Contemplata aliis Tradere

A meagre contribution to the mission and work of the Order of Preachers: my reflections, thoughts, ideas and the occasional rant on matters mainly theological, philosophical and ecclesiastical, drawn primarily from my reading and experience of life and the world. Striving to be always Catholic, firmly Christian and essentially Dominican, flavoured with dashes of Von Balthasar.

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Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

A son of the English Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans); born in Malaysia but have lived in the USA, Singapore, the UK & the Philippines for varying durations. A pilgrim and way-farer, a searcher for Truth on the journey of Life... "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" - Hilaire Belloc

Friday, July 15, 2005

St Bonaventure and the art of Writing

Today, Holy Mother Church celebrates St Bonaventure (c1217-1274), one-time Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, a theologian, cardinal-bishop of Albano and contemporary of St Thomas Aquinas. In fact, he died in the same year as the Angelic Doctor and is himself known as the 'Seraphic Doctor' for his mystical contemplation and ardent love of God. He is regarded as a key exponent of Franciscan theology, Aquinas's counterpart in family of St Francis of Assisi.

A prolific writer, teacher and a worthy Doctor of the Church, it is interesting to note St Bonaventure's own understanding of the work and art of writing. He spoke of four variants: the writer as scribe (copyist), as compiler of anthologies, as commentator on older texts and finally as 'auctor'. However, this latter classification is not understood in the manner predominant today. For St Bonaventure, an author did not write a text that was purely original, he merely produced "his own work in principal place adding others for purposes of confirmation." In doing this, there is a great sense that he was a 'vir Ecclesiae', a man of the Church, standing on the shoulders of giants, as it were. In my opinion, this manner of writing frees one from intellectual pride and hubris, but I am sure it would be alien to many of today's academics who pride themselves on self-discovery and research and originality. It is noteworthy that someone like Fr Raniero Cantalamessa OFM Cap, Franciscan Preacher to the Papal Household of John Paul II very much writes in the tradition of St Bonaventure.

It is hoped that more of our contemporary theologians and teachers would write in the manner of this saint, always conscious of one's roots and home within the Church.


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