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

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References – VIII. Intellectual Victory Over Modernism

133. So large a subject can be sketched only briefly here, in the hope of stimulating further discussion and research on the part of younger Catholic scholars, minds increasingly free of the inhibitions and philosophical inadequacies holding over into the Twentieth Century from the Modern period.

134. Cf. the General Catechetical Directory, op. cit., par. 88: “Catechesis … simply cannot neglect the formation of a religious way of thinking…. It must provide the natural foundations for faith with the greatest care.” This can be done today only by coming to grips with the phenomenon of Religious Modernism, unmasking its nature and exposing its philosophically outdated character. In No. 849 of his post-modern spiritual classic, The Way, Msgr. Josemaria Escriva writes: “Come on! Ridicule him! Tell him he is behind the times: it is incredible that there are still people who insist on regarding the stagecoach as a good means of transportation. That is for those who dig up musty, old-fashioned ‘Voltairianisms,’ or discredited liberal ideas of the 19th century.”

135. Cornelio Fabro, Breve introduzione al Tomismo (Rome: Descleé, 1960), p. 73. In this connection, cf. the special issue of Divinitas (1958), pp. 3-190 in commemoration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Encyclical Pascendi, a mine of information valuable both in itself and in the light of the two ensuing decades. This issue presents a number of studies by experts on the Modernist problem especially in the matter of preparing young men for the priesthood; cf. in particular Roberto Masi, “L’insegnamento dell’Enciclica Pascendi contro gli errori dei Modernisti sulla conoscenza di Dio,” pp. 51-68; and Luigi Ciappi, O.P., “La Persona di Gesù Cristo nell’ Enciclica Pascendi,” pp. 69-84.

136. Thus it is true to say that Spinoza is the metaphysician of modern atheism, and to recognize the direct line of paternity that reaches from him to unsound Scripture scholarship. Cf. Emile Poulat, Une oeuvre clandestine d’Henry Bremond (Roma: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1972), pp. 117-118: “Richard Simon (1638-1712) during the Modernist crisis was one of the symbols of the conflict in which men were engaged: Loisy and his friends saw Richard Simon as their precursor, while Batiffol denounced his approach.” For the concept “philosophical faith” see Karl Jaspers, Philosophical Faith and Revelation (New York: Harper and Row, 1967); and St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica II-II, Q. 5, art. 3: “It is manifest that he who adheres to the teaching of the Church, as to an infallible rule, assents to whatever the Church teaches; otherwise, if, on the things taught by the Church, he holds what he chooses to hold and rejects what he chooses to reject, he no longer adheres to the teaching of the Church as to an infallible rule, but to his own will…. Therefore it is clear that such a heretic with regard to one article has no faith in the other articles, but only a kind of opinion in accordance with his own will.”

137. Kirsopp Lake (Transl.) Eusebius: The Ecclesiastical History (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1953), Vol. I, pp. xxxiv-xxxv.

138. Vatican I, Const. Dei Filius, chap. 3 (Denz. Schön. 3011): “All those matters must be believed with divine and Catholic faith that are contained in the word of God, whether in Scripture or tradition, and that are proposed by the Church, either by a solemn decision or by the orindary and universal magisterium, to be believed as divinely revealed”; John Broderick, S.J. (Transl.) Documents of Vatican I (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1971), p. 44; for the fact that “all those matters” are summarized in the Creed and the official catechisms by which the bishops explain its Articles of Faith, cf. J.M.A. Vacant, Etudes théologiques sur les Constitutions du Concile du Vatican (Paris: Delhomme et Briguet, 1895), Vol. II, chap. 3, “De la foi,” pp. 15-179, and esp. pp. 89-95, “Qu’est-ce que le magistére ordinarie et universel de l’Eglise?”

139. For the proximate Rule of Faith, cf. Emmanuel Doronzo, The Channels of Revelation (Middleburg: Notre Dame Institute Press, 1974), esp. chap. 3, “The Magisterium, Organ of Revelation,” pp. 33-37 and chap. 4, “Dogma,” pp. 39-51, with the literature; and Charles Journet, Le dogme chemin de la foi (Paris: Fayard, 1963) with the valuable discussion of bibliography on the point, pp. 103-104, omitted in the English translation, What is Dogma? (New York: Hawthorn, 1965). Also E. Kevane, Creed and Catechetics (Westminister: Christian Classics, 1978), a presentation of the Creed of the People of God as the contemporary “Rule of Faith” for teachers of the Catholic Faith; cf. in particular the discussion of the literature on the point, pp. 260-263.

140. Cf. Vincent of Lerins, Commonitorium, P.L. 50, 688: sed in suo dumtaxat genere, in eodem scilicet dogmate, eodem sensu eademque sententia. This phrase, referring to the fundamental fact which preserves the Apostolicity of the Catholic Churchg as an historical fact and reality across the centuries, was cited by Vatican I (cf. Denz. — Schon. 3020), by Pope John XXIII in his Discourse which opened Vatican II (cf. A.A.S. 54, Nov. 26, 1962), by Vatican II itself (cf. Gaudium et spes, no. 62; A.A.S. 58 (Dec. 7, 1966, p. 1083), and by Pope Paul Vi in his actions to meet the “Crisis of Faith” that began to emerge into public view almost immediately after Vatican II (cf. the Apostolic Exhortation: Petrum et Paulum Apostolos (Feb. 22, 1967), announcing the Year of Faith, in A.A.S. (March 31, 1967), pp. 193-200; and his Allocution opening the Synod of Bishops, A.A.S. (Nov. 20, 1967, pp. 963-969). The significance of this on-going presence of the Catholic Fact in post-modern times is of course fundamental for a contemporary philosophy of history.

141. Cf. Charles Journet, The Church of the Word Incarnate (London: Sheed and Ward, 1955), Vol. I, p. 543: “It is not to be believed, say the Modernists, that God has revealed through Christ and the Apostles any definitive truth to be received by the intelligence and preserved intact forever. All that God did — insofar as it is possible to speak about God at all — was to move the souls of the Apostles, and these then attempted to translate their experience into more or less happy conceptual formulas, not in the least to be taken for a ‘divine law’ or as binding on later generations. A genuine apostolicity therefore does not consist of the handing down of an unaltered doctrine; it consists in a re-living by each of us of that experience of divine things which Christ and the Apostles lived so admirably, and in translating it perhaps for ourselves into a new conceptual synthesis better adapted to a changing world. The mark of apostolicity will be rather innovation than tradition, doctrinal fluidity rather than the immobility of the Credo.” If Religious Modernism were to have its way, in other words, changing Evangelization and Catechetics as it proposes to do, the Catholic Fact would disappear from view on earth and in history. As Journet points out, apostolicity is the constitutive mark of the Church.

142. Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. XV, p. 631.

143. The Magisterium of the Catholic Church has been concerned with this problem consistently throughout all three moments of Religious Modernism. The best-known document is of course the Pascendi (Sept. 8, 1907) of Pope St. Pius X: but it is only one among many. In the decades prior to Vatican I, there are the letters of the Holy See to the bishops of Germany regarding the spread of the doctrine of Relativism among priests teaching in the universities and seminaries. Pope Leo XIII was involved with the second moment throughout his pontificate; in this respect the work of Pius X is only a continuation and completion of his own. And it is becoming clear that Vatican II took place in the context of the emerging third moment, and that the pontificate of Pope Paul VI was dealing with it day in and day out, under the heading of the “Crisis of Faith.” Cf. his documents connected with the Year of Faith, culm,inating with the Solemn Profession of Faith known as the Creed of the People of God, his remarkable Allocution of Jan. 19, 1972 in which he cites explicitly the chief documents of Pius X, and indeed his pontificate as a whole. Cf. L’Osservatore Romano — English Edition (Jan. 27, 1972) pp. 1 and 12; reprinted in E. Kevane, Creed and Catechetics, op. cit.: pp. 205-208.

144. For example, in the works of Eric Voegelin, cited above. Cf. the summary judgment of Pius X in Pascendi, No. 39: “And now with our eyes fixed upon the whole system…of the Modernists, no one will be surprised that we should define it to be the synthesis of all heresies”; cf. Vincent A. Yzermans (Ed.), All Things in Christ: Encyclicals and Selected Documents of St. Pius X (Westminister: The Newman Press, 1954), p. 117. The refusel to see the Modernist phenomenon comprehensively contains more than might at first sight meet the eye. It is actually a deceptive intellectual tactic which the centenary of Aeterni Patris ought to consider carefully. The tactic begins by consigning to oblivion the first or German phase of the phenomenon, the actual occasion for Vatican I without which that Council is not properly intelligible. It then takes up its consideration of the phenomenon with Loisy and Tyrrell, the leaders of the second phase, praising them for “identifying the problem” correctly, but faulting them for their early clumsiness and pioneering inexpertness in solving it. And the tactic proceeds victoriously in what is called the “spirit” of Vatican II, proclaiming that only “now” can the problem-solving hermeneutical principles be put into operation which at last resolve the entire matter successfully. Certain recent Catholic encyclopedias omit “Günther” entirely. For a full-dress presentation of the tactic, cf. Roger Aubert, “Die modernistische Krise” in H. Jedin (ed.) Die Kirche der Gegenwart, Zweiter Halbband: Die Kirche zwischen Anpassung und Widerstand (1878 bis 1914), (Freiburg: Herder, 1973), pp. 435-500. “The crisis which concerns us here,” Aubert writes on p. 436, “runs on a line in a certain sense parallel to the crisis which surfaced a half-century earlier in the Churches of the Reformation under the name of a ‘Liberal Protestantism.’ “ This is indeed a smooth consignment to oblivion of the Catholic priest-professors in German universities who were part of the immediate occasion for the calling of Vatican I. Aubert exemplifies the other aspects of the tactic as well: cf. his treatment of “Pius X: ein konservativen Reformpapst,” ibid., pp. 391-405, which seems predicated upon a false criterion for identifying “the problems” and upon an unsound philosophical base for solving them. It was exactly the role of Vatican I and of Aeterni Patris to provide the intellectual foundations needed in this matter. One may be permitted to observe that this illustrates a surprising lack of comprehensiveness and objectivity in empirical scholarship, together with an equally surprising shallowness in philosophical analysis. It does Aeterni Patris in, so to speak, and worse still it ends by pitting Vatican II against Vatican I, dividing the mind of Chrst in His Body which is the Church. It is actually a myopic view which makes it impossible either to see the significance of Aeterni Patris during its first century, or to celebrate its centenary, or to perceive its abiding relevance in the coming times of its second century.

145. Cf. Vatican I, Dei Filius as a whole, and in particular c. 4, with its canons, Denz.-Schön. 3015-3020 and 3041-3043. Guentherism was the immediate occasion which led Pope Pius IX to call for the First Vatican Council. For the study of the philosophical identity of the three moments, cf. L. Billot, De immutabilitate Traditionis contra modernam haeresim evolutionismi (Romae: apud aedes Univ. Gregorianae, 1929 [4th ed]). Leads for the study of this first or German moment of the Modernist phenomenon can be found in Denziger-Schonmetzer, Nos. 2738-2740, 2828-2831, 2850-2861, 2875-2880 and in general 2890-2980. And cf. Ladislas Orbán, Theologia Guntheriana et Concilium Vaticanum, Vols. I-II (Rome: Gregorian University Press, 1950). It is surprising to note the same oblivion of this first phase (mentioned in Note 144 above) in Oskar Schroeder, Aufbruch und Missverständnis: Zur Geschichte der Reformkatholischen Bewegung (Graz: Verlag Styria, 1969): after an opening chapter on Lamennais, Schroeder leaps many decades forward to the second moment, to chapters on Loisy, Tyrrell, Buonaiuti, Von Hügel and the rest. His chapter on Reformkatholizismus in Germany begins with Herman Schell (1860-1906), definitely a figure of the second moment. Neither Vatican I nor Aeterni Patris appear in the book. The same total oblivion of the first or German phase characterizes the work of Claude Tresmontant, La Crise Moderniste (Paris: Seuil, 1979).

146. The superficial observer, standing in the flotsam and jetsam of the flooding third moment, can miss the fact that Religious Modernism in the Catholic Church is one unified intellectual phenomenon, philosophically identical throughout its history and in each of its three moments of special historical visibility. Cf. the work of Billot, cited in the previous note. At the core of this unity, as the Holy See has recognized over and over, is philosophical relativism, the concept of truth characteristic of Modern Philosophy as such. This is why the renewal of Christian Philosophy is so timely and such an abiding pastoral necessity. Much research remains to be done on this underlying unity. A comparative study, for example, of Anton Guenther at mid-nineteenth century and of his contemporary popularizers is a need of the day. As samples, and to draw attention to the kind of material available for such a comparative analysis, a North American might mention Avery Dulles’ Survival of Dogma, the writings of certain of his associates at the Catholic University in Washington, the editorial statements and orientation of Theological Studies, now at the same University, and the like. A second area where research is waiting to be done is the philosophical preparations for the third moment of the phenomenon. The beginnings appear in the Bulletin de la Sociéte Francaise de Philosophie (Paris: Armand Colin, 1931), the record of the defense of the very idea of Christian Philosophy by Maritain and Gilson, against the attack upon it led by the atheistic thinkers Brunschvicq and Bréhier; and in the record of the famous Juvisy Conference of the Sociéte Thomiste (Sept. 11-12, 1932), published as La philosophie chrétienne (Paris: Cerf, 1933), where, to Gilson’s surprise, a group of priest-philosophers rose to defend the position of Brunschvicq and Bréhier. Gilson recognized immediately that this intellectual disobedience opens a fissure in the program for the renewal of Christian Philosophy in the institutions of Catholic Higher Education. Gilson’s analysis of the episode is to be found in his Christianity and Philosophy (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1939), pp. 82-102. Pope Paul VI recognized many times the holdover character of the philosophical substrate for the third moment of the phenmenon. Cf. his document of Feb. 22, 1967, calling for the Year of Faith, “Petrum et Paulum Apostolos,” A.A.S. (March 31, 1967), pp. 193-200; for the English cf. E. Kevane, Creed and Catechetics, op. cit., pp. 164-170. The Pope speaks of “New opinions in exegesis and theology often borrowed from bold but blind secular philosophies (which) have in places found a way into the realm of Catholic teaching” (p. 168). This is exactly what the program of Aeterni Patris was designed to prevent.

147. Cf., for example, the recent work of Claude Tresmontant, Sciences de l’univers et problémes métaphysiques (Paris: Seuil, 976), esp. Chap. I, “A partir de la cosmologie,” and Chap. III, “A partir de la biologie,” pp. 11-50 and 65-111.

148. If philosophical insight cannot rise to the level of this intellectual perception, there remains obedience to the program of the Holy See from motives linked with the virtue of religion. Those who plan the programs of seminaries and departments of religious education are faced with a decision that is maturing as the 20th century proceeds: that of turning the mind to Him who is the Lord of history or of preparing the way for another coming one who serves the Prince of this world, beginning already to genuflect to him. As Pieper observes, the Lord of history and the Prince of this world are quite obviously not the same; cf. his work, already cited, Über das Ende der Zeit (München: Kösel-Verlag, 1953), p. 143. In this connection, Maritain’s famous book, The Peasant of the Garrone: An Old Layman Questions Himself about the Present Time (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1968), can be studied with profit.

149. Cf. Battista Mondin, “Philosophy Necessary in Priestly Formation,” L’Osservatore Romano—English Edition (March 2, 1971), p. 11: “It will not suffice to teach the history of philosophy.” The Holy See, in its efforts toward philosophical renewal, always insists that the teaching of philosophy may not be reduced to the presentation of the history of philosophy, merely what others have said and are saying. Students of philosophy themselves personally must be helped to face and to see reality directly. This means a personal grasp of the three basic areas of content: the set of objective and necessary truths proper to philosophical science, from which the mind ascends to a personal Absolute and Creator of the Universe, and returns from Him to an authenetically human concept of man. Cf. Optatam totius, no. 15. For Seminaries, the Holy See desires that philosophy should be studied for two years: cf. the Ratio fundamentalis, no. 61. Qualitatively, the above three-fold minimum division of content should be organized conceretely into the studies. And the old-fahioned “history of philosophy” designed to minister to the “Modernist mentality” should be replaced by a new mode, that of the Philosophy of History which helps to reveal to the students the Mystery of Christ, the Lord of history. In a seminary course of four semesters, this can be done readily by devoting the first semester to the birth of Christian Philosophy in the catechetical explanations of the First Article of the Creed, in the context of the encounter of the Early Church with the Classical Culture; the second semester to the development of Christian Philosophy, with its above-mentioned three-fold characteristic content, in the Schools of Christendom; the third semester to the origin, nature and atheistic bias, due to its immanentism and relativism, of “Modern” Philosophy as such; and the fourth semester to the emergence of the post-modern situation in the positive sciences and in philosophy, together with the pastoral reasons for the program of the Church in the teaching of philosophy. This enables young minds to see the efforts of the Holy See toward philosophical renewal in a positive and wholesome light, and not as something marked for subtle sabotage until the Holy See comes at last, as it were, to confess its mistake and to withdraw its many documents on this matter from Vatican I to the present. In the Institutes which train catechetical teachers, the same substance of philosophical teaching can readily be given, whther in briefer overview or in a more comprehensive study comparable to that in the Seminaries. The important matter is to treat properly the three basic components of philosophical content, and to do so in the mode of the philosophy of history instead of the history of philosophy. For this ministers to GCD no. 88, the breakthrough to “a religious way of thinking” on the part of teachers of the Faith.

150. The word “apostasy” was used by L’Osservatore Romano (June 29, 1940) in its editorial on the occasion of the death of the unfortunate Father Loisy, when he was termed “a man who ended in the extremes of negation with regard to all the values of Catholicism, and who therefore has become as it were a symbol on the flag of the most radical kind of apostasy.” This “radical kind” of priestly apostasy can be documented readily by studying Loisy’s work, La Religion (Paris: Nourry, 1917), especially in the second edition (Paris: Nourry, 1924) because of its important new preface on mysticism. Henri Bremond makes a “mystical faith” which dispenses with orthodoxy in the doctrine of the Catholic Faith the basis of his anonymous defense of Loisy: Sylvain Le Blanc, Un clerc qui n’a pas trahi: Alfred Loisy d’après ses memoires (Paris: Nourry, 1931), Forty years later the author’s identity became known and the work has been re-published by Emile Poulat (ed.) Une oeuvre clandestine d’Henri Bremond (Rome: Edizioni di Sotria e de Letteratura, 1972). This “foi mystique” has come to pervade Catholic religious education in some circles as a part of the third moment of the phenomenon after Vatican II. This shallowly irenic approach which would have and giave Jesus Christ without the Church’s formulated doctrine of the Faith which bears Him witness is of course able to raise up only nominal Catholics. It is this practical bearing upon the life of the Church which gives acuteness of meaning to the centenary of Aeterni Patris. Because of this new turn into the area of religious education the second century of the philosophical renewal seems destined to be catechetical, where the first century has been primarily academic.

151. Cf. Pope St. Pius X, Pascendi (Sept. 8, 1907), “On the Doctrines of the Modernists”; in Vincent A Yzermans (Ed.) All Things in Christ: Encyclicals and Selected Documents of St. Pius X, op. cit., pp. 39-90: “…the partisans of error are to be sought not only among the Church’s open enemies; but, what is to be most dreaded and deplored, in her very bosom, and are the more mischievous the less they keep in the open. We allude, Venerable Brethren, to many who belong to the Catholic laity, and, what is much more said, to the ranks of the priesthood itself, who, animated by a false zeal for the Church, lacking the solid safeguards of philosophy and theology, nay more, thoroughly imbued with the poisonous doctrines taught by enemies of the Church, and lost to all sense of modesty, put themselves forward as reformers of the Church; and, forming more boldly into line of attack, assail all that is most sacred in the work of Christ, not sparing even the Person of the Divine Redeemer, whom, with sacrilegious audacity, they degrade to the condition of a simple and ordinary man.” These words apply to all three of the historic moments of Religous Modernism, and not least to the third moment.

152. Lenin, who always considered himself a philosophe in the school of Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau, constructed a social machinery or apparatus for holding Modern Philosophy over into post-modern times as an ideology, with procedures of thought-control that impose it on minds wherever his Marxist system or empire conquers territory. Cf. Note 91 above; and M.J. LeGuillou. Le mystere du Père: Foi des Apôtres, Gnoses actuelles (Paris: Fayard, 1973), p. 165: “…ideology: that is to say, the simple self-justification of an absolute Will-to-Power by means of propaganda. At this point there enters wht Nietzsche called ‘the struggle for world empire in the name of philosophical ideas’ — the epoque of ideologies.” This is the dark side of the post-modern situation, one that is in the political and social realm, (and in a certain sense also religious — thanks to Religious Modernism). Where social conquest in the name of the ideology is successful, intellectual life must go underground, as it were, where it seems destined to continue in new post-modern ways under the aegis of the Catholic Church. Cf. Oscar Halecki, op. cit., p. 948: “Nothing could be more instructive for the historian to study, if he is interested in the culture of all mankind, than the well-organized distortion of the whole cultural life of all these millions … of central and East European peoples, by a foreign imposed totalitarian regime. This is certainly one of the most appalling aspects of the cultural crises of our time…. There is indeed a specific Communist interpretation, strictly following the party line, of all sciences, including even biology or philology. But since Marxism is precisely a philosophy of history, based on a method that is supposed to be infallible, and since that interpretation of the past includes a guarantee of Communist victory in the futre, no other interpretation can be tolerated and among all scholars the historians are subject to the strictest control under any Communist regime.” Thus the Voltairean philosophy of history is held over into the Twentieth Century, into post-modern times, and made the ideological basis of an emerging World Empire. But it is an Empire devoid of intellectual and spiritual life. The heart of the matter is in the philosophy of history: intellectual life becomes more and more dependent upon the recognition of the Lord of history. Again Newman is the best guide to further thought and study on these matters, beginning with his Lectures on “The Patristical Idea of Antichrist,” Discussions and Arguments on Various Subjects (London: Longman’s, 1899), pp. 44-108; cf. p. 99, where Newman anticipates the spects of Religious Modernism which has been under discussion here: “…an open and blasphemous establishment of infidelity, or some such enormity, in the holiest recesses of the Church.” The comment of Edward Holloway, op. cit., p. 501, is valid in this connection: “Theological sincerity will rule out most of the ‘New Theology’ that has been thrust upon us…. Much of the counsel offered her [the Church] in even the high places is error, and it is corrosive of her doctrinal truth and continuity with the past. It is also utterly lacking in the realization of the need for personal prayer, penance, humility, and union with God by meditation and mystical communion. It is hedonist in spirit and very insolent; it is simply a godless ‘Humanism’ in the vestments of the Church.” The post-modern age is one of great intellectual and spiritual liberation, indeed; but not without attention to the coordination of philosophy and theology called for in Optatam totius, no. 14 of Vatican II, a procedure which is ministered in a unique way by the philosophy of history.