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ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. - In connection with the Clare 401 capstone course, Br. F. Edward Coughlin, O.F.M., vice president for Franciscan Mission, will host a plenary session at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14, in Dresser Auditorium of the John J. Murphy Professional Building. The entire campus community is welcome to attend.
The plenary, “Thisness – Human Dignity,” will discuss the relevance of thisness and right relationship in the 21st century by citing examples from movies such as “The Help” and “Harold and Maude,” showing students how they can apply Franciscan values to their modern lives. It will explore one of the central threads that ties together the Clare College curriculum and seek to demonstrate its importance to the education and formation of Bonaventure men and women.
Thisness represents the Franciscan value of respecting and dignifying every person as a unique, singular individual. This plenary is part of a semester-long, campuswide initiative to encourage individuals to challenge themselves to practice thisness in their daily lives.
The dignity of the human person is a central theme in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. Rooted in the ancient Hebrews amazement at the wondrous ways humankind was created. For example, in Psalm 139 we read: the Psalmist cries out "…You have formed me in my inmost being … I give you thanks … I am wonderfully made … wonderful are your works."
The theme became a central concern within the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition in large part because of Francis' embrace of the leper. As St. Bonaventure said, Francis showed deeds of "humility and humanity" to lepers when he served them with compassion.
The essence of Francis' attitude is summarized in his Fifth Admonition when he advises those who follow him to "Be conscious, O human being," of the wondrous state in which the Lord God has placed you … to the image of Christ according to the body …."
In his various theological writings while a professor at the University of Paris, St. Bonaventure would give fuller expression to a more developed and theological understanding of what Francis intuited when he reflective extensively on humankind's "right formation and uprightness," how the "uprightness of the body was to betoken the uprightness" of humanity's inner spirit. Following the example of his teacher Alexander of Hales, Bonaventure provide an even more developed theological-philosophical for understanding the inherent dignity of the human person and the respect that is due to every person.
The late 13th century Franciscan philosopher John Duns Scotus would later say that in addition to the inherent dignity of the human person, we should understand that every person is also absolutely unique: haecceitas, "this" person, a singular and unrepeatable being.
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