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"It Pleases Me That You Should Teach Sacred Theology": Franciscans Doing Theology

From: Franciscan Studies
Volume 55, 1998
pp. 1-25 | 10.1353/frc.1998.0037

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

"It Pleases Me That You Should Teach Sacred Theology":
Franciscans Doing Theology1
Michael W. Blastic O.F.M. Conv.
Michael W. Blastic O.F.M. Conv.
The Franciscan Institute


1. This paper was given at The National Franciscan Forum: Franciscans Doing Theology, June 10-15, 1997 in Colorado Spring, Co. and sponsored by The Franciscan Institute of St. Bonaventure University.

2. Published in the Proceedings: Our Franciscan Charism Today (New Jersey: FAME, 1987).

3. Joseph Chinnici, "The Prophetic Heart: The Evangelical Form of Religious Life in the United States," The Cord (November 1994): 297-298.

4. The questions which this letter has raised historically are not critical to our discussion, however, the manuscript tradition for the letter begins only in 1342, and the text is transmitted only among the collections which deal with Anthony, not Francis.

5. The Vita prima of Celano records the fact of Francis' appearance at Arles, during the chapter of the friars at the point where Anthony preached on the cross. The author of the Legenda assidua knew the text of Celano, so the Assidua's silence on this event is significant.

6. See among other articles of Zachary Hayes, "Christ, Word of God and Exemplar of Humanity," The Cord 46 (1996): 3-17.

7. This is a modified translation of that of Regis Armstrong in Francis and Clare: The Complete Works (New York: Paulist, 1982), 32, who translated despicere more literally as "despise."

8. Consult David Tracy, The Analogical Imagination: Christian Theology and the Culture of Pluralism (NY: Crossroad, 1981): 376-385.

9. At his death, Celano reports that Francis exhorted the brothers with these words: "'Let us begin, brothers, to serve the Lord God, for up to now we have made little or no progress.' He did not consider that he had laid hold of his goal as yet, and persevering untiringly in his purpose of attaining holy newness of life, he hoped always to make a beginning. He wished to go back again to serve the lepers, to be held in contempt, as he once had been" (1 Celano 103).

10. These developments in the twelfth century are chronicled and discussed in the essays contained in Renaissance and Renewal in the Twelfth Century, Robert L. Benson, Giles Constable, eds. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982).

11. See the classic essays by M. D. Chenu, "Monks, Canons and Laymen in Search of the Apostolic Life," and "The Evangelical Awakening," in Nature, Man and Society in the Twelfth Century, selected, edited, and translated by Jerome Taylor and Lester K. Little (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968): 202-269.

12. This text is referred to in a number of different ways and has been edited by numerous scholars. The most recent Latin edition of the sources gives it the title, Compilatio Assisiensis. Ed. Enrico Menestò & Stefano Brufani. Fontes Franciscani (Assisi: Edizioni Porziuncola, 1995): 1449ff. Even more complicated is the history of its interpretation, and the interpretation of its origins. I would hold that the text represents a primitive version of that body of material which was produced in response to Crescentius of Jesi's request for information about Francis from his companions in the Genoa chapter of 1244. Celano's Vita secunda used these texts as a source.

13. Assisi Compilation, 110; Brooke, 283.

14. Itinerarium V:2; Cousins 94-95.

15. Note Francis' use of Luke's version of the story of the rich young man (Lk 18.18ff.) in the Early Rule I:2,5.

16. Itinerarium VI:5; Cousins 107.

17. The Harmony of Goodness: Mutuality and Moral Living According to John Duns Scotus (Quincy, IL: Franciscan Press, 1996).

18. Kenan Osborne, ed., The History of Franciscan Theology (Franciscan Institute, 1994), 311-330.

19. See the article by J. Matthew Ashley, "The Turn to Spirituality? The Relationship between Theology and Spirituality," Christian Spirituality Bulletin 3:2 (1995): 13-18. A recent demonstration of a methodology which uses spirituality as a resource for theology can be found in Elizabeth A. Dreyer, "Spirituality as a Resource for Theology: The Holy Spirit in Augustine," Christian Theology Bulletin 4:2 (1996): 1-12, and the response by John C. Cavadini, "The Holy Spirit and Culture...