The Dominicans by Benedict M. Ashley, O.P.
The 1900s have seen the full dominance of secular humanism and a vast expansion of science and technology, so that for the first time in human history, humanity has the power to control its environment, produce an economic abundance, and establish global communication. But it has also seen two vast World Wars and the possibility of the end of human life by nuclear war, especially between the rival empires of the United States and Communist Russia, or by environmental pollution. As the century draws to a close there is much talk that our age is “post-modern,” that is, that there is as much disillusionment with secular humanism as there was with Christianity at the end of the 1600s.
In 1962-65 the Catholic Church, which was no longer dominated by the European bishops, held the great Second Vatican Council, which called for a reunion of all Christians, dialogue between all religions, and a positive attitude toward science and technology and democratic political forms. The Church must herself readjust her institutions to meet these ideals. Dominicans, along with others played an important role theologically in this Council, just as at Florence, Trent and Vatican I.
In the aftermath of the Council, there has been a great adjustment of the religious Orders themselves. The ahistorical ideal of renewal through “return to the primitive observance” has given way to that of “return to the spirit of the Founder” which was to meet the new situation of his or her times. Liberation theology has called, to a sense, that the Kingdom of God must come on earth as it is in heaven. So profound has this shift been that in all religious communities, and in almost all countries, there has been an exodus from priestly and religious life on a scale comparable only to that before the French Revolution. The Dominican Friars have fallen from 10,000 members to 7,000 in this century, and the decline of vocations to the active Sisters’ congregations has been even more severe. The Dominican self-image has been especially damaged by the dethronement of Thomism in a Church that accepts a theological pluralism. Yet there are many signs of renewed Dominican vitality.
In spite of many political troubles in France, leading for a time to actual suppression of religious orders, the French Provinces have been perhaps the most creative during this century. The Chapter of 1904 elected, as the successor of Andreas Frühwirth, Hyacinth M.Cormier, then Procurator General and formerly three times provincial of Toulouse. True to the tradition of observance of that Province his emphasis was primarily on spiritual matters both in the Order and in his influence on the sisters and others through writing and spiritual direction. He wrote a letter on religious life to Americans, and encyclical letters on freedom, on the study of Scriptures (in view of the Modernist crisis), on vocations, novices and students, for whom he promulgated a new Scheme of Studies (1907). His most important encyclical on community made the shrewd comment that “some live outside community, some merely in it, some off it, and, happily, some for it.” But he also made visitations of Italy and central Europe, and sent visitators to other provinces, including the Latin American ones which were not in very good condition as regards the common life, while in 1910 the Mexican Dominicans had been suppressed by the government, as the French had been in 1903. The Provinces of Bohemia-Austro-Hungary and Sicily were restored, the restoration of that of Portugal initiated, and that of Canada founded (1911). Cormier also founded the Angelicum in Rome and reorganized the Curia there.
The elective chapter at Viterbo in 1904 enforced mental prayer in common and urged stricter observance of common life. That of Viterbo in 1907 re-emphasized Thomism and weekly recitation of the Office of the Dead (initiated in 1551). That of Rome in 1910 insisted on a convent of strict observance in every province, improvements of the liturgy, the habit and tonsure, and condemned Modernism. That of Venlo, Holland, in 1913 required better preparation in preaching, urged perpetual abstinence from meat, and promoted community recreation. It also called for suitable textbooks to implement the new Scheme of Studies. Cormier resigned in 1916 shortly before his death in the same year, and has been proposed for beatification. His stress on traditional observances in the Jandelian tradition and of disciplined study of St. Thomas continued to dominate the first half of this century and had considerable success.
While World War I raged, a Hollander, Louis Theissling, was elected in 1916, a man who under Frühwirth had visitated the Slavic provinces and who proved an energetic Master especially concerned about the missions and studies. He regularized the General Chapters to every four years, repeatedly visited all parts of the Order, made required studies more uniform (he approved the founding of Providence College, Rhode Island, and the studium in Washington, D.C.). He reformed the liturgy in 1923 and worked to unite more closely the Third Order regular and secular to the First Order with a new Rule in 1923. Theissling visitated New York, Cuba, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Manila, South and Central America (suffering from a disastrous earthquake in Guatemala) and Spain (an 18-month absence from Rome 1917-18). His health broken by his labors by 1924, he died the next year.
In 1926 a doctor of civil law and former provincial of the Philippines, Bonaventura Garcia de Paredes was elected, but he resigned in 1929 and was killed by Communists in the Spanish Civil War. During his term the Historical Institute of the Order was initiated.
He was succeeded by a Frenchman, Martin Gillet, noted as a writer on moral and spiritual topics. During his term, World War II made advance difficult. Over one hundred Dominicans were killed in the war, some in the resistance to Nazism, others by the Communists in Spain. After the war the Communists suppressed the Order in Hungary and Bohemia. Gillet visited Mexico, Canada, the United States, Philippines, Vietnam and Japan and parts of Europe. He saw the suppression of the flourishing Chinese missions in 1946 by the Communists. In Rome, Gillet moved the Angelicum to its present quarters and moved his offices to Santa Sabina where he located the Leonine, Historical and Liturgical (founded in 1934) and other Commissions. Because of the war his term of office was extended by the Pope. He gave much attention to his fine but conservative encyclicals on Thomism, preaching, Dominican spirituality, the rosary, etc., and to the revival of the school for novice and student masters initiated by Cormier, and a new Scheme of Studies in 1935. Perhaps the most important event of his term was the final approval of the first great revision of the Constitutions (1932) to conform to Canon Law, an undertaking begun under Theissling but which proved very difficult to finish. On completion of his office he was made archbishop by Pius XII.
Gillet’s successor in 1946 was a Spaniard and noted canonist, Emmanuel Suárez, who labored to restore the Latin America Provinces, suffering from few vocations, large properties obtained in colonial times to administer, and severe anticlericalism, especially in Mexico. In 1953 he (and subsequent Masters) had to deal with the controversy created by the priest-worker movement in France and the “new theology,” as well as with a threat by the Holy See to change the system of electing local superiors in the Order. He approved new provinces for Australia-New Zealand, 1950, Brazil, 1952, and Switzerland, 1953. Everywhere after the war, the Order was growing rapidly. Suárez was killed in an automobile accident.
A giant Irishman, Michael Browne, long Master of the Sacred Palace, and theological conservative, was elected in 1955 and made cardinal in 1962. By the end of his term after the restoration of the Provinces of Belgium, Mexico, and Portugal the Order consisted of 39 provinces. Browne was succeeded by a Spaniard, Aniceto Fernández.
Fernández (d. 1981) studied at Salamanca, received his Licence in Physical Science at the Central University of Madrid 1926 and taught the physical sciences and cosmology at the Angelicum, 1950-58, and then was Provincial of Spain until elected Master of the Order in 1962. During his term the Provinces of Vietnam (1967) and of the Philippines (1971) were created, and Vicariates of Central Africa (1963) and of South Africa (1968). He obtained the elevation of the Angelicum to the status of the Roman University of St. Thomas Aquinas, attended Vatican II, and rejoiced in the declaration of St. Catherine of Siena as a Doctor of the Church (1970).
Fernández, conservative by temperament, was faced with the vast changes initiated by Vatican II and the subsequent exodus of many priests from the Order, but with great equanimity carried through the radical revision of the Constitutions effected in the two months Chapter of 1968 in River Forest, Illinois, after ample consultation of all the Provinces. The Third Order Rule had already been revised in 1964 and the women members of the Order began a long process, not yet completed, of revising their own congregational constitutions. This exodus was not peculiar to the Order but general throughout the Church. The number of Dominican friars in 1876 had been 3,474; in 1910, 4,472; in 1949, 7,661; in 1963, 10,150; but by 1984 it was only 7,112 (1,000 in the U.S.A.) and in most provinces the number of novices was small. By 1975 more than 700 priests had been laicized.
Vincent de Couesnongle, (elected in 1974 for 9 not 12 years) a Breton, who had been Fernández’s Assistant for the Intellectual Apostolate, proved to be an inspiring leader, tireless in visitation of all the provinces, seeking to encourage them in a difficult time of change and a startling decline of vocations with a vision of future opportunities. He too was constant in his visitations of the Order and especially successful in promoting the missions which as vicariates began to move toward a native membership and a fuller place in the Order, as was evident from the General Chapter in Quezon City, the Philippines, in 1977. He also gave much attention to trying to restore studies in the Order, much confused by the decline of Thomism and the abandonment of provincial houses of study for study in universities throughout the Order. This culminated in the approval of new Schemes of Study for each Province and in a new policy of “permanent formation” for all members of the Order, i.e., life-long patterns of education, and implementation of the ancient “conventual lector” to have charge of studies in each house. Moreover, a new thrust toward the preaching of social justice in the spirit of Bartolomé de las Casas was strongly encouraged. With de Couesnongle’s example, the new spirit of “collegiality” initiated by Vatican II began to flourish in harmony with the primitive ideal of fraternity.
The Chapter of 1983 marked a new epoch in the Order, in that for the first time the mission Vicariates were directly represented, with the result that the non-Europeans outvoted the Europeans, and it first elected Albert Nolan from South Africa. Nolan asked to be excused because of his involvement in the struggle for Black liberation in his country, and in his place was elected the Provincial of Ireland, Damian A. Byrne, whose priestly life had also been mainly in the missions of Latin America and with whom the Baroque image of the Master as primarily a courtly Roman official has been completely liquidated. The Chapter at Walberburg, Germany, in 1983 marked out the future by setting as priorities for the mission of the Order: (1) preaching in a de-christianized world; (2) evangelization of non-Christians; (3) social justice; (4) use of social means of communication for spreading the Gospel.
Leo XIII had given the Order the special mission of leadership in remolding Catholic education on the basis of Thomism, which it carried out to the eve of Vatican II in 1962 with notable success but with many struggles. The first problem was to recover the real teaching of Aquinas, purifying it from distorting traditions, one-sidedness, and lack of historical perspective. The strong Jesuit tradition of Thomism, stemming from St. Ignatius himself and the role played by the Society in the renewal of Thomism by Leo was strongly colored by the interpretation of their own great master Francisco Suárez (d. 1617), who had attempted to reconcile the Aristotelianism of Thomas with the Platonism of Scotus. Against this interpretation authors like Antoninus Dummermuth (d. 1918) and Norbert Del Prado (d. 1918) showed that at the heart of Thomistic metaphysics was the “real distinction” of essence and existence and the analogia entis rejected by Scotus and Suarez. This battle culminated in Pius X’s approval of the Twenty-Four Theses by which Edouard Hugon (d. 1929), a tireless traveler and retreat preacher, counseler to Pius X, Benedict XV and Pius XI, defined authentic Thomism. Others such as the anti-Modernist Thomas Pègues (d. 1936) in his 21-volume commentary on the Summa Theologiae in catechetical form were content to popularize Thomism.
This recovery was greatly assisted by the growth of historical studies initiated by Denifle and carried on in this period by Pierre Mandonnet (d. 1936) and later by Chenu (b. 1895) and Congar (b. 1904) and the layman Etienne Gilson and the Pontifical Institute of Toronto of which he was the director. These studies made it clear that Aquinas’ work was not so much part of a “medieval synthesis” as a radical turning point in the history of Christian thought from Platonic essentialism to Aristotelian epistemology and yet it surpassed Aristotle’s metaphysics in its understanding of God as Creator and Existence Itself. Yet the efforts of Chenu and Congar to insist on the study of Aquinas in historical context were at first censored by Rome as modernistic in tendency.
Meanwhile, difficulties were arising from a quite different source. Leo XIII to promote Thomism had founded the Higher Institute of Philosophy at Louvain in 1889 under Desiré Mercier, later cardinal (not a Dominican), hoping to bring the thought of Aquinas into more vital contact with modern science. But with time and especially under the leadership of Joseph Maréchal, S.J., P. Rousselot, S.J., and Ambroise Gardeil, O.P., an effort was made to discover in Aquinas an element transcending experience or an a priori in human cognition, and to reconcile it with the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, thus moving Thomism toward idealism. Out of this came what is now called Transcendental Thomism as in the work of Karl Rahner, S.J., and in another version of Dominic M. De Petter, O.P., (b. 1905) and his disciple Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P., (b. 1914). There were also tendencies (which became suspect of Modernism) to modify scholastic thought in the direction of a Philosophy of Action such as that of Le Roy and Blondel, thus weakening Thomistic intellectualism.
The most prominent opponents of these tendencies were the laymen Etienne Gilson, already mentioned, and Jacques Maritain, but supporting them was the redoubtable Dominican Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange (d. 1964), (as interested as Maréchal in the nature of Christian mysticism) who stoutly maintained the interpretation of Aquinas of the pre-Cartesian commentators. The Spaniard Santiago Ramirez (d. 1967), a profound commentator of Aquinas, and the Canadian University of Laval under the former Dominican novice Charles De Koninck (d. 1965), although critics of Maritain and Gilson, were also advocates of an “original Thomism.” This sometimes led to an intransigency as in the opposition of Garrigou-Lagrange to the brilliant, Philippine-born Francisco Marin-Sola (d. 1932) who attempted to revive the Grace Controversy from a new angle and to develop the notion of development of doctrine.
A third problem arose from the growing interest in the pre-scholastic thought of St. Augustine and the Church Fathers, east and west, as among the Jesuits of Fourviére, such as Daniélou and Du Lubac, the ex-Jesuit Urs von Balthasar, and the pupil of the phenomenologist Husserl, Dietrich von Hildebrand. Yves Congar and other Dominicans attempted to enter this fray by their own interest in patrology. Finally, there was the rise of the new evolutionary philosophy of Teilhard de Chardin, with Scotistic overtones, which challenged all these thinkers to a more direct contact with the modern scientific world-view.
This philosophical ferment reflected a still deeper theological disturbance that had arisen early in the century about the historical-critical interpretation of the Bible and which depended also on an application of Cardinal Newman’s theory of doctrinal development to the whole of theology, a disturbance that is called Modernism. Pope Pius X, a pastoral Pope, saw in this “the synthesis of all heresies” because it meant that the continuity of the faith through history was merely one of symbols whose meanings essentially shifted with the times. His efforts to shut off this modernistic tendency succeeded for a time, but could not eliminate the necessity in the Church of facing the problem of historicity.
As far as Bible studies were concerned, a sounder direction was opened by Marie-Joseph Lagrange (d. 1938). After teaching history and philosophy at Salamanca and Toulouse, he was sent for a brief study in oriental languages in Vienna and then sent to open a Biblical Institute in Jerusalem, the first of its kind, which he led for 45 years, founding the Revue Biblique in 1892. In the year 1912 his works were forbidden in seminaries and he ceased teaching under suspicion of Modernism, but he returned to Jerusalem the next year, shifting his studies to the New Testament. He showed on a Thomistic basis related to the old problem of “physical premotion” (the Grace Controversy) that biblical inspiration is compatible with the proper use of the historical-critical method; a view anticipated by Leo XIII and fully developed later by Pius XII in Divino affante Spiritu (1943) and adopted by Vatican II in its Decree on Revelation. His cause for beatification has been proposed.
A similar reconcilation for ecclesiological and sacramental development was achieved by Yves Congar and Edward Schillebeeckx and largely accepted by Vatican II. Although as a result of this ferment, which became acute during the underground days of World War II, Pius XII in his encyclical Humani Generis (1950) found it necessary to issue cautions, Vatican II found it possible to chart a more open and dialogic course, allowing for a truly historical approach to theology without, however, abandoning the recommendation that St. Thomas Aquinas continue to provide a secure guide to a balanced and metaphysically grounded theology. Many Dominicans were engaged in the conciliar work both as conservatives and progressives, along with Jesuits with whom they had long been in controversy and dialogue.
Since the council there has, of course, been a continuation of this intellectual ferment along with efforts of the papacy and episcopacy to moderate its more radical tendencies. The French provinces, which had played so large a part in all this, were hard struck by the swing toward Marxism and Liberation Theology from “the events of 1968” (the student movement in France). Speculative theology seemed remote from the pressing social issues in the Nuclear Era. Already in the 1950s Chenu, Congar and others had been involved in the priest-worker movement (of which more later), but now younger Dominicans wanted to abandon scholarship for social activitism, and with this came many defections and a famine of vocations. Only in the 1980s are there signs of returning stability. What happened in France was soon reflected in a variety of ways throughout the Order and led to the closing of houses of study in favor of university studies with a minimum of philosophical preparation and a strongly pastoral, rather than a scholarly orientation.
All this is recorded in the great variety of Dominican publications which characterize this century, such as Revue des Sciences Philosophiques et Théologiques, La Vie Intellectuelle, Divus Thomas, Revue Thomiste, La Ciencia Tomista, The Thomist, Filosoficka Revue (Prague 1928), as well as those devoted to spirituality, etc.
Among other theologians of the Vatican II period and after can be mentioned Cardinal Luigi Ciappi, formerly Master of the Sacred Palace, and Fabro Guardini in Italy; Benoit Lavaud (d. 1979), who prepared the way for the newer theology of marriage; Valentine Walgrave (d. 1979) on the development of doctrine; Jean-Hervé Nicholas, Humbert Bouëssé (d. 1975), and Albert J. Patfoort in Christology; Claude Geffré and Jean-Pierre Jossua, editors of Concilium; in Spain Marcelino Bandero Gonzalez; in the United States John Edward Sullivan (d. 1981) on Augustine and the theology of history, William Hill on the Trinity, and Thomas F. O’Meara on grace.
In moral theology which Dominicans have always stressed in view of preaching, at the beginning of the period the emphasis was on the production of manuals of which the outstanding were those of Dominic M. Prümmer (1931), Benedict H. Merkelbach (d. 1942), and Ludovico G. Fanfani (d. 1951), and in English that of Charles J. Callan and J.A. McHugh. These last two Americans for years taught at Maryknoll, New York and had great influence on that new missionary society.
New elements in these works were the incorporation of modern canon law, Merkelbach’s efforts to develop a more Thomistic method based on the development of virtues, and Prümmer’s special treatises on morality and sexual ethics and psychopathology. Pedro Lumbreras was an important commentator of the moral parts of the Summa Theologiae and Louis Binder (d. 1981) also wrote on special moral topics, and Franziskus Stratmann (d. 1971) became famous as an advocate of Christian pacifism in the face of totalitarian militarism. There were also important canonists such as Juan Ylla, Esteban Gómez, Ludovico Fanfani and Albert Blat. More recently writers such as Servais Pinckaers and C.J. Pinto de Oliveira have worked for a more thorough revision of moral theology based on a historical understanding of the effects of voluntarism in the late Middle Ages and on a return to a morality of character rather than of legality and casuistic decision, which promises well for the future of this discipline. This entails an opposition to the theory of Proportionalism advocated by some Jesuit theologians and others which seems to revive the least desirable aspects of Probabilism.
Vatican II theology is marked by its emphasis on historicity, and a great deal of Dominican energy in this century both before and after the council, has been historical, most of it, however, devoted to achieving a historical understanding of the Order’s traditions. In this first place goes to the remarkable History of the Masters General of Antonin Mortier in eight volumes completed in 1920, the Monumenta O.P. begun in 1896, the Analecta O. P. begun in 1893, the Archivum Fratrum Praedictorum begun in 1931, the Quellen and Forschungen begun in 1907, and the dissertations of the Dominican Historical Institute begun in 1931. The most complete history of the Order is the Compendium Historiae, O. P. of Angelus Walz, 2nd ed. 1947. In English William A. Hinnebusch covered this history still more thoroughly up to 1500 in two volumes, 1973, and the whole in his A Short History, 1975. The bibliography of this book will show how industrious Dominicans have been on special topics and here it is sufficient to mention the important work on medieval history of Daniel Callus, Leonard Boyle, and James A. Weisheipl; on the history of the German Provinces by Walz; of the Dutch by Stephen Axters; on England by Godfrey Anstruther; of the American by Victor O’Daniel and Reginald Coffey; on the Spanish and Latin American by Vargas, Getino, Beltrán de Heredia (d. 1973), etc., and the continuation of Quetif-Echard by Remy Coulon and its complete revision by Thomas Kaeppeli.
During this period there was great activity in apologetics and especially after Vatican II in ecumenism. In the early period the leading apologist had been Albert M. Weiss (d. 1925), followed by Etienne Hugueny, Critique and Catholicism, and Benedict Schwalm. Vincent De Groot (d. 1922) and, notably, Garrigou-Lagrange and Reginald Schultes (d. 1928) wrote important ecclesiologies from an apologetic point of view common at this period. Later interest turned more to comparative religion, as in the work of Jean de Menasce (d.1973). Born of an Egyptian-Jewish father, his mother French, he studied at Oxford where he knew T.S. Eliot, Graham Greene, and corresponded with Charles du Bos. He then studied philosophy with an interest in Bergson and Russell in Paris and met a militant Zionist related to Chaim Weizmann. He also came in Paris to know Stanislas Fumet, Jacques Maritain, and Olivier Lacombe. In existential despair he almost commited suicide but found his way to baptism in 1926 and entered the Order in 1930. He taught at the University of Fribourg in history of religions and missiology until 1948, studied ancient Iran in Paris where he taught before going to teach at Princeton until 1959. A stroke left him progressively paralyzed before he died in 1973. He was noted as a spiritual director and left many letters. Two of his works are When Israel Loves and The Door of the Garden. This universality of outlook more and more characterizes Dominican thought in our century.
In biblical studies the Ecole Biblique made the biggest contribution including, besides Lagrange’s work, the important archaeological work of Louis H. Vincent and F. M. Abel and of Roland de Vaux, one of the greatest authorities on Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Jerusalem Bible, as well as the Revue Biblique. This work continues with such scholars as Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, Emile Boismard, and Benedict Viviano. But there were others, chiefly outside Jerusalem, such as Marc Sales, Hugh Pope, P. Savignac, V. Zapletal, Bernard Allo, Francis Ceuppens, Alberto Colunga, Jacques Vosté (d. 1949), Serafin Zarb (d. 1976), Ceslaus Spicq, Lucas Grollenberg, et al.
In philosophy there were the metaphysical issues already mentioned and also such writers as Alberto Lepidi, Master of the Sacred Palace, on Kant and religion, M.D. RolandGosselin on epistemology; Alexander M. Horváth on the metaphysics of religions, Gallus M. Manser on Thomism as a total system, Dominic M. De Petter (d. 1971) on epistemology, and Marines M. Mattijs (d. 1972) on anthropology. More original were Innocent Bochenski in symbolic logic and Marxism, Emmanuel Barbado (d. 1945) and Edward Robert Brennan (d. 1975) in psychology, Ambrose McNicholl (d. 1982) in esthetics, Leonard Lehu, Thomas Richard, Marcel Lachance (d. 1974), Ignatius Eschmann (d. 1968) in social philosophy, L.J. Lebret, Eberhardt Welty, and Arthur Utz in sociology and politics. The most pressing problem, the relation of science to modern philosophy was studied by Aniceto Fernández Alonso (d. 1981) before becoming Master of the Order, William H. Kane, Dominique Dubarle, William A. Wallace, James A. Weisheipl and Albert Moraczewski. Finally, André Gigon (d. 1977) and René-A. Gauthier made important historical contributions to the study of philosophical texts, as did I. Bochenski. The Leonine Commission continues its patient labors on the critical edition of Aquinas’ works.
It was during this time that in Rome the Angelicum first became Pontifical and the Roman University of St. Thomas Aquinas, in 1963. It quickly adopted the use of the vernacular, especially English after Vatican II and has a large Third World enrollment. The Order also provides the ecclesiastical faculty of the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, has a house at Louvain, administers the University of Manila, largest Catholic school of the Far East, and staffs the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem. After Vatican II many provincial houses of studies were closed or relocated at university centers, as the English had already done earlier at Oxford and Cambridge, thus returning to the original pattern. In the United States there are similar arrangements in Washington, St. Louis, and Oakland.
Besides the movement toward stricter use of the so-called “monastic observances” promoted by Cormier, which continued up to World War 11, the most significant events in the prayer life of the Order in this century were three: the liturgical movement culminating in the reforms of Vatican II, the changes in the Constitutions as regard observances, in 1968, and especially the renewal of the belief in the universal call to contemplation of all Christians.
As regards this last, the central figure was Juan Gonzáles Arintero (d. 1928) whose cause for beatification is progressing. He began his work as a Dominican as a teacher of biology at the College of Corias, then taught at Salamanca, and, from 1909-1912, apologetics at the Angelicum. On his return to Salamanca, he became a director to contemplative Dominican nuns and discovered the world of contemplative prayer. Later he returned to Salamanca, as an editor and a spiritual director. His studies led him to adopt the view of Canon Saudreau (against A. Farges and the traditional position of many Jesuits and Carmelites) that all Christians are called to mystical contemplation, and began to confirm this theory from Aquinas’ doctrine of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and from the experiences of the saints. At the same time he continued his interest in the significance of the theory of evolution for theology (later to find a better known advocate in Teilhard de Chardin) in a series of works beginning in 1890. His major work applied this concept of evolution to the cosmos, biology, and the development of the Church and the spiritual life of the individual Christian (this last part translated in English as The Mystical Evolution in the Development and Vitality of the Church). He defended his basic position in many other works including (now in English) Grades of Prayer and The Song of Songs. With the assistance of a Passionist nun, Mother Mary Magdalen, he founded La Vida Sobrenatural which became the model of many other journals of spirituality, such as the French La Vie Spirituel and the American Spirituality Today (formerly Cross and Crown), now published by several provinces.
Arintero’s position on mysticism was adopted by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, already mentioned. He had been a medical student, before becoming a Dominican and then studied under Ambroise Gardeil who was exploring the psychology of mysticism. Gardeil (d.1931) became a Dominican in 1878. He helped found the Revue Thomiste in 1893 and organized the French house of studies, Le Saulchoir, in Belgium, during the government expulsion of religious Orders. His chief work was the very original The Structure of the Soul and the Mystical Experience (1927) in which he attributed such experience to the gifts of the Holy Spirit given all Christians in baptism, and explained infused contemplation as produced not by the infusing of concepts but by affective connaturality of the soul to God. Emmanuel-Louis (Antonin) Lemmonyer (d. 1932) who founded, with A.M. Jacquin, the Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques (1907) and with M. Barge the Revue de la Jeunesse for young people (1909), succeeded Gardeil as Regent of the Saulchoir, and then served as an assistant to Master Gillet. Lemmonyer worked especially against the separation of moral theology from mystical and ascetical theology. Living in this milieu, Garrigou-Lagrange, who also knew Bergson, Levy-Bruhl and Maritain, was thus in touch with many currents of French thought. As a teacher he spent all but one year at the Angelicum, on vacations preaching in Italy, France, England, Holland, Canada, and South America, retiring in failing health to Santa Sabina in 1964. He became doctrinally somewhat fixed, but was always a perfect religious, a beggar for the poor, and a helpful spiritual director to many. His principal works on spirituality are Christian Perfection and the classic The Three Ages of the Spiritual Life. An interesting application of this same view is Barthélemy Froget’s The Gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Lives of Dominican Saints, as well as Clement Thuente’s Come Holy Spirit, and Gerald Vann’s The Divine Pity and Hyacinth Petitot’s biographical studies of the spirituality of particular saints.
One of the consequences of Anntero’s view was to emphasize the need to make the treasures of the contemplative life available to the laity, Denys (Achille) Mezard (d. 1930) had tried to do this by collecting meditations from Aquinas for each day of the liturgical year, as well as others based on Hugh of St. Cher’s biblical commentaries and St. Jane Chantal’s writings. An outstanding apostle of spirituality for the laity was Antonin Gilbert (Dalmatius) Sertillanges (d. 1948) who entered the Order in Spain and was exiled from France in 1883. He taught in Corsica then at the Catholic Institute in Paris but his conferences there were interrupted by the later expulsion of religious in 1903. He published more than 700 books and articles. He was a friend of the philosopher Bergson and the scientist Claude Bernard on whom he wrote a book. His works were directed especially at French intellectuals (as his famous The Intellectual Life) and ranged from Christian Politics to Prayer and Music and were in a literary style that disturbed the scholastic minded. A sermon preached during World War I led to his exile in Jerusalem, Holland, and Belgium, but he returned to France in 1939 and continued his writing.
Humbert Clérissac (1864-1914) also spent much of his life abroad in England as a retreat master. He spoke to the Lutherans of Stockholm, helped Ernest Psichari return to the Church, and was the spiritual director of the novelist Léon Bloy and of Jacques Maritain. His works reflect the Modernist crisis but also are directed to the cultivated laity such as his classic The Mystery of the Church (1919). Later in the same tradition Jean-Pierre Maydieu (d. 1955), was a collaborator in La Vie Intellectuelle founded by M.-V. Bernadot in 1927, and after 1945 edited it. He served in the army in World War 11, participated in the Resistance and was imprisoned. His works included The Beatitudes, Christ and World, and A Catechism for Today. He was noted for his ability to stimulate dialogue with the most diverse groups. Similarly, Pius Raymond Régamey was able to reach the laity on such topics as Christian poverty.
In England another Preacher with a gift for speaking to the laity about prayer was Bede Jarrett of whom more later, and among his successful disciples was Gerald Vann (d. 1963). After studies in the Angelicum, he read modern philosophy at Oxford and became interested in the psychology of Carl Jung. He taught and was headmaster at the Dominican school for boys at Laxton until 1952. In 1938 he had organized the Union of Prayer for Peace. From 1952 to his death, he wrote and lectured at Cambridge, Edinburgh, Newcastle, and in the United States. A shy but exceedingly witty man, in his Morals Makyth Man, The Divine Pity, Eve and the Gryphon, and The Paradise Tree as well as a work on marriage problems published pseudonymously, he tried to bring a more psychological and symbolic approach to morality and spirituality. Similarly, his confrere Thomas Gilby, along with his new translation of the Summa also applied Thomism to poetry and to logic in a delightful way.
The tradition of Arintero in Spain was carried on by men such as Ignacio González Menéndez-Reigada (d. 1951), who taught both morals and mysticism at Salamanca, writing on the gifts of the Spirit, as well as on international law and the problem of the just war (in the case of the Spanish Civil War) and Victorino Osende who wrote excellent practical guides to prayer.
This lay spirituality was exemplified in life and writing by such persons as the Tertiary Soledad Arroyo who wrote a Key of Paradise (1918), and Elizabeth Leseur (d. 1914), married to Felix Leseur, but without children. She had given up the faith but was led back to it by reading the agnostic Renan’s Life of Jesus and as a Tertiary under the direction of Joseph Hébert led a life dedicated to God. After her death her atheist husband on reading her spiritual journal was himself converted and became the Dominican Albert Leseur (d. 1958), who wrote her biography. Other members of the Dominican Laity were the apostle of the Rosary, Bl. Bartolo Longo (d. 1926, beatified 1980) and Giorgio La Pira (d. 1977) who as mayor of Florence gave an example of a politician truly concerned with the poor. It was during this period that some six Secular Institutes were added to the Dominican family, such as Caritas founded by J. M. Perrin, a blind priest.
But the older devotion to the rosary dear to the laity as a means of contemplation did not disappear, as evidenced by some 30 periodicals published to promote it. E.M. Rossetti (d. 1974), Joseph Eyquem, and E. Limeck of Australia founded new rosary societies and experimented with new forms of it, more biblically based.
The spirituality of this century was also reflected in the increasing number of martyrs caught in the conflicts of our times such as the 107 Dominicans massacred in the Spanish Civil War including the former Master of the Order, Bonaventura Garcia de Paredes, the German Tito Horten killed in a Nazi prison, and many members of the Family killed in the Congo, Peru and Central America even recently.
Finally, there have been many who have worked for the renewal of religious life, whether in official positions as cardinals, Paul Philippe and Jerome Hamer; or through a study of the Dominican spiritual tradition as Hieronymus Wilms, Paulino Alvarez, André Duval, and Raimundo Spiazzi, or by I. Taurizano and I. Colosio through their Rivista di Ascetica e Mistica.
One of the marks of this century in the Order is the increasing specialization and professionalism required in the apostolate. Thus most young Dominicans today earn academic degrees not merely in philosophy or theology but in a diversity of fields, and we read of a Louis Kelly, who worked for 25 years exclusively with prisoners, and Henry Pire, who in 1958 won the Nobel Peace Prize for caring for war refugees, and a young member of the Dominican Laity (as the secular Tertiaries are now called) Peter George Frassati, who died of polio while a leader of Catholic Action for youth, and whose cause for beatification has been introduced. The variety of apostolates in the Order is immense.
Obviously this means that “preaching” is no longer only or even chiefly done in the pulpit or even by sermonizing but through a variety of media and on a diversity of occasions through which others may be reached. Yet direct preaching still remains important, whether in the liturgy or in retreats and small groups. Among the notable preachers in this older sense can be mentioned Casal Carmelli (d. 1904), a noted preacher in North Italy who ended his life paralyzed for eight years; the Croatian Angelus M. Miskov (d. 1922), a pioneer in women’s education and a preacher of “missions”; Henry Ignatius Smith (d. 1957), who founded the Preachers’ Institute at The Catholic University of America, and Walter Farrell (d. 1951), well known for his great influence on the teaching of theology in Catholic colleges in the United States; Vincent F. Kienberger (d. 1963), a preacher of the Eucharist and the spiritual welfare of priests; John McNicholas, Archbishop of Cincinnati (d. 1950); Henry Hage (d. 1917), founder of the Canadian Province, etc.
But if we are to pick out three leaders in this field in this time, I would select first, Albert Janvier, who for 23 years preached at Notre Dame, until 1924, and left a great collection of sermons, polished in style and like Lacordaire’s, solid in substance and fitted to the needs of the time. Second would be Bede Jarrett, the English Provincial and medieval historian who brought the Dominicans back to Blackfriars at Oxford. Jarrett, who had a wonderful gift for friendship and a style that was modern, direct, informal, yet elegant, knew how to reach his audiences in Britain and America and set for Anglophiles a type of simple eloquence far different from the medieval scholastic sermon or the Renaissance and Baroque oratory. The third would be Vincent McNabb, an Irishman who rivaled the English in his eccentricity, who revived open-air controversial preaching in London (the Catholic Evidence Guild) and strode the London streets in his full habit.
Most of this direct preaching took place in parishes in our charge, typical of the missionary or former missionary countries. In 1983 this meant some 438 parishes, which generally have a good reputation for preaching, although Paul VI in 1979 could still exclaim that “One says of the Dominicans that they are preachers. But it is rare to hear the preaching of a Dominican!”
Certainly one could not complain that Dominican Third Order Sisters were not evident, since their mission of education, hospital, social, and missionary work spread throughout the world. To exemplify this by an especially interesting example we have only to recall the life of Mother Alphonsa Lathrop (1851-1926), born Rose Hawthorne, the daughter of the great American (and Calvinist-Transcendentalist) Nathaniel Hawthorne. She lived in England and Italy as a child while her father was American Consul, but returned to Concord in 1860. Acquainted with all the luminaries of the Transcendentalists as a girl, she married George Parsons Lathrop, and lived in New York and then in Boston while he was assistant editor of the Atlantic Monthly, and she herself wrote poems and short stories for many publications, and a book of poems Along the Shore. After suffering the death of a son both became Catholics in 1891 and together wrote A Story of Courage about their conversion, but George sank into alcoholism and she was forced to separate from him. Her Paulist director told her of the neglected death of a young seamstress sent to Blackwell’s Island to die of cancer.
Rose trained for three months at the New York Cancer Hospital and began work in a small building for cancer victims on the Lower East Side, supporting her project by writing articles and a memoir of her father. She consoled George in his last illness, in 1898; and in 1899, Clement Thuente, O.P., received her and her friend Alice Huber as Tertiaries. As Alphonsa and Mary Rose they took vows in 1900 and established the Dominican Congregation of St. Rose of Lima or Servants of Relief for Incurable Cancer, with a motherhouse and novitiate at Hawthorne, New York, and a magazine, Christ’s Poor.
Rose Hawthorne’s work typifies the many Congregations of active women which, as in the 1800s, continued to be founded in this twentieth century, at least 114 with about 40,000 members. There are also some 5,000 Second Order nuns. Yet the crisis of vocations has hit the women of the Order even more severely than the men and many of these congregations are rapidly aging. To meet this crisis, a marked shift from institutional missions to less formal and largely social ministries seems to be taking place, often with the necessary adoption of a style of life which suggests these Tertiaries in the future may be Dominican secular rather than religious institutes.
Among the Dominican Laity, besides those already mentioned were others such as Práxedes Fernández Garcia, called the “Mother of Mine Workers” in Spain and Lucie Feliz Fauré-Goyau (d. 1913), daughter of the President of the French Republic who, guided by the Dominican preacher Raymond Feuillette, sought to be a “servant of souls” in social work but especially in counseling unbelievers and in writing on the role of women and education of children. Among her works were books on Newman and Dante, Toward Joy: Christianity and Feminine Culture.
But this was also especially the time of the expansion of missionary activities, in spite of tragic setbacks in China and Vietnam. Not only did Dominicans continue missionary work in Europe, as in Scandanavia and Russia (through the ecumenical Istina Institute), but also to Islam, as in the work of the Cairo Institute under George C. Anawati, in Lebanon, and in the work of Joseph Kenny in Nigeria, and to the Jews at Isaiah House in Jerusalem. The purpose of such work is not proselytism but ecumenism. In addition, there was evangelization in over 88 countries in all the continents, especially in Africa, New Zealand, New Guinea, India, Pakistan, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines and in Latin America.
Typical of this endeavor was Mary Joseph Rogers (d. 1955), who founded the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic. Born in Boston in 1882, she studied at Smith College and taught biology there, then taught in the Boston public schools. While she was still at Smith, James F. Walsh helped her start a mission study club and when the Maryknoll Missionary Society was founded by Walsh and Price, she and some secretaries of the society formed their Third Order community in 1920. She was re-elected until she resigned in 1946, after also founding a cloistered branch of the community to pray for the missions. Maryknoll has become one of the greatest of missionary societies and prominent for its support of the movement toward Liberation Theology.
Perhaps the most significant advance in preaching was the increasing use of a variety of media, including fine arts. Here two events are especially notable. One was the efforts of French Dominicans, publishers of Art Sacrée, to once again enlist leading artists, so often today alienated from the Church, to take an interest in liturgical art. Pierre Marie-Alain Couturier (d. 1954), himself a talented painter induced such artists as Léger, Rouault, Matisse, Chagall, to contribute to the Chapel at Assy, Switzerland. Sister Jacques who had nursed Matisse at Nice interested him in the Dominican Sisters’ Chapel of Rosary at Vence assisted by Br. L.B. Rayssiguier, clerical student and architect, and the architect A. Perret, which resulted in a masterpiece. Another notable event was the formation, chiefly under the leadership of Conrad Pepler of a group of artists, including the sculptor and calligrapher Eric Gill and the painter and critic David Jones to form a Dominican Laity community at Ditchling, in which the distributist social ideals of Hilaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton in the English tradition of Christian socialism of William Morris were for a time successfully put into practice.
Numerous liturgical musicians such as P.J. Harrison, Bruno Hespers, Vincent Donovan, F.A. Ellington, Frank M. Qumn, and James Marchionda can be mentioned, and both painting (Couturier, the Argentinian William Butler, Angelo Zarlenga) and sculpture (Henry Flanagan of Ireland, Thomas McGlynn of the United States) were widely practiced. Others wrote on the arts such as Giacinto D’Urso, Alfonso D’Amato, Venturino Alce and Val McInnes, or were known for their excellent literary style such as Dalmatius Sertillanges or Ambroise M. Carré, elected to the French Academy.
An example of the possibilities of this approach was the remarkable work of Urban (Edward J.) Nagle in Christian theater. He taught at Providence College, edited a spiritual periodical and acted as a chaplain to Sisters, but he and Thomas F. Carey, founded the Blackfriars Guild, the Speech and Drama Department of The Catholic University of America, and the Catholic Theater Conference (1937). At Catholic University he was succeeded by another successful drama director, Gilbert Hartke, O.P. From 1940-1951 Nagel was moderator for the Blackfriars Guild in New York City of the first of the “off-Broadway” theaters, for which he also wrote plays. His experiences were related in a witty book, Behind the Masque, 1951. He was also speaker on many radio and television programs. Since then pioneer radio and television are increasingly used by Dominicans to proclaim the Gospel.