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Kolbe Report 4-27-20

Dear Friends of the Kolbe Center,
Christ is risen! Alleluia!
For the last several years, we have involved the children from families attending our annual leadership retreat in the performance of an original play on the life of a saint whose mission in the world was bound up in some way with the doctrine of creation. It has been amazing to watch the children apply themselves to the task of learning and producing these plays in the space of a few days-plays that never fail to inspire those who have the privilege of watching them.
In this time of global lockdown, I would be happy to share private links to the videos of the last two plays we have recorded over the last three years so that those of you who are interested can watch them with your families. The first play focused on St. Hildegard of Bingen and her writings on Creation. The second play looks at the relationship between St. Hildegard of Bingen, St. Bernard of Clairvaux and Abbot Peter Abelard, about whom I will have more to say below. The most recent play, “The Light of Truth,” concerns the life of St. Dominic and his struggle against the special-creation-denying Albigensian-Catharist heresy.

 

One of the disturbing trends in popular culture is the emphasis on fantasy and science fiction to the neglect of true history. These plays offer Catholic young people the opportunity to draw inspiration from true heroes and heroines of the faith who faced challenges to the true doctrine of creation in their day which were strikingly similar to those that have been raised up with even greater violence against the truth of creation in our own time. 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.

The second of the three plays mentioned above focuses 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. 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.

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?
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 …
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,
Hugh Owen
P.S. God willing, we are still planning to hold our annual leadership retreat at Our Lady of Corpus Christi Retreat Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, this year, from August 2-8. If you have not already notified me of your interest in attending the retreat and would like to attend, please email me at howen@shentel.net and I will keep you informed.   We are working on an original script on the life of Venerable Maria of Agreda, “the Blue Nun,” whose writings in The Mystical City of God confirmed the true doctrine of creation against the new errors of the so-called Enlightenment and which inspired Fr. Flanagan, the founder of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, when he founded the S.O.L.T.
P.P.S. We hope to hold our Zoom seminar on “Creation, Evolution and the Message of Fatima: The Church in Ukraine Can Save the World” in the near future. If you have already contacted me to be put on the Zoom list, you do not need to do anything. If you have not asked to be included in the Zoom seminars, please email me at howen@shentel.net and I will add you to the group.
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