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The Lord of History, by Msgr. Eugene Kevane. ©2003 The Miriam Press. All Rights Reserved

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References – Epilogue: The Centenary of Aeterni Patris

161. Cf. André LaLande (ed.), Vocabulaire technique et critique de la philosophie (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1967), p. 416: “History, third meaning: The very succession of the conditions through which humanity has passed.”

162. De veritate, q. 14, art. 9, ad 3m.

163. Charles Journet, The Church of the Word Incarnate (London: Sheed and Ward, 1955), Vol. I, pp. 205-206. One can say that all the Successors of St. Peter in modern times have had this concern, voiced in various ways and in many applications, for the philosophical corrosion which has set upon the fundamental values of Western culture. All these Popes from Pius IX to John Paul II support and illustrate in their documents this word of Pius XI: “Only that is truly and fully human which is Christian, and that which is anti-Christian is inhuman.” Cf. John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis: The Redeemer of Man (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1979). For a pioneering study of the leadership of the Holy See in the re-discovery of the “Historia spiritalis” from Leo XIII through Pius X and Pius XII to the aggiornamento of Vatican II, cf. Pietro Chiochetta, Teologia e Storiografia della Chiesa: Historia spiritalis (Roma: Editrice Studium, 1969). This opens up entirely new perspectives for further research that will correlate “philosophy” and “history” in the intellectual life of the Church in the times ahead.

164. This is to be a teaching, it is understood, that is on a par from the viewpoint of academic methods with the best teaching in serious universities. Cf. the General Catechetical Directory, par. 109. It will cultivate ecclesiastical studies with the same seriousness that physics, for example, still receives in secular universities. This comprehensiveness and seriousness of teaching and learning is a Catholic heritage and it ought to be recovered in ecclesiastical studies: if the academic institutions will not do so, then younger scholars will do so in the newer entities that are already emerging. Mozart as a young man went from Salzburg to Bologna to study at the small Academy of Music operated by Father Martini, famous for the rigor of his teaching and the comprehensive thoroughness of his examining. This rigor still characterizes the Academies of Music in Italy. The graduates do not regret this, for they know there is no other way to make a musician who is solid. This is what the catechetical order needs, one way or the other.

165. In other words, the renewal of Christian Philosophy was a necessity in its first century for the health and soundness of the academic order. In its coming second century, it will be a necessity for the very existence of Evangelization and Catechesis, and will be cultivated with perceptive care in the higher institutes of catechetical training. Why? In answer, it may be permitted to cite from the present writer in George A. Kelly (ed.) The Teaching Church in Our Time (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1978), p. 58: “Because the Creed is neither professed nor explained in the language of one of Karl Rahner’s philosophies chosen eclectically, nor one of the theologies emerging from the new pluralism. It is professed in the language of the ordinary man of all times, places and cultures, of fishermen, one may say, who think in the metaphysical constants of natural common sense and express them in the constants of language which linguistic science is able to observe, and which the philosophy preferred by the Church is able to appreciate. This makes the meaning of the Apostolic writings abidingly intelligible without any ‘New Hermeneutic,’ and offers the basis for a catechetical communication with men today that is faithful, namely apostolic, in character.” This is perhaps the most fundamental reason for celebrating the centenary of Aeterni Patris and for projecting its program forward into the coming times.

166. It is the tragedy of Modernist priests to concentrate so much upon an ecumenism wrongly understood as to lose their own identity. Cf. notes 130 and 150 above on “the shallowly irenic approach” of Father Loisy’s non-doctrinal foi mystique. Recentaly a priest well-known in the academic order, giving a paper at Oxford University some months after the Constitution Sapientia Christiana, was heard by the present writer to say that “we are working now to re-dimension the Papcy.” Consistent with his light-toned suit and shirt-with-tie, he sought to identify with a concept of ministry which he imagined in his hearers. This anachronism took place in the very times when his hearers not only have taken up the custom of wearing the “Roman” collar, but are also in a declared search for the authentic Successor of Peter. It is a sign of these times that a young man of his audience protested against his “Chardinian metaphysics” and asked for that original perception of Peter’s function that antedates any ecclesiastical use of Graeco-Roman juridical concepts and terminology. The renewal of Christian Philosophy comes to meet such young men, helping them recognize the sacrificing priests of the New Testament, men endowed with the power to consecrate the Eucharistic elements, a power which no other man possesses, not even baptized and confirmed Roman Catholics.

167. Linearity, the movement of a human group from one condition to a succeeding one, is implied by the very concept of fulfillment, the hermeneutic principle used by Christianity in understandinag the Hebrew dispensation. Linearity is a fact if the succession of the Testaments is a fact. But this particular linearity is not incompatible with another fact, that this particular succession can be in God’s own sense final, in that the Christian Era is, or can be, or at least ought to be, the everlasting effective renewal of the original condition of mankind. This implies something cyclic, like the exitus-reditus which is the master-concept of St. Thomas’ Summa Theologiaé. If this renewal is not accomplished on this earth, it will be due to the cumulative effect of persons who are deficient causes, failing in lessor or greater degree to make this renewal personally their own. But even so, this world, rendered thus increasingly defective, will serve God well as the temporary scaffolding by which His everlasting structure is built and its living stones are hammered, chiseled and polished. Per machinas transituras, Augustine said with great insight, domum manentem. Cullmann’s book (cf. note 16, above) drew some opposition from those who point out the underlying affinity of the Hebrew world-view with that of the Greeks, the Romans and indeed all the peoples of the earth, including the great religious traditions of the Orient, all of them aspiring to the renewal of an original justice. But Cullmann’s study bears validly upon the concept of history in the cultivated academic life of the clasical culture. For a discussion of the point and the literature, cf. Max Seckler, Le salut et l’histoire: La pensée de saint Thomas d’Aquin sur la théologie de l’histoire (Paris: Cerf, 1967), an important work translated from the German, Das Heil in der Geschichte: Geschichtstheologisches Denken bei Thomas von Aquin (Munich: Kösel Verlag, 1964); esp. pp. 143-155, “Cycle et linéarité.” These perspectives place Thomas Aquinas in remarkable relationship with all the religious traditions of this planet, validating the title Doctor Communis from a new point of view. All of this merits much additional research in the coming second century of Aeterni Patris, research which will minister to a better appreciation of the significance of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. There has been a tendency in the Christian Era no tonly to reject the doctrine of the Real Presence, but also among Catholics to undervalue or even in practice to overook the fact of this Presence. This has been the case strangely enough even in religious houses, as the revelations to St. Margaret Mary bear witness. In the second century of Aeterni Patris it can be expected that the original thought of the Fathers of the Church regarding the Eucharist will be seen more comprehensively and accurately. Cf. the pioneering study of Raymond Johanny, L’Eucharistie centre de l’histoire du salut chez Saint Ambroise de Milan (Paris: Beauchesne, 1968).

168. For a remarkable and timely example of a layperson’s insight regarding the relationship of St. Thomas Aquinas to the esential truths and values, cf. the work of the well-known French laywoman, Renée Casin, Saint Thomas d’Aquin: L’intelligence de la foi (Montsurs: Editions Resiac, 1973). France continues to be the eldest daughter of the Church, experiencing things first. The laity have made this work available in an English translation by Dr. James Likoudis: Renée Casin, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Orthodoxy and Neo-Modernism in the Church (New Rochelle: Catholics United for the Faith, 1977). With the keen insight the author has taken for the structure of her book the four signs of recognition stated by the Catholic laity left by the interrupted mission of St. Francis Xavier in Japan; if the reception of the Constitution Sapientia Christiana in the academic institutions of the Catholic Church proves to be negative in the second century of Aeterni Patris, the resulting deception may bring the laity elsewhere to give them heed. For Renée Casin’s use of these hallmarks, cf. pp. 30-31: “These were the four touchstones of the Faith appealed to by the forgotten Christians of Nagasaki who once again encountered Catholic missionaries after an interruption of three centuries. Yes, for three centuries these Japanese Christians had lived heroically without any priests, with no sacraments other than baptism and marriage, without churches and without books, as well as being continually harassed and wounded by the Imperial police. It was one of their spokesmen who joyfully reminded the astonished Pére Petitjean: ‘Our fathers have taught us what they held from their fathers: You will recognize the ministers of the true God by this four-fold sign of purity: the Eucharist, the Virgin, the White Father of Rome, and the celibacy of the preists….’ And since we have discovered in St. Thomas (Renée Casin continues) a champion of truth and intelligence, he will now aid us to find again those four essential truths of the Faith which serve as the true test of Catholicity: the Eucharist, the Priesthood, the Papacy, and the Blessed Virgin Lady. Each of these Catholic dogmas has been utterly devalued by those who have lost at the same time their understanding of the faith and the sense of sin.”

169. Vatican II, Optatam totius (Oct. 28, 1965), “Decree on the Training of Priests,” No. 14; Flannery, op. cit., pp. 717-718.