April 8, 2010

Eschatology, Not Idealism

"The unsophisticated and unrealistic way in which Francis tried to make the Sermon on the Mount the rule of his 'new People' is not understood properly if we designate it as 'idealism'...it is understandable only as...eschatological confidence..."

(Joseph Ratzinger, The Theology of History in St. Bonaventure, trans. Zachary Hayes, 40)

Wow. This Franciscan thing ain't idealism but eschatology. Is he right?

I can already tell that this book is going to change my life.


Warren said...

I would have said it's both.

The gospel is foolishness to Greeks, and a stumbling block to Jews.

And some of us are Jews some of the time, and Greeks at other times.

Francis' only truly wild and crazy idea is this: Let's live the Gospel. Let's have that as our rule. If it wasn't in the Gospel, it wasn't on his radar screen.

So, yes. Eschatology. God delivered that Gospel once, to the Apostles, and I believe it, and like Francis, I keep close to the Barque of Peter. Causa finita est.


Qualis Rex said...

Warren - I think I agree with some of what you say, but I don't see the gospel as a "stumbling block" to Jews. I see it as the fulfillment of God's interaction with humanity. Meaning, before this, the interaction consisted of the Jews' understanding of God as "Do what I have said, or 'X' will be your punishment". Whereas Christ says, "Do what I said, and what I am doing. If you have any questions, here's a reference guide." And of course, the reaction from the "Greeks" of our day is "whatever" and from the Jews "Feh!"

Father Charles - I'll say it again: we are so blessed to have a theologian and scholar as Pope. A rarity and a priviledge. May God bless him and grant him 100 years!

Mark in Spokane said...

Francis work, if I may so say, cannot be understood apart from a radical attempt to live according to the Gospels. As my former teacher Bill Short, OFM, put it, the revolutionary aspect of Francis' approach to religious life was to pattern the early Franciscan movement on the lifestyle of the Gospels, rather than on Acts. And that revolutionary pattern was inspired by the sense of God's in-breaking Spirit, transforming the world and preparing it for a "new thing." In that way, Francis' vision is profoundly eschatological.

ben in denver said...

I wasn't aware that book was available in English.

I will have to look for it.

Brother Charles said...


Sometime we have to tell Bill Short stories. We had him at St. Bonaventure in the summer of '95.

Mark in Spokane said...

He was one of my teachers at FST in 1992-93 at the Berkeley GTU. I have quite a few stories about him -- a great professor and somebody who really lived out the life of a Franciscan friar -- NOT, as he emphasized, a priest, but a friar.

Brother Charles said...

Three things about him stick in my mind:

1. I think I wrote a paper for him on worms in the Lives of Thomas of Celano.

2. He used to come over to where they kept us novices, because we had ice cream sometimes.

3. We used to call him Krusty the Clown, due to faint resemblance in hair style and affect.

Overall, he was a very good influence on me in the early days of my Franciscan life.

Anonymous said...

This sounds vaguely like (Orthodox) Fr. Freeman's One Storey Universe. http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/christianity-in-a-one-storey-universe/

Or, as put by the great theologian Homer Simpson, "If everyone were like Ned Flanders, there'd be no need for heaven, because we'd already be there."

Mark in Spokane said...

Bro. Short had me write a paper on how doves were viewed in the Bible and the early Greek fathers. Genesis -- the Gospels -- Polycarp -- Cyril of Alexandria.

He was renowned for his academic garb at the GTU. He would wear it to formal events, and comment about how his 4 pointed doctoral hat outranked that of a priest ("with only 3 points").

On St. Claire's feast day, he chanted a litany in Latin during the community Mass at FST -- it was one of the most powerful liturgical moments of my life. Vox angeli...

Sense of humor example: in class on Creation Spirituality, made a note that nature isn't all harmony and beauty and kindness: "when a bear is trying to eat you, it's hard to see God in that." That's a direct quote -- I wrote it down and it has become a motto for me as I go through life!

On the whole, probably my favorite professor when I was at FST.

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Warren said...

Hey Qualis,

I'm just quotin' that Paul guy. I could never have come up with something that brilliant, or that fractious, on my own.

I'm sure it was with heartbreak, and not with antisemitism that his heart brimmed, as he wrote that. He loved his brothers and sisters, as he was a devout Jew himself, and wished for them to be faithful to God's covenant, perhaps more faithful than it would be possible to be, without some help from the Holy Spirit.

I suspect that is what the "stumbling block" is: That intellectual pride gets in the way of listening to the Holy Spirit's prompting. That was Francis' charism. Listen to the Gospel. Open your heart, do penance, and Obey the Gospel. Continue to Follow it every day. And do not turn away once you have put your hand to the plow. And let us now begin to do good, for as yet, we have done very little...

But if we know everything already, and are already perfect, how can we listen to that prompting to begin to do good?