Wherein Francis gives Tanquerey as Tonic to the Curia


I must say that Francis hasn’t lost his penchant for springing surprises.

Yesterday was the annual audience with the Roman Curia for their exchange of Christmas greetings, etc.  The “etc.” has also in years past included a couple of brutal verbal beatings.  This year, he went on at length about types of abuse.

What left me rather gobsmacked was the gift Francis gave to everyone.  HERE

A new edition of the Compendio di teologia ascetica e mistica di Adolphe Tanquerey. This would be, I think, The Spiritual Life: A Treatise on Ascetical and Mystical Theology. US HERE – UK HERE What Francis gave them is a new Italian edition by an auxiliary of Diocese of Rome and the spiritual director of the seminary.

He said, off the cuff, “Credo che è bene, magari non leggerlo tutto ma cercare nell’indice su questa virtù, su questo atteggiamento… I think it would be good, maybe not to read the whole thing but to look in the index for this or that virtue, this or that attitude…”.   He made a connection between personal and then institutional reform, which is logical.

The works of Tanquerey are classics of  early 20th c. French theology and spirituality, and the delight of unreconstructed ossified manualists, like myself.

In the background you see the books being distributed.  I didn’t see any of them burst into flames at its touch.

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  1. Kathleen10 says:

    After five years, a pattern emerged. It’s too easy now.
    He sows discord, slams the faithful, derides tradition, and trashes truth.
    Then he sprinkles in a reference to the old ways, or says something reminiscent of Catholicism.
    This provides cover. His disciples can point to it and say “See here! Look at how faithful he is! How can you say that he is not!”, while he inverts Catholicism. See, he gave the book out on Saturday, but now it’s Sunday.
    It serves that purpose, to keep people on their toes by being the Pope of Surprises (similar to his God of Surprises.) Many of his actions are clearly intended to get some buzz going, get people talking about his favorite topic, him. He does seem to love being the center of some big kerfuffle. But this action here better serves the previously mentioned purpose, providing a “record” of faithfulness that is absent any substance at all. If he does use this book, guaranteed it’s to take some established theological thought and completely flip it upside down and transform the meaning into some novel, modernist concept. Kind of like how he took the concept of mercy and used it to convince Christendom that what it really needed was to live under Islam, and that Christendom would end up in hell if it resisted.

  2. Ave Maria says:

    I have that book as well. Talk about “ideals”! I could never finish it because I could not ever see myself come to those blessed places of union. But my life is not over….

  3. APX says:

    I also have that book. It’s great. I think all priests should study from it daily and keep their spiritual saws sharp so they can pass it along to the faithful guiding them in the spiritual life.

  4. Tanquerey is far better than today’s pabulum that passes as Catholic direction [which is mostly misleading and at worst heretical]. “The Spiritual Life” is a fantastic work, a cornerstone of spiritual direction. Every Catholic should read it, take it to heart. My mother would quote Tanquerey to me often, when I was very young. Apparently, directors of souls often assigned their charges Tanquerey to read, and perusing the good old Catholic works will find references to him.
    Tanquerey is even referred to in the Ottaviani Intervention.
    Ah, what we have lost in the ruins of our present day Catholicism, that people have never heard of this work basic to spiritual health and growth.

  5. LeeGilbert says:

    Could it be that the pope is taking a Pelagian turn?:

    “But they tell me that there are so many young people prepared to do anything, who pray a great deal, who are truly faithful. And I say to myself: ‘Wonderful: we will see if it is the Lord!’ Others are Pelagians: they want to go back to asceticism, do penance.” -Pope Francis

    (quoted in the article, «There is corruption in the Vatican. But I’m at peace»” by Antonio Spadaro in the Corriere della Sera, Feb 9th, 2017)

  6. HvonBlumenthal says:

    Iunipae tonicatae

  7. Robert_Caritas says:

    This made me buy the book ! Honestly I am deeply suspicious of neo-thomist influenced spirituality, though to do be fair I am not deeply acquainted with it. It seems to sometimes treat the spiritual life as a kind of computer program : e.g. “at stage 2b, input virtue X, work on deleting vices Y and Z, and move mental prayer to level 2++”. This is an exaggeration, but I have come across this state of mind and it is enough to make the saints weep. My policy for now has been to go straight to the writings of the doctors and holy ones themselves : St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. John of the Cross and especially St. Therese of Lisieux. Nevertheless, I have found certain neo-thomist observations on various aspects of the spiritual life useful, but this seem mostly to be when they are quoting or paraphrasing the saints. Anyways, I look forward to reading through Tanquerey when it arrives. It will help me make up my mind on this issue, and I’m sure will be full of helpful advice and observations.

  8. Pius Admirabilis says:

    @Robert_Caritas: Maybe read Garrigou-Lagrange. In my opinion, he was a mystic. In any case, his works are mystical in nature, although he had the rational mind of a great Neo-Thomist.

  9. crjs1 says:

    Seriously can we not just be happy and take it in face value when the Holy Father does somthing welcome – which he does 99% of the time. The speech to the Curia was wonderful and challenging and he should be applauded for it. Sometimes there is no hidden agenda.

  10. hilltop says:

    So, would the gifts be Tanquerey or Tanquereys?

  11. fr.ignatius says:

    This is incredible!

    I honestly do not get the man at all….. this is one of my favourite manuals of ascetical theology, a book not only with sound moral theology but also a beautiful compendium of doctrine.

    There must be some kind of story behind this…. did a publishing house give them to him? Was it a favour to a friend that he gave them out?

    I can probably list only about 5 priests I know personally who would know this book and would choose to give it to others if they were Pope.

    I am shocked that Francis knew about Tanquerey let alone wanted to distribute it.

    There must be more to this story… it is almost like an April Fools….

    [To be fair, I think just about every priest of a certain age would at least know about Tanquerey. As a Jesuit, he would have used more Jesuit authors than Sulpicians, of course. But he would know about classics. Also, the new edition was produced by two clerics of Rome, which means that they surely presented Francis with a copy when the book came out and he or a lackey would have thought, “Hey! Great book for the curia meeting!”]

  12. fr.ignatius says:

    I was pious and unworldly, as a seminarian, what I started sem and got hold of this book I had no idea that there was a gin of the same name! For me Tanquerey was the Ascetical Theologian, and that was all I know of the matter for about 3 years!

  13. MrsMacD says:

    I have a theory that when people pray for him he does something good. Keep praying for him.

  14. SanSan says:

    “IN SINU JESU”, would have been a better choice. Jesus wants his clergy to “look at Him” in adoration so He can help them repent.

  15. Benedict Joseph says:

    Just throwing us dogs a bone. All part of the act. Enhance the façade a bit. Keep’m “guessing.” Deception.

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