, a member of a race in which God became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. THERE IS NO WAY OF TELLING PEOPLE THAT THEY ARE ALL WALKING AROUND SHINING LIKE THE SUN. Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

15 THE DESIRE OF OUR HEART The rationality of love – The human HEART has two affections: for justice and for happiness – They are the foundation for the ability for self- restraint; self-control – Profoundly Augustinian insight – Integrates human affective desire into rationality

16 QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION 1. How might these foundational insights about human nature and dignity play a more central critical and prophetic role in student education here? 2. How might the Scotist affirmation of human goodness and uniqueness inform coursework in ethics, in education, in psychology, in business? 3. How do broader and more inclusive styles of teaching and learning enrich the curriculum? 4. How might the Franciscan commitment to all persons, including and most especially the vulnerable offer a critical and prophetic vantage point from which to analyze economic, social and political situations?

17 III. BEAUTY AND ACTS OF JUSTICE Moral implications: – Human dignity – The possibility of conversion – Restorative justice – Harmonic balance of self and others

18 GROWING IN JUSTICE Growing in fullness of life Mercy Compassion Right relationships Common good

19 OUR VOCATION We are his mothers when we carry him about in our heart and person by means of love and a clean and sincere conscience, and we give birth to him by means of our holy actions, which should shine as an example to others. St. Francis, Letter to the Faithful, 230j

20 QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION 1. How do students see and experience justice? 2. How does the Franciscan tradition inform projects and activities for justice? 3. How are such efforts (even when they fail) celebrated and rewarded? 4. How has your small student-faculty ratio enabled you to provide innovative and creative learning opportunities for the students?

21 THE INTELLECTUAL AS SPIRITUAL The intellectual journey is a spiritual journey To be human = imago Christi The rational order is an order of love

22 THE INTELLECTUAL AS SPIRITUAL The whole is grounded in a transcendent order that is rational and loving The whole is beautiful The human person is the summit of creation

23 A FRANCISCAN VISION 1. Sacramental view of meaning 2. Optimistic vision of the person 3. Optimism about the relationship between rationality and faith

24 A FRANCISCAN VISION Transforming the world into beauty The power of creativity An integrative and empowering educational experience


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