Tuesday 25th April 2017

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Dietrich Von Hildebrand . . . A Man of Leonine Character

April 21, 2017 Featured Today No Comments

By DONALD DeMARCO

Alice von Hildebrand titled the biography of her husband, The Soul of a Lion (2000).
In the foreword to the book, chronicling the life of one of the 20th century’s greatest Catholic philosophers, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) refers to an “epiphanous” moment when Dietrich von Hildebrand first realized the nature and importance of philosophy. He describes what transpired during the course of a long walk with one of his sisters when the young Dietrich persistently rebuffed her protestations that moral values are relative.
He answered each of her propositions vigorously with a counterargument of his own. Exasperated, the sister called upon their father for assistance. “Imagine, Father,” the distraught sibling complained, “Dietrich refuses to acknowledge that all moral values are relative.” “Do not forget,” the father responded, “that he is only fourteen.” Infuriated by his father’s curt remark, the boy answered, “Father, if you have no better argument than my age to offer against my position, then your own position must rest on very shaky grounds.”
Dietrich grew into manhood without ever losing his conviction that moral values cannot be relative. His love for truth led him into the Catholic Church when he was twenty-four. It also earned him the nickname, “Knight of Truth.” His love for the Church led him to guide many of his family members into the Church. All five of his sisters became Catholic, and his influence on four of them was decisive.
When people have wildly conflicting notions about what is and what is not moral, the situation is ripe for someone to come along and re-establish order. A society cannot function cohesively when there is moral chaos. And relativism in practice is, indeed, society in chaos. As history has shown, unbridled moral conflict has often led people to escape from their “freedom” into the arms of tyranny.
Dietrich Richard Alfred von Hildebrand was born in Florence, Italy, on October 11, 1889 (the same day as Christopher Dawson) amidst the artistic splendor of that great city. His father was a renowned sculptor whom the King of Bavaria knighted in 1904.
To the Hildebrand household came a steady stream of outstanding artists and thinkers, including Richard and Cosima Wagner, Franz Liszt, Richard Strauss, William James, Rudolf Otto, Rainer Maria Rilke, Wilhelm Furtwängler, and British Prime Minister William Gladstone.
Out of this highly cultured milieu was formed, in the heart and soul of the young von Hildebrand, a profound love of beauty and a deep regard for reverence, values that he wrote about extensively in his many works on ethics and aesthetics.
At age forty-five, the man who refused to believe that moral values are relative had the singular honor of being called “enemy number one” of National Socialism by the German ambassador in Vienna, Franz von Papen.
It was only through divine Providence, together with the help of many courageous and generous friends, that von Hildebrand avoided capture and execution (an order had been issued for his assassination), and escaped in 1940 to America where he began a distinguished career at Fordham University as a teacher, and subsequently became world renowned as a writer and lecturer.
A Knight for Truth set out in a relativistic world may seem quixotic. No doubt it seems exactly that to the secular world where political correctness is enshrined as a summum bonum. Relativism is au courant. It appears to be broad-minded, tolerant, and democratic. But it is essentially unrealistic, and consequently unworkable. Only truth can be the unifying basis for a civil society. Radical disagreement on moral issues (abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, and so on) invites a Leviathan of state control.
The truth of the human being is that he is a creature who is called to love, work for peace, and enjoy (if not create) things of beauty. That is what Dietrich von Hildebrand understood and that was what constituted the vision to which he dedicated his entire life. In his writing he avoided extravagant speculations. His concern was primarily with the seemingly “everyday” experiences of human beings.
Hence, he wrote extensively about the interior and ethical life of the human person and his obligations to others.
Because his Catholic faith imbued his thinking, he is known, alongside such stalwarts as St. John Paul II, Jacques Maritain, Gabriel Marcel, and Emmanuel Mounier, as a Christian personalist.
Of his more than 30 published books, among the most important are: In Defense of Purity (1927), Liturgy and Personality (1943), Transformation in Christ (1948), The New Tower of Babel (1953), and The Trojan Horse in the City of God (1967).
Pope Pius XII referred to von Hildebrand as “a 20th-century doctor of the Church.”
When Pope Paul VI published Humanae Vitae in 1968, von Hildebrand was the first Catholic thinker to defend it publicly.
St. John Paul II acknowledged his own intellectual debt to him, especially on the subject of marriage.
And, as Pope Benedict XVI has remarked, “I am personally convinced that, when, at some time in the future, the intellectual history of the Catholic Church in the twentieth century is written, the name Dietrich von Hildebrand will be most prominent among the figures of our time.”
In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in the thought of von Hildebrand. Partly responsible for this resurgence is the work of The Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project, established in 2004. The purpose of the Project is not only to translate and publish certain writings of von Hildebrand into English, but to facilitate the reception of his works by a larger audience.
To this end, a conference in Rome was held in May 2010 — “The Christian Personalism of Dietrich von Hildebrand” — featuring the critical reception of his book, The Nature of Love, published for the first time in English in 2009.
In 1977, when he was close to death, he spoke to his wife in his native tongue. His voice had become a whisper, but his wife could hear him say, “I used to be a lion; now I am but a helpless little thing.” He then took a deep breath and added, “Ma sai, sai, la mia anima è ancora un leone (“But you know, you know, my soul is still a lion”).
Her husband’s very last words, according to her account, uttered with a trembling voice were, “A country that legalizes murder is doomed.”

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Raymond Desouza . . . Shield of Faith PART 5

Chris Manion . . . European Union's Demographic Whimper; Vatican Hosts The Enemy; Can Rogue Federal Judiciary Be Controlled?

 

Advisor close to Pope Francis accuses dubia cardinals of ‘a new pharisaism’

April 24, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The leader of the Pope’s Council of Nine cardinals said the dubia cardinals haven’t read Amoris Laetitia and wondered why they haven’t “said anything about those who manufacture weapons.” Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga made these remarks during a radio interview…Continue Reading

NYC Catholics accuse Cardinal Dolan for ‘playing both sides’ as shuttered churches open doors to illegal immigrants

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) – The banner was a line from Matthew 25, in which God will speak to those who cared for their neighbor. The scripture states: “When the Son of man comes in his glory, escorted by…Continue Reading

Iowa lawmakers pass bill defunding Planned Parenthood

DES MOINES, Iowa, April 21, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Iowa House of Representatives and the state Senate voted this week to deny $400,000 to 12 Planned Parenthood clinics in the state and redirect patients to other federally-qualified community health facilities.…Continue Reading

Black Abortionist Calls Pro-Life People Racist Because We’re Upset Black Babies Are Aborted

Abortionist Willie Parker seems to thrive on making nonsensical and outrageous statements that get him attention. Often, the southern abortion practitioner likes to say he is a Christian who performs abortions because of his faith. But this week, he turned…Continue Reading

Confirmed: Pope will canonize Fatima visionaries in May

VATICAN CITY, April 20, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis will canonize Blessed Jacinta Marto and Blessed Francisco Marto, the two siblings who witnessed the Virgin Mary’s appearances at Fatima, during his upcoming visit to the site of the apparitions on…Continue Reading

The Catholic Church still cares about Latin

Vatican City, Apr 19, 2017 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Existing in some form since several hundred years before Christ, the Latin language seems like an unlikely subject to still be generating brand new research, especially among young scholars. Nevertheless,…Continue Reading

Trump signs law allowing states to defund Planned Parenthood

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – President Trump signed a law today overturning a last-minute Obama-era regulation forcing states to fund Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion business. The regulation, which pro-life groups call former President Obama’s “parting gift” to…Continue Reading

French presidential hopeful slams Pope Francis for welcoming migrants

ROME (RNS) France’s National Front presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, slammed Pope Francis for welcoming migrants and attacked the Catholic Church for meddling in French politics. With just over a week to critical national elections, the far-right candidate said Friday…Continue Reading

GOP Leaders to Drop Funding for Border Wall from Budget – Paul Ryan Says Maybe Next Year

GOP leaders are ready to burn President Trump and remove funding for the Trump border wall in order to woo Democrats in the Senate. Republicans hold a majority in both the US House of Representatives and US Senate. And –ALREADY–…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood Will Give Pro-Abortion Hillary Clinton Its “Champion of the Century” Award

Hillary Clinton will receive a consolation prize from one of her top supporters, Planned Parenthood, in May. The abortion chain announced Thursday that it chose the failed presidential candidate to receive its “Champion of the Century” award for “her 40…Continue Reading

A bishop urges priests to encourage reception of Holy Communion on the tongue, kneeling. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

Last night, Tuesday in Holy Week, His Excellency Most Reverend Robert C. Morlino, the Extraordinary Ordinary, Bishop of Madison, celebrated the Chrism Mass.  The bishop blessed all the special oils used during our sacred rites in the upcoming year.  Customarily,…Continue Reading

Hillary Clinton Trashes Pro-Lifers: Just “Men Sitting Around a Table Trying to Defund Planned Parenthood”

Failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton lobbed criticisms at pro-lifers again this week during a women’s conference in New York City. Clinton, who ran on a radical pro-abortion platform that called for taxpayer funding of abortion and legalized abortion for any…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

FSSP Superior Distinguishes Fraternity from SSPX, Eschews “Traditionalist” Label

The usually cautious and reserved Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) has now given its current opinion concerning the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) and on its possible formal re-integration into the structures of the Catholic Church. Father Bernhard Gerstle – the head of the German district of the FSSP – just gave a 24 April interview to the German Bishops’ official website Katholisch.de in which he explains many of the positions and opinions…Continue Reading

Cardinal Sarah: Church is facing ‘grave risk’ of schism over morality

NEW YORK, April 24, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Robert Sarah warned that the Church’s unity is being threatened by influential leaders within the Church who “insist” that national churches have the “capacity to decide for themselves” on doctrinal and moral matters. “Without a common faith, the Church is threatened by confusion and then, progressively, she can slide into dispersion and

A Short Summary of the 22 April Lay Conference on Amoris Laetitia

Yesterday, 22 April, there took place the important lay conference in Rome which was organized by the Italian publications La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana and Il Timone and which was dedicated to a public critique of the post-synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Already today, there have been several articles about this event published, among them by Dr. Sandro Magister, America Magazine, and La Stampa. Mr. Andrew Guernsey already posted Professor Claudio Pierantoni’s own speech in English translati

Cardinal Müller on Medjugorje, Amoris Laetitia and radical Islam

muller

POLAND — The head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, German Cardinal Gerhard Müller, traveled to Poland on April 19 for a conference honoring the 90th birthday of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. The theme of the conference was “The Concept of the State in the Teaching of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – Benedict XVI.” Aleteia spoke with the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the offices of the Polish Bishops

Top Papal Adviser Insults the Four Dubia Cardinals

Several Catholic outlets around the world – including Infovaticana and Chiesa e postconsilio – have reported that Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, coordinator of the pope’s “council of nine“, has made some condescending and disrespectful remarks about the four dubia cardinals. The moderate and characteristically gentle Italian journalist and Vatican specialist Marco Tosatti went so far as to say that the elderly Honduran cardinal and papal adviser “attacked” these faithful cardinals “with great violence”. On 25 March, Maradiaga gave an interview…Continue Reading

Not Trump Who’s Big Threat . . . Left-Wing Activists Stir Disruption From Town Halls To Campuses

By DEXTER DUGGAN PHOENIX — Jeff Flake, one of Arizona’s two Republican U.S. senators who runs for office as a conservative but votes as a “moderate” — like his buddy John McCain — would seem to be the kind of politician left-wing activists should love: a squish whose principles are open to intimidation from the…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101… Transhumanism’s Search For Godhood

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 24 of The Facts of Life, “Eugenics,” e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + “There is no time to wait for Darwinian evolution to make us more intelligent and…Continue Reading

A Tax Reform Plan That May No Longer Work

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor in chief of CNSnews.com. Creators Syndicate distributed this column.) + + + My father, who was born in 1922 and lived his teens and early twenties during the unfortunate reign of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whimsically embraced a tax reform plan that he sardonically…Continue Reading

Purity Vs. Prudishness

By ALICE von HILDEBRAND My Dear Friend: A young acquaintance of mine, who seems to have a serious religious vocation, told me that her “friends” accused her of prudishness because of her systematic refusal to get involved in what are called “affairs.” Someone even urged her to undergo psychiatric treatment. It never occurred to these…Continue Reading

Dietrich Von Hildebrand . . . A Man of Leonine Character

By DONALD DeMARCO Alice von Hildebrand titled the biography of her husband, The Soul of a Lion (2000). In the foreword to the book, chronicling the life of one of the 20th century’s greatest Catholic philosophers, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) refers to an “epiphanous” moment when Dietrich von Hildebrand first realized the…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World . . . “You Seek Jesus Of Nazareth”

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK “. . . The crucified. He has been raised; He is not here.” In the night-watch of vigil, enveloped in the darkness of death and confusion, a single gleam which pierced the gloom has spread to become a profuse glow, a fire great enough to embrace every soul all over the world. The Source of…Continue Reading

Our Savior And Redeemer… Christ The King

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 4 A few years ago a low-budget movie caused a sensation among faithful Catholics: It was titled For Greater Glory. Although the story was not complete, it portrayed important aspects of the oppression of the Church in Mexico by the pro-Communist and Masonic government of an extremely evil man, named Plutarco Calles. The resistance…Continue Reading

Holy Communion

By DON FIER The Holy Eucharist, as we saw last week, is a sacrament three times over. As St. John Paul II pointed out in his first encyclical Redemptor Hominis, not only is it a Sacrifice-Sacrament and a Presence-Sacrament, but also a Communion-Sacrament. In this third dimension, the Eucharist is rightly referred to as the Paschal Banquet “in as much…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. When I was young, the Fifth Sunday of Lent was Passion Sunday and the Sixth Sunday was Palm Sunday. Now the Sunday before Easter is called Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. Why the change? — T.L.H., Massachusetts. A. The change came about in 1970 when the two feast days were combined into one. According to the…Continue Reading

On The Road To Emmaus

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Third Sunday Of Easter (YR A) Readings: Acts 2:14, 22-33 1 Peter 1:17-21 Luke 24:13-35 The passage we hear in the Gospel today about the two disciples of our Lord going to Emmaus is one of the favorites of many people. The charity of the two disciples is almost as amazing as their blindness. I have…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Peter Chanel

By CAROLE BRESLIN There are a number of small islands in the southwest Pacific Ocean, many of them predominantly Catholic. About 2,000 miles east of Australia is a tiny island nation for which one man paid the ultimate price for its conversion from paganism to Catholicism. St. Peter Chanel left his home in France to fulfill a lifelong desire to…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Conrad Of Parzham

By CAROLE BRESLIN St. Francis Mary of Camporosso, St. Veronica Giuliani, St. Joseph of Leonessa, St. Leopold of Mandic, and St. Seraphin of Montegranaro are just a few of the 115 Capuchin men and women who have been declared saints or blesseds by the Catholic Church. There are so many that Pope St. John Paul II remarked, “They say you…Continue Reading