"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Yves Congar Newly Translated

If you read my Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy: Ut Unum Sint and the Prospects of East-West Unity you will note in there my indebtedness to, inter alia, Yves Congar, especially his great work True and False Reform in the Church,
whose French original, published in Paris in 1950, I drew on. Congar noted rightly that any true reform always consists of a return to first principles and proceeds ex traditione: “la grande loi d’un réformisme catholique sera donc de commencer par un retour aux principes du catholicisme. Il faudra d’abord interroger la tradition, se replonger en elle.” Only in 2011 was this book finally translated into English, making this pivotal figure and his rich thinking available to anglophone audiences.

Congar, in his own day, was perhaps best known for his After Nine Hundred Years: The Background of the Schism Between the Eastern and Western Churches. He was easily one of the most informed and most sympathetic Roman Catholic scholars of the Christian East, and one of the important proponents of the ressourcement movement that did so much for Catholics and Orthodox alike in recovering forgotten parts of our common patristic heritage.

The last two years have seen a considerable number of his works emerge at long last. In 2010 we had Yves Congar: Essential Writings as well as At the Heart of Christian Worship: Liturgical Essays of Yves CongarJust before Christmas 2011, we had Fifty Years of Catholic Theology: Conversations with Yves Congar

And later this month, we will have at long last an English translation of his fascinating and delightful journals which he kept during Vatican II: My Journal of the Council (Liturgical Press: May, 2012), 1100pp. This is an important and personal record of much that went on between 1962 and 1965 at that pivotal ecclesial event not merely for the Catholic Church but perforce for all Christians. As I noted before, I am an unrepentant reader of diaries and so, having read parts of this in French in the library in Ottawa many years ago, I look forward to reading the whole thing later this year--especially in conjunction with the forthcoming council diaries of another important figure, Maxim Hermaniuk.  

About Congar's diaries, the publisher tells us:
“At the beginning of the meeting Cardinal Ottaviani said that, to speed the work up, the experts should not speak unless questioned. Beside me Rahner chafed at the bit, and said, ‘What are we doing here?’”
Yves Congar, OP, was one of the most important and influential theologians of the twentieth century. Much of this influence came as a result of his role as theological advisor to the bishops who participated at the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). After working under a cloud of ecclesiastical censure and suspicion in the decade prior to its start, Congar was, from beginning to end, an influential day-to-day participant in the council’s work. He also managed to keep detailed personal notes throughout the time.
At long last, the council diaries of Yves Congar are available in English! This material is a treasure trove of information and insight for anyone interested in the history of that council and its remarkable and historic teaching. It provides a window into the council’s workings and the development of what would become a series of historic documents and declarations. It also offers Congar’s own down-to-earth and personal perspective on many of the other remarkable figures who played a role in the council.

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