OF REASONING AND VISION
AN E S S A Y IN CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY, by Dom Illtyd Trethowan (Longmans, 12s. 6d.). DOM ILLTYD TRETHOWAN, whose name spells poetry for those who can pronounce it naturally, comes, presumably, of a race that does not suffer tyrannies, dictatorships a n d monopolies very gladly; a free, mountain people near God in prayer and poetry. This might seem a long way off the subject to be discussed; but in the end it may not prove so irrelevant.
In Certainty (Deere Press, 1948), Dam Illtyd discussed knowledge and its basis in regard to the act of faith; in collaboration with Dom Mark Pontifex in The Meaning of Existence (Longman's, 1951) the discussion was about God's existence. Both books were in a sense a challenge to the many "conventional Thomists" professing in our seminaries, though they were not so intended.
The present book, as Dom Illtyd himself explains, is intended for nonChristians as well as Christians. It is a piece of philosophical writing, not a sermon for Christian philosophers. His aim is to set out the general lines of his philosophical outlook. only partially reflected in the two books referred to above. And that because he finds himself with many modern philosophers-and a great many traditional ones as well-in not being wholly convinced that St. Thomas s proofs of the existence of God, or his answers, or the answers of official Thomism anyway, to certain epistemological and metaphysical problems are as satisfying as those of St. Augustine or Scotus. He finds Blonde' and Le Senne more to his taste than the modern prophet of Thomism Jacques Ma rite in.
The book, as 1 he author says, is "an attack upon atheism"; a sound and convincing one at that, showing up and demolishing the wordy inanities that masquerade as philosophy in that famous journal warningly (?) called Mind.
But from an internal, from the family point of view. so to speak, more important is the forthright stand Dom Illtyd takes against the "dogmatism of the conventional Thomist philosopher," and the exaggerated claims for official recognition of Thomm based on the Encyclical Hurnani Generis. "It is not, I believe, in the interests of official Thomism itself that it should he the only available form of Christian Philosophy," he writes, and adds : "And I make bold to suggest that St. Thomas would not disapprove of my purpose or (in general) the way in which I have tried to carry it out."
QURELY one of the most valuable Oprotests is against that Thomistic doctrine by which the intelligence is cut off from direct knowledge of "particulars," and knows only "universals"; and all the unconvincing apparatus by which the "active intellect** abstracts "intelligible species."
Another issue which runs through the whole essay is the difficulty which arises from distinguishing or separating things which as they exist are one. Right at the very foundation is the body and soul distinction; they are not two things which together make a third, but one thing. So will and intellect are not two things, but one. differentiated only by the mode and object of acting,'in knowing and chnosing.
The most stimulating, most "modern" of the notions are those by which God is, as it were, the ultimate ground of our act of knowledge, and our act of moral choice, The intellect is made primarily not for discursive reasoning but for "looking into" things, contemplating, viewing attentively, so that in the end only seeing is believing.
Thomism is often called the philosophy of common sense. It is worth noting that all Dom Illtyd's departures from official Thomism arc towards the common-sense point of view, the existential, the things as they are, point of view-away front the view of things as we think about them to the way we experience them. EVENING MASS. by Gerald Ellard, Si. (Liturgical Press, SL John's Abbey, Collegeville, Min, U.S.A., 52).
'hooks is not usual to note in this column 'hooks not available through British publishers, but exception may perhaps be made for the famous American Jesuit Fr. Ellard's Evening Mass. One says this, not because he quotes from this paper more than from any other published in London-though that would not be a bad reason either -but because it is directly on a subject in which we have from the begining of the present editorship been markedly interested, namely, modern liturgical subjects and movements.
Fr. Ellard for the best part of a quarter of a century has been writing on Evening and Afternoon Mass as a necessity of the apostolate of modern times. For him. and many others like him, the Apostolic Constitution Christus Dominus of January 6, 1953, was a momentous occasion. In his book he expounds the constitution, gives the full text of it, and the history of the first year of its implementation.
Naturally he urges a fuller and fuller use of the ample scope given by the Constitution. He rightly insists that special note be taken of the Pope's own words to the effect that the habit of Communion at the later, fuller liturgical Masses he preached firmly and insistently. He also stresses the Pope's teaching that the habit of evening Mass must be preached and actively encouraged.
Experiments arc required in the timing of evening Mass in different countries. The "eight o'clock" of the Wednesday or Friday Devotions is not necessarily the right time for Mass with a three-hour precedent fast. In Germany. for instance, it is much nearer the end of the working day and before the normal evening meal. 6.30 p.m. There must he imagination and hold experiment within the present Constitution, and much more general knowledge of it on the part of the faithful.
THREE SHORT NATIVITY PLAYS, by R. P. K. flatlet (Methuen, 2s. 6d.).
MARY, by Fr. Francis Brazier, C.SS.R. (Edward Thompson, Is. 6d.).
THE Anglican Three ShOrt
Nativity Plays are little plays for children, by whom they have already been performed. and who may perform them without payment of royalties. They are charming, the word comes back automatically, and simple enough for children to grasp, and-an important point for children-the words and actions are well shared out among the performers. They are entitled "The Gifts of the Christ Child," "The Rose of Christ," "Love the Star."
Fr. Brazier's is a much more ambitious effort. It comprises four acts and some 17 scenes, the first before the birth of Our Lady, the last the birth of Our Lord at Bethlehem. The Angel Gabriel speaks prologues throughout the play, and much of the dialogue. is prayer.
The question of diction in general, therefore, presents some difficulty and I am not sure that Fr. Brazier has altogether overcome it. "Daddy". and "Darling" and "How awful !' and "Lovely store" are ill-assorted with "Sit down. Matron," "Hart Joseph." "Hail Son of David," but it is recognised that it is. a difficulty.