FRANCISCANS DISCOVER HOPKINS
4. THE INFLUENCE OF DUNS SCOTUS
DUNS SCOTUS – Franciscan Theologian 1265-1308
Hopkins acclaims Duns Scotus in Duns Scotus’ Oxford
Towery city & branchy between towers;
Cuckoo-echoing, bell-swarmèd, lark charmèd, rook racked,
The dapple-eared lily below thee; that country & town did
Once encounter in, here coped & poisèd powers;
Thou hast a base & brickish skirt there, sours
That neighbour-nature thy grey beauty is grounded
Best in; graceless growth, thou hast confounded
Rural, rural keeping — folk, flocks, & flowers.
Yet ah! this air I gather & I release
He lived on: these weeds & waters, these walls are what
He haunted who of all men most sways my spirits to peace;
Of realty the rarest-veinèd unraveller; a not
Rivalled insight, be rival Italy or Greece;
Who fired France for Mary without spot.
Hopkins’ poetic and spiritual interest in Duns Scotus was in his concept of haecceitas.
Duns Scotus’ spirituality was deeply Franciscan. He absorbed the Franciscan idea of prayer as gazing, which was discerned in the prayer of St Francis by St Clare. Clare wrote not only about gazing on Christ the mirror, but also more generally on gazing as prayer.
Sister Ilia Delio in Franciscan Prayer traces how gazing as a way of prayer becomes Duns Scotus’ philosophical concept haeccietas.
1. “Thisness”: this creature (thing, animal, person) is different from all other creatures like it.
2. This creature is unlike all other creatures.
3. This creature was uniquely made by God.
4. This creature is a unique expression of the Word.
Spend some time with a creature. Explore its haecceitas. Engage in dialogue with the Word communicated by the creature.
Suggested creatures: tree, flower, rock.
[A more “advanced” exercise would be to explore the haecceitas of a person, or love, or a kind action.]
Questions to ask about this creature.
1. What makes this creature different from all other creatures like it?
2. What makes this creature different from all other creatures – i.e. what makes it unique?
3. What is there about this creature that reveals God’s special love uniquely directed at this creature?
4. What Word does this creature speak to us? (What revelation of God’s nature is in this creature?
One thought on “The Franciscan who influenced Hopkins”
Sydney Carter’s song The Candlelight illuminates the idea of haecceitas:
I am the candlelight …
I do not say there is a God,
I only say hello.