Posted March 21, 2011
Book: Anthology of Catholic Philosophy
Edited by James C. Swindal & Harry J. Gensler, S.J.
Sheed & Ward. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Lanham, MD. 2005. Pp. 583
An Excerpt from the Jacket:
The Sheed & Ward Anthology of Catholic Philosophy is a thorough introduction to the evolution of Catholic philosophy from Biblical times to the present day. The first comprehensive collection of readings from Catholic philosophers, this volume aims to sharpen the understanding of Catholic philosophy by grouping together the best examples of this tradition, both well-known classics and lesser-known selections. The readings emphasize themes integral to the Catholic tradition such as the harmony of faith and reason, the existence and nature of God, the nature of the human person and of being, and the objectivity of moral law.
An Excerpt from the Book:
The Essence of Christianity
For what does Christianity say? What does it preach? Despite an apparently complicated system of dogma and morals, it says something quite simple, nothing else but this: mystery always remains mystery, but this mystery wills to disclose itself as the infinite, the incomprehensible, the unutterable being that is called God, as intimacy that gives itself in an absolute self-communication in the midst of the experience of human emptiness. This intimacy has not only occurred in what we call grace: it has also become historically tangible in him whom we call the God-Man. Both these modes of divine self-communication — that of God “in himself” and that of God “for us” — involve what we call the threefold divine personality: three relations of God’s one being and working: as the creator, as the sanctifier, and as the inward guide and principle of unity.
Man finds it difficult to believe that this utter mystery is close to us and not remote, is love and not a spurning judgement. It is a light that may seem darker to us than our own darkness. But does it not bestow so much light, so much joy, so much love, so much glory in the world of faith as to cause us to say that all this can come only from an absolute light, an absolute love and glory, from an absolute being — even if we do not understand how this our darkness and nothingness can exist when infinite fullness exists, albeit as a mystery? Can I not say that I am right in clinging to light, be it ever so feeble, instead of darkness — to beatitude instead of the hellish torment of my existence?
Suppose I accepted the arguments which existence raises against Christianity. What would they offer me to live by? The courage of an honest man, perhaps — the nobility of one who resolutely faces an absurd existence? But then can this be accepted as something manly, binding and exalted unless again one has said that something honorable and glorious exists — and how can such a thing exist in the abyss of utter absurdity?
Now here we have said something significant. A man who boldly accepts life, even if he be a myopic positivist, has already accepted God as he is in himself, as what he wills to be for us in love and freedom, which means the God of eternal life in his divine self-communication. For anyone who really accepts himself accepts mystery as the infinite emptiness that man is and thereby tacitly accepts him who has decided to fill this emptiness that is the mystery of man with the infinite mystery that is God.
Christianity can be regarded as the clear affirmation of what man obscurely experiences in his concrete existence . . .
Table of Contents:
2. The Patristic era
3. The middle ages
4. Renaissance through the 19th century
5. The twentieth century and beyond