Dear Friends of the Kolbe Center,
Today, August 20, we celebrate the Feast of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church. One of the most remarkable foreshadowings of the modernist revolt against the true doctrine of creation took place almost one thousand years ago when St. Bernard of Clairvaux preached against several heresies which bore many similarities to modern errors.
One of the plays produced at a Kolbe leadership retreat focused on the confrontation between St. Bernard and Abbot Peter Abelard which anticipated the ongoing struggle between a humanist worldview whose starting point is skepticism and human science and the Catholic worldview whose starting point is the certitude of Faith and theological science. (The play “To Soar Above Reason” can be viewed at this link with the password kolbeplays)
Abbot Abelard anticipated the theistic evolutionist mentality by denying the original holiness of Adam, the effects of Original Sin, and the necessity of Our Lord's work of Redemption to restore human nature.
Peter Abelard: Striving by Reason to go Beyond Reason
When Abbot Abelard was called to appear before the King of France, several Bishops, and St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Bernard confronted him with a number of heretical propositions that had been extracted from his writings. St. Bernard invited Abelard to defend, clarify, or renounce the propositions, but Abelard announced his intention to appeal to Rome and refused to respond. This prompted St. Bernard to write a letter to Pope Innocent II identifying the principal disorder at the root of all of Abelard's errors. He wrote:
The Abbot Abelard lifts his head to heaven, examines the lofty things of God, and returns to report to us the ineffable words which it were not lawful for a man to utter; and while he is ready to render a reason for all things, even for those which are above reason, he is presuming against both reason and faith; since what can be more contrary to reason than to strive by reason to go beyond reason? And what could be more contrary to faith than to refuse our belief to that which we cannot attain by reason?
Faith: Not an Opinion but a Certitude
Abelard stood near the head of a long line of Catholic intellectuals who would seek to render a natural explanation for things that have no natural explanation - most especially for the origins of man and the universe. But St. Bernard of Clairvaux saw clearly what we nowadays often forget - that it is impossible to defend a supernatural reality, like fiat creation or the Virgin birth, by offering a natural explanation. Indeed, he saw that to attempt to defend the revealed truths of our faith like the fiat creation of all things at the beginning of time with reason alone is to call into question the unshakable firmness of our faith:
Far be it from us to think, as this man does, that anything in our faith or hope is left suspended on a doubtful opinion, and is not rather founded altogether on the certain and solid truth, divinely attested by oracles and miracles, established and consecrated by the childbirth of the Virgin, by the Blood of the Redeemer, by the splendor of His Resurrection. These testimonies are too credible for doubt. But if even they were at all less certain, the Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the sons of God. How, then, can anyone dare to say that faith is opinion; unless he is one who has not yet received the Spirit, or who ignores the Gospel, or thinks it a fable? . . . For faith is not an opinion; it is a certitude.
Just a little over a hundred years ago, in the same land of St. Bernard of Clairvaux and Peter Abelard, the young Carmelite nun who was called "the greatest saint of modern times" by Pope St. Pius X, St. Therese of Lisieux, experienced the worst temptation of her life as she lay dying. It was the temptation to which Abbot Peter Abelard had yielded and to which all modernists succumb, to one degree or another:
If you only knew what frightful thoughts obsess me. Pray very much for me so that I do not listen to the Devil who wants to persuade me about so many lies. It is the reasoning of the worst materialists that is imposed upon my mind. Later, unceasingly making new advances, science will explain everything naturally. We shall have the absolute reason for everything that exists ...(emphasis added)
A New Initiative to Restore Traditional Creation Theology
I am happy to report that a new three-pronged initiative has been launched by some of our colleagues in Europe and the U.S., to restore traditional creation theology. It is primarily an initiative for Catholic clergy so that they can learn what they need to teach the faithful about this fundamental doctrine and to work within the Church for a renewal of the theology of creation. Our friends have established the St. Basil Institute for the Theology of Creation for interested clergy, the Pastoral Academy for the Theology of Creation, to teach clergy and laity traditional creation theology, and the Creation Theology Fellowship for all Catholics interested in learning and defending traditional creation theology. The Creation Theology Fellowship website can be accessed through this link.
Through the prayers of the Mother of God, may the Holy Ghost grant to all of us an unshakable faith in God's Word as believed in the Church from the beginning, the wisdom of St. Bernard to distinguish between those things that are of faith and those that are not, and the courage to defend and proclaim the things that are of faith, no matter what the cost.
Yours in Christ through the Immaculata in union with St. Joseph,
P.S. I thank God for the privilege of writing for readers who love Him so much but who also possess a burning zeal for the truth. It does not take long for my mistakes to be pointed out to me! In our last newsletter, I wrote that modernists like to find contradictions between Genesis 1 and 2 and even to assert two authors. As some of you were quick to point out, Mike Gladieux in his masterpiece The Genesis Documents has made an overwhelming case that Genesis 1 was written by God Himself, given to St. Adam, and then redacted into the Pentateuch by Moses. So, what I should have said is that modernists assert that Genesis 1 and 2 had two different human authors who contradict each other!