At first glance it might appear rather strange that missionaries like those of us in the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word (IVE) would commit so much time to philosophy studies, philosophy conferences, and even full-time editing and publications of philosophical works.
After all, if a priest is going to serve in an inner-city parish in Philadelphia or a sister is going to care for disabled children in Peru…what do they need philosophy for? Beyond the strictest demands of seminary studies, isn’t it kind of a waste of precious time and energy?
Didn’t Tertullian get it right in De praescriptione haereticorum (Chapter 7, 9) when he complained against pagan learning in his famous quote concerning scripture study: Quid ergo Athenis et Hierosolymis? “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?”
Thomistic Studies: an annual week of intensive philosophy
And yet, year after year we gather in our seminaries around the world for a marathon of philosophy talks known as the “Thomistic Studies.”
We really mean “marathon”: this year in the US we had 36 presentations over 3 days before a final day of 5 guest speakers!
Priests, seminarians, and sisters study various aspects of a given philosophical theme central to the philosophy of St Thomas Aquinas and then present in a series of connected topics covering the historical and doctrinal elements.
This year in Washington the talks were on Human Freedom, and we were especially blessed to have our final presentation given by His Excellency Archbishop William Lori of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and Chairman of the Committee on Religious Liberty for the USCCB. He spoke on the foundations of Religious Freedom, the Vatican II document Dignitatis Humanae, and answered questions about the current situation of religious freedom facing us in our country at this time especially the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor (a decision to be handed down by the Supreme Court on Wednesday March 23).
Past years have covered Causality, The Soul, Esse and Essentia, Participation, the Drama of Modern Atheism, etc. Working through a series of seven topics, we draw on the foundation of St Thomas Aquinas (read more about the Thomistic base of our Religious Family).
Cornelio Fabro Cultural Project Comes to America: April 2016 Symposium at CUA
Even more than this, some of our missionary priests and sisters are dedicated full-time to the work of editing and publishing the works of Cornelio Fabro (1911-1995) one of the preeminent Thomistic philosophers of the 20th century [photo gallery].
We became involved in the Cornelio Fabro Cultural Project [ENG / ITAL] in 2002 in Italy, and since 2003 have been granted the copyright to publish all of his works and to translate as well (the Santa Croce Pontifical University holds his academic library.)
A group of our sisters in Italy are dedicated full-time to collaborating with the IVE priests in the painstaking editorial work involved in reprinted archived articles, transcribing lectures, and transferring reel-to-reel recordings to MP3 format. In addition to the publications, there are conferences, symposia, and on-going research projects. In case you’re wondering…here are nine answers to the question: “Why Fabro?” and to what Fabrian works are available in English.
In the November of 2015, an event was held in Italy to study “Libery in the Thought of Cornelio Fabro” on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of his death. Speakers included:
- Elvio Fontana, IVE (Pontificia Università Urbaniana [ENG])
- Ariberto Acerbi (Pontificia Università della Santa Croce [ENG])
- Alain Contat (Pontificio Ateneo Regina Apostolorum)
- Christian Ferraro, IVE (Pontificia Università Lateranense [bilingual page])
- Giovanni Turco (Università degli Studi di Udine [ENG])
- Danilo Castellano (Università degli Studi di Udine [ENG])
- Suor Rosa Goglia (Suore Adoratrici del Sangue di Cristo), long-time academic secretary to Cornelio Fabro
This coming April, the Catholic University of America is hosting the first Cornelio Fabro Symposium in Washington, DC April 1-2, 2016. Co-sponsored by the Cornelio Fabro Cultural Project in the US, the event will include the following speakers:
- Fr. Nathaniel Dreyer, IVE (English Language Division of the Cornelio Fabro Cultural Project)
- Fr. Gianluca Trombini, IVE (Director of the Cornelio Fabro Cultural Project)
- Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS (Mundelein Seminary)
- Msgr. John Wippel (Catholic University of America)
- Dr. Joseph T. Papa (Pontifical College Josephinum)
- Dr. Gregory Doolan (Catholic University of America)
- Fr. Jason Mitchell (Gannon University)
- Dr. Joshua Furnal (Tadboud University Nijmegen)
- Dr. Patricia Pintado (Mundelein Seminary)
So why philosophy and missionaries?
It is also because as serious Christians, as “contemplatives in action”, we long to search for the truth.
It is especially because if we are called to be missionaries of Jesus Christ we must be prepared to encounter others in the wideness of our contemporary world and to explain “the reason for our hope”(1 Pet 3:15).
And so we study philosophy and theology; the natural and the supernatural. For, truth is one and leads us back to the author of all truth, who is Himself Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life (Jn 14:6).
Let our sisters in the works of mercy turn often to the Summa Theologica during their daily times of study to put into words the dignity of the human person they have just fed and clothed. And blessings on the doctoral studies in philosophy of both IVE priests serving in an inner-city parish in Philadelphia! St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!