Reason with Piety
Author: Aidan Nichols, O.P.
With his characteristic insight, clarity, and charity, Aidan Nichols surveys the major writings and theological intuitions of his Dominican confrere Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange (1877-1964), to whom we owe a major twentieth-century appropriation of the Thomist commentators. Originally delivered as lectures at Oxford University, the study traces Garrigou's systematic thought, from the Trinity to eschatology. Nichols attends as well to Garrigou’s understanding of the nature of theology, of metaphysics, of mystical theology, and of the relation of all human acts to man's supernatural end. Demolishing the stereotypical portrait of mid-twentieth century controversies, Nichols shows that "what post-conciliar students can learn from Garrigou is how to 'reason with piety.'
common consent, the Dominican theologian Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange ranks as
the most formidable Catholic theologian of the first half of the twentieth century.
But because he put his vigorous intellect in service to the anti-Modernist cause
of Pope Pius X, he has frequently been attacked by historians for holding back
the forces that eventually led to Vatican II. For that reason he functions nowadays
more as a whipping boy for progressive Catholics than as a living voice of the
Great Tradition that he should be—and really is. Clearly the time has
come for a sober, fair and comprehensive treatment of this great man’s
thought; and Reason with Piety provides just such a lucid survey. This is intellectual
history at its most exciting.
—Edward T. Oakes, S. J., University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, Illinois
Aidan Nichols is well-known in Catholic circles for well-written, jargon-free
books. Accessible but nuanced works on Benedict XVI and Balthasar are just some
of his accomplishments in recent years. His latest wonderful offering is on
Garrigou-Lagrange, arguably the most controversial theologian of the twentieth
century. . . . A target of new theological trends, Garrigou-Lagrange’s
austere, rationalist theology was out of step with the more existential and
humanistic currents popular in the latter part of the twentieth century. Advocate
of a strictly supernatural end of man, he was extremely hostile to religious
naturalism, the idea that religious experience has its foundation in sentiment,
ordinary consciousness or human yearnings. Fr. Nichols’s book appears
at a moment when humanistic theology appears exhausted, its fruits doubted,
theology requiring renewal. John Paul II’s last encyclical, Fides et Ratio,
required theologians to take seriously again the metaphysical supports of theology.
Few theologians in the last century accomplished as much in this regard as Garrigou-Lagrange.
As Catholic theology tries to re-find its philosophical feet Garrigou-Lagrange’s
Thomism offers useful footholds, most ably pointed out by Fr. Nichols.
—G. J. McAleer, Loyola College in Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland
Aidan Nichols, who himself enjoys a certain claim to theological brilliance,
provides a thrust to the growing renewed interest in the incontestable genius
of the twentieth-century theologian and mystic, Marie-Aubin-Gontran Garrigou-Lagrange,
known in the Dominican Order as Reginald. Nichols's research is impeccable.
His writing is lucid (of course). The book's overall presentation is pedagogically
sound. At the same time, no matter how praiseworthy and balanced they are, one
book and one perspective never exhaust what should be said about an incontestable
theological genius. It may take a century for the Catholic world to discover
and to appreciate fully the grace of the Word that Garrigou-Lagrange incarnated
at a crucial juncture in the history of the modern Church. For those who can't
wait that long, Father Nichols' little book supplies a reliable account of one
of the giants of twentieth-century Catholic thought.
—Romanus Cessario, O.P., Saint John's Seminary, Brighton, Massachusetts
Author: Aidan Nichols, O.P.
More by this author...
Length: 160 pages
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