2013 Pentecost Lectures



The 2013 Pluscarden Pentecost Lectures – given by Fr Vincent Twomey S.V.D.,

Professor of Moral Theology at the Pontifical University of St Patrick’s College, Ireland

21st – 23rd May 2013 at Pluscarden Abbey, near Elgin

1. Tuesday 21st May at 2.45 pm
“Man’s Search for the Face of God”
[Ratzinger on Philosophy, Prophecy and Religion]
2. Wednesday 22nd May at 10.15 am
“God’s unveiling of His face”
[Ratzinger on Revelation]
3. Wednesday 22nd May at 2.45 pm
“The Sensorium of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty”
[Ratzinger on Primordial Conscience]
4. Thursday 23rd May at 10.15 am
“Orthodoxy as Divine Worship”
[Ratzinger on Reasonable Worship (Rom 12:1)]

Each year the Abbot and Community of Pluscarden Abbey sponsor a series of four lectures by an invited Theologian on an aspect of Catholic Theology. Previous Lecturers have included Professor John Haldane, Fr Aidan Nichols OP, Fr Thomas Weinandy OFM Cap, Fr Anthony Meredith SJ, Fr Paul McPartlan and Fr Tom Herbst OFM. The Lectures are held on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday after Pentecost in St Scholastica’s Retreat House at the Abbey. They are open to all who wish to attend and are free. Limited accommodation is available at the Abbey and those who wish to stay should book as soon as possible. There are also many places to stay in the Elgin area: contact the local tourist office: 01343 542666.

The Lecturer
Fr D. Vincent Twomey holds a PH.D. in Theology and is a Professor of Moral Theology at the Pontifical University at St Patrick's College in Ireland. He is the author of several books including Benedict XVI. The Conscience of Our Age: A theological Portrait (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2007). A former doctoral student of Joseph Ratzinger and long time friend of the Pope, he felt the need to respond to the common question he read and heard often after Ratzinger’s papal election, “What kind of person is the new Pope?” So often Fr Twomey had read in the past false depictions of both the man, and his thought and writings, especially the image presented by the media as a grim, hard-line, enforcer, “panzer Cardinal”, etc. In this book Fr Twomey offers a unique double-presentation of the man, Pope Benedict XVI – a “theological portrait” that encompasses both an overview of the writings, teachings and thought of the brilliant theologian and spiritual writer, as well as the man himself, and his personality traits and how he communicates with others.

Fr Twomey is the author of several other books and articles, including his most recent acclaimed study on the state of Irish Catholicism, The End Of Irish Catholicism? Other publications include Apostolikos Thronos: The Primacy of Rome as reflected in the Church History of Eusebius and the historico-apologetic writings of Saint Athanasius the Great (Münster, Westphalia 1981); Christianity and Neoplatonism: Proceedings of the First Patristic Conference, Joint Editor with Thomas Finan (Dublin: 1992); Scriptural Interpretation in the Fathers: Letter and Spirit: Proceedings of the Second Patristic Conference, Joint Editor with Thomas Finan (Dublin 1995); Moral Theology after Humanae Vitae: Fundamental issues in moral theory and sexual ethics (Dublin: Four Courts Press, Spring 2010); The Mystery of the Holy Trinity in the Fathers of the Church, co-edited with Lewis Ayres (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007).

The Lectures: “Revelation and Reason” The Thought of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI

“The revelation of God’s name, which began in the burning bush, comes to completion in Jesus (cf. Jn 17:26)” (Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI, page 30).

“[Ratzinger] has written on almost every theological subject touching on the faith, morality, and Church and State. He is as open to beauty as he is to truth. He lives outside himself. He is not preoccupied with his own self. Put simply, he does not take himself too seriously.
Once he asked me gently about the progress of my thesis. I told him that I thought there was still some work to be done. He turned to me with those piercing but kindly eyes, saying with a smile: ‘Nur Mut zur Lücke’ (Have the courage to leave some gaps). In other words, be courageous enough to be imperfect.
On reflection, this is one of the keys to Ratzinger’s character (and also to his theology; in particular his theology of politics): his acceptance that everything we do is imperfect, that all knowledge is limited, no matter how brilliant or well read one may be. It never bothered him that in a course of lectures he rarely covered the actual content of the course. His most famous book, Introduction to Christianity, is incomplete. Ratzinger knows in his heart and soul that God alone is perfect and that all human attempts at perfection (such as political utopias) end in disaster.
The only perfection open to us is that advocated by Jesus in the Gospel: ‘You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect’ (Mt 5:48), he who ‘makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust’ (Mt 5:45). Love of God and love of neighbour: that is the secret of Pope Benedict XVI, and that will be the core of his universal teaching.” (Introduction, Benedict XVI. The Conscience of Our Age)

Lecture 1: Man’s Search for the Face of God

“Right faith orients reason to its openness to the divine, so that, guided by love for the truth, it can know God more closely. The initiative for this path is with God who has put in man’s heart the search for his Face. Hence, part of theology, on one hand, is humility that lets itself be ‘touched’ by God, and on the other hand, discipline that is linked to the order of reason, which preserves love from blindness and which helps to develop its strength for seeing.” (Benedict XVI: Address to Ratzinger Prize Winners, July 1, 2011).

Lecture 2: God’s Unveiling of His Face

“What did Jesus actually bring, if not world peace, universal prosperity, and a better world? What has he brought? The answer is very simple: God. He has brought God! He has brought the God who formerly unveiled his countenance gradually first to Abraham, then to Moses and the Prophets, and then in the Wisdom Literature—the God who revealed his face only in Israel, even though he was also honoured among the pagans in various shadowy guises. It is this God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the true God, whom he has brought to the peoples of the earth. “[Jesus] has brought God, and now we know his face, now we can call upon him. Now we know the path that we human beings have to take in this world. Jesus has brought God and with God the truth about where we are going and where we come from: faith, hope, and love.” (Benedict XVI: Jesus of Nazareth Vol. 1, Bloomsbury 2007, p. 44)

Lecture 3: The Sensorium of Goodness, Truth and Beauty

Primordial conscience is “the window that for human beings opens onto a view of the common truth, which establishes and sustains us all and so makes community of decision and responsibility possible thanks to the common ground of perception.” (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Wahrheit, Werte, Macht, Prüfsteine der pluralistischen Gesellschaft, Freiburg, 1993, p. 32, Twomey translation)

Lecture 4: Orthodoxy as Divine Worship

“‘I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship’ (Rom. 12:1). [St Paul speaks] “of the desire for true worship, in which man himself becomes the glory of God, living adoration with his whole being.” (Benedict XVI: Catechesis on ‘spiritual’ worship, Jan. 7, 2009)