Few things irritate the university elites more than the sentiments expressed in the traditional Collect for the feast of St. Albert the Great that we observed this past week.
Deus, qui beátum Albértum, Pontíficem tuum atque Doctórem, in humána sapiéntia divínæ fídei subjiciénda magnum effecísti…
Translated: O God, who didst make blessed Albert, thy Bishop and Doctor, great by subjecting human wisdom to divine faith…
The meaning is clear. St. Albert’s greatness was not to be found in his brilliant mind, though he definitely had one. His greatness was to be found in the fact that he subjected his science to the rule of faith. Academic pursuits are to be laid open and exposed to the power and the force of faith. Academic pursuit is to be submissive to faith; academic pursuit must obey faith.
And this is how it ought to be in the rational order, for faith is what we know with certainty, while human science is, and always has been, changing law. Each generation either discards previous science for new, or adds to and modifies past science to explain new discoveries and new propositions. The faith, on the other hand, has always been the same, and always will be. No discovery in the natural order, no new philosophical proposition, will ever change the reality of God and the truth revealed to us in His Incarnation. From atomism to quantum physics, and on to some other understanding as contradictory as all previous understandings, no matter what, God is in His heaven, unchanged. Thus, if human science contradicts the faith, the logical and clear sighted man would be skeptical of the ever changing human science.
That, however, is not the case in regards to modern man, who is skeptical of all things having to do with faith, but absolutist in regards to the ever changing laws of human science. I was once asked why I didn’t “agree with the obvious facts of evolution.” I answered that I haven’t enough faith to believe in evolution. Indeed, it takes more faith to believe in the unseen and unobserved and unexamined and untested “facts” of evolution than it takes to believe in what is seen and heard and felt daily in regards to my Catholic faith. This speaks to the realism of religious faith. We believe what we experience. The modern sophisticate, who hasn’t the time for religious faith, but banks instead on his human science, believes only that which he can quantify and chart out. While this might be nice and neat, mathematical, and precise, it’s hardly an adequate or humane substitute for lived experience.
And how utterly sad it is when this attitude is applied to the divine sciences. There is a kind of quantifying that goes on in the modern Catholic university. The “datum” of the faith is subjected to human science, to the changing laws of natural science, sociology, economics, philosophy, etc. The “datum” of faith, it is judged by the university elites, must be modified, re-molded, re-envisioned, adapted, updated, in order to bring the "datum" of faith into conformity with the science of modern man. The end result of this subjecting faith to science is a faith changed, and certainly not the faith given to us by God. This is the recipe for dissent, the same dissent that runs rampant through our Catholic colleges and universities.
This is the dissent and division that Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, papal nuncio to the United States, recently addressed at the University of Notre Dame. He spoke of the danger posed by faculty members at Catholic universities that present opinions and positions at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church. This, Archbishop Vigano contended, weakens the Church and makes it susceptible to manipulations and even persecutions.
The problem has been identified. It has been addressed. But is the proper remedy being applied? It apparently is not, as is evidenced by what most Catholics in the United States heard on the feast of St. Albert the Great at their novus ordo Masses:
O God, who made the Bishop Saint Albert great by his joining of human wisdom to divine faith…
Joining? That is terribly different than subjecting, isn’t it? The Collect in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite means something very different from what the Collect in the Traditional Latin Mass conveys. While the traditional Collect conforms both to what the Church has always taught and to logic, the novus ordo Collect conforms to only one thing: the pride of modern man who puts his science on the same level as divine faith.
If the novus ordo is the liturgical standard that Archbishop Vigano proposes to those he addressed at the University of Notre Dame, then he might as well have been speaking to the wall. He can wax eloquently all he wants about division and dissention in our Catholic universities, but the liturgy he celebrates does nothing but foment those same divisions and dissentions.