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117 Spirit and Life, 8 Bonaventure’s Trinitarian Theology as a Feminist Resource Maria Calisi, PhD Introduction My work in Franciscan theology deals primarily with using Bonaventure as a resource for feminist Trinitarian theology. I am immeasurably and profoundly indebted to the scholarly work of the late Professor Catherine Mowry LaCugna for giving me a direction in which to take Bonaventurian theology. Two of her works have been particularly helpful: her book, God For Us: The Trinity and Christian Life and her chapter on the Trinity in a work she edited, entitled Freeing Theology: The Essentials of Theology in Feminist Perspective.1 I have come to share her concern that the doctrine of the Trinity has become divorced from Catholic life and practice. I also share LaCugna’s position that [t]he doctrine of the Trinity is ultimately a practical doctrine with radical consequences for Christian life. . . . The doctrine of the Trinity is ultimately therefore a teaching not about the abstract nature of God, nor about God in isolation from everything other than God, but a teaching about God’s life with us and our life with each other. Trinitarian theology could be described as a theology of relationship par excellence, which explores the mysteries of love, relationship, personhood, and communion within the framework of God’s self-revelation in the person of Christ and the activity of the Spirit.”2 LaCugna’s works resonate with Bonaventure’s works, and we have in Bonaventure a Trinitarian model which is well-suited to her goal of restoring the doctrine of the Trinity as the central doctrine of salvation, as “the proper source for reflection on theological 1 Catherine Mowry LaCugna, God For Us: The Trinity and Christian Life (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991), 1. Catherine Mowry LaCugna, “God in Communion With Us: The Trinity,” in Freeing Theology: The Essentials of Theology in Feminist Perspective, ed. Catherine Mowry LaCugna (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1993), 83-114. 2 God For Us, 1. 118 / Maria Calisi ethics, spirituality, ecclesiology, and the liturgical and communitarian life of the Church.”3 The Next Generation: the Potential of Franciscan Studies to Address Modern Theological Questions The next generation in Franciscan studies, that is the future of Franciscan studies, lies, in part, in its ability to address important theological and social issues from a solid foundation in the Christian tradition. Theological inquiry should maintain a tension between “continuity and development” in the tradition. This tension is necessary to preserve the integrity of revealed truth while addressing genuinely new and profoundly essential questions about power and justice, about women’s roles, and even about the nature of women’s humanity. The Franciscan tradition is well suited to maintaining this balance of “continuity and development” in doing theology. In particular, the Franciscan tradition, as interpreted and synthesized by Bonaventure, has much to contribute to the dialogue that women have begun. Before arriving at the main thesis of this paper, I present three examples in order to demonstrate the various ways that this untapped tradition can be mined as a theological resource. The first example is Bonaventure’s doctrine that the soul is a Trinitarian image. His theological anthropology, that is, his view of human nature, is wholesome, uplifting, and positive. It speaks of human dignity, in that the human soul is created as an image of the Trinity and every person reflects the triune God—Father, Son, and Spirit—in the human faculties of memory, intellect, and free will. Because we all bear the divine image within our souls, we have a natural, innate openness to God and a supernatural end or purpose. Bonaventure says we even have a innate knowledge of God. His doctrine of the soul as a Trinitarian image offers us a deeply rooted tradition from which to construct a theological anthropology based on human dignity and on a single, common human nature shared by men and women. 3 God For Us, 1. Bonaventure’s Trinitarian Theology as a Feminist Resource / 119 A second example of a point of departure for theological anthropology is derived from Franciscan spirituality, i.e., the devotion to the humanity of Christ. Feminist Christians have legitimately posed the question, “Can a male savior save women?”4 The doctrine of the Incarnation is concerned with the union of Christ’s divinity and humanity, not with his maleness. From the very beginning, the Christian community defended Christ’s full humanity as a matter of salvation, for it was governed by the axiom that “What is not...


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