It was the late Fr. Vincent McNabb who suggested that the Archbishop of Canterbury might be asked to address the Aquinas Society Ott Thomism, and when Dr. Temple faced his big and distinguished audience at the London Caxton Hall on Tuesday, it was evident that His Grace could be as provocative of thought as he was well versed ia his subject. This he called, " Thomism and our present needs." He had for chairman Professor Temple, President of the Society, who. incidentally, is no relative of the Archbishop's.
It was obvious, too, that Dr. Temple knew his St. Teresa and his St. John of the Cross, and if he once let his audience (who, to quote the chairman, were enjoying an " intellectual feast "I take a peep into his own intimate feelings, he did so in a comment on The Spiritual Letters of Dom Chapman" a striking book which I read a year or two ago," he said.
Contrasts in the book between Si. Teresa's delight in union with God and Si, John's stress on the value of aridity brought this comment from the Archbishop: " Though aridity ought to form part of our experience till we are perfected, I don't think there is any aridity in Heaven, and I don't think Dom Chapman thought so either." He would plead, he added, for " a new assertion of the primacy of love over knowledge."
Having thus given expression to an intimate thought, it was not surprising that Fr. Victor White, the Dominican theologian and Thomist scholar, who was listening attentively in the audience, should remark in the subsequent discussion that Love does most definitely come before Intellect — " even St. Thomas maintains it." After ail, works of mercy were greater than science.
SIN—MORE IMPORTANT THAN SINS Though not a stlident of St. Thomas, so the Archbishop told his audiense. he had nevertheless read him, and had often quoted him. "Th the last few days I have attended very closely to what he has to say about sin." We needed, he thought, " a deeper appreciation of sin as contrasted with sins."
His task being to see whether Thomism can be applied to modern requirements and in the solution of actual problems, he would start by stressing " our need for a map of the modern world." The most comprehensive map of the world to-day was Thomism, he believed. But was it acceptable in
principle ? Would any modifications be required in it to meet the challenges that reformers did certainly make ? Such as, for instance, their emphasis on individuality ? There was need, moreover, for an adjustment to a changing, as contrasted with a static, society. " But prudence directs us to test the Thomist system, and we should take the outline and see how far it can be applied."
He would add, however, his conviction that St. Thomas never failed to insist on individuality, nor to insist on the value of personal experience, though he felt that the sixteenth century had brought these out more fOreib/Y. Further interesting points from the Archbishop's talk include: " Regarding education, we talk on bow we must develop the person, but you must not ask what is his nature or destiny. . A poet expresses himself in his poetry, but don't ask if he has a self that is worth expressing. . . (following comments on the spirit of compromise inherent in Englishmen): Neither the French nor the Russian Revolutions could have happened here, and I trust we may never reach a state of mind in which it would he possible. . ' Art for art's sake ' and ' business is business ' arc propositions of equal value. Politicians never dream of discussing what is our goal or aim in preparing the reconstruction of the life of Europe. . . Changes in the public mind to-day are much deeper than those caused by the influence of the Renaissance ot the Reformation. . A valuable warning of Matitain's is against that individualism which struggles against the social instincts of the individual."
Mr. Richard O'Sullivan, K.C., in the discussion that followed, paid tribute to the " generous words "' the Archbishop had used during the discussion in the House of Lords on the White Paper when the educational claims of Catholics were touched upon.