Two Cardinals and a Bishop
Last Sunday afternoon, the Fordham University church rang with joyful and grateful voices — voices of family, of fellow Jesuits, and of friends — celebrating the 90th birthday of Cardinal Avery Dulles. Rendered mute by illness, Dulles’s alert eyes sparkled as he acknowledged smiles, words of appreciation, and, after Mass, toasts to commemorate (as one speaker put it) the 69th anniversary of his 21st birthday.
The Summer 2008 issue of Chicago Studies is dedicated to the theological achievement of Avery Dulles. It will be an important resource. Father Robert Barron’s contribution is entitled, “A Tale of Two Cardinals: Avery Dulles’s Creative Engagement of the Thought of John Henry Newman.”
Towards the end of his article Barron writes:
It is my conviction that an apologetics for a post-critical age will involve just this sort of confident use of both the rational and the affective, both the discursive and the intuitive, both the theological and the artistic in the process of bringing people to faith. Both John Henry Newman and Avery Dulles witness to this truth.
Without doubt, the pioneer and exemplar of this synthesis is the great pastor, theologian, and saint whose feast the Church celebrates tomorrow. Just a morsel from the Augustinian feast (from Confessions, Book X):
Not with uncertain, but with assured consciousness do I love You, O Lord. You have stricken my heart with Your word, and I loved You. And also the heaven, and earth, and all that is therein, behold! on every side they say that I should love You. Nor do they cease to speak unto all,so that they are without excuse(Rom 1:20). But more profoundly will You have mercy on whom You will have mercy, and compassion on whom You will have compassion, otherwise do both heaven and earth tell forth Your praises to deaf ears. But what is it that I love in loving You? Not corporeal beauty, nor the splendor of time, nor the radiance of the light, so pleasant to our eyes, nor the sweet melodies of songs of all kinds, nor the fragrant smell of flowers, and ointments, and spices, not manna and honey, not limbs pleasant to the embraces of flesh. I love not these things when I love my God. And yet I love a certain kind of light, and sound, and fragrance, and food, and embrace in loving my God, who is the light, sound, fragrance, food, and embrace of my inner self— where that light shines unto my soul which no place can contain, where that sounds which time snatches not away, where there is a fragrance which no breeze disperses, where there is a food which no eating can diminish, and where that clings which no satiety can sunder. This is what I love, when I love my God.