Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I Love Jesuits, Sorry.

I say it because it surprises me. What order has been more proverbially heterodox over the last 50 years? Some would say longer - I would not.

I used to love Fr. Richard John Neuhaus' juxtaposition of 'in the Jesuit Tradition,' vs., 'in the Catholic Tradition,' as a slight against various Jesuit Colleges in the U.S - especially Georgetown.

Now, I spent a lot of time at Regis College in Toronto. I know what I'm talking about here. I can easily say that most of my best courses were from their professors.

You're probably thinking: He's just saying this because of his buddy, Prendergast!

Ahem, You mean, his buddy, Archbishop Prendergast. Ahem.

Nope. Not at all. I have been fascinated by the Ignatian way for a long time. Some people are fascinated by the Carmelites, I am fascinated by Ignatius. Why? I don't know. I am sure I'll figure it out someday. So, in other words, that which mystically speaks to me about St. Ignatius, is the same thing that unites my heart to the Archbishop.

The proximate cause of this discussion is me reading just a wonderful little book:

Meet Henri De Lubac

I was hoping that such an accessible book would be part of a series, but so far I have not been able to discover if it is yet.

I find it a very easy read, perhaps because I have spent more than a little time reading the works of De Lubac. But I imagine that it would also be a good place to begin to read about the man.

Today he is best known for his Medieval Exegesis - a massive study of the Catholic exegetical tradition. Earlier on he was better known for his attack on the false notion of pure nature - the idea that we have a natural as well as supernatural end. That controversy has since abated, with his side proving victorious.

De Lubac - with other greats like von Balthasar, Danielou, Ratzinger, etc. - founded the movement in Catholic theology known as the Ressourcement movement, a movement away from the narrow neo-Scholasticism of the previous generations, to a more comprehensive consideration of the Catholic Tradition, i.e., including the Fathers of the Church.

De Lubac's career went through some extreme ups and downs. He was seriously injured in WWI, basically 'silenced' in the mid 20th century, and then raised to the Cardinalate by John Paul II.

Although the theological landscape has radically changed since his day, making the significance of some of his works diminish somewhat, it yet remains true that one cannot possible grasp the significance of contemporary theological events without having a handle on what our grandfathers did. With Ratzinger, the youngest of that group now 85 years old, truly that age of greats is ending. There will be another age. That is one thing we can surely count on as Catholics - that God always raises up teachers of the Faith in each generation! There will be another De Lubac, but surely he will be one who has spent his time pouring over that great Jesuit's tomes.

Incidentally - who are our fathers? Certainly one who fits the bill as having learned from our grandfathers includes David Schindler, and, I got to say, Cardinal Schonborn. They too will be a generation of greats.


  1. Good post. I learned something. But how do you reconcile Cardinal Schonborn's being a theological "great" with his less than stellar pastoral performance? I know you've written on him before but I'm still wondering.

  2. Ignatius . . . I, too, am attracted to things Ignatian. I believe it is because of the structure of The Spiritual Exercises which allow one to relax, follow the graces, and find God's will. For me it is science which, in each person's unique experience of God, becomes art. I'll be doing a lot more reading and pondering as I begin yet another new "career" which hasn't quite taken shape.

  3. Christine, good question. It's the old good theology possible to bad man debate. Of course, he's not a bad man, but the point is the same. Why don't I post on this question in due time - remind me if I forget. In Schonborn's case, isn't it rather typical that the theoretician proves unsuited to the practical? That's the stereotype anyway.

    Good luck, Claire! I know that the Exercises will benefit us no matter where we go!