donderdag 8 juli 2010

Doctor subtilis

De laatste woensdagcatechese voordat hij zich een paar weken terugtrekt voor vakantie op Castelcandolfo hield de paus over de middeleeuwse francescaanse theoloog de zalige Johannes Duns Scotus (1266-1308). Enkele alinea's uit Zenits vertaling:
Duns Scotus left Paris when a serious conflict broke out between King Philip IV the Fair and Pope Boniface VIII, preferring voluntary exile rather than signing a document hostile to the Supreme Pontiff, as the king had imposed on all religious. Thus - out of love for the See of Peter - he left the country together with his Franciscan Brothers.
Dear brothers and sisters, this fact invites us to recall how many times in the history of the Church believers have met with hostility and even with persecutions because of their fidelity and their devotion to Christ, to the Church and to the Pope. We all look with admiration to these Christians, who teach us to guard faith in Christ and communion with the Successor of Peter, and thus with the universal Church, as a precious good.
Because of his fame for holiness, devotion to him soon spread in the Franciscan Order and Venerable Pope John Paul II wished to confirm him solemnly blessed on March 20, 1993, describing him as "singer of the Incarnate Word and defender of the Immaculate Conception." Synthesized in this expression is the great contribution Duns Scotus made to the history of theology.
I would like to highlight something, which it seems to me is important. Valuable theologians, such as Duns Scotus with the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, enriched with their specific thought what the People of God already believed spontaneously about the Blessed Virgin, manifested in acts of piety, in the expressions of art and, in general, in Christian living. Thus faith in the Immaculate Conception or in the bodily assumption of the Virgin was already present in the People of God, while theology had not yet found the key to interpret it in the totality of the doctrine of the faith. Thus the People of God precede theologians and all this thanks to that supernatural sensus fidei, namely, that capacity infused by the Holy Spirit, which qualifies us to embrace the reality of the faith, with humility of heart and mind.
In this sense, the People of God is "magisterium that precedes," and that later must be deepened and intellectually accepted by theology. May theologians always be able to listen to this source of faith and have the humility and simplicity of little ones! I made this reminder a few months ago saying: "There have been great scholars, great experts, great theologians, teachers of faith who have taught us many things. They have gone into the details of Sacred Scripture, ... but have been unable to see the mystery itself, its central nucleus. ... The essential has remained hidden! On the other hand, in our time there have also been 'little ones' who have understood this mystery. Let us think of St. Bernadette Soubirous; of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, with her new interpretation of the Bible that is 'non-scientific' but goes to the heart of Sacred Scripture" (Homily. Holy Mass with the Members of the International Theological Commission, Dec. 1, 2009).
Finally, Duns Scotus developed a point to which modernity is very sensitive. It is the topic of liberty and its relation with the will and with the intellect. Our author stresses liberty as a fundamental quality of the will, initiating an approach of a voluntaristic tendency, which developed in contrast with the so-called Augustinian and Thomistic intellectualism. For St. Thomas Aquinas, who follows St. Augustine, liberty cannot be considered an innate quality of the will, but the fruit of the collaboration of the will and of the intellect.
An idea of innate and absolute liberty placed in the will and preceding the intellect, whether in God or in man, risks, in fact, leading to the idea of a God who would not even be linked to the truth and to the good. The desire to save the absolute transcendence and diversity of God with an affirmation about his will that is so radical and impenetrable fails to take into account that the God who revealed himself in Christ is the God "logos," who acted and acts full of love toward us.

Certainly, as Duns Scotus affirms, in line with Franciscan theology, love surpasses knowledge and is increasingly capable of perceiving thought, but it is always the love of the God "Logos" (cf. Benedict XVI, Address at Regensburg). Also in man the idea of absolute liberty, placed in the will, forgetting the nexus with truth, ignores that liberty itself must be freed of the limits imposed on it by sin.
Speaking to Roman seminarians last year, I reminded that "[s]ince the beginning and throughout all time but especially in the modern age freedom has been the great dream of humanity" (Address to the Pontifical Major Roman Seminary, Feb. 20, 2009). However, modern history itself, in addition to our daily experience, teaches us that liberty is authentic, and helps the construction of a truly human civilization only when it is reconciled with truth. If it is detached from truth, liberty becomes, tragically, a principle of destruction of the interior harmony of the human person, source of malversation of the strongest and the violent, and cause of suffering and mourning. Liberty, as all the faculties with which man is gifted, grows and is perfected, affirms Duns Scotus, when man opens himself to God, valuing that disposition of listening to his voice, which he calls potentia oboedientialis: When we listen to divine Revelation, to the Word of God, to accept it, then we have been reached by a message that fills our life with light and hope and we are truly free.

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