Thursday, August 11, 2011

Christopher Dawson on Catholic Principles and Intellect

It is necessary for all of us to do what is in our power to restore the intellectual community of [western] culture–and for Catholics before all, since they stand almost alone to-day as the representatives of a universal spiritual order in the midst of the material and external uniformity of a cosmopolitan machine-made civilization. 

We must not, of course, exaggerate the importance of the intellectual element in the Catholic revival. It would be a great mistake on the part of Catholics to claim for themselves a monopoly of intelligence. Catholicism makes its appeal, not to those who demand the latest intellectual novelty nor to those who always want to be on the winning side, but to those who seek spiritual reality. 

Our advantages lies not in the excellence of our brains, but in the strength of our principles. Like the proverbial conies, we may be a feeble folk but we make our dwelling in the rocks. 

Our thought is not ‘free’ in the sense that it is at liberty to create its own principles and to make gods in its own image. But it is just this ‘freedom’ which is the cause of the discredit and anarchy into which modern thought has fallen.

--English historian Christopher Dawson, convert to Roman Catholicism in 1914.  He wrote the above in 1931 in Essays in Order (Sheed and Ward).

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