Cultural Revolutions

Fr. Stanley Jaki, R.I.P.

When the 18-year-old Stanley Jaki entered the archabbey of Pannonhalma in western Hungary to become a monk, he would have seen over the great entrance to the conventual complex an image that still may be seen there today, a summary of the “enlightened” Viennese policy for regular clergy: On one side, King St. Stephen of the House of Arpad is handing a charter to a medievally clad abbot on which is written Praedicate a.d. 1001, that is, “preach ye”; and on the other, the Doppelkaiser Francis I of the House of Habsburg is handing a charter to an abbot in baroque choir dress, on which is written Docete a.d. 1802, that is, “teach ye.”  The philo-masonic policies of the Austrian court in the late 18th and early 19th centuries determined the value of monastic life to be learning and teaching the arts and sciences for the advantage of the state.  Preaching the Gospel to the Hun, Magyar, and Croat was out, and schoolmastering was in.  The unique and monumental work of Fr. Stanley Jaki (born in Gyor, August 17, 1924; died in Madrid, April 7, 2009) was the perfect Aufhebung of the antithesis implied in the imperial command.  To be sure, in the 20th century there were the likes of the Anglican E.L. Mascall and the American Dominicans of the River Forest School, or currently the brilliant Mariano Artigas of Opus Dei, but no Christian writer has confronted the false dichotomy of religion and science with more persistence...

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