Paul is finalising the proofs for his forthcoming book Intellectuals and the Decline of Religion: Essays and Reviews, to be published by Boolarong Press. It will discuss thinkers such as Newman, Maude Petre, Chesterton, Lionel Curtis, Middleton Murry, Priestley, Toynbee, Tawney, Muggeridge, Vidler, T. S. Eliot, C. S. Lewis and Joseph Needham.
Maude Petre Click here
Maude Petre explains why she stayed within the Catholic Church despite her continuing difficulties caused by her “Modernist heresies” (now regarded as legitimate calls for reform and implemented in Vatican II). See the final section of Paul’s revised essay on “Maude Petre: A Modernist Martyr” in his website dpcrook.wordpress.com.
Maude Petre and George Tyrrell had one of the great love affairs of the time, even though it was non-sexual. He was a dissident Jesuit and she was high up in a Catholic order. For the story of their love see my essay on Maude, A Modernist Martyr (from p.8) in my website dpcrook.wordpress.com. Click maude-petre Maude Petre
“If the world were not full of sorrow and sin; if it were a terrestrial paradise… how could people’s hearts and minds have ever been knit together into one? Compassion, the divine thing about us, would have lain dormant in the depths of our heart like a pearl buried in the ocean; whereas now it shines even in the darkest and most seemingly God-forsaken souls”
(George Tyrrell, Nova et Vetera [The New and the Old]: Informal Meditations for Times of Spiritual Dryness, 1897).
“Religious truth is mysterious but it is no abyss of darkness on the borders of which we dwell in terror; it is as the starlit ocean which washes our shore and invites us to embark on its bosom. And if it be through life that we find the meaning of religious truth, it is also through religious truth that we find the meaning of life…”
[Laberthonniere, Essays ]
“Tyrrell continued to see in a reinterpreted Catholicism the ideal of a universal Christian society which could gather together the fragments of a shattered Christendom. While Christianity would see itself as the highest expression of the religious instinct of humanity, it would also recognize the right of other religions to exist. Absolute truth belongs to the future and lies outside history. The ideal of one universal religion must be as ‘the thought of a land to which we ever journey, without hope of reaching it’. The spirit of Christ is not limited to Christianity, nor to a visible Church. As the true light that enlightens every one of us who comes into the world, the spirit of Christ speaks to each person ‘in the mysterious whisperings of conscience’ ” [Ellen Leonard, George Tyrrell and the Catholic Tradition, p.90].
George Tyrrell advocated a reorganisation of Catholicism. He wanted it to get away from rigid dogmas and to return to its essential message of religion as life-affirming, spiritual and mystical. Tradition was greatly valuable but the truths embedded within tradition had to be sifted from accidental accretions. As Ellen Leonard comments:
“Tyrrell had a deep appreciation for the rich Catholic tradition, although he seems to have preferred to refer to it as ‘life’ rather than as ‘tradition’. He was convinced that the new had to be made out of the old, and yet the past should not be imposed as a dead burden on the present. It must constantly be criticized in order to retain what is essential and to discard what is accidental. Tyrrell opposed any theory which would accept tradition en bloc. Tradition contains truth of all sorts, as gold in the ore. It must be continually sifted and corrected. He insisted that “… the attitude of the Modernists, however critical, is one of attachment to, not detachment from, the Church’s tradition’ “.
[George Tyrrell and the Catholic Tradition, pp.77-78]
A number of important twentieth century commentators expressed similar views. I deal with them in my forthcoming book Intellectuals and the Decline of Religion.