Call for Papers: “Franciscan Virtue? Minorite Morality, and Beyond” (Kalamazoo, Medieval Congress, May 2016)
Virtues are a key element in the medieval Franciscan writings. They are important building blocks of a life according to “the teaching and footprints of our Lord Jesus Christ,” representing steps on the way to the “treasure in heaven” and “eternal life.” The importance of the virtues is already expressed in the opening sentence of Francis’s Earlier Rule: “The rule and life of these brothers is this, namely: to live in obedience, in chastity, and without anything of their own.” Francis tells us that the virtues proceed from the Lord and “are poured into the hearts of the faithful through the grace and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.” Virtue therefore “responds to God’s virtuous presence in the life of every Christian” (R.J. Armstrong). Furthermore, “each one [of the virtues] confounds vice and sin.” In the many Franciscan edifying works that come into use after the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), the virtues and their opposing vices are recommended sermon material.
Of the many virtues that Francis of Assisi and early Franciscan theologians describe and recommend, many have received much less attention in current research than they actually deserve. Well-known are virtues like poverty, obedience, simplicity, and peace, but the focus of our session will be on some of the lesser well-known virtues, like goodness and justice. How do these function in the early Franciscan community, and to what extent are they really “virtues”?
Furthermore, when certain key virtues like poverty and simplicity are understood to be “more than” virtues, a broader Franciscan discourse can be shown to be virtue-based and teleological, but at the same time built around the norms and values operative in social structures and practices transcending morality.
Papers are 20 minutes long. The session(s) proposal will be submitted to the Kalamazoo sessions committee of the Franciscan Institute at St. Bonaventure University.
Dr. Krijn Pansters
School of Catholic Theology
Franciscan Study Centre