George Tyrrell, Our Lady and Contemplation

Father George Tyrrell is a complex figure, who got into a good deal of trouble in his own time as one of the fathers of Modernism, which was denounced by Pope Saint Pius X as the ‘synthesis of all heresies’. For his views, Tyrrell was expelled from the Jesuits – not an easy thing to accomplish – and was denied burial in consecrated ground, even though he did receive the Last Rites.

Whatever one’s view of Tyrrell, and we may write of him at some point, he did have some prophetic and timely things to say, not least on Our Lady and the primacy of the contemplative life, and Mrs. Mullarkey’s reflection is fitting on today’s memorial of Loreto. We are suffering, in his words, from knowledge multiplied to the hurt of wisdom. This was over a century ago, well before the internet and ‘smart’ phones, or even any real form of instant communication. In the words of Alexander Pope, we are like the the bookful blockhead, ignorantly read with loads of learned lumber in his head. And that’s only for those dwindling few who even bother to read.

The fragmentation of knowledge, and the consequent loss of wisdom – seeing all things sub specie aeternitatis – receives a stern condemnation from John Paul II in his own encyclical Fides et Ratio, following the Second Vatican Council, which warned that the world stands in peril, unless wiser men are forthcoming.

Such wisdom is the fruit of contemplation, which requires setting time apart to reflect, to pray, to bring all things before the Lord. We must all become more like Our Lady, who pondered all these things in her heart. Take time to be with her, and her Son. They are the path from what we think we know, and what we don’t know, to true Wisdom. +