Friday, March 15, 2013

The joy of the truth

A reader writes:
The article I have been waiting for is now translated. "The Joy of the Truth" is the 5th chapter of Abbe Georges de Nantes Autobiography. It is thrilling to read the account of his seminary studies at the great Sulpician seminary of Issy. Issy was the Catholic St. Cyr (or Westpoint). A model of discipline and a curriculum without peer. This idyllic life would be destroyed by the Liberation in 1944 with political correctness replacing Catholic tradition.
Indeed, this account of the irrepressible Fr. Ruff and his animated and demonstrative approach to seminary teaching is as humorous as it is inspiring. Enjoy!

[Hat tip to Sir Anthony S.]


Ralph Roister-Doister said...

Excuse me?!!

"To protect himself from a possible accusation of Modernism, he invoked Blondel, his secret inspirer and sure reference, he said, for his ‘ method of immanence ’ had not been condemned by the Church. She had clearly distinguished it from the ‘ doctrine of immanence ’, which alone was reproved. ”

This is first time I have seen Blondel invoked as "protection" against modernism. Usually it is quite the contrary. But it is not the first time that a philosopher has been saved by the very murkiness of his product.

That murkiness notwithstanding, you don't have to read too much of, say, his brief "Letter on Apologetics" to see that it has little affinity to Aquinas, and provides lush philosophical underpinning for the nouveau mindsets of De Lubac and Balthazar. I wouldn't have expected to see a Sulpician teacher of that time clinging to it for justification of his own orthodoxy -- which apparently does not find its foundation in Aquinas. This is a teacher who is walking a bit of a tightrope, IMO.

Pertinacious Papist said...

Fog makes for strange bedfellows, I admit, R.R.-D. I've read some of Blondel's works, and they are certainly murky in the extreme, whatever his intentions. Yet I can see how parts of his works might seem capable of being invoked as a defence of orthodoxy, at least in terms of what he expressly intends at points, even though what he offers in one hand he immediately removes with the other as you suggest. What is immanent transcendence, after all than an anticipation of all the murky incommensurable absurdities one finds in the likes of Karl Rahner such as his supernatural existential, which ends up naturalizing grace, the supernatural, and salvation, such that original sin is negated, along with redemption, and the Gospel eviscerated.

I read somewhere that John Macquarrie's book, the Principles of Christian Theology has been used as a major textbook in Catholic seminaries. If this is true, it goes a long way towards explaining the situation we find ourselves in. Macquarrie was the Anglican translator of Heidegger's Being and Time into English. Heidegger's project, which was in effect to create a secularized, immanentized version of the Gospel with correlative but de-natured terms like "fallenness," "authenticity," "care," etc. Macquarrie's project in that book was translating Heidegger's philosophy back into a Christian idiom, leaving generations of seminarians believing they were getting Christian theology when they were getting warmed over Heideggerian paganism.

No wonder we've all been totally Blondelized and Heideggerianized and Bamboozled.

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

PP, that blasted book was my textbook for a theology course at dear old St Bonaventure University, way, way back in the day. It was not a seminary course, although there were seminarians in the class. I never bothered to read the damned thing, as it would have interfered with my bibulogical studies, which were prodigious back then.

As I recall, the class was taught by a lay person, but the Franciscans themselves were well on their way to the loony bin in those "spirit of Vatican II" days, as was most everyone else.

Pertinacious Papist said...


That's flat-out AMAZING! YOU were assigned that book? At least you had the sense not to waste your time on it.